Beach, Tacos and Drag

Vallarta Day 3

Sunday in Puerto Vallarta is the day when the locals all head to the beach. Many of the shops are closed or operate during a reduced schedule, and the streets seem a little less hectic.

I get up around 8:00 AM and grab my last banana – sitting beside my new pet cockroach on the kitchen counter, held captive beneath an overturned glass. The roach is so large, were it fit for cold weather, I’m certain you could saddle up a few of them to compete in a dog sled race – it’s THAT big!

The other day, Marcello, the morning guy at Choco Banana, ran out of the shop and stopped me in the middle of the street. He urged me to come in for breakfast and have him cook for me. This morning I stop in, two other solo men sitting and enjoying their breakfast and the scenery. Marcello greets me with a menu and I opt for an omelet. He returns to the kitchen behind the bar and amps up the music a bit. Remixed dance hits suited for a gay disco playing at 8:30 on a Sunday morning would seem out of place in any other setting, but it seems appropriate here.

One of the other patrons finishes his meal, leaves payment and heads out. I turn to the remaining guy on my right. He’s of retirement age, heavy-set, bald and has a cane with him. I ask him if he lives here in Vallarta, or if he’s vacationing. He uses his cane to point out a condo across the street saying, “I live here.”

“Are roaches common-place here? Big ones?” I inquire.

“Oh yes, especially this time of year during the rainy season.”

I pull out my iPhone and begin browsing the ‘net searching for ways to keep them at bay, hoping for a simple device I may purchase and plug into the wall, or a scented candle I can burn, or any simple solution. In my reading I discover that these giant roaches crawl up out of the sewers into people’s homes!

So THAT’s what that shower drain cover was for. I had seen it and simply set it aside. I couldn’t figure out why you would want to cover the shower drain. The basin wasn’t large enough to create much of a standing pool of water and it was just another thing to wash. Great, now I’m going to be watching that drain every second of my cold shower!

The old man departs declares, “Well, we’re attracting flies.” And with that he makes his way across the street with the aid of his cane – eying up the rocky road as he goes, sizing it up for sure-footing before taking each next step.

Marcello brings out my omelet and sits to chat. He tells me about working here at Choco Banana for the last few years, clubs and bars he recommends, and how much he had to drink after his shift yesterday. He also mentions his his best friend who also happens to live in Minneapolis, though he can’t remember his name, nor find his black book to look it up.

I depart and head to Dee’s for coffee and my morning writing. I spend at least an hour prepping my day’s blog entry, all the while listening to the local folks gossip about people in the neighborhood. I’m just about finished up when a cute guy walks up with nothing but soccer shorts and tennis on. He’s got red hair, freckles and several tattoos. He’s clearly not shy, nor would I be if I looked as he does. He orders some breakfast and sits down across from me. We smile at each other and I continue working, finishing up my blog post.

Tossing my iPad and keyboard in my backpack, I stop over at his table and introduce myself on my way out. We strike up a little conversation so I take a seat. His name is Victor. British. 24. Here studying Spanish for his undergraduate degree in Spanish. He makes vague references to jetting up to San Francisco once a month or so for 4 day work trips. He’s been here only a couple of weeks and is scheduled to spend the entire summer here to finish up his Spanish coursework. We talk about both being from a colder climate, not used to the heat, and how we begin sweating just stepping outside of the comfort of our air-conditioned homes. As it turns out, he’s condo-sitting in the building next-door to me.

Victor’s friend Jamie stops by the coffee shop and begins chatting him up. We are introduced. Jamie and Victor are planning on going to the beach shortly and invite me to come along. I agree, but have to stop up at my place to change.

At home I must decide between the REALLY tiny, skin-tight swimsuit, or the box-cut, skin-tight swimsuit. I wonder what this crowd wears, and decide to play it a bit safe with the moderate pair – the box-cut.

Down at the beach I discover these guys are the barely-there-swimsuit types. Oh well, at least mine is just as skin-tight as theirs. The moment comes when all gay men are judged – removal of the shirt. I imagine my ghostly white skin blinding the Los Muertos Beach 100 yards in either direction, but it I get through it without an audible gasp from anyone within earshot.

I make a half-hearted, self-deprecating joke about losing my membership to the six pack club long ago. These two, it would appear, are platinum members.

We chat about get-to-know you topics, like where we’re from, what we do, etc. Joining us shortly is another Victor and his friend Alfredo. Alfredo has a Jack Russell named Canica that loves to dig holes in the sand, stick her head down the hole and snack on the wet sand underneath. I am guessing this is a cooling technique or some sort of instinctual behavior.

Watching the dog, I see something move a short distance away. It’s a tiny hermit crab moving it’s shell across the beach! I’ve never seen one of these in the wild – and believe me, the blue chairs beachfront is wild. We had one in Mrs. Cybibiki’s 5th grade class, but that’d had been my only exposure. I am getting overly excited about a crab.

I’m laying out, desperately trying to get some color. Others join us. Angel, a local masseuse, Adolfo, and David – a guy from Sydney who was just in Minneapolis for the Bingham Cup. Small world, indeed. They are ordering drinks and ask if I’d like one. I tell them I don’t drink. Adolfo asks, “What about candy?”

“I love candy … oh, wait. No, no candy.”

The group laughs a bit. From the looks on their faces, at least some members of this group enjoys “candy” on a regular basis.

Victor, Victor and Jamie head down to the water. I decline, hoping to get more sun. Maybe later.

A masseuse is walking by, selling foot massages and I can’t resist. 30 minutes on each foot, sitting in the sun with a Sprite.

Within minutes, the storm clouds begin to roll in and it begins to sprinkle. The wind picks up a huge, table-sized umbrella propped into the sand 30 feet away and flings it at a high velocity in my directly. I scream and form a cross with my arms in front of my face. Luckily, or unluckily, the masseuse’s head blocks the stalk of the umbrella. He brushes it off and says he’s fine. He insists on finishing the massage. Who am I to argue?

The boys are packing their belongings up and moving underneath a palapa further back on the beach. They invite me to come, but I don’t want to give up the massage or interrupt it to move. The rain begins coming down harder and I find myself as one of the sole people on the beach. The attendants have removed all of the chairs and pulled them under cover. There I am, sipping my Sprite, with my foot in the lap of a masseuse, all alone on Los Muertos Beach. I imagine this would make a poetic photo.

Up under the palapa the group has decided to make a taco run. They’re eager to show me authentic tacos. They hype the place up as having the best tacos in town and I wonder if it’s a nice place – should I change clothes? No, they assure me the beach attire we’re all wearing is just fine.

A couple of the guys have cars and we all pile in and head across town. We park on the street and cross it. There it is – the best taco place in town is an old carnival trailer parked on the side of the street with two heavy-set ladies sweating it inside and serving up fresh tacos. I’m thinking to myself … we drove all the way across town to visit this little taco stand?

The trailer is bordered with benches on three sides and I sit next to Jamie, who orders two beef tacos for me, along with a sweetened fruit drink that has a hint of some sort of mint flavoring. It’s quite good. One of the ladies was actually making the dough from scratch and pressing it into tortillas. They have fresh guacamole and salsas set out, with the regular fixings inside the trailer and served ala carte during your order.

I must admit, the tacos are quite good, and given the amount of business this trailer is doing, the secret it out.

The boys head to a pool party at The Abbey Hotel and I head for home. It’s still raining and I’m feeling desperate for a shower and a siesta.

Later in the evening I meet the boys across the street at Blue Chairs. They have a Sunday night drag show that I saw during my last trip here, and the boys tell me the performance is wonderful. I’m amazed to find out that two of the drag queens are actually twin brothers – and they both do drag. What are the chances?

The show is moderate. One of the girls really stands out, but with her fast-paced and exotic dance moves I wonder what kind of candy she’s got.

Many of the boys are sufficiently drunk by this point having been drinking since the beach in the early afternoon, followed by the pool party and now drinks at Blue Chairs. They’re having a blast and start dancing, only to end up as the backup dancers for the girls on stage. I don’t imagine the queens care for the drunken backup dancers, but they are determined to have a good time, and they succeed.

The show ends around midnight and these boys are just getting started. They elect to return to Victor’s place next door to mine. A discussion begins about finding music, speakers for the iPod, getting Vodka and mixers. I remember these days. The drunk cooperative is not a shining example of efficiency. These discussions used to drive me crazy and I would usually just declare that I would purchase everything right then and there, whatever the cost.

They figure out the logistics without such a measure – I’m surprised. These guys are good.

It’s too late for me, however. I thank them for the wonderful time today and inviting me to spend time with them. I head back to my place to the cockroach in a glass and Stigmata on the television . Patricia Arquette holding a knife to Gabriel Byrne, asking him, “How’s your faith these days, Father? How’s your faith?!”

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