Just arrived last night in Cancun and my first impression was, “This fucking sucks!” There’s a fucking Bennigan’s and a Chili’s… Millions of people trying to force you to buy stupid shit trinkets and it just stunk of gross culture-less and un-curious American tourism.
The hotel is cool, a 2 story condo 9 stories up with an amazing view of the Caribbean Sea. It’s a bit ghetto really but the beach below is pristine, with white sand that disappears beneath your feet when the tide goes out and deep turquoise water. The water is not cold, but it’s not exactly warm either, but this is late December…
After walking the strip of tourist bars and giant mega clubs we decided that the most normal looking place to get a beer was the Hooters. I fucking hate Hooters, but in that moment I was so happy to be sitting there away from the din of pounding Cancun nightlife.
I really want to keep this short because it’s only day 1 and there are still the DJ gigs and who knows what to come. At the Hooters we decided to talk to a manager and get the real deal about hanging out like a pro in Cancun. Basically to get away from all the cheesy fuglers you have to go into downtown. We learned there is another entertainment district that is mostly frequented by the locals, industry peeps, and more savvy visitors.
After our conversation with Gorge the manager we sat drinking beers and I’m not going to lie, the Mexican Hooters girls are like a million times cuter than American ones. The place was quiet and I guess we seemed a bit different, speaking funny Spanish and not pounding yard long drinks. Eventually our waitress asked us where we were from and she had never heard of Austin but lit up when San Antonio was mentioned. Her name is Fernanda and I’m in love with her. She has beautiful Mexican features and long, jet black hair. Black eyeliner and a bit of an attitude. OMFG. Fortunately I know some funny Mexican slang and she was amused that this white boy could talk a bit street.
She stole my hat but eventually gave it back and as we were leaving she asked if we were going to come back again.
I will get a picture of Fernanda. I will get proof that I shit you not about my fledgling relationship with a stunning Mexican Hooters girl. She’s originally from Guadalajara. I’m heading back to say hi later tonight.
I wonder if she would fit in my luggage?
After that Cancun didn’t seem so bad, and in fact it’s really very sleazy. The taxi drivers are the drug dealers, pimps are everywhere and very aggressive trying to sell “Mexican Pussy”. If transsexual hookers are your thing they are here too, in droves. Most of the serious shady business seems to be centered around the convention center, just a little FYI. At a certain point we said fuck it and went into a turbo cheese open air tourist club and had a couple of shots of tequila and a few beers. Once the corny trance music and rave skanks really got bumping everything was right with the world and I said, “Viva Mexico”.
Tomorrow I’m off to Playa, and then on to Tulum Thursday. I’ll be back in Cancun for one more night before I return to Austin on the 28th and you know where I’ll be- At Hooters of course practicing my Spanish with Fernanda. This shit is just getting warmed up and tonight after Hooters we are going back downtown away from the tourist zone. I just put batteries in my camera so picture taking starts tonight…
2. Playa del Carmen
I’m sitting in an internet cafe (they still exist) in Playa del Carmen getting ready for a DJ gig around 11 pm. I arrived here earlier after a quick trip to the Mayan archeological site at Tulum, where I will return tomorrow for a gig at the sister club of the one I’m playing tonight. I decided to go there today so that tomorrow I could just hang on the beach in Playa and not worry about tourist stuff. Tulum is fantastic, and the later you get there the better your chances of taking a few pictures of the site without all the tourists milling around. I took some nice snaps and will post them soon.
Last night we went back out for more Cancun action (scary!!) and started off not surprisingly at Hooters where there is a girl named Fernanda, who for what ever reason seems to think I’m funny. It was all very innocent and she would stop by occasionally to chat between serving drinks and what not. “Que onda, chicos??” she said and I replied, “Etamos bien tranqilos, que paso contigo chica?” She laughed. I asked if she knew Playa and the situation with transport etc. and she gave some tips about taking the bus.
I mentioned I was coming here to DJ and she lit up. Eres DJ? Me voy!” you are a DJ?I will go!) she declared and asked for the details, it would be amazing if she shows up. I just met this raven-haired Mexicana 2 days ago but it’s a thing as far as I’m concerned.
Anyway I’m just killing time now and will go find something to eat before the party gets going. I went ahead and brought mainly hard-hitting underground minimal trance and some breaks, because let’s face it – these people will be on X and coke for really real. I threw in a couple of more Latin-tinged tracks too for local flavor and I’m just really excited and nervous to do this. Everyone at the bar is cool and I think it worked well to my advantage that I went ahead and initiated our conversation in Spanish. The locals really appreciate that around here and it puts you in a different category of traveler.
Playa is such a cool town. It’s basically a grid of streets buffered up against one of the nicest beaches I’ve ever seen. I didn’t go in the water today, opting instead to check out the town and as I mentioned Tulum. Obviously there is money in Playa and the clothing and jewelry boutiques have the AC blasting and the doors to the street wide open. It reminds me a bit of San Miguel de Allende except with more exposed flesh and of course the beach.
Tulum. What can I say, that place is really cool. Who can deny the inherently awe inspiring achievements of the Mayan culture and this was my first visit to a major Mayan site.I better wrap it up and see what’s what for the evening. It will be amazing if this girl shows up but I’m not holding my breath.
In many ways my trip starts today – Cancun is just the jumping off point, base of operations. In many ways I might have preferred to just be in Playa, but then I would not have crossed paths with you know who. I must stay focused on the gigs, that’s the thing right now. I have plenty of time for fucking around through the weekend. So, yeah. Focus.
One other thing – It’s so nice that they have almost completely ignored Christmas around here. I mean people say, “Feliz Navidad” and what not but it’s differen. There is no Santa Clause or commercial aspect to the holiday, it’s mainly a religious thing. Refreshing, more later if I can find a connection…
3. Back to Tulum
I’m still in Playa, getting ready to catch a bus back to Tulum. The gig last night was kind of intense and the party went until just after dawn. I played early, around midnight, for an hour or so and then another DJ showed up and took over. I played again at about 2:30 and the energy was thick… I was correct about the vibe being that of rather “ecstatic” although I just was drinking beer.
My first set went well I guess, because right after Angelo, the manager at Om (the club/bar/hotel) said’ “You gonna play later man?” and I did. The people were great, sort of fancy and mostly Mexican and not a whole bunch of people from the US. By the time I got back on the decks for a second go the atmosphere was hot in every sense of the word. It was like an adult version of a rave so I went ahead and brought out the big stuff. I could describe every record etc. but when I put down 3 channel’s track “Fixation” the room went off at the break, and as the drums came back in some guy with an air canister blasted what looked like cold steam across the room as strips of white paper rained down. I have DJed a bunch of parties, but that was the single most hair raising (in a good way) moment of my career – I was tingling. I played for another hour and a half or so and switched out again with the other DJ, a guy named Felix who was so gracious about sharing the night with me, a gringo DJ on his turf that he had never met before. Something in the air in Playa…
I was looking out all night for the girl from Cancun but I never saw her. When I passed the front desk at the hotel this afternoon (I slept late) the guy behind said he had a message for me. She had called and said she had picked up a shift at Hooters but left the number of the restaurant for me to call later.
I haven’t called yet but that sort of blew my mind that she had left the message. I need to go catch the bus but I will report again tomorrow or later tonight if I can find a computer. Tulum is a bit more out there in terms of internet and even cell access but I’ll be back at the place tomorrow afternoon – Then it’s all Cancun until Sunday. at some point I hope to get to Chichen Itza…
Gotta go, more soon.
4. Apocalypto Exposed
Back in Cancun and ready to start getting mellow. In four days I have played two really late night DJ gigs in two different Mexican beach resorts, visited two major Mayan archeological sights, discovered the dark side of Cancun, and of course the pre-requisite falling in love with a black haired Mexicana who works at Hooters. Holy shit I need a siesta.
The party in Tulum was really nice, a little more low key than Christmas eve in Playa del Carmen, but not much. Om Tulum is smaller, but the clientele are more, how to say it… Out there. More Europeans and dread lock traveling types but they like to party. Not as ritzy a scene as the Playa gig, but still a bit nuts. There were two other DJs this time and for a couple of hours we played in tandem, one guy would put down a record and then someone else would mix in the next. we went back and forth like that for most of the night and it was really fun. At about 3 AM we each started playing sets of 3-4 records and would then trade out. It went down really well and I hope those guys can make it up to Austin sometime to do it all over again, although it could never be the same. Tulum has magic.
I never did call the girl at Hooters (see report 1, 2 and 3 if you are just joining in) but I will pass by there later tonight to say hi and give her a mix CD like I promised. There were some very beautiful girls at both parties and I was chatting with a girl named Paula from Chile who really seemed to have a thing for DJs, especially foreign ones… She worked at the cafe next to Om and at one point offered to get me a beer from the bar while I was playing. so very nice. Her demeanor was what I would call cool, but not in that American girl way where they try to be aloof which is always a dead give away for insecure, or just unpleasant. She was just a really laid back and pretty girl with features that hinted at her Italian roots. There was no big fireworks but if I lived here I would definitely be eating lunch as much as possible at her cafe.
I crashed out as the sun was rising and was up again by 10 to make the trek to Chichen Itza. That place is amazing and I took a few photos of the Temple of the Jaguar, the ball court, and of course the central temple, El Castillo. Pretty impressive stuff and I am now officially fascinated with Mayan culture. We hired a tour guide and it was pretty interesting to hear him rail on the movie Apocalypto, and he said that Mel Gibson had focused to much on the morbid side of things. Here’s a few tid bits about the whole human sacrifice thing because let’s face it, it’s kind of cool… First up they didn’t do all the time, just during times of hardship or when the crops were bad. They sacrificed a lot of children but all ages and sexes were potential victims. They know this because the Mayans would throw the bodies (post sacrifice) into a cenote, a kind of a natural well, and the skeletons were found when it was dredged during the initial excavation of the site.
Here’s how they think the sacrifice would go down, based on murals found inside the Temple of the Warriors: A priest would have his two assistants hold the arms and legs of the victim over a triangular shaped stone. They would break the victims spine over the rock so as to anesthetize them, and then would put the body (the person still alive) on the ritual alter and proceed to cut out the heart with a knife made of obsidian, a hard black stone. The still beating heart would then be placed on the belly of the Chac Mool (Google it) and they would repeat the process with another victim. How awesome is that?! Good times at Chichen Itza, those were the days.
Now all I have to do is figure out what to get up to for the next couple of nights in Cancun. I’m not so crazy about any more clubbing and I’m still sort of all fucked up about this girl at the Hooters. Why do I always fall for the impossible? I know why. It’s because she is maybe the most beautiful girl in Mexico, so what can I do. My plan is to stop by early, as if I have other things going on, and see if she wants to meet up for a drink after her shift. That’s a simple enough plan, right? I hope she’s not annoyed that I didn’t ever return her call from Playa or Tulum, that might have been kind of dumb on my part but I was kind of busy… Anthony Pappa is playing at The City tomorrow night so I might take it easy tonight and leave a big night out until then. The City, by the way is the largest night club in Latin America and is probably worth checking out just for that.
Now, voy a tomar una siesta. More later.
5. All Fucked Up
Holy shit Cancun can really mess one up… last night was just no good. I mean it was great but horrible too. I woke up with no money and I didn’t even know where I was. I figured it out, got up and had some coffee. The trip is winding down and I think most of the madness is behind me, but of course there is the issue of the girl at Hooters. The black haired, gothy Latina from Guadalajara that I’m in love with.
Here’s what happened: As I mentioned I passed by Hooters around 8 PM and casually sat at the bar writing in my notebook (dudes – get a notebook to write in when you are trying to look cool, playing with your cell phone is lame) and I spotted her at the outside tables. Eventually she came over and to my surprise gave me a peck on the cheek (which I will never wash again) and said, “Que onda guay?”. We chatted for a minute and I nervously asked if she could meet up later in el centro, away from the Cancun gnarlyness. She gave me a look like she was thinking, “Is this guy for real?” but said OK. I pretended like I had to go meet up with some people for a drink but we decided to meet back at Hooters at 11:30 when she would be off work. I was like wow.
I returned to the condo to kill some time and get on the internet. When I went back she was waiting for me at the bar, talking to the other employees. I was greeted at the door by another girl and the vibe was different, they seemed to know I was not there as a customer anymore… She was out of the silly Hooters uniform and was wearing black jeans and a tank top, she looked amazing. It never crossed my mind that she had normal clothes because I had only seen her in her waitress outfit. Again she gave me a peck on the cheek and I could see the other girls sort of giggling and acting childish about our date. I was straight up nervous but did my best to play it cool and not act too neurotic…
Long story short she took me to a small bar in the downtown part of Cancun. We rode the bus, which to me was kind of a bonding experience. I speak Spanish OK but not like a native so we had some funny conversation as we sipped our drinks- I had beer and she was drinking a Cuba Libre. I asked her what it was like to be so far away from her family at Christmas and she sort of started crying a little bit, which made me feel guilty for bringing it up, but at the same time I was happy to be there, because I knew that she probably would have just gone home alone. We talked about her family and life in Guadalajara, and also my time living in Mexico a few years ago. I told her about Austin and San Antonio and joked that she could move there because we have Hooters too. I had a girlfriend named Perla when I lived in San Miguel and I found myself feeling very nostalgic about her, Fernanda kind of reminds me of Perla. We decided to walk around the town and the streets were full of Mexican families hanging out together, still celebrating the holiday. The lights and smells and dogs running around were just so… Mexican. The hotel zone of Cancun feels basically like you are in the US, not very exotic, but as I walked with Fernanda I knew I was in Mexico. It felt so good.
I was joking around and talking in my most exaggerated Mexican accent, and she was laughing at me. Eventually she said, “Estamos circa mi departamento, queres venir por un rato?” (we’re near my apartment, want to come over for a bit?). I nervously said, “Hell yes!”. It was small but cute and sparsely decorated. I love how Mexican people keep their TVs covered with sort of doily like things, I guess to keep the dirt out. She had a bottle of wine that she opened and we sat near a window that looked down on a quiet street. Mexican music was playing in the distance, coming from a nearby bar or restaurant.
I should stop here… We talked about how fucked up it was that she probably would never be able to visit the US because of her economic situation, it’s not easy to get even a tourist visa for most Mexicans. I left her place about 1 AM and we promised to meet up again tonight after she’s off work, but I almost don’t want to, it just doesn’t make sense to continue this because I know I’m going to be so sad when I leave.
This shit sucks…
After I left I returned to the party zone and caught up with my brother and a few friends we had met at the Congo Bar. This is where things got too crazy drink wise and basically $15 open bar is a really, really bad idea. I mean it’s a great idea, but mainly a really bad idea. At one point I saw my brother dancing like a mad man up on the platform over the bar. I have no idea how he got up there but he wasn’t alone. What a mess! We stumbled home about 5 AM and fell over.
I went swimming again today to shake the cobwebs out and I can’t say how much I love being near/ in the ocean. I think it’s my natural environment. I will go have dinner soon and then probably upload some photos until I go to meet Fernanda at Hooters later.
I can’t stay out too late tonight because we leave sort of early tomorrow and I have a hard time getting out of bed as it is. I honestly have no idea what to expect tonight but I’m going in anyway, heartbreak be damned – I’m going to live in the now.
I’ve been back in Austin a few days now, still in shock after the accident in Cancun. I’m OK, I mean I didn’t get hurt. I still can’t believe what I saw, the Mexican girl get hit by a car. It was horrible. I’ve seen a few bad things happen to the human body in my time, but I was not prepared for the intensity of what occurred Saturday night. Fernanda died in the hospital from trauma to her body after she was hit by a speeding car.
I have been debating about writing this until now because it is so fresh, and I don’t want to take advantage of such a tragedy, but at the same time I need to get this off my chest.
We met up at the Hooters where she worked at about midnight and again caught the bus downtown. We returned to the little hole in wall cafe we visited the previous night and we sat having a few drinks and it came up that she was an aspiring actress. Our conversation was superficial, there was an underlying emotion, a funny happy sad thing going on, like we both knew what we were doing was absurd. Sure we talked about email and letters and how shitty my written Spanish is, and she spoke very little English, just the stuff you need to use at the Hooters in Cancun.
She invited me back over to her place and we were walking down a narrow street lined with Seafood restaurants, bars, and small shops as we came out to the main street. All I remember is Fernanda walking ahead as I had been stopped by a small girl in colorful if not a bit grubby traditional clothing selling woven bracelets and what not. I had said no a million times already in the 5 day I had been in Mexico and I thought I would just give the kid 10 pesos or something, I didn’t want the bracelet, but she was so cute.
I handed the girl the coin and went to the curb to catch up with Fernanda. She turned to me and said, “Que buena onda tu eres” (you are good vibes) and took one step into the street when I just saw a blur in front of me. I reached out my hand to grab her but it was too late. There was screeching and then screaming and at the same time all I could hear was silence. A car had swerved almost right up on the sidewalk and hit Fernanda full on, throwing her about ten feet away from where I was standing. I ran over to her body and pushed her black hair out of her face. I searched for her hand and held it. She was bleeding and coughing, it seemed like she was choking. The driver of the car and some other people came over and within a few minutes a police car appeared and an ambulance. I just stayed beside her holding her hand and and I put my other hand on her forehead. One of the paramedics pushed me out of the way and they began CPR. I stood there looking on in shock.
I rode in the ambulance to the hospital where I sat by myself for about an hour. Another police man asked me questions in Spanish, and I had very little info, I didn’t know her last name but I told him she worked at Hooters. A short time later Gorge, one of the managers from Hooters, showed up and talked with the police. After that he asked me what happened and I told him as best I could recall. We sat silently for another while and a doctor came out and asked if I was her husband or boyfriend. I explained I was a visitor and had just met her. He looked at me squarely and said something like, “Ella se murio” (she is dead) and something else I didn’t understand, but it had to do with her “espalda”, her back.
Gorge said he was going to stay at the hospital until they contacted her family and I took a taxi back to the hotel zone and just had this incredible numb feeling in my stomach. I had to get on a plane back to Texas in a few hours and could barely think straight. I didn’t sleep, in fact I haven’t slept much since then and I still feel pretty sick. I can’t believe what happened, it just doesn’t make sense. She was so beautiful, so far away from home. She was only 23 years old. Gorge told me that before I left the hospital. Also, he told me that her last name was Herradia.
I’m back in Austin now and I wish I had never gone to Mexico. Despite all the cool things and fun parties I really don’t remember anything except for Fernanda’s eyes as she looked back at me, and then that terrifying blur. I feel like I saw more but I have blocked something out. Something too bloody and wrong. Gorge told me to contact him at the Hooters and he would get me her families’ address so I could send a letter or something… I really don’t know what to do, I mean what am I supposed to say?
I’m never going back to Mexico.