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"My Mexican Vacation" or "How BME Fest Changed My Life"

I arrived at La Paz airport at about 7:30 pm, local time, on the twenty-second of June. I was exhausted from a trip that I had started four take offs and four landings earlier in Newark, NJ. There were other IAMers on my final flight, and I looked forward to seeing if anyone was staying at the same hotel, so that I might share a taxi. I said hello to the other IAMers and started chatting as we waited around the baggage carousel. One by one, everyone picked up her or his luggage and walked through the security set up. The luggage did not come in one single truck load, so it was a long wait for some. After maybe four truck loads, it seemed there were no more trucks coming and everyone had their luggage. Everyone except me. I asked if anyone working security spoke any English, luckily one man did, and he told me where to go to file a report. Unfortunately, the woman I needed to talk to did not speak much English.

I filed my report and tried to meet up at the front gate with some of the girls who were on my flight so we could share a cab, but I could not find them. So I walked out and took the first cab I found. I had heard that it's a good idea to haggle over prices in Mexico, so when the cabby asked for two-hundred and fifty pesos, I asked if maybe he could do it for the two-hundred flat. He informed me that the price he had given me was in fact the right price. I explained to him about my luggage being lost, and he reacted sympathetically, but he didn't budge on the price. I thought to myself with complete sincerity, I'm off to a great start.

When I got to the hotel, I met Jessica and Rebekah and a few others and I was informed that there was a party that night at the Falkner compound. There we met up with a lot of familiar faces as well as many that I was not so familiar with (at least not in person, for instance: Eric the Lizardman, who I have seen on TV before) I was really drunk when I met Shannon, and probably said something stupid to him about how I read his page all the time. I also must have said something stupid to Shawn Porter because at some point he delivered a blow to my sack, and I had to sit down for a while. At some point it became ok for Brianto slap me in the face hard and repeatedly, and someone, somewhere has a picture of me getting kicked in the neck by Eric.

I woke up the next morning without any pants on. I looked around the room and saw that my pants were in a wet heap on the floor, and my key was by the door. When I asked later, no one could remember seeing me go in the pool at all, so what the pants were soaked in is anybody's guess.

Later that Day, I met up with a bunch more IAMers and went to this amazing vegetarian restaurant. Jay and Beach (who I had met the night before) were there too and I ended up spending the rest of the day with them.

In the evening, a bunch of us decided to get dinner at Carlos n' Charlie's, where they Make the best damn salsa right in front of you with stone mortars. We started out as a modest group (Jay. Beach, Rowan, Rana , a couple others, and myself) any IAMer that walked by was sucked in until we controlled half of the outdoor seating area. We had a blast and stayed out late, even though the next day we would all be getting up early for BME Fest 2005.

We met across the street from Carlos n' Charlie's to get our bracelets and T-shirts and we got on the bus. It was about half an hour or so until we got to the beach. When we got to the beach, I was surprised (and I wasn't the only one) at the size of the boats we were taking out to the island. They were very small and could seat maybe ten. We all got our life jackets and piled onto the boats. It seemed like hours on that small boat, circling a larger island, stopping here and there to explore interesting features of the rock, or to see some kind of cool animal.

When we finally got to the island of sea lions, we were given masks, snorkels, and flippers and told to jump right off the boat. The sea lions were not coming up as close as I had expected, but a few times I did get to swim along side one of the larger ones. Even though it wasn't as close of an encounter as most had expected it to be everyone was having a blast. At one point, Corinna told Cere to go pet one of the larger sea lions who was floating on his side with his flipper raised. Cere declined and it was decided I was stupid enough to do it, so I swam to within about 4 feet of this big guy before I saw that he was wounded, and he turned at me quickly which I cautiously perceived as a warning, and swam back away.

When we got back to the beach where the main BME Fest was held, that's when the trouble started. Beach and Jay were ordering rounds of beer (10 to 15 beers at a time) for a table of 8 at the most. And both times I got up get food, I ended up coming back with a margarita in one hand. Unlimited drinks. Rachel and Shannon, you magnificent bastards. I remember at one time our Mexican guide from the boat was dancing on stage with a giant black dildo. Brian was dancing onstage at one point as well. Then Håvve put on his Pain Lite show. It was entertaining, but I looked forward to his full show.

We got back into the city, Shannon said to meet there again at 9 to follow him back to his place for the after party. I went back to the hotel, and returned to follow the group to Shannon and Rachel's. There, we were supplied with more beer (than we could have all drunk together) and we were treated to Håvve's full Pain Solution show, sans bed of nails. What a show. I heard Cere read Håvve's book. I bet it's not as good as his show.

The party went on for a while, and the we hardly made a dent in the beer, although believe me, I was making the effort. I had been getting some Mexican friends to try and teach me Spanish slang and swear words, and most importantly how to say "I am an ignorant American asshole." I sure wish I could have remembered that.

As the party died down, we started to disperse. I thought someone told us to take as much beer and chips as we wanted. I waited for whoever was there who was staying in the same hotel as me, but I got impatient and left on my own, holding my veritable bounty. I don't remember much of what happened next. I'm told that Rana tried to stop me, and that Brian saw me at some point and invited me to stay where he was for the night. I don't remember, but I won't dispute that any of that happened. I remember dropping the beer on two separate occasions, but then my memory goes dark. At some point I faintly recall breathing into a breathalyzer.

The next thing I remember is waking up in a yellow Mexican Jail Cell. I was still a bit drunk, so my first response (other than the fear of the cellmate who had red stains on his shirt) was to jump up on the bars and start swearing and yelling at the cops. Then I passed out again. When I woke up, I tried to ask what was going to happen to me, but none of the cops spoke any English. Eventually one of the cops told me, "ten dollar" and made a motion suggesting that I'd be released. I checked my wallet.

Now let me go back to the night before for a second. I have a bit of a crush on Rana. She knows, I already told her. But she is a fan of strawberry daiquiris, which were not being served at the event. So I offered to buy her some the next night. I checked my wallet at Shannon and Rachel's to see if I could actually buy her her drinks and still have enough to get to California. Two-hundred and eighty dollars, U.S.

So back to the jail cell. Sixty dollars. That's all that was left in my wallet. Three twenty dollar bills. At this point I jumped back up on the bars and started swearing again. After I calmed down again, the cop asked me for ten dollars, and I presented him with a twenty to which he responded, "too many," and walked away. Eventually, they convinced me to pay for another cellmate to be released so that they could release me as well. They let out the man with the red stains, and closed the gate behind him. I almost cried. Fortunately, about twenty minutes later, they let me out. The man with the stained shirt was waiting outside for me in a taxi cab. "No gracias."

I spent the next (what seemed like) two hours wandering the streets of La Paz, trying to find my hotel. Unfortunately, wherever I was, I could not see the ocean. Without the ocean in view, and with the sun directly overhead, I had very little sense of direction. When I finally saw a cab, I was on the brink of passing out again, and in fear of getting arrested again, decided just to offer the cabbie another $20 U.S. just to get back to my hotel. Turns out I had been walking in the wrong direction the entire time.

I got back to the hotel, filled a pitcher with tap water, threw some iodine tablets in it, and decided to lay down for half an hour while the water was being purified. I passed out for about three hours. When I woke up, Jaime, the guy who runs Hotel Gardenias where I was staying, informed me that my luggage had arrived. Good news.

When I got to Shannon and Rachel's later that day for the suspensions, a lot of people had been wondering where I had been. I told them the story and probably less than half of the people were surprised. I was exhausted and on the verge of tears, but fellow IAMers proved to me how much like a family this community really is. Everybody wanted to help me out, and many people did, whether by giving me money, comforting me, or just hanging out and being cool.

Later that night, I heard some people were going to Shawn's house, but that it might be invite only. I was unofficially invited by one of the other guests, and I really didn't want to end my night, so I kind of crashed Shawn's party. Luckily, I was friends with a lot of the people there, and since I was one of maybe two or three that crashed, it was not a big deal. Dana warned me early in the night that if he saw me with a drink, he'd break a beer bottle over my head. I kind of disregarded it, having no intention of drinking anyway.

At one point, Diego told a story of his aunt getting stabbed fifty times by an American in Mexico. He commented at the end of the story that that was typical American behavior. Shannon expressed that he agreed, and Cere put in his two cents, afterward Shannon agreed with Diego even more. And someone handed me a bottle of tequila.

So, I was at the party and I started drinking again. I had no intention of getting drunk, but it was apparent that some people at the party didn't think I had control over that. Especially Dana. When I walked outside for a cigarette, I forgot to leave my beer inside. Dana saw it. "Remember what I said about you drinking," he said. "I'm gonna go get an empty because I don't want to waste this." He placed his beer on the table, and walked inside to get an empty bottle. We stood face to face, eye to eye for what seemed like forever (maybe two minutes). When he finally raised his hand to hit me, the bottle slipped and smashed on the cement. I was in shock, and after waking up in jail, wondering for half an hour, and not knowing how I would ever get back to the states, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. And I cracked.

Of course, later (after a bought of crying, and through the last part of it) I found out that Dana would have never hit me with the bottle. Dana's friends explained it, then Dana explained it, and I'd like to think that Dana and I bonded. He even invited me to suspend up in Portland in December.

Eventually, I got my dad to send me "the very last of his money" (his words) so that I could get to Tijuana, where Ryan would pick me up at the border. The bus ride was about 23 hours long and the station I wanted to be dropped off at was closed. So I had to get a ride with this really nice Mexican kid's (who spoke perfect English) mom to the border. I was thrilled to see Ryan still waiting on the other side of Customs. They let me right through, didn't ask to check my backpack or bag.

I've been chillin' here at Ryan's in Imperial Beach since. Not a lot going on here, but it's easy to relax which is nice. Now I'm looking for reasonable work so that I might move to someplace around here. And if I'm lucky, I'll find a cheap place and a decent job so that I can start all over again at another BME Fest somewhere in the world.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 18 July 2005
in Culture

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Location: La Paz, Mexico

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