Warning: This post contains vivid imagery that may not be appropriate for younger audiences or those with a weak stomach.
This story is not pretty even if the day began as beautiful as ever. I awoke on a hill along a road in the predawn light. I watched the constellation Orion set over the opposite mountain from the one I watched it rise over. Throughout the night, I occasionally woke progressively tracking the mighty hunters progress across the star speckled sky. I slept without a tent. It was chilly, but worth every moment. Nights like this are few and far between.
I was packed and riding as the sun was rising. The morning was especially cold. I rode in a down jacket.
By lunchtime I realized the meaning of “tropical sun.” Spending weeks in the bone-chilling mountains, I have longed for this moment a long time. I have never been so grateful for it’s warmth.
I was hungry and in need of food for the day. I arrived in a small town. I found a “tienda.” It was 9am and I should have known better. Drunks surrounded the store. They approached me attempting conversation. They were too drunk for words but not to drunk to continue drinking.
I entered the store. I bought empanadas with an unkown filling, cheese from a massive wheel exposed and aging on the counter, tortillas, huevos (eggs), and some sort of homemade dulce (sweets). I escaped the drunks and fled the town.
Hours later, I arrived famished in the town of Parral. I stopped in the first grocery store I found and, distracted by attention, committed the offense that officially ended this night with a splash. I ate an empanada with unknown filling and I chugged a coke. Such a simple thing. Refreshing before regurgitating. I left the supermercado and continued on through the city.
I was starving. I planned to eat once I was free of city limits but my energy dwindled. I felt dizzy. I felt I may fall. I knew I needed food. I abandoned the plan and began a search. I decided on a hamburgesa.
The restaurant reminded me of a caboose; narrow and red. I sat and ordered a burger but by this point I was too far gone. I slumped my head on the table to no avail. I felt awful. I rose from my seat and walked out the door. Then, on the sidewalk in front of this restaurant I hunched over a garbage can and vomited. Again. And again.
I was a mess. Burning brown liquid gushed from my mouth and my nose splashing off the contents of the can and covering the front of my shirt. A patron of the restaurant, seeing my obvious distress, arrived with a stack of napkins. She was too late.
Having nothing but my shirt-sleeve with a beard full of vomit, I did the only thing I could. I wiped my mess on my sleeve. The napkins still helped. My nose still contained that awful tingling sludge and they did a decent job removing the worst of the chunks from my shirt.
Clean and feeling better I reentered the restaurant. My food was waiting. French fries, a burger topped with hot dogs – they are found on everything here in Mexico – guacamole, and all sorts of veggies. I managed to eat a few fries before rushing back to the garbage can. I hovered over it watching liquid run from the bottom of the can, across the sidewalk, and into the street. My puke was puddling.
I attract a lot of attention just being a gringo. The bike further compounds the stare factor. Now, spewing the contents of my stomach into a garbage can on the side of the street wearing clothes bordering on rags… I felt ashamed.
I went back inside. I had my burger boxed and I paid my bill. A man approached me. He spoke English. I told him I need a hotel room for the night. A cheap one. He asked the cook and we left.
We walked down a hill and passed the funeral home where his grandmother lay dead; the reason he is here. The hotel was only a few doors down. I’m told it is a place people go to have sex. It’s only 75 pesos a night.
The man working the “front desk” is small and frail. He is shaking. The effects of a drug he is on or needs to be on. The place makes me cringe. I am told there is no bathroom in the room. I’d have to walk down a hallway or something. Just the excuse I need to get the hell away from this awful place.
Some adventurer I am. Covered in vomit, wearing rags, yet too good for a cheap hotel. I decline the room. The man points me in the direction of town – he needs to return to the funeral. I thank him with words that can never describe the depths of gratitude I feel.
I ride into town and, finding a room way over my budget, stain the white porcelain sink with the last remaining bit of sludge in my stomach. It’s the empanada with the unknown filling.
I feel much better after this. I lay back on the bed and turn the TV. A bull-fight is on. He has many lances in his back. Blood is everywhere and his energy is faltering. I cannot look away.
The man in very bright and very tight clothing exchanges a small sword for a big one. Then, as the bull bears down it head in a pathetic charge the man plunges the sword through the bulls back. It is not yet dead. He retrieves another instrument and, on the bulls next stagger, he plunges it into his neck. The bull drops dead.
What a night. Sometime later, I risk eating french fries. Dipped in a taste of home, hienz ketchup, they are the best thing ever. I cannot stop eating them. Fearing another vomit session, I intended to take it easy. My psyche couldn’t handle my burger ending up in the bathroom sink, but I couldn’t help myself. Soon, my fries and half the burger were gone. I had the self-control to only eat half. For now.
Watching anther movie-28 days with Sandra Bullock – I gratefully consumed the second half of my burger. Life was good again. Better than it was before. Every horrible experience further enhancing my appreciation of the littlest things in life. Like the movie I am about to watch.
As I write this, I sit on the floor of a movie theater lobby; my back pressed to the wall with the only outlet in sight. I am waiting to watch Interstellar on the big screen. I cannot wait. And it’s in English! With spanish subtitles. I justify the cost. I am studying.
The morning began so well.
The road as beautiful as ever.
The sun dancing in grasses and warming my cold bones.
I woke this morning in Belleza. A very small town set at the foot of the mountains I watched the stars rise over.
Ranches abound in this land.
Welcome to Parral. I will soon be a nasty mess…
I decided to stay two nights in this city, the first being a little rough. On the second day here, I met Gabby at the movie theater. We strapped my bike to the roof of her car. She drove me to a cheap motel for the night. I settled in then walked to the movie theater.
Home sweet home! The pillows are homemade: socks or rags sewn into sacks.
Toilette seats are luxuries here in Mexico.
Parral is very beautiful. Old architecture and very safe.
A statue in the town square. This town has revolutionary significance. Not sure how yet. I haven’t gotten that far in my Mexican history text. Cortez is about to conquer.
You cannot believe the excitement I am feeling waiting to sit in a theater and watch a movie!!!