Friday, August 7, 2015

Battle of the Sexes: Round II

Our journey to the coffee-growing village of Pluma, Oaxaca should have been short and simple. Yet, the best laid plans of mice and men who want to get laid oft go astray. (And you thought Steinbeck corrupted Shakespeare to illustrate the plight of the common man.)

We took a taxi to the bustling crossroads of Santa Maria Huatulco. Our driver urged us to jump into a collectivo (shared taxi) just leaving. Halfway thru our winding ascent into the mountains, we realized our backpacks were still in the trunk of the previous taxi.
I was happy to leave behind an old shirt and toothbrush in exchange for time and money saved. However, the pink Hello-Kitty backpack I’d been forced to carry thru Mexican streets (where it got me gropings and marriage proposals) apparently contained diamonds, gold, and the original Shroud of Turin. It seems some women pack no differently whether invited to stay overnight on a farm or cross the Atlantic on a luxury steamer. (The sinking feeling I was to experience on this titanic voyage had only just begun.)

Returning to the town that should have been named dust cloud, greasy food, and street dog city, at great annoyance to fellow passengers and great expense to me, we asked the lounging taxistas if they had radio communication. The answer was complicated. “Yes, but … Julio's radio doesn't work, Paco refuses to install one because his wife rudely insists on calling him when he's visiting his girlfriend, and most others turn the radios off when their favorite songs are playing then forget to turn them back on.” (If this response would frustrate you, you're not yet spiritually prepared to live in Mexico, young grasshopper.)

So, we stood on the sweaty stinky corner for hours interviewing all passing taxis. “What did your driver look like?” we were constantly asked.

“Hmmmmmm, short, brown, and probably a tortilla-eater.” Despite the absolute freedom to employ racial profiling found in Mexico, we were unable to identify the Hello-Kitty-napper.

The first driver we had spoken to finally made a suggestion with words and gestures I would roughly translate as “It could be Juan and I can take you to his house for a small fortune, but we'll have to wait until he finishes lunch and siesta and conjugal duties and steps outside.”

I looked over at my partner's beautiful pleading eyes. I looked up at heaven's blind refusal to enforce justice on earth in my lifetime. I looked down at my dwindling clump of cash. Blowing my wad in taxi hell when I should've been shooting my wad in hottie paradise. Life is unpredictable, so roll with the punches.

Juan Valdez or Juana-talk-to-me-during-lunch-it's-gonna-cost-ya or whatever his name was had our backpacks. Hallelujah! We raced back downtown to catch el collectivo, and I flung open my taxi door to escape from el infierno. A truck driver passing on the sidewalk made a judgment call that it's much easier for a rich gringo to buy a new taxi door than for a poor Mexican to explain late deliveries. (Unfortunately, the common Latino profiling that all gringos are rich can be as unfair as an American cop who thinks all black folks are criminals.) I stood in shock staring at the doorless taxi.

The cab syndicate boss kindly explained that everything was the fault of the hit-and-run driver. I wasn't a bit responsible. He further explained that all costs would come out of the tiny salary of the taxi driver with four shoeless children, if I didn’t pay. Of course, he couldn't pay anything, because in the Spanish caste system, a rich guy with power never pays when there's a poor Indian available to shake it out of. 

Life is much easier to navigate when you forget that childhood fairytale of liberty and justice for all. With many years in Mexico, I instinctively avoided the aggressive demanding of rights that gets most foreigners fucked even worse. We cut a deal. I paid less than he wanted, plus he included a private taxi to our destination and a tip on some fabulous “secret” accommodations. We arrived in cool, fresh, lovely Pluma as tired-but-relieved victims of highway robbery. Still, losing my shirt to a taxi mafioso was nothing compared to what my sexy companion would soon do to my pants with jedi mind tricks in the final post of this saga.

1 comment:

  1. As you say, I suspect I would not be spiritually ready to live in Mexico!