Today we are posting from sunny La Paz, Mexico on the brilliant Sea of Cortez. It’s our first day in Mexico and let me tell you it’s been full of hilarity. This is truly a foreign land, even if it is full of expats who speak the English; even if it does remind us terribly of Del Rio, Texas, where we first started out as a married couple. The fact that we are here celebrating 30 years of wedded bliss makes that all the more apropos. We have laughed out loud so many times today we had to share.
It began with the red button. When we landed at the La Paz airport, disembarking the plane in sunny 88 degree weather, we were shepherded into the terminal to a line where extremely efficient and nice immigration men stamped our passports and moved us on to the customs agents. This is where the fun began. My suitcase already having passed through their drug/bomb detectors, I approached the serious customs official who looked me in the eye, asked if I had anything to declare. When I said “No” in my best Spanish, he then pointed to a small kiosk and commanded me to “Push the Red Button”. Understanding immediately my role in protecting Mexican Security and Freedom, and acting on a complete leap of trust, I pushed the red button located on the kiosk. A green light flashed. Apparently this means I was no threat to national security, so I was passed through without further incident.
Then it was Mike’s turn. Mike declared nothing and also was told to “Push the Red Button”. You will not be surprised to learn that Mike is the kind of freedom hater that the red button’s complex circuitry is designed to ferret out. A red light flashed when he pushed the red button. Mike was tagged for a suitcase check. I had long suspected Mike of being a drug mule and now, here was my proof. I watched as the customs man opened Mike’s suitcase, casually rifled through his boxers, closed the suitcase, shrugged, and moved Mike along. Wow! What a difference a country makes! We left to get our rental car.
After learning that the horror stories about renting a car in Mexico are, in fact, true; that the cost is at least twice what you are quoted on Expedia, we were treated to detailed instructions about what our ‘required’ insurance does not cover. This includes damage to the car if we use it to push another car. I had to have this one clarified as it was more than a language barrier that had me confused. It also doesn’t cover us if the police stop us. Good to know. We get in our little car; sans electric door locks or windows and start the engine. Immediately we are transported back to bombing around the south Texas countryside in our 1978 Toyota Corolla as the car’s radio begins blasting Mexican Nortena music. Let the fun begin!
After turning the wrong way on Highway 1, because in this part of Mexico there is no directional signage in terms of which way the highway is actually going, Mike managed to narrowly avoid hitting a bicyclist who was traveling the wrong way out of the Home Depot parking lot. Continuing on to find a place to turn around, we were pleased and relieved that Mike also avoided hitting the pedestrian who suddenly appeared out of no where, in the middle of a busy road. Still recovering from the adrenaline rush, stunned with amazement and laughter, we watched open-mouthed as a one-legged clown suddenly and without warning, emerged between the cars ahead of us. One-legged clowns are a rarity in the Pacific Northwest, and Mike was ecstatic to spot one within 20 minutes of arriving in Mexico. I dearly hope that the extra insurance we bought covers grinding gears because Mike could barely remember how to drive a stick he was laughing so hard. So far this trip was totally worth it!
Mike squealed a u-turn, which is completely legal where we were and I mean it, hoping to catch site of the wounded clown. “Slow down, Mike! What the hell are you doing? Do you want to get us killed or ticketed?” “Relax woman! When in Rome…” I closed my eyes. Alas, we had to stop at a red light. But wait! There’s more! As we’re sitting at the traffic light, another clown appears, holding juggling pins, a stool, and blowing a whistle. I am not making this up. See photo below. He sits directly in front of us juggling and blowing the whistle for all he was worth. The police officer in the car next to us didn’t even flinch. I guess this is just business as usual in La Paz. And you KNOW what is going to happen next, don’t you? Just before the light turns green he hops down off his stool and begins his route between the cars, hand out, expectantly. I’m wielding the camera, Mike is struggling with his wallet, where there is a 500 Peso bill, a 20 dollar bill, a 5 dollar bill, but no 1 dollar bills. The clown gets the 5 dollar bill, and that was a small price to pay for such entertainment as we had. Totally worth it!
Just hooting with laughter, we finally make it to the Casita, which is just lovely. I took a dip in the hot tub. Mike tried his hand at getting into the hammock. I’ll just let the photos speak for him:
Dinner next door at the local restaurant was filled with American-tourist action as we had left our Spanish phrase books back at the casita. No one at the restaurant spoke English, which is just as well since this is Mexico. After ordering a fabulous dinner, we were ready to go. How to get the check? My pidgeon French came back to me, but the sweet waitress just shook her head. Again, wrong country. Mike tried to use the word ‘billetet’. Don’t have a clue where that came from. Finally I rubbed my fingers together, the international sign for ‘money’. “La cuente!”, the waitress cried, nodding eagerly. I thought that meant “Thank you, Jesus!” but I soon learned it means ‘the check’. We all nodded eagerly, we paid, and walked home. Tomorrow we will return, Spanish phrase books at the ready.
Now there is a pretty good rock band playing at the restaurant on the other side of us. It’s playing music from the 1970’s, and we have an entire patio under the stars, with a hot tub. All to ourselves. So far, this vacation rocks!