May 29, 2000
Tecuala, Nayarit, Mexico
1:16pm. The city of Tecuala, Nayarit is passing under my feet, following Gabrielle, who I met three weeks ago. Since then, I have lived with his family in Robilito, a village of 120 people, like a big family, with no government, no police and no crime. I came to Tecuala to get on the net, but found the city not connected. Gabrielle is here to fix politics.
Valentine, his 24 year old son, got kidnapped and robbed by the Tecuala police, then held for ransom in prison, because he was found with a little baggy of Marijuana. He has been released, but the politics remain unsolved. The crime boss at city hall offer lip-service and the name of a government office in Tepic, the capital of Nayarit, two and a half hours south by bus.
Native artifacts used as paper-weights on the desk of a hardware store have my attention. Gabrielle and the other villagers often find such relics while digging at the massive oyster shell mounds that surround their home. The piles of shells were created by natives over hundreds, maybe thousands of years. The shells are much larger then those now found in the estuary. The estuary is like a river of salt water that flows in and out with the tide, on the east and west side of the village. The bounty of the estuary is the base of their economy. The natives were livinī phat, with lots of time for chillinī and creatiní art.
Life is a bit harder now, but still sweet. Yesterday morning, I went fishing at day break in the canoe with Valentine. He busted out some bud. We laughed and jigged-- pullinīem in one after another--- usually under 20 seconds--- sometimes in five. I didnít spend much time fishing. I was too busy writing and shooting-- recording the moment. Thatís what happens when I go inside my head. The other fishermen were laughing at me. "Maximo Grifo!" they joked. Valentine covered the bottom of the bucket thick with fish, then we paddled back to the village for breakfast. I made a mixture of hash browns, carrot, onion and tomato to go with the catch.
I arrived in Robilito looking for "The pyramid of Conchas" - as told to me by a man I met in Mazatlan, and a half dozen others since, though none of them had seen the site themselves; it was a legend. Gabrielle was standing over his canoe--- carved by ancestors out of a single log --now patched with fiberglass. He said that the biggest mountain of shells is at the end of the peninsula, but there are large mounds of shells every where. He took me to his house to fill my water supply, then gave me three clay pipes and a large carved stone bead he found while bagginī shells at the mounds. They sell the shells to oyster farmers, who put them in the estuary on strings. Gabrielle says the shells are like "momas."
A couple youth have also presented me with gifts of these golf ball-size intricately carved beads. Iīd love to keep them, but I canít with good conscience. They need to stay here in the protection of a school building, so the villagers can be taught that the natives were intelligent people who valued the importance of art.
Today, booze fills free time. Gabrielleís art is craving paddles and weaving fishing nets. Painting, sculpture, and other frivolous cultural crafts donít exist in Robilito. Theyíve grown to like my mobile created from shells, bones, drift wood, rope, and barb wire, but they didnít know what to think when I first offered it as a gift; no one wanted it. I showed them how to make bracelets and necklaces from Catís Claw seeds and fish vertebrate. They liked those.
The hard ware shop owner thinks the stone beads are for necklaces, but I doubt it. Maybe a stick goes in the hole, and a with a bow it can be spun to start a fire. The beads are all nearly the same size and shape. I want to know why.
2:10pm. "This is my home town," said Juan, visiting on vacation from Los Angeles. "I am going to work ten more years, then come back here. Over there, I learned a new life, 180 degrees different. I came to live---not take anything away."
Gabrielle, Ramon, Juan and I are at a favorite Tacuala watering hole, being served mini Coronas and Gratis finger food: fried fish, beef tacos and nacho chips with salsa. The sound in the air says Mexico: laugher and clinking bottles, dominated by a mariachi groupo-- three old men playiní a fat acoustic guitar, a stand-up base and an accordian, and each passionately singinī as if in love--- on the verge of cryinī-- but somehow it is strong; these men are no weaklings.
"The more you know... the more you can make," Juan shares his wisdom. "The first thing I do everyday is organize what I want to do. And respect everybody. The problem hereÖ is the government. If you got something, they treat you better. If you poor, nobody listen to you. You always got to be the boss. The government we got donít do it. Somebody else got to do it. There are five or six parties---but who do you think is support them? PRI. Who do you think got the money?!! For 70 years the presidents of Mexico have been PRI. Their roots are in Spain. Look at their names. It is the same shit. Miguel Hidalgo, he was a priest, one of the ones who started the Mexican revolution. The government is worthless. All they want is power and money."
2:39pm. "Seven tribes took off from here-- Nayarit, to what is now Mexico City," Juan informs me of Mexican history. "They was following the Big Eagle. When the eagle stop, that is where they build the city. The eagle was on a cactus, eating a snake---like the flag. Why donít you talk to a teacher here. Go to a high school. Tell them what you want to know. They help you a lot. They give you all the information you want."
2:41pm. "What religion are you?" Juan asked.
"I am God," I answered. "You are too. My job is to create. I am creating a school that teaches people how
to live in harmony with nature."
"I want to help," he responded.
"You want to help?!"
I gave him the special hand shake and looked him straight in the eyes. Juan smiled and said, "do the
best you can."
"I used to have a lot of ladies after my ex-wife," Juan shared. "I always respected the old lady. I only had one daughter, cuz thatís the way it is up there. My daughter just became a teacher---graduated last Friday. I married an American lady. That helped me out. I got my green card. I didnít marry her for that--- I really liked her."
2:57pm. "Just do what I say and you going to be okay," were Juanís final words to me. He said I should speak with the governor of Nayarit, who is in opposition to PRI, and is supportive of projects for ecology---such as restricting fishing and hunting seasons to preserve stocks, so people arenít killing young animals. He is also the very wealthy owner of the Nayarit Coca-cola Company.
I am comfortably drunk---having finished my fourth mini Corona. It feels like problems can wait until tomorrow.
"Possible 200 pesos. Hotel 60." Gabrielle tells me the cost he assumes for "sexo" with our waitress---who looks fifteen.
3:29pm. "Para mi, marijuana, no. Esta si." says Ramon, 26, pointing to the beer bottles filling the table. "Bien tranquilo," he explains his preference. Ramon is a mellow fellow, wearing a 70īs style pointy collar tan cowboy shirt and the traditional, almost uniform, stiff plain white cowboy hat. I said "no mas cerveza" after the forth, and now have a glass of water. In my left hand is another cigarette---that Iíve hardly smoked, but has burned down to nothing. I am told that it burns fast because there is gun powder in the paper. No ash trays in site. Everything goes on the floor.
3:40pm. Folks here like things familiar. They play the same songs over and over.
3:55pm. Claudia, our waitress, 18, has a one year old child and no hubby. She moved here from Guadalajara in September, and has worked in this bar three weeks. Iím not getting any whore vibes, but she doesnít seem to mind male customers lustful eyes and cat calls.
Iím popping Chicklets. I purchased 40 packs from a kid for 20 pesos--- then gave him back 6 packs. I got them to give away and shorten his work day.
4:05pm. "MAX... Vaminos!" my friends announce, getting up from the table after paying the bill-- 180 pesos($20usd). In the USA, the same amount of food and drink would have cost double.
4:40pm. Gabrielle and I are slouched on an old busted-up vinyl couch with stuffing popping out, in the corner of a large garage, where a birthday bash is in full swing for a man sitting with his male friends at a long banquet table. Approximately a hundred friends and family fill the other tables-- men on this side and
woman closer to the kitchen.
"Tienes two trailors," Gabrielle informs me of the birthday boyís wealth.
"El Richo!" I replied. "Trailors" are transport trucks.
Outside, a large tarp provides shade for a dozen banda members, blasting on horns and beating drums-- amplified with massive speakers-- making conversation in this room impossible beyond two feet and two words.
"What doesnít kill me... makes me stronger," offered patience to let the burning sensation in my mouth pass. Five men were watching when the baggy of little chili was handed to me. I took a nibble just to play along. The only practical reason I can think of for this self-torture is that it makes a person want to drink-- which is necessary in this heat. Mexicanís taste buds must get sizzled over the years-- so spicy-hot becomes just spicy. I like spicy-- but I canít taste anything but chili when I eat like a these people.
"Mas comida?" Gabrielle pointed to the plate of beef and beans with tortillas on the wooden folding chair in front of us. "No gracias," I answer, shaking my head and patting my belly. I am stuffed. These people are insistent I get lots to eat.
Jesus at "The Last Supper" hangs on the walls next to the Virgin De Guadeloupe rapped in Christmas lights. Jesus wouldnít like people selling paintings of someone said to be him. Itís not his style. Why are they being purchased?
The last supper: pretend to drink my blood and eat my flesh; it is discusting. Christians are the wackiest cult I know. I donīt understand it; all the ceremony and dogma Jesus trashed in the New Testament, telling people not to do, is exactly what his church has turned into. When I look at the life of Jesus as recorded in the Bible, then look at the people going to church dressed in their Sunday best-- they have very little in common. For God sake... why donít Jesus's followers, the "Sheep," see this? If people want to get close to God, they should spend time alone in nature like he did. Faith means not having fear-- believing that if you do your best, everything is going to be alright. God is love. "God fearing men" are fools.
As I recall... Jesusīs first miracle was turning water into wine. He said his blood was wine. Maybe he was a wino. You gotta admit, I would be tempting. Water or wine...?
I am drunk. Philosophy rocks. This couch feels like home. One more sip and the bottle is finished.
5:13pm. An old woman is dancing with another old woman-- taking swigs for her booze between swings.
"Nayarit!" Juan(a different one from earlier) looked my way and raised his fist in glory. Heís packing heat on his back side. He showed me his silver pistol-- thinking he was cool. In my mind, guns are a sign of weakness.
I met Juan two days ago, when I arrive at the shell mound to work with Gabrielle and Valentine. Juan and a couple friends were on their way to Robilito to find weed for personal use. Juan is 60-something and looks nothing like a "pot smoker." I thought he was the law.
I just finished another cigarette and a cold one is in my hand. I want the experience-- I want to know what is it like to be these men.
"Calor," Gabrielle fanned his face with his St. louis Cardinals baseball cap. Gabe donít do the cowboy hat
thang. Iím warm, but comfortable-- just sitting here. It is beyond me to Dance in the sun, like the well-dressed women and little girls. Thereís a breeze out there; maybe it is time for a walk. Many eyes will follow me, but I got to get use to being the only "Wheto" on the block.
5:31pm. Only one dude is dancing-- and I do mean grooven-- in a crowd of woman. It is the old guy who was serving the beer. He must think different, with less fear-- not caring what others might think. The other men are silent and motionless-- except for their arms, busy delivering booze and smoke to their mouth. The music is still too loud to talk above. The men are using hand signals to communicate. When they like something-- they put their elbow by their crotch, make a fist and flex the bi-cep so it looks like a hard-on. Or they shake their hand to look like masturbation. They have many signals, most to do with sex--but they mean different things.
5:56pm. Juan put another cold one in my hand. "No mas!" I said, trying to give it back.
"uno mas!" several men urged me to keep drinking. I cheered the birthday boy "Salut"-- which means... ironically... "To health!" Itís now gone with little thought.
6:07pm. "Ocho, dormi en la Hotel. Seis manana, vas para Tepic," Gabe updated me on the plan. Before we arrived at the party, we were headed back to Robilito. All I have with me is my dictionary, note pad, water bag and wallet.
"Smoke?" Gabe offered. "No." I answered. Juan is offering another beer. I gave him the hand signal to say Iím done. Knowledge is a good, but right now, Iím feeling pretty shity. And this music I really getting to me. My head hurts. I need to go outside.
7:33pm. "I animal; otra-- otra mas!" Gabreille shares his desire to have "sexo" with as many woman as will allow-- which is often a matter of money. Weíve just left a bar were he said prostitution is common-- but he got none. Iím tired of his drunken behavior-- leading me all over the place and not making sense. I just want to find a cheap hotel and sleep. Iím not feeling so well.
9:16pm. Life just ended for two cockroaches-- one with the slap of my sandal and another with this note pad. The room cost 70 pesos. For a room with a toilet seat, a shower head, more than one sheet per bed, a door with a lock or any kinda latch-- weīd have stayed at the Imperial for 170 pesos.
Another bug crawling across the mattress just died. I need to die a like death myself, so I can wake like new in the morní... reborn.