This post contains some more excerpts from my adventures in Mazatlán. See My First and Last Resort (Mazatlan), Part I.
Buying Souvenirs Mazatlán Style
As I walked back to the hotel in the baking hot mid-afternoon after my trip to the children’s feeding hall at Colonia Urias, I started looking to buy things people had asked me to bring back for them. In one shop I met a charming clerk, a young woman who told me she was a college student, she was studying English, and she was dying to travel around the world. Departing from my normal practice of buying only small, inexpensive souvenirs, I splurged about $200 on an artist-designed, signed, one-of-a-kind table fountain that looks like a small version of a fountain you might see in a town square, with painted tiles and a Madonna statue under an arch−as a gift to myself.
(The next day I brought Liberty back to meet the sales girl, she was so cute and smart and nice and Catholic, but nothing came of it except a photo I took of the two of them smiling and looking uncomfortable at my attempt at matchmaking.)
As I neared the resort carrying my packages, a salesman with a display box of jewelry around his neck started walking alongside of me on the sidewalk persistently asking me to buy something. I told him I’d spent all my money. He told me he knew I hadn’t. He said, “You can get more when you go back to your hotel room.”
I was surprised and secretly amused at his approach. “You’re right, I’m lying, but I don’t want anything.”
He told me nobody was buying anything that day. He took out two silver bracelets and laid them over my right wrist. With packages in both hands, I didn’t have a hand free to remove them. That weakened my resolve. He offered them to me at $5 each, then $3, and then finally $5 for both. I finally gave him $6 for both. (Did I mention that the tide of bargaining seems to go against the normal course with me sometimes?)
When I brought the bracelets back to the resort, I started thinking they would make nice souvenirs and that I should buy some more for the older ladies who gathered for coffee in a nearby restaurant after daily Mass with Annette and me back in Milpitas (who were sometimes called the God Squad) and for my sisters and nieces. So I tried to find that salesman again Sunday morning and afternoon, but I couldn’t find him.
And when I offered other vendors the same price for the same style of bracelet they were offended! Amazingly I’d actually gotten a steal, $10 bracelets for $3 a piece. My search for more bracelets finally ended on the beach while the sun was setting on my last day. In haggling with another vendor for more bracelets of the same quality, I told him I wanted 15 for $45, the same price offered by the other man. And $45 was all I had.
He too told me that if I wanted to I could come up with more money from my hotel room or my husband. He would wait for me down on the beach. I told him I no longer had a husband, but he was adamant that I could get the money if wanted to, husband or not husband. The lowest price I could haggle him down to was $7 for each bracelet, far above what that desperate man on the street had been asking the day before.
I gave in easier than I might have done otherwise because I was starting to realize at that point in my life after all my years of bargain hunting and penny squeezing that the point is not to make sure you get the absolute rock bottom price, but the point is to remember that when you spend money you are helping other people make a living. You can spend lovingly, as well as give lovingly. You can demean people or you can try to see things their way too.
A Hot Night at Señor Frog’s
That night, Annette said we absolutely must go to Señor Frog’s, a let-it-all-hang-out destination for tourists who come in to party from cruise ships at ports around the world, so well-known that multiple stores in Mazatlán were exclusively dedicated to selling Senor Frog’s merchandise. Somebody must have been buying and proudly wearing that stuff! But nobody I ever met.
The night we went to Señor Frog’s, I asked the pulmonia driver how much it would cost for the trip. He said treinta (30 pesos). I offered veinte (20 pesos). He countered with treinta y cinco (35 pesos). I burst out laughing. Bargaining was once again going against me.
Almost everyone we met from Mazatlán like that pulmonia driver showed evidence of having a good sense of humor and of being refreshingly frank. I also liked the friendly way the pulmonia drivers honked at each other and waved when they passed each other.
We started with dinner at the restaurant section. At the end of the meal two young waiters came over and started making paper roses out of a stack of small square white napkins they placed in the center of our table. In mock earnest, each waiter stretched and formed the napkins to construct his own style of rose. After finishing his first rose and presenting it to Annette, that waiter started making a second something out of another napkin. In the meantime, a second waiter finished creating his rose and presented it to me.
A third waiter came by, eyeballed the whatever it was the first waiter was making, looked disgusted, and then he bent over, slapped his knee and opened his mouth in an exaggerated, mocking, silent guffaw in the other waiter’s face. The waiter whose creation was being scorned assumed a dramatically hurt expression, and his eyes seemed to well up with tears. He paused for a second, and then petulantly flung down whatever he was making on the floor and started stomping on it. The other two waiters joined in the stomping.
That routine cracked me up. Contributing to my reaction I’m sure was the margarita I was drinking, which came in a glass the size of a small mixing bowl. Annette was drinking one of those margaritas too.
Meanwhile Liberty was drinking a three-foot-deep glass of a drink called something like “Sinful, Risky, and Uncomfortably Sandy Intimacy on the Beach,” and to my amazement at his capacity had two more before the night was over. Annette, who usually drinks even less than I do, had a few more margaritas, but I had to shift to water. Liberty and Annette had their second and subsequent rounds of drinks after we moved from our dining table to the Senor Frog’s bar.
I was actually quite uncomfortable from sunburn and tired after my hot day’s walking and riding to and from the Colonia, but I endured three more hours of the smoke and the obnoxious music and the tasteless rock videos on display. I was still trying to be a good sport for Annette. We stayed sitting lined up side by side on a bench there facing the dance floor until well after midnight.
Senor Frog’s clientele shifts according to the day of the week, the season of the year. Wednesday is when the cruise ships come into port and cruisers overwhelm the place. The Thursday night we were there the bar was full of handsome young Mexican couples and singles from a gas company convention at our hotel who either just stood around or bobbed almost imperceptibly to the extremely loud music. It was hard to tell which. I got the impression that what they were doing actually was dancing, and the bobbing style had evolved because it was not considered cool to move around too much. Or maybe they didn’t move much just because they were too darned hot.
One American who had apparently already been in the bar a LONG time before we got there would from time to time launch himself away from the bar and glide in a solitary dance around the floor. His arm motions were big and exaggerated and he glided around with his head tilted back and his eyes closed. Quite a different style from the Mexican dancer/bobbers.
Some time towards the end of the long hours in the bar, a Mexican man maybe in his mid-thirties (I was in my fifties) came over and sat next to me on our bench for a few minutes. He suddenly touched my arm and said, “Would you like to sleeping with me?” Something something. “You will have fun.” There were other words mixed in, but those are the only ones I thought understood. Besides, I didn’t know what to say, so I said, “No comprendo.”
When he said the same thing again and motioned toward the front of the restaurant (did he mean we should leave by the front door?), I smiled and said, “No.” And he smiled too, and that was the end of that.
See, I don’t say “What the heck?” about every risky choice that is presented to me. If I’m right about what the guy was saying, I almost have to admire how very direct and to the point he was. He skipped over the small talk, past the “Hello. Come here often?” or “What’s Your Sign?”
This reminds me what a very tall acquaintance of mine told me happened when she went to a Club Med in Mexico. She was approached by a much-shorter Mexican man whose opening line was “What’s your signal?” She told him her signal was Stop.
I Hope I Find Someone
In the stall I used in the bar’s bathroom, there was a lot of graffiti. One sentence written in English stays with me, and I sometimes think about the girl who must have written it: “I hope I find someone.”
The cry of the human heart. I do hope she finds Someone. I hope the guy who asked me if I’d like to sleeping with him finds Him too.
Continued in Part III.