Stuffetcetera The website of Jeremy Kearns-Watts.

28Aug/130

Cracking Acapulco 3

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In the evening I took three daiquiris then finished the last of my rum. I fell onto the bed about one o'clock and lapsed into sleep, with the french window open and the sounds of the waves on one side while music played quietly on the other.

About five o'clock I woke up to brutal pains and nausea, stumbling into the bathroom, I was violently ill. After I cleaned myself up a little, I was still sore and nauseous. Catching myself in a mirror, my face was grey and gaunt. I put on a shirt, suit jacket, and chinos, I forgot my shoes and went down.

At the doctor's office the lights were on, but the door was locked. I banged on the window loudly. '¡Hola!' '¡Buenos Noches!' There was no answer. I banged louder, rattling the frame. Still nothing.

I went through to reception, here they were more concerned with informing me that the doctor wasn't specifically connected with the hotel. 'Hee es independante, no connected weeth the hotel.'

'I know, I know, just wake him please.'

'Ees not part of the hotel, but ees open viente-quatro horas.'

'Yes, I read the sign, just call him up.'

'Hee will be awake. Hee is not a member of thee hotel.'

'Yes, I know, but I'm ill, you need to call him.'

All this time I was clutching my stomach with one hand and leaning on the counter with the other. Eventually I got them to call him. The doctor was pleasant, but couldn't quite manage my name. He charged me almost all the remaining cash I had. But I had to go up to my room to get it. I came back without the jacket, some of the drugs already having had some placebo effect. It was now about six or six-thirty. I went back up and lay on my bed in the dark.

When eight rolled around I washed, dressed, and went down to breakfast. This was pleasant enough until the waiter informed me that I had to pay for breakfast. I explained that I had paid for it with the room and showed him the reservation with 'full breakfast' in bold. I thought about mentioning that since I had paid in pounds already I wasn't about to pay again in pesos, but thought this might prove confusing and stayed quiet. He went away for a while and then came back saying that their system said I had to pay. I put the money into their leather bill case and left without tipping.

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Up at the customer service desk I told the woman what had happened. She looked up my account and then called the restaurant. 'You can go back and get your money back.'

'Oh, that was easy, thank you.'

Back at the restaurant, the matter wasn't wholly solved. Three or four people milled around, the waiter walked over, they chattered amongst themselves. Eventually the manager appeared and came around the desk. He handed me the money and apologised. I thanked him and walked away, his staff were still arguing amongst themselves behind me.

It was time to leave. I felt like I'd been drunk for four days, been beaten and robbed. I'd destroyed the equipment, loaded my bag with toiletries, been spotted walking away with as much bread as I could carry. Ignored the human urchins on the beach, jumped fences to get down the the ocean at night, and thrown hunks of ice from three different balconies. I'd shunned the other guests, sat down in the bar and drunk half a bottle of rum on its own and on my own, and had to explain the make up of a daiquiri to every member of staff that I'd ordered ones from.

I jumped into a cab to the station and got on the first bus back to Mexico City.

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Its a bit of a family joke, referring to another blog, but I was tempted to call this entry, 'How I almost died in Mexico,' but I prefer my title. I don't think its fair to be cruel, as I have been about the place, because it really was an enjoyable experience, from start to finish, and I would recommend the particular hotel to anyone heading to Acapulco. I have exaggerated in places and used literary embellishment, but in the strictest terms, everything I've said is true. Some things happened that might have ruined a holiday for other people, but I liked everything. Bad events were, for the most part, either natural disasters or my own damned fault (which might take some explaining in some cases), but still, even bouncing into the sand in the grips of some terrible swell was an absolute ball while it happened. I hope to do it all again someday, maybe not in four days, but definitely over a longer period of time. Its been fun.

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25Aug/130

Cracking Acapulco 2

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In my limited time here, I determined to have as many experiences in as short a time as possible. The place indulged me. Beyond the experience in general, and then the earthquake, still more was thrown at me. And I threw myself at it.

The second morning, as I sat for breakfast, a great storm began to well. The palms shook, the air cooled rapidly, small unsecured items began to be buffeted and take flight. I reacted cooly, continuing to eat and read at the table. Soon the staff were running around closing parasols and taking things off tables before they could be blown away. Mustering as much poise as possible, I stood, finished my coffee, and strolled away back to my room.

I took a shower and shaved, aware that rain was now lashing the walls of the hotel and the surf was building into a terrible swirling maelstrom. Changing into swimming trunks and an Acapulco shirt, I read a little, then lay down. I had some music on and closed my eyes, by the time the song was finished the storm had stopped. Pulling open the french window onto the balcony I found a postcard perfect scene, with the sun beaming down and the waves soft and gentle against the shore.

Down at the beach, I wrapped my shirt in a towel and waded out into the Pacific. I love swimming, but know my limitations. I am not a particularly strong swimmer, so I limited myself, no more than one hundred meters from the shoreline. The towel was my measuring point, placed up on a dune that the waves weren't cresting. Despite my fears, despite my weakness, I had a terrific time in the ocean, swimming out to my set distance, just in from the last coastal shelf, where all the big surfer waves were forming.

Frolicking is perhaps the best word to describe what I was doing. Just moving about, enjoying the warmth and the currents. Checking that I wasn't being pulled too far from the point where I had gone in, and bracing myself against the waves as they came in. I looked to my sides. Closer to the hotel were mainly families. Fathers standing further out, while mothers held and played with their children. On the other side I watched a man, a little ways out into the surf, fishing by casting his net into any of the bigger waves that came in. He saw me watching and I waved '¡Hola, buenos dias!' He waved back, '¡Buenos dias!' and kept fishing. He had a bag half full of fish slung over his shoulder, but while I was watching he only caught one, a little fish, that he threw back. I so wanted him to catch something while I watched so I could clap and cheer, but after a while he went on down the beach, past me and towards the hotel.

Without warning, a freak wave took me up and crashed me against the bottom along a sand bank. It cut me on the thigh and grazed my back. Coming up, I managed to curse 'bastard,' as best I could with my mouth full of saltwater. The wave carried on up the beach towards my towel, shirt and hotel key. Swimming in quickly, I watched, helpless, as it took the towel up and started to pull it back down the dune and into the sea. I managed to catch it before it was too far out, but the whole thing was waterlogged and almost black with the dark sand saturating it.

Pulling it back out onto the beach I unwrapped it and lay the towel down flat. My shirt was half dry and the key was safe in its pocket. I tugged it on over my shoulders, beating it to get the sand off it. Happy with that, but still wet, I looked down at the sorry looking surface of the towel that I was sitting on. It was meant to be white, but this was only visible in a few choice patches, the rest was either grey or black. I beat this surface until it was a little more presentable then pulled it up to get to the other side. It was heavy. The moisture had caused all the sand below to stick steadfastly to this side. It was completely covered.

I went up towards the hotel, but embarrassed at having to hand in the towel in such a state I lay it out for a bit in the sun, on one of the deck chairs the hotel have for guests. I sat in the shade panting a little, and cooled my feet from the scorching sand. After a time, I felt my shirt was sufficiently dry that the towel had to be too. So I picked it up and tried to beat the sand off it again. Clouds of sand flew off and into my face, but the towel still looked like a sheet of Acapulco specific camouflage. I wrapped it against this side, keeping the cleaner surface on the outside and went back to the hotel to explain myself.

At the towel desk I started, 'Well, you see, I had it up on the beach, but this wave came up and I'm terribly sorry.'

The attendant looked me up and down, my leg bleeding slightly down my leg, my shirt collar damp, sand sticking to my chest and in my hair where I hadn't been able to see it on the beach. 'We don't care,' she said. Her eyes said, 'You insane Ingles.' 'Do you want another?' She motioned towards the stack of washed and folded towels to her right.

I still planned on going swimming in the pools. 'Well, yes, please, thank you, I promise I won't go back into the ocean.' I took the new towel from the pile and fled back to my room where I washed the sand out of my hair and nearly clogged the shower drain. I took some rum and ice, then took myself downstairs again and threw myself into the pool.

22Aug/130

Cracking Acapulco

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Somewhere out on the road between Chilpancingo and Acapulco were a group of four or five eagles circling. They weren't vultures. Vast mountainous terrain, rugged and green, with small patches of corn crops growing up some of the hills at odd angles. And through it all, this giant highway, with magnificent suspension bridges over rivers and gorges.

The mountains are Mexico, and Mexico is the mountains, but somewhere, some far off point on that road, between two peaks I caught a hazy glimpse. The Pacific Ocean. The first time I've seen it from this side. And now Mexico is the Ocean. It stretches as far as you can imagine it, and the endless cry of breakers hitting the shoreline, with their white lines approaching in the dark, is so very beautiful and poetic. I want to write here. Something pulls words from far back in my mind, as far back as that point on the road, and they are called by the Ocean.

When I saw the other side of it, I was so young, bursting to get out of school and find myself. Now, with those few years past, I have returned to it to find myself, and I'm eager to get back to school again. When I walk out into the surf I am the furthest west I have ever been, and those places in the east, and those times since I last looked out over it come back, like I'd thrown them in a bottle and its washed up now between my feet.

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20130821-224738.jpgSuperficial damage?

There was an earthquake this morning, and an aftershock a few moments afterwards. A low and powerful rumbling and then everything was swaying. I had been dozing, and was awakened by it. The sound it made! The great cry of the earth! When I went down to breakfast about an hour afterwards no-body made any reference to it. I doubted myself. Could I have dreamed it?

I looked for news. Some reporting, a scientific website. There was a crack in the wall of my hotel room. I went to the beach, swam, then had a bath. I surveyed the damage, then walked out onto the balcony, another crack, well the same one really, was mirroring on the other side. At the front desk they seemed more concerned. 'We'll upgrade your room, one with a sea view.' 'I don't mind, really, I just thought you should know.' 'Please take the other room, we'll have the maintenance people look at the wall.'

So now I'm eight floors up, looking out from my new balcony on the lights shining from the hillside, and the Ocean, omni-present and endlessly changing, crashing against the beach. If I listen through the chattering insects I can hear its roars. The door may be left open during the night, to sleep with the sound of the Ocean. Some people pay money for that. I suppose I am.

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I am eating like a king, washing four times a day, swimming three times, eating twice. But grand meals. With cocktails and rum on the side. I couldn't quite live here. But this is the sort of place I want a house. A beach, tropical heat, a pool, rum. And writing! Successfully! I finished something in Mexico City. A short work, good for this, and probably unpublishable anywhere else, but I think I'm going to submit it somewhere or other.

Oh! To the Beach! To the Ocean!