Friday, December 14, 2007

Living in a Third World country? Survivor Puerto Vallarta, Episode 6

December 12: I'm starting to get really attached to Yelapa. It's a really sweet place. And five days just isn't enough time to wade through and sort out all of the ex-pat social life here let alone get down to the business of relaxing. I'm still trying to wade through the social life. But it's endless. "I heard that you slept with [deleted] when you were here 33 years ago." I didn't! Honest. And even if I did, that was 33 years ago. Who the freak cares now!

This week I've been staying in the home of Angel Garcia, a legendary local stone mason, and his wife Irma who is a fabulous cook. Good conversation and fresh red snapper, straight out of the sea. I'm not stupid enough to want to leave. "Can I stay here one more day? Por Favor?" Sure.

We had chili rellenos for dinner last night. Home made. About six inches long and six inches around so I'm not exactly starving. But. Yelapa is famous for its pie and I'm having big trouble tracking down the pie lady. What's with that? Have I got to go back to freaking Puerto Vallarta to get Yelapa pie? That's just not right!

"What are you gonna do tomorrow?" asked one of my fellow estudiantes.

Well, let's see. "Spanish lessons. Internet time. The world's best enchiladas are apparently being served upriver so I gotta go there. I'm giving a 12-minute speech on Iraq at the Passionflower Cafe [] in the evening. And I'm spending the afternoon tracking down some woman who is supposed to be able to cure joint pain. My ankle, my knees! Oh, and I'm going to find the pie lady if it takes me all day!"

December 13: Usually the main beach here is perfect for swimming but there must have been some fierce storms up north or something recently because today the surf was definitely UP. And to get from the pueblo (where they don't sell pie) to the beach (where they do), you gotta wade across the place where the river meets the ocean. Gulp.

"Would you carry my day-pack when you cross," I asked a strong-looking man, "so that when I get swept out to sea, at least my passport and my BART card will be safe?" He said okay. So I took off my jeans and held the man's hand. He held my day-pack and we did it.

And it turned out that the man was from Stillwater, Minnesota. Go figure.

So. Now I'm on the beach. Where is the pie lady? Then I heard shouting, looked around and there was a motorboat filled with tourists capsizing in the surf! This is crazy! I'll NEVER get to my pie! I set down my pack and joined the rush of young Yelapa men who were diving into the surf to try and save the women and children. Too late! No one could even approach the boat let alone keep it steady. Tourists were being thrown out of the boat like rag dolls as it bucked up and down in the high waves and shook about like a mad dog. It was amazing that no one was badly hurt. But a lot of purses, day-packs and digital cameras are now at the bottom of the ocean.

Bravely I proceeded on in the search of pie. There she is! The pie lady. "Stop her!" I cried. She had lemon meringue, coconut cream, pecan, chocolate, custard and apple. ''Apple, please."

Meanwhile, the tour guide for the capsized boat was gathering his little tourist flock around him and trying to talk them into boarding another motorboat while simultaneously talking to his boss on his cell phone and trying to cover his [bottom] as to why he had been attempting to herd 20 tourists into a 10-person boat in the midst of the wildest surf Yelapa had seen in years.

He could always tell his boss that it was the Pope's fault that he didn't expect erratic waves. After all, the Drudge Report had just stated that the Pope had condemned the "prophets" of climate change and global warming. "Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology." Drudge! The Pope did not say that! What he actually said was, "Humanity today is rightly concerned about the ecological balance of tomorrow. "

Misquoting the freaking Pope? I'm not even going to go there. I got my pie. I'm happy.

December 14: My speech on Iraq went well last night. I'm totally shy when talking to one or two people but give me a crowd and I swim like a fish. And someone even offered to buy my book! When I get home, I need to go on a book tour. Gary Kohls has offered to help me get a lecture gig in Duluth, Minnesota. I should do that. Is it anywhere near Stillwater? And if anyone ever wants to buy me a plane ticket to come to your town and flog my book, PLEEZE let me know. I'll even come speak to your garden club, your bachelor party or your Girl Scout troop!

It's so nice here in Yelapa that I want to stay another day. I'm content here. And when I get back to America, will that nagging sense of discontent that drove me to come to Mexico in the first place take over again? "It is the winter of our discontent." Who in America isn't discontented? Raise your hand.

Last night at my lectura on Iraq, some guy came up to me and started talking about shale oil in Canada. Huh? "They extract the oil and what's left is sulfur, which they pack into lime-green cubes and stack in pyramids so high you can see them from the moon. There are three of them now -- with many more to come. They have one million times more sulfur stacked in those three pyramids than everyone on earth could EVER use." What the freak can one use sulfur for anyway? Then he actually asked me for my autograph! Wow.

Then my wonderful Spanish teacher let me use her dial-up connection -- and, boy, there was a LOT of news out there about how the media is being censored, how elections are being rigged, how the economy is slipping away, how torture is being committed, how unemployment is rampant and how the heads of the country are all liars and crooks. And, no, I'm not talking about Mexico here. I'm talking about the United States of America.

According to Steve Fournier's article in OpEd News, those CIA torture tapes might have been erased for more reasons than we suspect. "Even as reporters refer to the tapes over and over, they never mention what was said. We should remember that these two were grabbed, ostensibly, as possible conspirators in the plot to crash airplanes into buildings. What did they say in 100-plus hours of taped questioning?"

According to a commentary on an article suggesting that Congressional Dems are keeping quiet about Bush and Cheney's frequent and illegal attacks on our Constitution -- even though the 2006 election gave them a clear mandate to go out and kick some neo-con [booty] -- because perhaps they fear assassination such as happened with the anthrax attacks? "A branch of the American government with investigatory power is subjected to a biological attack and it declines to investigate that attack? Either its members already feel they know from where the attack came, or they are too afraid of something to investigate the source."

According to another article in OpEd News, Rep. Dennis Kucinich was railroaded out of participating in the Iowa presidential debate. Could it be because he is calling for the impeachment of anyone who violates the US Constitution on a regular basis? Duh!

"The Des Moines Register put out a press release last week announcing that six of the eight Democratic candidates for President had 'accepted invitations' to debate this Thursday. Congressman and Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich was not among them.

"The Des Moines Register is a prominent newspaper. Their editors and writers know how to turn a phrase. And the way they turned that phrase in that news article, the implication is that Dennis Kucinich did not accept the invitation they offered to him. That phrasing by the Des Moines Register implied that Kucinich declined their invitation to debate.

"That is not true.

"What the Des Moines Register press release should have said is that they offered invitations to this debate to only six of the eight nationally recognized Democratic presidential candidates and that all six who were invited accepted."

According to university professor Earnest Partridge, "Aggressive war is a crime. Torture is a crime. Warrantless surveillance is a crime. Contempt of Congress is a crime. Defiance of acts of Congress is a crime. Extortion and bribery are crimes. Election fraud is a crime. The Nuremberg and Geneva conventions, the Constitution of the United States, and the federal statutes say what they say. The remedy is unequivocal: 'The President [sic], Vice-President [sic] and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.' [This Section of the Constitution reads] 'shall,' not 'may.' (Constitution of the United States, Article 2, Section 4)."

According to economist Mike Folkerth, our economy is in big trouble. "How about those who think Social Security and Medicare will be around for your kids to benefit from? One more question, how many think that your kids can pay the $50 Trillion in debt that we are leaving them? Okay, about 20 people have their hands up. Let's do this differently, will everyone who is not running for president, show hands again. That's better, no one believes these things are possible.

"Each and every day, there are announcements such as this, 'John, Melinda, we have good news and bad new for you. The good news is that you are getting two pay checks this week. The bad news is that one of them is your severance pay and also your last check. Have a very merry Christmas.'

"That's economics folks. John and Melinda's jobs went to China. Those folks over there will work for far less money and that is economics. Is the subject getting more interesting? It did for John and Melinda. There is no end to the drain of good U.S. jobs. I don't care what the politicians say.

"Do something for me. Get interested enough in economics to ask your favorite presidential candidate what they are specially going to do about the base U.S. economy. Remember, get specifics."

And MEXICO is supposed to be the only Third World country in the north-western hemisphere? Yeah right.

11 pm: One by one I checked off everything on my Yelapa to-do list. The hike to the waterfall? Check. The massage by the woman with the magical hands? Check. Visit my friends upriver? Check. Eat at Manguito's restaurant, supposedly to have the best avocado-shrimp salad in Yelapa? Check. Sit and watch the sunset at the Lagunitas Hotel on the beach? Check.

Track down the pie lady again? Oh well, you can't do everything. Now I will just have an excuse to come back next year.

And something good did come out of yesterday's wild and crazy waves. The word must have gotten out because today there was actually a surfer dude at the beach, hanging ten.

December 15: Geez Louise. I still have the touch. Ashley, your mommie just managed to get lost once again. Here's the story: Robert Hardin, an Agatha-nominated murder mystery writer -- you gotta read his book "Federal Offense" -- who used to be an attorney in San Francisco, retired down here with his wife Kathryn and they wrote an article on the restaurants of Yelapa ( So. Last night I went around the pueblo, poked my head into most of said restaurants and asked, "What's cooking?" Mimi's, Ramona's, The Galleria, Pollo Bollo, Cafe Bahia, The Eclipse, etc.

And then I wandered home. Or so I thought. There is only one (1) main cobblestone path in the pueblo, right? Yet somehow I ended up on the top of the freaking mountain, in the cemetery, next to the satellite dish. Today I'm taking the 3 pm water taxi back to Puerto Vallarta and going to a party at Isobel's new beach-front restaurant, "Mad South".

If this is what being in a Third World country is like, count me in!