January 25, 2009

The Worst DJ Gig of My Life

Filed under: As a DJ,Austin life — daz76 @ 7:16 am
Tags: , ,

I started a new class tonight and I noticed this girl as she came in the door late. She looked familiar and an unsettling feeling came over me. I was sure I had unknowingly insulted her at a party or something. I don’t insult people (you know, to their faces) but sometimes in the night when the libations are flowing I often think I’m being funny and sometimes people get rubbed the wrong way. As I sat there in class I was trying to remember what I might have done…

I want to talk about the worst DJ gig of my life. Keep in mind, I’ve had a few REALLY bad DJ gigs that include nearly falling off a ten foot ledge in pitch blackness into a well of broken beer bottles and piss, threatened by a crazed rasta drug lord type who nearly punched me for not playing his request, and also the time I was held captive along with the bartender at a bar on Ave. A in NYC by an out of control homeless guy. At one point he started throwing pint glasses at the bottles behind the bar which were smashing and exploding over my head. 5 NYPD cars showed up that night… That was really fucked and I nearly stopped any work with bars/clubs after that. But you know what, it gets worse.

How can it get worse than all the potential for injury, the violence, aggressiveness and fear? I’ll tell you how. It has to do with humiliation. Nearly getting beat up by a rasta is not humiliating. Being terrorized late at night in a bar is not humiliating. It’s scary, traumatizing yes, but not humiliating. No, it takes that extra something special to really ruin the usually positive and eager to please attitude of this DJ. It takes humiliation.

Here’s how it went down.

It was a few years ago and I had been asked to DJ a friend of a friends house party. This place was known for parties and it seemed like it could be fun. How wrong I was. First off, this is Austin Texas and it was the dead of summer, boiling at night, no let up from the heat. Obviously this was a big old doors open Austin house party so obviously no air conditioning and yeah, it was twice as hot inside as it was outside. I set up my CD mixer (I prefer turntables but their floor bounces the needle off the records) and surveyed the party. There was no music playing when I showed up so I thought, “This is going to be casual, no worries, just have fun”. I had been asked to bring some commercial stuff to mix in, specifically that ridiculous(ly awesome) “Walk it Out” song so I went out and dropped about forty dollars on crunk and also some reggaeton too, to keep things lively. I brought other stuff as well, but I almost felt like I had been asked to not be,
 how do I put it, too much of a DJ, as in playing house or other more specific forms of underground dance music.

One of my problems as a DJ, and maybe in life, is that I often forget to follow my instincts and do it the way I would want it done. In this instance I pandered and I noticed that while people loved it when I dropped my beloved “No Diggety” remix, they seemed dis-interested when I went to the more commercial hip hop that I had been told they wanted. My stuff was working, yet I felt obligated to mix in the top 40 radio jams. Plus it was way too hot to sustain any real type of dance, people would die if they danced for more than 10 minutes at a time. To compensate for this I brought out the microphone and had people passing by get on the mic and talk, give shout outs, it was great. People were laughing and being silly and even though I was melting I was having fun. It was around midnight when a girl, drunk, came over to me and said she wanted to hear some music.

Just take a moment here to think about what you do when you want someone, a stranger, to do you a favor. What is the logical way to approach the situation? Hmmm, maybe friendliness would work, a hello, or wow, even an introduction. But no, this was another one of those all too common situations, any DJ who’s played out enough knows the scenario. I’m talking about the white chick (sorry to be racist against white chicks but I am) who for whatever reason wants to be up in your business, like they are intimidated by the control that a DJ can wield. And what’s sad about it too is that I had already decided to relinquish that power by involving the random people passing through the room. I knew because of the heat this wasn’t going to be a dance party, so I went with fun party rocker instead.

So this drunken, wanna be hipster chick who radiated the vibe of I fucked ten Mexican guys when I studied Spanish in Monterrey last month so now I’m sorta Latina, I want Manu Chao now!! I bring in the extra racist element only because I got the feeling that one of the hostesses was Chilean or something, and she was lovely. There was just that annoying summer abroad kind of vibe with her friend and I went with it. Usually what I do when confronted by some obsessive music trainspotter or kantancarious DJ groupie is to give an over the top compliment like, “Wow, your eyes…” or, “Cool dress – do you sew?”. Both of those handy frazes have worked for me every time, except this fateful night.

I could tell she was fucked up and hostile so I just took the CD and asked what tracks she wanted to hear. She said something like, “Just play all of it, I want to dance!” I somehow surmised that it was indeed Manu and I thought I would play a cut or two and move on. But no. The CD wouldn’t play in my machine, and I use professional CD players that even read MP3. I honestly tried to get her music on, because I like Manu Chao too.

I’ll put it into turbo here so as not to ramble. After being completely distracted and thrown off course by one out of a few hundred people at the party, I decided she had already taken up too much of my time and I went back to finding other tracks to mix in. She wasn’t having it. I tried to explain that her disc didn’t want to play in my machine. I showed her, it was the truth. She became not enraged, just sort of single mindedly determined to hear her CD, right then, right there. I watched as she yelled at her friends for a computer, which someone finally procured. A mac none the less. Somehow she managed to plug in to the stereo in the living room (the party people had brought in a PA for me) and now there was a skipping CD blaring through the room. The very hot, very unfun, very annoying room.

I said fuck it and pressed stop on the mix. She could have it. Get me the fuck out. Home girl, you win. Within moments my brother and a few friends had come over and I didn’t need to explain much, as by now there was a small group of anorexic girls surrounding the original troublemaker and they were now blaring a clicky, skipping CD of Latin pop hits, dancing along even though it sounded like shit and people were staring.

I had cumbias. I had Latin funk, I had No god damn Diggity for fuck sake. Needless to say I felt completely humiliated by this one drunken woman as I packed up my gear. The saddest moment for me was when one of the gracious hosts came to me as I was leaving with my few friends that I came with and silently handed me like $50 in cash. I remember it was all folded up like she was sneaking it to me.

When I was back home I had to force myself to again unpack the DJ gear and set it up on the table where it lives near my fireplace. I was so disgusted and cursed the people in Austin and the anti fun DJ thing that goes on. I was thinking of new forms of negative expression to describe this pasty drunk bitch that had ruined my night and embarrassed the party hosts. It was so awkward because I felt that I had failed the party by packing out, but what could I do?

A secondary sting came later when I had a conversation with the guy that had originally asked me to do the gig. Obviously I said WTF? about the crazy chick and this dude didn’t really defend her, confirmed that she was WASTED but also suggested that I had freaked people out by using the microphone. He suggested that people didn’t understand that. My heart sank because these supposedly hip, in the know, party in the house people didn’t get a DJ using a mic or letting people do shout outs? This was not an austere underground Berlin or Detriot techno club with a Phazon soundsytsem and bottles popping, this was a sloppy summer kegger in a house in central Austin. If anything I should have just played reggae and chilled out dub all night, but no. I had bought the over priced mix CD with “Walk it Out” extended remix etc and wasted my time trying to have fun with a crowd that is still just getting up to speed with Daft Punk.

Never again.

Oh and by the way, the girl I mentioned getting a funny feeling about in my class tonight? I figured it out.

That’s her.

I guess I have to say thanks because I have never really delved into what happened that night for the simple fact that it was so embarassing and uncool and I wanted to forget about it, but it’s huge part of how my view of Austin was shaped. It’s alway cathartic to put feelings about those situations down and I did. It also reminded me again of the multiude of DJ stories I have in the back of my mind, floating around like a distant dream. So, in many ways pain and humliation can be inspirational in coming to understand who we are and why we end up in certain places, certain situations I am a careful person and I learn from my mistakes, and I feel certain that when all was said and done the annoying party girl probably felt pretty stupid later, and probably feels pretty stupid often if her actions that night are par for the course. That is if she even remembers, and something tells me she probably doesn’t.

We’ll see…


January 11, 2009

Un Monstro del Club

Filed under: Poetry — daz76 @ 4:17 am

Un monstro del club

She’s fucked

Belly distended

White mini falda

Near the bathroom

I saw her vomit

She’s back on the floor grinding

What a rave casualty

I’m sure she’s gonna end up dead

A few things that need to be mentioned about Mexico

First up I hope everyone kind of figured out by now that the story below is just that, a story. I did indeed go to Mexico to DJ and I did hang out with the lovely ladies at Hooters in Cancun (there’s three of them by the way, if that tells you anything about how gross and Americanized Cancun is) and almost everyone I mentioned is real. Nobody died though, in fact I’m friends with the Hooters girl on myspace! I don’t know if it was a good idea to use all real names, but I would never have come up with “Fernanda” on my own.

Some insight into the story. I was with my family in Cancun and was initially absolutely disgusted with the place. It seemed like the worst place I had ever been, aside from parts of Dallas. The Hooters was literally the only place in the hotel zone that was not some raging cheese fest of terrible techno and yard long drinks. All the stuff about being treated differently for speaking Spanish is true. At the Hooters a few of the girls really seemed curious about Austin and San Antonio and it’s all pretty much as I described it below. Fernanda was a flirt, but we never went on any dates. And if you thought that any of the romantic stuff I wrote seemed realistic, um, I don’t know what to tell you… All I can say is go back and read it again. You will see that it is actually not a tragedy at all, but a really poorly written comedy!! Gentle Mexican music coming in the window? Her last words on earth, to me, you are so nice? Come on, the whole romance and death part is ridiculous!! If you have ever been to Mexico you know there is no such thing as gentle Mexican music, it’s all shrinkingly loud trumpets and turbo bass cumbias. Some Mexican Hooters girl just invites me over to her apartment? I’m sorry if you bought it, and all I can say is don’t believe everything you read on the Internet, especially if it’s written by me!

I will add this: The element of death in the story is not without foundation, nothing in the story is. I was eating dinner with my parents in San Antonio a few weeks before the trip and my mom mentioned that about ten years ago her and my dad had seen a small boy killed by a car in Cancun. She was clearly still upset about it and briefly described the scene, with the boy’s mother holding the dead child, crying. It was very sad and I didn’t want to hear about it. It seemed too dark a topic for discussion at a lively downtown restaurant. Plus I hate seeing my mom upset.

What my parents had witnessed stuck with me, what a tragic thing, and while you are supposed to be on vacation… One evening in Cancun my mom, dad and my brother and I took a taxi into the downtown part of the city to find a more earthy place to eat. As we crossed a road my mom said that this was where they had seen the accident. Wow. At dinner my parents speculated that the boy would be 17 or 18 by now. We spent a few moments sadly reflecting on a person we never knew, and a mother’s enduring sadness at the loss of her son. I didn’t have the same urge to shush my mom from being morbid this time. I kind of felt part of it.

So that’s why I killed off Fernanda (perdon Fernanda si tu eres leyendo!). It took me forever to connect the horror that my mom had described and what I was writing. For a minute I thought I wasn’t going to finish the story at all, and that really bothered me. At first I thought about some Woody Allen-esqe comedy of errors, missed connections, poor communication, and unrequited love left behind  in Mexico. That seemed too light weight for my sensibilities. Then I thought about having Fernanda turn out to be a transexual, as I had mentioned the number of high end tranny hookers hanging around Cancun in an earlier part of the story.  Fernanda, Fernando, get it? My brother, upon consultation, was pushing for this ending, but hooking up with a transexual was also far from the tragic scene I was searching for. It would have been pointless, I wouldn’t have cared and we probably would have gone clubbing and exchanged emails. Again, not intense enough for the stories’ needs.

The first version of the epilogue was much more silly, with references to bullfighting and general stereotypes of a dangerous, bloody and wild Mexico. Then I came back to the car accident that my mom had described to me and I had it. As I read back I decided to strip the corny stuff and go for the gusto, although I still think there are way too many clues in there that it was a fictional description of my last night in Mexico. If that shit really happened to me I would be homeless, wandering the streets of Cancun in rags, drunk, insane, searching for the ghost of a beloved dead girl and generally annoying the tourists with my filth. That’s just how I am when it comes to love.

The other night my Uruguayan home girl Valaria from Hooters added me on myspace and I was thrilled. As I looked through her pictures everyone was there, Fernanda, Jorge the manager, all the pretty ladies from Hooters. It was actually really nice, sort of uplifting, because even though I laughed out loud at my own story many times, a certain part of my imagination had embraced what I wrote, allowing me to feel sort of sad about an event that never occurred. Does that happen to other writers? Because it happens to me a lot.

The truth is I had a great fucking time all over the Yucatan. It was an amazing trip and my initial disdain for Cancun subsided after a few tequila shots and it was really mellow with my folks. The worst thing that happened to me in Mexico was pretty much just dealing with getting in and then later out of bed.

So again I wanted to make that clear. Reality based creative writing is what I do. I dedicate the story to my friends at Hooters, especially Fernanda, and also to the nameless boy that actually did die in his mother’s arms after being hit by a car all those years ago. What the hell, I’ll go ahead and dedicate it to my mom too, she’s damn good for the morbidity, great inspiration!

January 1, 2009

Mexico is for Dreamers Like Me

1. Cancun

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.

Um, yeah…

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…

More later.

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.

More soon…

6. Epilogue

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.

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