Archive for the ‘Mexico’ Category

Internet Romeo In Colombia

May 18, 2014

My first date in Colombia was with Diana. I called the number she had given me a few weeks prior, via email.

“Is Diana there?” I asked.

“No, who is this?” replied a female voice.

“I am Brian and I met Diana online on Colombian Cupid.”

“Ah yes, this is a friend of hers, my name is Adriana. The name of my friend isn’t really Diana, it’s Lorena.”

“Oh, can Lorena meet me today at 12 noon?” I asked, not at all fazed by a few names changes by my potential date.

“Yes, we can.” (It was very unexpected to have a date with two girls)

“Ok, lets meet at Plaza de los Periodistas (The Journalists’ Square) at 12 noon and then go to Monserrate (a little church on 10,000 foot high mountain) from there,” I suggested.

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At 12 noon, I received a call from Adriana, “Hi Brian, we are at the entrance of Monserrate, but we can’t find you.”

“Well, I am at Plaza de los Periodistas, waiting for you guys, should I take a taxi to Monserrate, and meet you guys there?”

“Yes, we will wait for you here.”

So, I jumped in a cab that was actually being hailed by another person from my hostel who was also going to Monserrate. It was with a girl who wasn’t quite sure if we had met before or not.

“Were you with the people from the hostel who went to the club last night?”

“Which people are you talking about?” As far as I could remember, I hadn’t gone out at night anywhere in at least a week.

Before she could respond, my phone rang.

“Hi Brian, this is Adriana, we have decided that we will come to Plaza de los Periodistas and see you, there are too many people up here at Monserrate.”

I quickly explained to the taxi driver and to my newly-acquired backpacker friend that I was getting out of the cab. The backpacker girl asked why. I explained that my friends had said that it was too crowded at the top. The backpacker remained in cab and decided to go on without me. I jumped out and started walking back to Plaza de los Periodistas. By the time I had gotten to Plaza de los Periodistas, Lorena and Adriana were already there.

Lorena quickly explained to me that she had given me the phone number of her friend (Adriana) as a way to protect herself from strange people. Although she didn’t explain why her real name (Lorena) was different from the name she used online (Diana).

Still really not having any idea what was going on, I agreed to go for lunch with my new internet friends.

As we walked through Bogota’s old town, Lorena/Diana and Adriana gave me an informal tour. The description given about every building by Lorena/Diana was all the same. It was either “delicious” or “cool.” What a great start, we had picked the most delicious and cool place in all of Bogota for our walk. We finally arrived at a restaurant that was in the touristy part of town and looked to cost a lot more than my standard $3USD meal that I was spending on lunch each day. Against my better judgment, I agreed to eat at this expensive restaurant. So we went in and all sat down. While ordering, Adriana made sure to get three appetizers and beers for everyone. My mind started to calculate the price of the meal. According to my estimate, the price at that moment was somewhere between $60-$75, (nearly a week’s budget for my food). I tried to relax and started showing Adriana some of the photos I had taken during my first week in Colombia. While I was doing this, Lorena/Diana got up from the table, walked out to the restaurant balcony and started talking on the phone with “her mother.”

As soon as the food came, Lorena/Diana came back from the balcony and sat down with us. She informed us that after the meal that we were invited to come to her mother’s house on the other side of town to watch a soccer game. I didn’t feel comfortable with doing that but I told her that I would go with them. We then started eating lunch. As we were eating, Adriana asked me how old I thought each of them was.

It was a strange question, since Lorena/Diana’s age (29) appeared on the website. I could definitely tell that Adriana was a lot older. But I didn’t want to offend Adriana, so I said, “29 and 32.”

Adriana (the less attractive and heavier one) looked to be very happy with that number and started talking about the many boyfriends she had in life, thanks to her charisma and beauty. At one point in her story she went as far to say, “If you don’t like Lorena, you could choose me.” At that exact moment when she said that, I was cutting my hamburger into more manageable bites and nearly cut my index finger off. It was the equivalent of asking to trade a horse for a Lamborghini.

My only response, was just to meekly smile while I tried to think of how I had gotten myself into this situation. Adriana then put her phone up to her ear, to make a call. The call didn’t go through. She then tried again.

“I am trying to call a cell phone that has been turned off, do you mind if I use your phone?”

I assumed that I either didn’t understand her Spanish that well, (because her request made no sense), or, she just wanted to see my cell phone to try and size me up for how much money I had. It was at this moment I knew it was time to take action. I grabbed my camera and backpack and said, “I need to go to the bathroom, I will be right back.”

I went to the back of the restaurant and went out the back door. It felt great to have skipped out on the bill, leaving two scam artists to pay for an overpriced meal. As I walked back to my hostel, I wondered what I would do if either of them tried to call me. I decided to turn my phone off for a couple hours. Fortunately, I never heard from Adriana or Lorena/Diana again. Unfazed by this first date, I was determined to find a special lady friend.

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I Speak Colombian – The Book

When the country of Peru is mentioned, one imagines a peaceful scene of an Andean alpaca grazing along an Incan stone wall. When Ecuador is brought up, we imagine a rain forest panorama of frogs jumping off branches while butterflies mate in the background. When Colombia is mentioned, we automatically picture an overturned bus, being pillaged by men in ski masks. I think it is obvious, which country, a reasonable person like myself, would choose to go to in search of a beautiful Latin lover and a more fulfilling professional career.

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The 3-Hour Work Week: The Gringo Guide To Online Dating, Learning Spanish, Avoiding Deportation And Making Money In Colombia is designed to inspire people to maximize life experiences and escape an ordinary life. Inspired by the ideologies of the self-proclaimed “Internet Romeo/All-Star Budget Traveler/Worst English Teacher in Colombia,” it has been described as the holy grail for those who want to explore opportunities abroad and network with hot Latin singles.

This is the complete guidebook on how to relocate to Colombia and become an English teacher/freelance writer/actor. This book illustrates the many advantages (affordable health insurance, the lack of tipping in restaurants and affordable plastic surgery) that the gringo visitor can expect to find in Colombia.

Funny, fact filled and always informative, The 3-Hour Work Week provides the knowledge you need to make the most out of the Colombia experience, and/or makes a great coffee table book you can enjoy during the commercial breaks of the Jersey Shore. Jam-packed with practical information, The 3-Hour Work Week addresses all the concerns and taboos a prospective ex-pat in Colombia needs to know, such as finding the right job to tips on which people to filter out while surfing online dating sites. While other books focus solely on the tourist experience, The 3-Hour Work Week discusses the life beyond the typical gringo trail, providing you with an in-depth and often hilarious guide to Colombian internet culture, food, drinking, dating, health and relations with its socialist neighbor, Venezuela.

The 3-Hour Work Week is a true adventure story about a 37-year-old socially-awkward man who decided that the best way he could deal with being refused a job at Barnes & Noble was to go online and look for a girlfriend in Colombia, and then hop on a flight to Colombia’s cagey capital in pursuit of a woman he has never met.

Brian sincerely believed the trip would put him on a track towards a life of excitement, intrigue, and far from his increasing first world debt. Instead, he unexpectedly falls into a job as an extra in a Colombian soap opera, almost gets kidnapped during an eDate, has panic attacks, watches other gringos lose their marbles, and blows half his paycheck on bootlegged DVD’s. Along the journey, he chronicles his friendships, the deranged ex-pats he meets, and his struggles/triumphs, including one fateful night in a Israeli restaurant that would change his life forever.

Latin American Scams

May 13, 2014

The list of scams in Latin America is legendary.

If you go out drinking, never drink out of a beer bottle you didn’t open yourself, or else you will get roofied and chained to a toilet until all your money is successfully taken out of your bank account. Stay in a hostel and you will get hit up for money from other tourists who have “been robbed.” Go to an ATM at night and transvestites will grab your crouch as you are taking the money out of the ATM, when you push their hands away from your private parts they make off with the money. Go into a store and a man will walk up next to you saying, “Paloma, Paloma” (pidgin, pidgin). After that, he’ll pull some toilet paper out of his pants pocket and start wiping off the white stain (the supposed pidgin poop) on your backpack, as he’s doing this, he’ll slip his hand inside your backpack and take your camera. Get into a taxi to your hotel and the driver will supposedly get lost and drive around for 45 minutes looking for your hotel. By the time he finally gets there, your taxi fare has gone from $4USD to $50USD.

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For your next trip you decide to take the bus. While on the bus, never stand near the exit. If you do, two guys will stand behind you pretending to be about to get off. One of them will be carrying a large dry-cleaning bag with a hook on it which he drapes over your backpack. While you stand there clueless, his buddy will slip his hand into your backpack and take your camera, passport, jacket and whatever else is in there. But, not this time. Instead of playing the fool, you feel your bag being tugged at and you quickly grab your backpack and realize it has been opened. You stare at the two guys and then stare blankly into your empty backpack. “Are you sure your jacket didn’t fall out in the front of the bus?” asks the one with the dry cleaning bag. You subsequently make eye contact with the 45 other passengers in the bus like a wet cat, hoping someone else is going to throw you a towel. The rest of the passengers do nothing but stare out the window.

 

Take your clothes to be washed and you better make sure you count every sock and take a picture of it with the guy who you turned your dirty laundry in to. If not, when you get your clothes back anything worth anything will be gone.

 

Go out on a Friday night with your buddies from the hostel, this is the time when the least amount of people are in the hostel and therefore the most likely time for the lockers to be robbed. The whole second floor lockers of a hostel in Cali, Colombia got robbed by three hostel guests with fake passports on a Friday night at 11.30pm. They checked out of the hostel after robbing the entire second floor (rooms and lockers) and actually sent the passports back to the hostel via taxi.

 

Border crossings – By car of by bus? By bus you will be dropped off in front of immigration area. You will then stand in line until it’s time to get your passport stamped. You walk to the other side and you will be met by 15 different money changers who will show you the exchange rate on their digital calculators. “2.79 Peruvian Nuevo Soles for a dollar,” they tell you. Perfect, you hand the Money changer $50USD. What you don’t know is that right before he does the conversion, he uses an alternate exchange rate that is saved in the calculator’s memory. He uses this other exchange rate which is 18% lower. So, instead of getting 139.5 Nuevo Soles, you get 115. In Mexico they have taken this scam to the next level. The money exchanger will actually exchange your money into the old Mexican Peso (if you look stupid enough) which hasn’t circulated since 1994.

 

Speaking of Mexico, say you are crossing the border between San Diego and Tijuana at 3am in a 2010 model Mazada 626 with California plates. These three miscalculations will get you pulled over to the side of the road within 6 minutes of crossing the border by a Tijuana Traffic cop. “Speeding? Are you sure officer? I wasn’t doing more than 15 miles an hour.”

 

You will be given two options as a foreigner – either have your car impounded until you pay the fine of $139USD, or “We can settle it right now for $100USD.” Thanking the officer for expediting the process, you pull a wad of bills out of your shoe and pass it over to the officer. Instead of counting it, he stuffs the bills into his front pocket like the money was about to explode. He then asks you where you are going and gives you directions on how to get onto the highway.

 

Then finally you visit the prison in Quito, Ecuador. There you wait in the visitation line. While in line, you dump a bag full of money on the sidewalk in front of the prison and nobody will even look twice. Why you ask? The reason nobody will touch it is because every thief over the age of 8-years old knows they don’t mess with people who have friends in prison.

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I Speak Colombian – The Book

When the country of Peru is mentioned, one imagines a peaceful scene of an Andean alpaca grazing along an Incan stone wall. When Ecuador is brought up, we imagine a rain forest panorama of frogs jumping off branches while butterflies mate in the background. When Colombia is mentioned, we automatically picture an overturned bus, being pillaged by men in ski masks. I think it is obvious, which country, a reasonable person like myself, would choose to go to in search of a beautiful Latin lover and a more fulfilling professional career.

000000000000000000000000000000px-Alpaca_en_Mapi

The 3-Hour Work Week: The Gringo Guide To Online Dating, Learning Spanish, Avoiding Deportation And Making Money In Colombia is designed to inspire people to maximize life experiences and escape an ordinary life. Inspired by the ideologies of the self-proclaimed “Internet Romeo/All-Star Budget Traveler/Worst English Teacher in Colombia,” it has been described as the holy grail for those who want to explore opportunities abroad and network with hot Latin singles.

This is the complete guidebook on how to relocate to Colombia and become an English teacher/freelance writer/actor. This book illustrates the many advantages (affordable health insurance, the lack of tipping in restaurants and affordable plastic surgery) that the gringo visitor can expect to find in Colombia.

Funny, fact filled and always informative, The 3-Hour Work Week provides the knowledge you need to make the most out of the Colombia experience, and/or makes a great coffee table book you can enjoy during the commercial breaks of the Jersey Shore. Jam-packed with practical information, The 3-Hour Work Week addresses all the concerns and taboos a prospective ex-pat in Colombia needs to know, such as finding the right job to tips on which people to filter out while surfing online dating sites. While other books focus solely on the tourist experience, The 3-Hour Work Week discusses the life beyond the typical gringo trail, providing you with an in-depth and often hilarious guide to Colombian internet culture, food, drinking, dating, health and relations with its socialist neighbor, Venezuela.

The 3-Hour Work Week is a true adventure story about a 37-year-old socially-awkward man who decided that the best way he could deal with being refused a job at Barnes & Noble was to go online and look for a girlfriend in Colombia, and then hop on a flight to Colombia’s cagey capital in pursuit of a woman he has never met.

Brian sincerely believed the trip would put him on a track towards a life of excitement, intrigue, and exotic women, far from his increasing first world debt. Instead, he unexpectedly falls into a job as an extra in a Colombian soap opera, almost gets kidnapped during an eDate, has panic attacks, watches other gringos lose their marbles, and blows half his paycheck on bootlegged DVD’s. Along the journey, he chronicles his friendships, the deranged ex-pats he meets, and his struggles/triumphs, including one fateful night in a Israeli restaurant that would change his life forever.

 

Mexican Dentist

March 31, 2013

While taking a trip to Ixtapa, Mexico, I felt a sharp pain in my rear molar. At that point in my checkered life, I hadn’t been to a dentist for two years. I knew I could not afford a dentist in the United States so I asked a Mexican lady working in reception in a beach side hotel if she knew of a dentist in town. There was only one. She told me I couldn’t miss it. It was on the second floor of a women’s shoe store.

Ixtapa

Going to see a dentist is usually a major hassle. You have to make an appointment two months in advance. When you get there you need to show three forms of ID, fill out paperwork and after the dentist has three proofs of payments, for his services, he will then show his face. On top of all this, you are paying this cheeky two-timing, lick spittle son of a gun $250 an hour to lurk around your mouth with a Popsicle stick and a mirror. Upon inspection, if there’s actually anything to fix, the dentist will tell you to come back in another month. If I ask the dentist why my halitosis and eroded gums haven’t improved since the last visit he’ll lecture me that I eat too much candy before bed, I don’t brush the back part of my mouth as well as the front, I should be brushing in circles rather than side-to-side and I am worthless and people like me don’t deserve to share the planet with the all-mighty dentists.

This is the reason I have stopped going to dentists in the United States. I am sick of the guilt, the paperwork and paying these guys thousands of dollars so they can lecture me for not flossing every day. When you go to see a Mexican dentist, you have the confidence of knowing your dental problem will be dealt with the same day of your visit. Another plus is that you don’t have to wait in line behind others and he doesn’t give you a huge speech about all the things you’re doing wrong. There’s no $400 bill for laughing gas or X-rays. The dentist cuts the price charged by using low-technology solutions to inspect your teeth. With Mexican dentists, all I had to do was bring $40USD with me if I wanted my teeth worked on, and, if there’s any extra charges, I could bring the rest of the money later.

The last Mexican dentist I saw was Dr. Vicenezio in Ixtapa. While seated in the dentist’s chair, Dr. Vicenezio didn’t give me a big lecture about going to the dentist every six months. He just checked my teeth and explained that I have really deep crevices in my teeth so sometimes food can get stuck in the crevices and cause cavities. He said he would need to drill seven teeth. He also asked me how I got a chipped front tooth. I explained to him that I had chipped it when I landed wrong onto the trapeze net at Club Med. My knee hit the bottom of my jaw and knocked my bottom teeth into the top row. This was no problem for Dr Vicenezio. He used a polisher to even out the first two teeth and assured me that the chipped backs of the bottom two teeth would grow back, which they did.

I was a little worried about the cost and he told me it would be $75USD and I could pay him the rest when I got my next pay check. He injected painkiller directly into my gums so I wouldn’t feel any pain from the drill. He was half right, I did feel a little pain but he quickly drilled out the seven teeth and put a sealant over the holes to prevent food from getting caught in there. The whole transaction took about 40 minutes and I was out the door. Five years later, my teeth are still cavity-free.

Surfing El Rancho In Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo

February 6, 2013

One night after having a couple beers at the bar in Ixtapa, Mexico I bragged to a Mexican girl that I was the second cousin of surf legend Kelly Slater.

“Oh really, you should come surfing tomorrow morning with me and my friend Chiminique.”

#1) It always amazes me what a high percentage of the stories I tell people actually believe.

#2) I didn’t ask if Chiminique was a prison nickname or his birth name

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We met in reception at her hotel on Thursday. I brought a boogie board instead of a surfboard. This being because I have never owned a surfboard in my life.  Chiminique was there at 5 a.m. to pick us up. I secretly was afraid of the beaches around Zihuatanejo, because I had heard stories about tourists dying from getting slammed by waves up to 15 feet high at Playa Larga.

While in his car, our friend Chiminique said he’d take us to el Rancho, instead of Playa Larga. Chiminique explained that although the waves are bigger in el Rancho than those of Playa Larga, they break more consistently, always from right to left. Also, we should never drop into a wave and go right. If we did, we’d be knocked into the bed of rocks that line the sea floor. My throat tightened up when I heard this. Not only were we going to the beach with the most massive waves, but the floor was also lined with rocks that could smash us to pieces if we dropped into a wave wrong.  It was too late to back out, as we were already 20 minutes down the highway and I didn’t want this girl to think I was chicken. I sat back and tried to imagine her in a bikini to calm myself down. Instead of seeing her in a bikini, I saw my own obituary, written in Spanish.

When we got to el Rancho, it was still dark outside. We parked in a dirt parking lot next to a beach restaurant. I could only see the white part of the water as the waves broke. I watched wave after wave crash down, each time making as much noise as a five-story building falling to the ground.  The next thing I noticed was that the whole shore was lined with huge boulders. Before getting out to the water, we first had to climb a wall of rocks.  In between the boulders there were little pools of water a foot to a foot and a half deep, with sandy bottoms.  Chiminique asked me if I had brought aqua socks because if I didn’t, I would probably cut my feet while walking out to the water with my boogie board.  He told me if I did cut my feet I shouldn’t go into the water because I would attract sharks.  The story was going from bad to worse.

I looked back towards the car and the Mexican girl had taken off her T-shirt.  I stared at her tan back as she was tying her hair into a ponytail.  I had to keep it together, I was the only guy there with a boogie board and I didn’t want to look like a punk by staying behind on the beach. If I didn’t at least get into the water, she would probably marry Chiminique instead of me. Chiminique zipped up his wetsuit, put on his rubber booties, loaded his board on top of his head and started rock-jumping to get out to the water.  I took off my shirt, tucked the boogie-board under one arm and used the other arm to keep my shorts from falling down. I was behind the others, so I tried to follow the routes they were taking, in order not to slip off a rock and break my head open. On my third jump to a rock, I stubbed my toe badly.  I laid down and rolled up into a ball on top of the rock, trying not to cry in front of everyone.This gave ample time for the rest of the crew to pass me on their way to the water.

While laying on my side, I looked through the darkness and saw one of the sandy-bottomed pools.  I decided it was stupid to jump from rock-to-rock when I could just stroll through the pools and save myself from stubbing my toe again. I stepped down into the pool and felt something rubbery. All of a sudden the whole sandy bottom started to come alive, like grease in a frying pan. A manta ray the size of a dining room table scooted out from under the sandy ocean bottom.  That should have been a sign to turn back, but just at that moment the Mexican girl jumped off the last rock onto her surfboard and I could see her firm backside poking through the bottom of her shorts on top of the surfboard.  I got back on top of the rock, gritted my teeth and waited for the first flash of pain from my toe to wash away.  I continued to the next rock and then to the final rock. It was time for me to jump into the ocean. I tried not to think about my obituary notice.

I jumped in and the water was unreal, it felt great. I told myself, “No problem, just duck the first couple of waves until you get used to maneuvering out there.”  I went over the tops of the first two waves and all my childhood boogie boarding started coming back to me.  After being out there for 2 minutes, I realized that the only way to get back to the shore was to ride at least one wave in. It would be impossible to swim against the current back to the shore.  Chiminique started waving at me to come out to where all the rest of the surfers were.  He explained to me later that I was in the middle of the break zone and needed to paddle quickly through that part or a wave would crash on top of me and drive me into the shallow sea floor right below me.  I started paddling out and I noticed I was heading right into a pretty big wave.  I didn’t want to duck this one because I was afraid of losing my orientation as I came back up to the surface, so I made a path straight on and started to turn vertical as I went up the face of the wave.

It seemed I just kept going higher and higher and was becoming even more vertical, almost to the point of falling back down to the bottom of the wave which had to be at least an eight foot drop.  I started pushing the nose of the boogie board down with my arms to try and push through the top of this wave and got slapped in the face with the crest of the wave as I zoomed down the other side.  A lot of people say bull riding is the most dangerous sport in the world.  Surfing is like bull-riding except the bull weighs several thousand tons.

At that point I went into survival mode and the only thing on my mind was surviving long enough to stand on firm ground again.  I knew another wave was approaching and it would be even more deadly. I was determined to take the next one in. I turned to face the shore and started paddling.  It felt like the wave was taking too long to get to me, so I turned around to see what was going on just as the wave was falling on top of me, pushing me several feet underwater.

The next thing I knew I was bouncing on the sea floor and my boogie board was hitting me from all sides like a tether ball around a pole.  Before running out of air, I managed to get back to the surface.A half second later I was back under water and being dragged backwards. I breached the surface once more, this time right as the second wave came crashing down on me. I realized pretty quick that I wouldn’t last long out here at this rate.

So, as I was being taken under by the second, I started to feel around on the underneath the water.  As I was feeling around, I felt the edge of a rock sticking out. I grabbed onto it with both hands.  Right as I latched on to this rock all the water receded and I was all of a sudden on a shelf of rocks. I used all my strength to get back up on the original wall I had jumped off barely six minutes earlier. Once on top of the wall, I got on my hands and knees and hobbled across the rocks as quickly as possible.

Once I got back to the beach, I collapsed, face down. While lying face-down, a Mexican man poked me on the back and asked me if I wanted to come and sit inside his beach side restaurant. I ordered Huevos Rancheros but realized I didn’t have any money. The waiter said not to worry, he’d just add it to what Chiminique owed him for that month.

Traveling The World on a Shoestring Budget

January 22, 2013

Brian Ward, 36, got his first taste of living in a Spanish-speaking country after high school graduation. Since then, his life has consisted of traveling around the world, surviving on canned tuna at some points, pretending to be pro-surfer Kelly Slater’s second cousin and spying on his Russian Mafia neighbors.

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Ward decided to compile his journals of living in Mexico, Spain and other countries throughout Latin America and Europe, with travel tips on how to live rent-free for under $25 a day in his book titled “Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man.”

His book, referred to as “a modern day version of ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ except with more whining” by Lulu.com, a self-publishing company, follows Ward’s adventures, both good and painful, from sharing pants in Costa Rica, to traveling the European rail system on canned tuna, to surviving Mexico’s 60-year-old buses.

“If you can’t already tell, I was a loser in high school,” Ward wrote in his book’s introduction. “The only reason I got through it was because most of my fellow students thought I was completely out of my mind. My senior quote for the high school yearbook was, ‘Is the ringing in my head bothering you?’”

While traveling, nobody knew who Ward used to be, and he said he used this opportunity to constantly reinvent himself, sometimes attempting to impress women by telling them he was pro-surfer Kelly Slater’s second cousin.

“They don’t know you don’t have a job, you did bad in high school and your car’s a piece of junk,” Ward said. “You can just invent your own identity.”

Ward first experienced the art of identity crafting while living in Costa Rica. He jokingly asked his grandmother for a ticket to Colombia for graduation, and unexpectedly, she bought him a ticket to Costa Rica, where some of her friends lived.

He learned Spanish by while shopping for cigarettes for his host brother and spending the majority of his time listening to and learning about his family’s obsession with Levi’s Jeans.

“I brought this pair of Levi’s Jeans to Costa Rica that didn’t fit me, and gave them to the my host family. The whole family took turns wearing them. They were in constant circulation 24-hours a day,” Ward said. He explained that when one family member would take them off at bedtime, another person would put them on. “They’re probably still wearing those things,” he said.

Ward said this experience opened his eyes to how people live outside of the U.S.

“They really value any little token of gratitude there, and here, we don’t appreciate anything,” he said.

After a summer in Costa Rica, Ward began community college before working as a valet at a hotel in Monterey, Calif. He then traveled across the country with his father and entered a four-year university for a single semester before moving to Mexico.

Ward said while he liked the people of Mexico better than any other place he visited, its bus system has created some of his worst memories. He first discovered this while taking a three-day bus trip from Mexico City to Cancun on a “60-year-old piece of junk.”

“People were bringing 50-pound sacks of chips and blankets and bananas onto the bus; all these supplies like they’re leaving the country. I didn’t understand that you’re leaving civilization for the ride,” Ward said. “If you don’t bring water, you aren’t drinking.”

After returning to California and readjusting to American life, Ward turned down a job driving a delivery truck for Doritos before fleeing to Spain, where he experienced an entirely new type of adjustment.

“In Spain, the biggest cultural difference is these people are party animals,” Ward said, remembering a time when some friends asked him to go for “a couple of beers,” which turned into 15 hours of nonstop drinking.

“I slept in the door(way) of some abandoned building,” he said, adding that when he woke up “I was just trying to think what country I was in.”

Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man is available on Lulu.com

Chapter 1

Modest Beginnings

The story starts in Mexico where the author, Brian, is camping with his Mexican love interest. After roasting marshmallows, Brian sneaks up to the cabin where his girlfriend will be sleeping. His plans go quickly array when his girlfriend enters the cabin and Brian loses his nerve. The book then flashes back seven years to just before Brian’s sophomore year in high school. It retraces Brian’s failed attempts with girls in high school. While outside of school, with his friends, Brian does a lot of inadvisable driving due to false confidence and inexperience.

 

This chapter outlines the challenges of dating girls in high school. This chapter spans fours years and shows why teenagers should not be given driver’s licenses. The end of this chapter uncovers a dilemma; although high school is torture, the outside world may even be worse.

Chapter 2

Adventures of Link: Costa Rica

Brian is persuaded by his grandmother to visit Costa Rica. When he gets down to Costa Rica, he realizes the family he is staying with speaks no English and spends the rest of the summer with his two host brothers who have one pair of pants between the both of them.

 

This chapter gives a brief introduction to on how to find practical uses for foreign languages. In order for someone to succeed in mastering a foreign language, they must find a worthwhile obstacle to be overcome; in this case it’s The Legend of Zelda (a Nintendo video game).

Chapter 3

Marine Biology Will Ruin Your Life

Brian starts community college and realizes he is totally unprepared for his tests or the personalities of his teachers in college. He becomes a valet at a hotel in Monterey, California and realizes that people in real life are more like him than anyone he met in high school.

This chapter shows how a complicated situation like not having the perquisites for a class or any knowledge of a certain subject matter shouldn’t discourage a person from taking a class. The best way to have success is seeking out peers who can provide knowledge based on their experiences on how to succeed in community college. The later part of this chapter shows how community college a just a minor achievement and the true test comes when a person gets a job and is thrown in with a cast of co-workers straight out of the TV series 21 Jumpstreet.

Chapter 4

Superstud and Son: Vacations with My Old Man

Brian reunites with one of the oddest characters of the book, his father, and they travel across the country trying unsuccessfully to fit it with small-town Americans and some Canadian truck drivers.

 

This chapter exposes the superficiality of making professional athletes and actors our heroes. Sometimes we have only to look as far as own immediate family to find role-models.

Chapter 5

Korean Mafia, Line #1

Brian starts at a four year university and has to do some quick thinking to avoid being thrown out of school his first semester. He meets his first girlfriend but falls in love with her roommate and then tries to get his friend to help repair the situation.

 

This chapter teaches proper phone etiquette when dealing with new roommates. He also discussed are tips on how to get up for living in the dorms, a place where round the clock role-playing is common and the need for residents to bring a set of keys to the bathroom with them are a fact of life. This chapter gives the best strategy for students on the brink of being expelled from. This chapter reveals the people who secretly control academic life on college campuses; teacher’s aids. They are the experts on arranging classes, where to obtain economical furniture and trends in the housing market.

Chapter 6

50 Kilos of Bananas on a Bus Bound for Cancun

Brian moves down to Mexico to study business, while failing accounting he requests a tutor and meets the most beautiful girl in school. He experiences the worst three days of his life on a bus to Cancun, but finds out it was well worth the suffering when he finally arrives to Cancun.

This chapter shows reader how to use the skills obtained in American universities can also be used to survive in Mexico. This chapter also reveals the names of discothèques in smaller Mexican towns are very hospitable to gringos.. This chapter will show how best to deal with Mexican migration when they are threatening deportment.

Chapter 7

Broken Bottle of Rum in a Burning Dumpster

Brian goes on cross-country trip in an RV with his mother and her boyfriend. He discovers a land where animals are on the top of the food chain when he enters Yellowstone National Park.

 

This chapter will show why sometimes reconnecting with one’s host country an be painful. Several near-death experiences and a broken pair of Ray-Bans mark Brian’s reintroduction to the United States. This chapter shows how visitors to Yellowstone National Park have not only to choose between the rugged falls and the revealing leather biker chaps worn by the locals for inspiration. They will also be mesmerized by other campers’ willingness to put their lives in danger to get a closer look at the many animals in the park.

Chapter 8

After Hours Partying at City Hall

Brian returns to university after being in Mexico for a year. He has trouble readjusting to life in United States but is helped through it by a cast of friends who make the Sopranos look like the Brady Bunch.

In the year Brian spent in Mexico, his friends from university have become the pit bosses of a town on the verge of anarchy. Brian can no longer rely on his old routine of going to class, eating microwavable burritos and playing Nintendo. With his friend’s new-found street credentials, not only is Brian supposed to attend three hour long seminars on wrist preparation in racquetball, but he is also brought along to participate in his friends’ verbal bashings of the local minor league baseball umpires. This chapter will also offer a look at interesting costal camping trails in Northern California.

Chapter 9

Louie Armstrong is Out to Kill Me

Brian turns down a job driving a delivery truck for Doritos and moves to the Costa Brava in Spain. Brian learns the ins and outs of living in close quarters with a group of Spanish Gypsies who are threatening to bring the entire east coast of Spain to its knees if it adopts the Euro as its national currency.

 

This chapter will illustrate why a college graduate should wait on paying off student loans and getting a job. If a person is going to poor and in a dead-end job, why not do it in Spain? Also discussed will be how Mexico and Spain really don’t have much in common besides a language. Also explained will be how a foreigner without much sense of direction or language skills, can navigate Spain’s 3rd largest city with relative ease. This chapter will also describe the difficulties of Spain’s proletariat in adopting the Euro as its official currency.

Chapter 10

“How ‘bout You Take a Picture of Me with Your Wife?”

Brian’s father resurfaces. He arrives to Spain just in time to board a train with his son Rome, Italy. While in Rome, they discover they have the entire city to themselves due to the terrorist attacks in New York City.

This chapter reveals the location of the most economical luxury hotel in Valencia. Also discussed is what will someday be known as the “golden age” of travel, the few months after 9/11. This was a time when hotels and airlines were practically giving away their services. This was also a time when travel by Americans to other countries was pretty rare, for those lucky ones who did travel, they enjoyed unmatched hospitality towards Americans abroad. In addition to the kindness experienced by tourists, world-famous attractions like the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel were at their most accessible levels in decades.

Chapter 11

Flying Pig Hostel

Brian meets up with his long-lost cousin in Amsterdam. Brian learns shortly after meeting his cousin Simon for the first time, that his cousin is planning on traveling Europe on a shoestring budget which has them surviving on canned tuna and sleeping on trains in between cities. 

This chapter will give a description of the months before the adoption of the Euro currency in Spain. It will also give a description of the Dutch language and how it can be very confusing because of its eerie similarities to English. This chapter gives the budget needed for a traveler beginning a two month tour of Europe. This chapter will reveal to the reader how to get a cheap bed and many friends in Amsterdam.

Chapter 12

Bonjour, Avec Linda, s’il vous plait

 

Brian falls in love with Moroccan girl living in Paris. He tries repeatedly to call her and is forced to learn basic French to get past the girl’s mother on the phone.

The chapter will make the reader aware of what makes Paris different from any other city. It will reveal a side of the city, which despite its size and bad publicity, can be a pleasurable if the traveler can put aide his/her inhibitions of making a fool of themselves. This chapter will also disclose some lesser-known museums in Paris that are astounding in their originality. This chapter will outline questions to anticipate while entering the UK via ferry.

Chapter 13

Irish Ferries Really Means Irish Transportation Services

Brian tours Ireland with his cousin Simon. They impress an Irish film crew in one of the hostels while show-cooking an omelet. They get separated for the first time in Europe and set about trying to track each other down while not missing their outgoing flight to Spain.

 

The best vacations are ones that are open to spontaneity. This chapter will uncover a method of air travel that is so cheap, the tax on the ticket is higher than the cost. This chapter gives the name of a hostel in Ireland that’s a guaranteed great way to meet college-aged singles. Also provided are details on how the reader can be the life of the party, even if they can’t drink or dance. This chapter will also profile an Irish hostel/mansion that only charges 8€ a night. This chapter ends by summing up the effects of the Spanish Civil War on the lives of people who were outside of the country when the war broke out.

Chapter 14

Spanish Men Dressed as Female Cops

Brian goes to his cousin’s house in Spain the night before Carnival starts. After living on the road in freezing temperatures for over three months, they have a chance to finally relax and get back to what they love most about Europe: Spain.

 

One of the most overlooked tourist destinations in Spain are the Canary Islands. Their festivals, affordability and vibrant Caribbean culture combine the best of Europe and South America. The chapter will show the precautions necessary to help readers avoid being robbed while traveling in Europe.

Chapter 15

Towel Boy for the Women’s Volleyball Team

Brian moves to San Diego, California where he is reunited with one of his best friends from high school. Brian does odd jobs around San Diego until he finds what he thinks is the secret to happiness: becoming the towel boy for the San Diego State Women’s Volleyball team.

 

This chapter will show readers how to get a free place to stay and a salary in the bustling city of San Diego. This chapter puts into plain words, how San Diego differs from any other California city on the coast. This chapter inspires readers by profiling a man who is able to live a full and rewarding life, despite his limitations. Enlightens readers as to where they can find the highest quality used clothing and best live concerts in San Diego. Chapter shows how, the low quantity but high quality of San Diego fans, can make an otherwise boring game come to life.

Chapter 16

Voodoo Crocodile Farm

Brian auditions for a job working for a hotel in Mexico, during the audition he has to do some quick thinking to impress the recruiter. While in Mexico, Brian becomes best friends with his roommate from Ciudad Juarez/El Paso. They attempt to visit every beach and cantina on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. On one of their excursions they meet a Shaman who owns a crocodile farm.

 

This is the chapter which reveals the secret of how to live in Latin America rent-free, also discussed is the rise of Club Med and trends for the future. The reader will learn the necessary skills to be successful in a Club Med audition. This chapter also gives insights on tried and true navigation techniques for Latin American airports. Readers will also be provided information on how best to get a job as an extra in a Spike Lee movie.

Chapter 17

Mexico Spring Break

Brian’s job at the hotel in Mexico quickly becomes more than he bargained for. Three months into his contract, his head is on the chopping block and his boss has to decide whether keeping Brian as an employee of the hotel is worth endangering the lives of the hotel guests.

 

This chapter explains the linguistic impact of the Spanish colonization on the Philippines. This chapter shows readers how to decode Tagalog into Spanish and then English. This chapter gives readers estimates of real estate prices of  tropical islands in the Philippines. Explained in this chapter is the typical diet of a person who grows up on Rodrigues Island (Mauritius).  This chapter shows the value of sticking with a job, even if you are not the best at it. This chapter also shows the reader how to tell a Spanish-speaking person you like them in a non-platonic way.

Chapter 18

Stranded in a Flooded Taxi

Brian falls in love with a Mexican girl and is forced to face his biggest fear; traveling on the Mexican bus system. His fears and paranoia quickly become reality as Mexico is hit by the worst storm since 1926.

 

This chapter explains how to escape a Latin American bus terminal that is on the brink of inundation. Also explains the impacts of floods on Latin American towns and how the local people deal with natural disasters. This chapter shows readers the willingness of Mexican taxi drivers to risk their own lives in order to get international travelers to their destination in a timely manner. This chapter also discusses the cultural significance of the Feathered Serpent to the Meso-American peoples. Also discussed are how typical Latin American families spend their recreational time together.

Chapter 19

Conehead Skulls on Postcards

Brian takes another vacation with his father. This time they visit Machu Picchu. While down in Peru, his father quickly discovers the lucrative market of smuggling women’s cosmetics into the country.

 

This chapter gives an in-depth description of the impact of the Incan legacy on today’s world. This chapter also compares the scientific knowledge of Europe to that of the Incan. This chapter gives a thorough description of the final days of the Incan Empire as well as how various Incan fortresses got their names. This chapter divulges the true architectural genius behind the Incan dynasty as well as some unusual surgical techniques that were carried out by Incan priests. Readers will also be informed on exactly how to get a behind-the-scenes tour of all things Incan in Cusco.

Chapter 20

Mexican Dentists

Brian has to get emergency dental surgery in Mexico. He visits the first dental office he finds, one that is conveniently located on the second floor of a women’s shoe store.

 

This chapter discusses exactly what separates U.S. dentists from their Mexican counterparts.

Chapter 21

Mexican Haunted Houses

Brian learns just how far $2 can take you while visiting the fair in Mexico.

 

The readers will be taken on a trip through the perils of a low-budget Mexican haunted house.

Chapter 22

Surfing in Mexico

In order to impress a girl, Brian pretends he is related to surf legend Kelly Slater. She calls his bluff and they end up in a dire predicament.

 

This chapter gives descriptions of two Mexican surfing destinations on the Pacific Coast. Readers will learn more about gear and precautions necessary before surfing in Mexico.

Chapter 23

Dead Pigeons Falling Out of the Sky

Brian takes his first overnight trip to Mexico City. While in Mexico City he tours an entire pizza franchise chain and meets the river dance king outside of the Northern Bus Terminal.

A thorough discussion is given on the geological conditions that are causing Mexico City to sink as well as the rising political tensions between Austria and Mexico due to pre-Columbian relics pillaged by the Spanish. Also discussed is one of Mexico City’s most priceless treasures that not even the National Guard can protect. A profile is done on one of Mexico City’s eccentrics who is living in one the most transient neighborhoods in the city. This chapter also gives a first hand account of what it is like to shop in the largest open-air market in the world as well as an ingenious method used to have a cheap and hot shower in the city.

Chapter 24

Gil and the Russian Mafia

Brian returns to Spain, this time as a student of International Hospitality. Brian’s studying competes with his urges to spy on his Russian neighbors, which he suspects are Mafia kingpins.

 

Chapter gives a profile of one of the most corrupt mayors in Spain and how the city of Marbella has been shaped by his legacy. This chapter explains the process needed for Americans to obtain a Spanish visa. Also included are rental prices on apartments in Marbella as well as the most affordable method to secure an apartment lease in Marbella. This chapter also gives tips on choosing clubs in Marbella based on preferred ambiance. The readers will also know how to get drinks at the best possible price in Marbella. The chapter also outlines the impact of the Russian Mafia in Marbella.

Chapter 25

Too Much Sangria = Food Fight

Brian quickly advances in the student ranks and is put in charge of event planning. The Hospitality School gets more than it bargained for when Brain turns a course on Event Planning into MTV Spring Break 2005.

This chapter describes the college life and curriculum of European students. This chapter also informs readers on how to prepare for living in Spain. Included in this chapter is a look at the difference between dating Spanish girls versus their American counterparts. Also explored are the traits of what make Spanish fiestas so popular. Tips are provided on how to get an mp3 player, digital camera and electric shaver working in Spain. This chapter also takes us to the concert of famous Spanish musician, Pedro Guerra and his thoughts on pop culture.

Chapter 26

Raisin Wine

Brian spends his Spring Break traveling through Valencia, Cordoba and Malaga. While in Malaga, Brian visits Picasso’s childhood home and is fitted for a robe to take part in the Holy Week Procession of carrying around a 3,000 pound float with Jesus Christ strapped to the top.

 

This chapter gives an account of three of Spain’s most culturally diverse cities; Valencia, Cordoba and Malaga. This chapter also shows how a foreigner can successfully navigate Spain’s public transportation system during the busiest week of the year. This chapter shows readers how they can get a behind-the-scenes depiction of Picasso’s early career. Also provided is a sample of the rivalry of the three major cites in Andalucia; Granada, Sevilla and Malaga. This chapter will show how the Moors shaped what now-a-days is known as Spanish culture. The reader will also learn how not all Spanish provinces grow up speaking Spanish and the current international trade obstacles faced by young Spanish professionals. This chapter will take readers on a tour of the last Christian outpost in existence during the Moorish occupation of Spain.

Chapter 27

Beer Tour in San Miguel

Brian is forced to learn an entire course load of work in under ten hours. His roommate stays up all night to try and prepare Brian for the upcoming week of finals.

 

This chapter will highlight the hospitality offered to bar patrons in Spain. Also revealed will be a look into the European personality and how Europeans are more in touch with the inner-feelings and are more inclined to offer them to others. This chapter will also describe the immaculate conception of a marketing project that seemed doomed after its initial success. This chapter also deals with the difficulty in leaving a place that one is very fond of.

Chapter 28

Indian Restaurant by Day, Club Camaleon by Night

Brian moves to Portugal to start his internship at a casino on an island in the middle of the Atlantic. While not touring the many discothèques owned by Brian’s co-workers at the hotel, Brian watches Venezuelan television stations to learn about current events happening around the world.

 

This chapter describes the a foreigner’s arrival to an island most people couldn’t locate on the map. This chapter describes the experience of a foreigner in a country in which he cannot speak the language. This chapter describes the hierarchy that exists in hotels as well as the tasks performed by a person who can’t even properly slice a tomato. Also provided is an overview of the most prominent night clubs on the island, as well as the women who inhabit them. This chapter describes what it’s like to get worked on by a Portuguese surgeon who cannot communicate to his patient in their native language as well as an overview of the difference between Portuguese and American doctors. Also discussed is the overly humane treatment of hooligans by Portuguese police.

Chapter 29

No Size Medium Underwear?

Brian gets a job offer in Dominican Republic, and upon arriving to the island, he is alarmed to learn the hotel is run by the French and can only marginally communicate with his co-workers. He becomes friends with the only two other people at the hotel who speak English, a Greek tennis instructor and his Israeli assistant.

 

The chapter describes the sharp contrasts that exist between Club Med Ixtapa and Club Med Punta Cana. The readers will learn about the best spots to snorkel in Punta Cana as well as a sample of village life in Club Med. Three Dominican cities will be described; Bavaro, La Romana and Higuey. The influence of Haiti on the Dominican Republic is also discussed in detail. Tips are given to the traveler when they face a life and death situation after falling asleep on an air mattress in the Caribbean Sea. This chapter describes two popular industries in the urban parts of the Dominican Republic; rotisserie chicken and pirated DVD’s. Also discussed is the struggle by a foreigner in obtaining the desired services and products.

Chapter 30

Patience

Brian returns to Mexico to recapture the Mexican girl he originally tried to impress three years before by claiming to be Kelly Slater’s second cousin.

 

This chapter describes the author’s final run-in with his one true love. This chapter describes exactly what makes Latin girls different from any other girls the author has met. Chapter deals with the inconsistencies faced when comparing an actual woman to someone who he has been corresponding with via the internet.

 Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man is available on Lulu.com

A Complete History Of My Mexican Sexual Failures

January 17, 2013

Faridy (not pronounced Friday, more like Fah-RAH-Dee), my Mexican love interest, was into doing what made her feel the most joy in any given moment.

Image

“Do you want to go out to eat?” I’d ask.

“No, but I’ll go with you if you want,” Faridy replied.

Once the tamales arrived, she decided that they smelled good and would eat mine. I didn’t mind, I loved watching her hands gently unfold the crumbly cake as she smelled the week-old boiled corn husks. She didn’t want any of her movements to seem the least bit arousing or forward. Her uninhibited greasy-handed eating put me even more over the top in love with her. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. As cars drove past us in the plaza men would honk their horns and yell, “Bon appetite, good-looking!”

During the course of his 235 page self help/travel memoir, Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man, author Brian Ward travels through Mexico, South America and Europe in an attempt to shed social awkwardness and anxiety. Ward also shares information on how others can do the same while transcending North American borders. Also covered in his book are hotel jobs in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, how to master a second language and how someone who can’t even properly slice a tomato can get a job overseas in a Portuguese restaurant.

Author Brian Ward is a freelance writer for “The Daily Emerald” (University of Oregon Student Newspaper), “KD Magazine” (Quarterly Student Magazine) as well as “The Student Insurgent” (A Student Run Newspaper).

Ward, 36, got his first taste of living in a foreign country after high school graduation. Since then, his life has consisted of traveling around the world, surviving on canned tuna at some points, pretending to be pro-surfer Kelly Slater’s second cousin and spying on his Russian Mafia neighbors.

Ward decided to compile his journals of living in Mexico, Spain and other countries throughout Latin America and Europe, with travel tips on how to live rent-free for under $25 a day in his book titled “Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man”

His book, referred to as “a modern day version of ‘The Motorcycle Diaries, except less revolution and more whining’” by Lulu.com, a self-publishing company, follows Ward’s adventures, both good and painful, from sharing his Levi’s jeans with his host brother in Costa Rica to traveling the European by the rail system and surviving on canned tuna.

To buy the book, Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man, please just Google the title.

 

Sample Overview

Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man is written for anyone who has ever been uncomfortable when trying to approach the opposite sex, learning about Pre-Colombian cultures, traveling Europe or interviewing with ivy-league colleges. Covered in my book are the cheapest and most social hostels in Europe, how to live in Latin America for $25 a year, how to make the most out of a Euro Rail Pass, mastering a second language, insider’s tips on navigating major Latin American airports and how someone who can’t even properly slice a tomato can get a job overseas in a Portuguese restaurant.

Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man also pauses and gives food for thought on many international topics. These topics include; gear and precautions needed before surfing on the Mexican Pacific Coast, tips in obtaining a Spanish visa, dating in Spain, the three features that make Mexico City unlike any other city in the world, the impact of the Russian Mafia in Southern Spain, how to get a digital camera, electric razor and mp3 player working in Spain, the linguistic impact of the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, the last 20 days of the Incan dynasty, Spanish tourist destinations that offer vibrant Rio-style festivals as well as how a foreigner can win the approval of his/her love interest’s Latin American family.

Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man is the result of over six years of field research in Spain, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Peru, The Netherlands, Italy, Costa Rica and Portugal. This guidebook was designed to be the essential companion for baby boomers and college students wanting to explore a Latin approach to working, dating and travel.

Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man is approximately 118,000 words.

To buy the book, Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man, please just Google the title.

 

Chapter Outline:

Chapter 1

What in the Heck is Marianismo?

The story starts in Mexico where the author, Brian, is camping with his Mexican love interest. After roasting marshmallows, Brian sneaks up to the cabin where his love interest will be sleeping. His plans go quickly awry when she enters the cabin and Brian loses his nerve. The book then flashes back seven years to just before Brian’s sophomore year in high school. It retraces Brian’s failed attempts with girls in high school. While outside of school, with his friends, Brian does a lot of inadvisable driving due to false confidence and inexperience.

Did Faridy like the Brian better because he didn’t make many advances on her? Sometimes girls like guys better who continually stay inside the friendship zone, this chapter outlines the downside of staying inside the friendship zone. This chapter also summarizes the challenges of dating girls in high school. This chapter spans fours years and shows why teenagers should not be given driver’s licenses. The end of this chapter uncovers a dilemma; although high school is torture, the outside world may even be worse.

Chapter 2

Adventures of Link: Costa Rica

Brian is persuaded by his grandmother to visit Costa Rica. When he gets down to Costa Rica, he realizes the family he is staying with speaks no English and spends the rest of the summer with his two host brothers who have one pair of pants between the both of them.

 

This chapter gives a brief introduction to on how to find practical uses for foreign languages. In order for someone to succeed in mastering a foreign language, they must find a worthwhile obstacle to be overcome; in this case it’s The Legend of Zelda (a Nintendo video game).

Chapter 3

Marine Biology Will Ruin Your Life

Brian starts community college and realizes he is totally unprepared for his tests or the personalities of his teachers in college. He becomes a valet at a hotel in Monterey, California and realizes that people in real life are more like him than anyone he met in high school.

This chapter shows how a complicated situation like not having the perquisites for a class or any knowledge of a certain subject matter shouldn’t discourage a person from enrolling in community college. Sometimes the best approach to succeeding in community college is to seek out peers who can provide knowledge based on their experiences on how to succeed in community college. The later part of this chapter shows how community college a just a minor achievement and the true test comes when a person gets a job and is thrown in with a cast of co-workers straight out of the TV series 21 Jumpstreet.

Chapter 4

Superstud and Son: Vacations with My Old Man

Brian reunites with one of the oddest characters of the book, his father, and they travel across the country trying unsuccessfully to fit it with small-town Americans and some Canadian truck drivers.

 

This chapter exposes the superficiality of making professional athletes and actors our heroes. Sometimes we have only to look as far as own immediate family to find role-models.

Chapter 5

Korean Mafia, Line #1

Brian starts at a four year university and has to do some quick thinking to avoid being thrown out of school his first semester. He meets his first girlfriend but falls in love with her roommate and then tries to get his friend to help repair the situation.

 

This chapter teaches proper phone etiquette when dealing with new roommates. Also discussed are tips on how to get up for living in the dorms, a place where round the clock role-playing is common and the need for residents to bring a set of keys to the bathroom with them are a fact of life. This chapter reveals the people who secretly control academic life on college campuses; teacher’s aids. They are the experts on arranging classes, where to obtain economical furniture and trends in the housing market.

Chapter 6

50 Kilos of Bananas on a Bus Bound for Cancun

Brian moves down to Mexico to study business, while failing accounting he requests a tutor and meets the most beautiful girl in school. He experiences the worst three days of his life on a bus to Cancun, but finds out it was well worth the suffering when he finally arrives to Cancun.

 To buy the book, , Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man, please just Google the title.

This chapter shows reader how to use the skills obtained in American universities can also be used to survive in Mexico. This chapter also reveals the names of discothèques in smaller Mexican towns are very hospitable to gringos.. This chapter will show how best to deal with Mexican migration when they are threatening deportment.

Chapter 7

Broken Bottle of Rum in a Burning Dumpster

Moving back to the United States, Brian goes on cross-country trip in an RV with his mother and her boyfriend. He discovers a land where animals are on the top of the food chain when he enters Yellowstone National Park.

 

This chapter will show why sometimes reconnecting with one’s host country an be painful. Several near-death experiences and a broken pair of Ray-Bans mark Brian’s reintroduction to the United States. This chapter shows how visitors to Yellowstone National Park have not only to choose between the rugged falls and the revealing leather biker chaps worn by the locals for inspiration. They will also be mesmerized by other campers’ willingness to put their lives in danger to get a closer look at the many animals in the park.

Chapter 8

After Hours Partying at City Hall

Brian returns to university after being in Mexico for a year. He has trouble readjusting to life in United States but is helped through it by a cast of friends who make the Sopranos look like the Brady Bunch.

In the year Brian spent in Mexico, his friends from university have become the pit bosses of a town (Chico, California) on the verge of anarchy. Brian can no longer rely on his old routine of going to class, eating microwavable burritos and playing Nintendo. With his friend’s new-found street credentials, not only is Brian supposed to attend three hour long seminars on wrist preparation in racquetball, but he is also brought along to participate in his friends’ verbal bashings of the local minor league baseball umpires. This chapter will also offer a look at interesting costal camping trails in Northern California.

Chapter 9

Louie Armstrong is Out to Kill Me

In the Summer of 2001, Brian turns down a job driving a delivery truck for Doritos and moves to the Costa Brava in Spain. Brian learns the ins and outs of living in close quarters with a group of Spanish Gypsies who are threatening to bring the entire east coast of Spain to its knees if it adopts the Euro as its national currency.

 

This chapter will illustrate why a college graduate should wait on paying off student loans and getting a job. If a person is going to be poor and in a dead-end job, why not do it in Spain? Also discussed will be how Mexico and Spain really don’t have much in common besides a language. Also explained will be how a foreigner without much sense of direction or language skills, can navigate Spain’s 3rd largest city with relative ease. This chapter will also describe the difficulties of Spain’s proletariat in adopting the Euro as its official currency.

Chapter 10

“How ‘bout You Take a Picture of Me with Your Wife?”

Brian’s father resurfaces. He arrives to Spain just in time to board a train with his son Rome, Italy. While in Rome, they discover they have the entire city to themselves due to the terrorist attacks in New York City.

This chapter reveals the location of the most economical luxury hotel in Valencia. Also discussed is what will someday be known as the “golden age” of travel, the few months after 9/11. This was a time when hotels and airlines were practically giving away their services. This was also a time when travel by Americans to other countries was pretty rare, for those lucky ones who did travel, they enjoyed unmatched hospitality towards Americans abroad. In addition to the kindness experienced by tourists, world-famous attractions like the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel were at their most accessible levels in decades.

Chapter 11

Flying Pig Hostel

Brian meets up with his long-lost cousin in Amsterdam. Brian learns shortly after meeting his cousin Simon for the first time, that his cousin is planning on traveling Europe on a shoestring budget which has them surviving on canned tuna and sleeping on trains in between cities. 

 

This chapter will give a description of the months before the adoption of the Euro currency in Spain. It will also give a description of the Dutch language and how it can be very confusing because of its eerie similarities to English. This chapter gives the budget needed for a traveler beginning a two month tour of Europe. This chapter will reveal to the reader how to get a cheap bed and many friends in Amsterdam.

Chapter 12

Bonjour, Avec Linda, s’il vous plait

 

Brian falls in love with Moroccan girl living in Paris. He tries repeatedly to call her and is forced to learn basic French to get past the girl’s mother on the phone.

The chapter will make the reader aware of what makes Paris different from any other city. It will reveal a side of the city, which despite its size and bad publicity, can be a pleasurable if the traveler can put aide his/her inhibitions of making a fool of themselves. This chapter will also disclose some lesser-known museums in Paris that are astounding in their originality. This chapter will outline questions to anticipate while entering the UK via ferry.

Chapter 13

Irish Ferries Really Means Irish Transportation Services

Brian tours Ireland with his cousin Simon. They impress an Irish film crew in one of the hostels while show-cooking an omelet. They get separated for the first time in Europe and set about trying to track each other down while not missing their outgoing flight to Spain.

 

The best vacations are ones that are open to spontaneity. This chapter will uncover a method of air travel that is so cheap, the tax on the ticket is higher than the cost. This chapter gives the name of a hostel in Ireland that’s a guaranteed great way to meet college-aged singles. Also provided are details on how the reader can be the life of the party, even if the readers can’t drink or dance. This chapter will also profile an Irish hostel/mansion that only charges 8€ a night. This chapter ends by summing up the effects of the Spanish Civil War on the lives of people who were outside of the country when the war broke out.

Chapter 14

Spanish Men Dressed as Female Cops

Brian goes to his cousin’s house in Spain the night before Carnival starts. After living on the road in freezing temperatures for over three months, they have a chance to finally relax and get back to what they love most about Europe: Spain.

 

One of the most overlooked tourist destinations in Spain are the Canary Islands. Their festivals, affordability and vibrant Caribbean culture combine the best of Europe and South America. The chapter will show the precautions necessary to help readers avoid being robbed while traveling in Europe.

Chapter 15

Towel Boy for the Women’s Volleyball Team

Brian moves to San Diego, California where he is reunited with one of his best friends from high school. Brian does odd jobs around San Diego until he finds what he thinks is the secret to happiness: becoming the towel boy for the San Diego State Women’s Volleyball team.

 

This chapter will show readers how to get a free place to stay and a salary in the bustling city of San Diego. This chapter puts into plain words, how San Diego differs from any other California city on the coast. This chapter inspires readers by profiling a man who is able to live a full and rewarding life, despite his limitations. Enlightens readers as to where they can find the highest quality used clothing and best live concerts in San Diego. Chapter shows how, the low quantity but high quality of San Diego fans, can make an otherwise boring game come to life.

Chapter 16

Voodoo Crocodile Farm

Brian auditions for a job working for a hotel in Mexico, during the audition he has to do some quick thinking to impress the recruiter. While in Mexico, Brian becomes best friends with his roommate from Ciudad Juarez/El Paso. They attempt to visit every beach and cantina on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. On one of their excursions they meet a Shaman who owns a crocodile farm.

 

This is the chapter which reveals the secret of how to live in Latin America rent-free, also discussed is the rise of Club Adriatic and trends for the future. The reader will learn the necessary skills to be successful in a Club Adriatic audition. This chapter also gives insights on tried and true navigation techniques for Latin American airports. Readers will also be provided information on how best to get a job as an extra in a Spike Lee movie.

To buy the book, , Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man, please just Google the title.

Chapter 17

Mexico Spring Break

Brian’s job at the hotel in Mexico quickly becomes more than he bargained for. Three months into his contract, his head is on the chopping block and his boss has to decide whether keeping Brian as an employee of the hotel is worth endangering the lives of the hotel guests.

 

This chapter explains the linguistic impact of the Spanish colonization on the Philippines. This chapter shows readers how to decode Tagalog into Spanish and then English. This chapter gives readers estimates of real estate prices of  tropical islands in the Philippines. Explained in this chapter is the typical diet of a person who grows up on Rodrigues Island (Mauritius).  This chapter shows the value of sticking with a job, even if you are not the best at it. This chapter also shows the reader how to tell a Spanish-speaking person you like them in a non-platonic way.

Chapter 18

Stranded in a Flooded Taxi

Brian falls in love with a Mexican girl and is forced to face his biggest fear; traveling on the Mexican bus system. His fears and paranoia quickly become reality as Mexico is hit by the worst storm since 1926.

 

This chapter explains how to escape a Latin American bus terminal that is on the brink of inundation. It also renders the impacts of floods on Latin American towns and how the local people deal with natural disasters. This chapter shows readers the willingness of Mexican taxi drivers to risk their own lives in order to get international travelers to their destination in a timely manner. This chapter also discusses the cultural significance of the Feathered Serpent to the Meso-American peoples. Also examined are the ways typical Latin American families spend their recreational time together.

Chapter 19

Conehead Skulls on Postcards

Brian takes another vacation with his father. This time they visit Machu Picchu. While down in Peru, his father quickly discovers the lucrative market of smuggling women’s cosmetics into the country.

 

This chapter gives an in-depth description of the impact of the Incan legacy on today’s world. This chapter also compares the scientific knowledge of Europe to that of the Incan. This chapter gives a thorough description of the final days of the Incan Empire as well as how various Incan fortresses got their names. This chapter divulges the true architectural genius behind the Incan dynasty as well as some unusual surgical techniques that were carried out by Incan priests. Readers will also be informed on exactly how to get a behind-the-scenes tour of all things Incan in Cusco.

Chapter 20

Mexican Dentists

Brian has to get emergency dental surgery in Mexico. He visits the first dental office he finds, one that is conveniently located on the second floor of a women’s shoe store.

 

This chapter discusses exactly what separates U.S. dentists from their Mexican counterparts.

Chapter 21

Mexican Haunted Houses

Brian learns just how far $2 can take you while visiting the fair in Mexico.

 

The readers will be taken on a trip through the perils of a low-budget Mexican haunted house.

Chapter 22

Surfing in Mexico

In order to impress a girl, Brian pretends he is related to surf legend Kelly Slater. She calls his bluff and they end up in a dire predicament.

 

This chapter gives descriptions of two Mexican surfing destinations on the Pacific Coast. Readers will learn more about gear and precautions necessary before surfing in Mexico.

Chapter 23

Dead Pigeons Falling Out of the Sky

Brian takes his first overnight trip to Mexico City. While in Mexico City he tours an entire pizza franchise chain and meets the river dance king outside of the Northern Bus Terminal.

A thorough discussion is given on the geological conditions that are causing Mexico City to sink as well as the rising political tensions between Austria and Mexico due to pre-Columbian relics pillaged by the Spanish. Also discussed is one of Mexico City’s most priceless treasures that not even the National Guard can protect. A profile is done on one of Mexico City’s eccentrics who is living in one the most transient neighborhoods in the city. This chapter also gives a first hand account of what it is like to shop in the largest open-air market in the world as well as an ingenious method used to have a cheap and hot shower in the city. While in Mexico City, Brian visits the part of the city that is so smoggy, dead pigeons actually die in mid air and fall to the ground.

Chapter 24

Gil and the Russian Mafia

Brian returns to Spain, this time as a student of International Hospitality. Brian’s studying competes with his urges to spy on his Russian neighbors, which he suspects are Mafia kingpins.

 

Chapter gives a profile of one of the most corrupt mayors in Spain and how the city of Marbella has been shaped by his legacy. This chapter explains the process needed for Americans to obtain a Spanish visa. Also included are rental prices on apartments in Marbella as well as the most affordable method to secure an apartment lease in Marbella. This chapter also gives tips on choosing clubs in Marbella based on preferred ambiance. The readers will also know how to get drinks at the best possible price in Marbella. The chapter also outlines the impact of the Russian Mafia in Marbella.

Chapter 25

Too Much Sangria = Food Fight

In Spain, Brian quickly advances in the student ranks and is put in charge of event planning. The Hospitality School gets more than it bargained for when Brain turns a course on Event Planning into MTV Spring Break 2005.

This chapter describes the college life and curriculum of European students. This chapter also informs readers on how to prepare for living in Spain. Included in this chapter is a look at the difference between dating Spanish girls versus their American counterparts. Also explored are the traits of what make Spanish fiestas so popular. Tips are provided on how to get an mp3 player, digital camera and electric shaver working in Spain. This chapter also takes us to the concert of famous Spanish musician, Pedro Guerra and his thoughts on pop culture.

Chapter 26

Raisin Wine

Brian spends his Spring Break traveling through Valencia, Cordoba and Malaga. While in Malaga, Brian visits Picasso’s childhood home and is fitted for a robe to take part in the Holy Week Procession of carrying around a 3,000 pound float with Jesus Christ strapped to the top.

 

This chapter gives an account of three of Spain’s most culturally diverse cities; Valencia, Cordoba and Malaga. This chapter also shows how a foreigner can successfully navigate Spain’s public transportation system during the busiest week of the year. This chapter shows readers how they can get a behind-the-scenes depiction of Picasso’s early career. Also provided is a sample of the rivalry of the three major cites in Andalucia; Granada, Sevilla and Malaga. This chapter will show how the Moors shaped what now-a-days is known as Spanish culture. The reader will also learn how not all Spanish provinces grow up speaking Spanish and the current international trade obstacles faced by young Spanish professionals. This chapter will take readers on a tour of the last Christian outpost in existence during the Moorish occupation of Spain.

Chapter 27

Beer Tour in San Miguel

Brian is forced to learn an entire course load of work in under ten hours. His roommate stays up all night to try and prepare Brian for the upcoming week of finals.

 

This chapter will highlight the hospitality offered to bar patrons in Spain. Also revealed will be a look into the European personality and how Europeans are more in touch with the inner-feelings and are more inclined to offer them to others. This chapter will also describe the immaculate conception of a marketing project that seemed doomed after its initial success. This chapter also deals with the difficulty in leaving a place that one is very fond of.

Chapter 28

Indian Restaurant by Day, Club Camaleon by Night

Brian moves to Portugal to start his internship at a casino on the island of Madeira in the middle of the Atlantic. While not touring the many discothèques owned by Brian’s co-workers at the hotel, Brian watches Venezuelan television stations to learn about current events happening around the world.

 

This chapter depicts a foreigner’s arrival to an island most people couldn’t locate on the map. This chapter describes the experience of a foreigner in a country in which he cannot speak the language. This chapter describes the hierarchy that exists in hotels as well as the tasks performed by a person who can’t even properly slice a tomato. Also provided is an overview of the most prominent night clubs on the island, as well as the women who inhabit them. This chapter describes what it’s like to get worked on by a Portuguese surgeon who cannot communicate to his patient in their native language as well as an overview of the difference between Portuguese and American doctors. Also discussed is the overly humane treatment of hooligans by Portuguese police.

Chapter 29

No Size Medium Underwear?

Brian gets a job offer in Dominican Republic, and upon arriving to the island, he is alarmed to learn the hotel is run by the French and can only marginally communicate with his co-workers. He becomes friends with the only two other people at the hotel who speak English, a Greek tennis instructor and his Israeli assistant.

 

The chapter describes the sharp contrasts that exist between the two different hotels (Club Adriatic) in Mexico and Dominican Republic, I worked in. The readers will learn about the best spots to snorkel in Punta Cana as well as a sample of village life in Club Adriatic. Three Dominican cities will be described; Bavaro, La Romana and Higuey. The influence of Haiti on the Dominican Republic is also discussed in detail. Tips are given to the traveler when they face a life and death situation after falling asleep on an air mattress in the Caribbean Sea. This chapter describes two popular industries in the urban parts of the Dominican Republic; rotisserie chicken and pirated DVD’s. Also discussed is the struggle by a foreigner in obtaining the desired services and products.

Chapter 30

Patience

Brian returns to Mexico to recapture the Mexican girl he originally tried to impress three years before by claiming to be Kelly Slater’s second cousin.

 

This chapter describes the author’s final run-in with his one true love. This chapter describes exactly what makes Latin girls different from any other girls the author has met. Chapter deals with the inconsistencies faced when comparing an actual woman to someone who he has been corresponding with via the internet.

 

To buy the book, Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man, please just Google the title.

 

           

Mexico, Spike Lee, Gabriel Rivera, Edward Norton, Carlos ‘n Charlie’s and a Voodoo Crocodile Farm

January 3, 2013

Some years back I got a job working in a hotel (aka “The Club,” and “The Village”) on the Pacific Ocean side of Mexico. It wasn’t like working at Denny’s. In this job you didn’t clock in or clock out. It was a job where I lived in the hotel and pretty much got paid to hang out with the guests of the hotel and party with the other employees of the hotel. I started out working in reception.Image

As I got to know more people at the Club, I met some several  Mexican employees who lived in California, Chicago, and Texas but had extensive family in Mexico. One of them was my roommate. He was also the Village Animator (guy who makes hotel guests laugh). He had been raised in El Paso but most of his family members were from Ciudad Juarez. He had such striking features that he looked like a cross between Moctezuma and Jackie Chan.

His name was Gabriel and he was always keen to talk about his experiences in film-making. His most famous story was how he got the job as the stand-in for Edward Norton on the movie 25th Hour. First, I had to ask Gabriel what a stand-in was. He explained that in movies, as well as TV shows, famous actors like Bill Cosby or Marlon Brando don’t like to stand around for 20 minutes while photographers adjust the lighting and the co-stars practice their lines. What a stand-in does is dress up like the lead actor and say the lead actor’s lines so the rest of the cast can rehearse their lines before filming. The 25th Hour is a movie directed by Spike Lee about a three strikes drug offender in New York who has one day left to live as a free man before being sent to jail for life. In the movie, Edward Norton flees to the El Paso desert to avoid serving life in prison. The dessert scenes are shot in the harshest most remote parts of the El Paso dessert. No New York actors were willing to travel to El Paso just for a small role as the stand-in. Gabriel knew this so he sent his resume to Spike Lee’s production office. Spike Lee’s production assistant called Gabriel a few days later. She thanked Gabriel for submitting his resume but explained that unfortunately the stand-in role was already filled.Image

“Who got the role?” asked Gabriel.

“A man named Richard Jenkins.” She replied. “The only problem is that I don’t have a picture of him on file.”

“Richard Jenkins? I know him from high school, he’s short, fat and full of pimples.”

“Oh really?” replied the production assistant. “What do you look like?”

“I’m tall, dark and handsome.” claimed Gabriel.

“Can you come to the set tomorrow so we can meet you?”

When Gabriel came to the set in the El Paso desert the next day, he met the production assistant and was given a walkie-talkie and told he would be notified when it was time to work as the stand-in. He clipped the walker-talkie onto his belt and went to the catering truck to get some food and water. While he was waiting in line a voice started radiating out of the walk-talkie, it was Spike Lee.

“Where is Edward Norton’s stand-in?” asked Spike.

“He’s over at the catering truck.” Replied the production assistant.

“You hired a Mexican as a stand-in for Edward Norton?” asked a totally flabbergasted Spike Lee.

That’s how Gabriel got his role of stand-in for Edward Norton, even though he had no idea who Richard Jenkins was and looked nothing like Edward Norton.

Gabriel was one of my closest friends in Ixtapa and whenever his mom came to visit from El Paso she’d always call us first and ask what she could bring down from the US for me.

One time, half-jokingly, I said I wanted a croquette set. A couple days later Gabriel walked into our room holding this huge box from the airport, wrapped in tape, showing that it had been inspected in Mexico City by customs. When I opened it up, sure enough, his mom had sent me a croquette set from Texas.

Gabriel knew all the Mexican slang, so each day after work I’d come back to the room with a list of phrases I which I didn’t understand. I’d start from the top, what does, “¡No friegues!” mean? Image

“It has different meanings, what context did you hear it in?”

“I told Paco from the Mini Club that Justin Timberlake was a better singer than Luis Miguel.”

“He probably just meant for you to stop joking around with him.”

Gabriel was one of the most popular employees in the village. A lot of the times I wouldn’t get invited to the parties that the employees had organized around the town or in the village, but Gabriel would always come to the room before he left and ask me if I wanted to come with him. Each time he asked, I told him I would go with him the next time.

Before I knew it, two months had passed and I had never even left the village. All I knew about the outside was what I had heard from the other employees when they talked about going out.

One night Gabriel came into our room in the middle of the night and turned on the light. I woke up to see him eagerly brushing his teeth and fixing his hair. He was very excited.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

He explained to me that he had five girls from Vancouver waiting in reception. He had invited them to go to Carlos ‘n Charlie’s that night.

“I also talked with your boss in reception, you don’t have to work until 1 p.m. tomorrow.” He explained. “Are you coming out?”

How could I say no? We walked up to reception together and took a taxi to Carlos and Charlie’s, which was about 10 minutes from our hotel. When we got to the discothèque, there were at least 1500 people inside. Carlos and Charlie’ in Ixptapa has two stages for dancing with a pool in the middle of them. There were so many people there I didn’t realize that we were right on the beach because I couldn’t see further than about four or five heads. The first thing that happened was that someone came along with a clear kettle and started pouring shots into all our mouths. I drank up but couldn’t keep anything straight about what was happening around me. We danced with the girls and hung out with all the other hotel employees who were there.

The night was a success. After leaving the disco, we all grabbed a taxi and headed home. I must have fallen asleep in the taxi because the next thing I remembered was waking up on the bed  between the two girls from Vancouver. I was still wearing the clothes I had been working in earlier that day, which was the only information I had. I looked up and could see that Gabriel was busy talking to the three other girls on the porch.

One girl rolled over and asked me, “Do you always sleep with your hand down the front of your pants?” I looked down and saw, to my dismay, that I had my hand buried down the front of my pants. I quickly sat up and joked about the different sleeping positions men utilize while sleeping. Not wanting to further make a fool of myself, I parted amicably.

From that night on, Gabriel became my wing man. Our goal was simple: We wanted to go to as many beaches/discotheques and chat with as many women as possible during our stay in Ixtapa. Like me, he had never been to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo before and together we knew almost nothing about where we were living.

Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo are located 100 miles northwest of Acapulco on the Pacific coast of Mexico and are less than four miles apart. Zihuatanejo is known for its traditional Mexican charm, a place where most families still derive their income from fishing.  On the other side of the spectrum is Ixtapa, a modern city that has only been around only since the 1970’s and exists solely to entertain tourists. Ixtapa derives its income from the bars, discothèques, hotels and golf courses that dominate the landscape.

For our first beach excursion, Gabriel and I took a taxi to a crocodile farm at Playa Linda. Luckily we arrived during feeding time. The man who takes care of the crocodiles is the town eccentric. His name is Tamacuna and he is an old Mexican shaman with long grey hair that is held back by a yellow sweat band.  Although his duties are limited to feeding and caring for the reptiles, he does his job dressed as famous Mexican soccer player Luis Hernandez, complete with uniform, cleats and shin guards. If you pay Tamacuna a dollar, he will let you take a picture of him putting his head inside a crocodile’s mouth. He carries a baby crocodile around in his backpack. While feeding the adult crocodiles in Playa Linda, he takes the baby crocodile out of his backpack and passes it around to the old ladies. If the ladies refuse to hold the baby croc, Tamacuna threatens to put a spell on them. Very few of the women refuse to hold the baby crocodile.Image

Getting Dumped in Mexico

December 28, 2012

Faridy, my Mexican love interest, was into doing what made her feel the most joy in any given moment.

“Do you want to go out to eat?” I’d ask.

“No, but I’ll go with you if you want,” Faridy replied.Image

Once the tamales arrived, we decided to go to the plaza to eat them. Once we got to the plaza Faridy decided the tamales smelled good and would eat mine. I didn’t mind, I loved watching her hands gently unfold the crumbly cake as she smelled the week-old boiled corn husks. She didn’t want any of her movements to seem the least bit arousing or forward. Her uninhibited greasy-handed eating put me even more over the top in love with her. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. As cars drove past us in the plaza men would honk their horns and yell, “Bon appetite, good-looking!”

During my visits to see Faridy, I’d ride Mexican buses (the thing I hate most in life) halfway across the country to be with her for one night. These visits were certain to arouse drama. In some instances she’d push my hand away from hers in the movie theater for fear of who could be watching. Other times, like my last visit to her summer camp, she was the polar opposite.

I unpacked my clothes next to the bed where I planned on sleeping (the floor below her). As I unpacked, she walked down to the base of the stairs and gazed at me cross-eyed for ten seconds. I struggled to read her mind. Sensing my bewilderment, she volunteered her source of unease verbally, “Is that where you are planning to sleep?” Before I could respond, she stormed back up the stairs. I quickly threw my stuff back into my backpack and followed her up the stairs. I didn’t have a pillow or blanket, so how did she expect me to sleep on a bare mattress next to her?

I didn’t push the matter because it was barely afternoon and we’d have plenty of other things to fight about before bedtime. The day passed like old men in bathrooms. My mind flickered in and out of the activities we did with Mexican youth. I was in charge of 15 Mexican middle-schoolers. Our team competed in everything from obstacle courses to sandwich-making. Nightfall finally came. I was very apprehensive about sleeping with Faridy. During the barbeque, I didn’t even bother heating my hot dog over the fire, I ate it raw. I threw my trash away and ducked into the shadows on my way to the second floor of the cabin where I knew Faridy would be sleeping. Before going inside the cabin, I took a look at the second floor windows, no evidence of anyone lurking upstairs. I let myself in and crept up the stairs. I had no idea of who would be in the room with Faridy, or even if she’d be in there. When I opened the door, I saw three mattresses. Faridy had made me a bed on the far right of the three. I quickly parted the two beds and put my mattress in between the other two, guaranteeing a ringside seat with Faridy, no matter which mattress she slept on.

My blanket was little more than a flannel sheet and the cabin had no insulation to keep out the cold. I stripped down to my underwear and hid under the sheet, waiting for Faridy. What happened next may have been 20 seconds but felt like two hours. The cabin light came on and I peered out from under my sheet to see who was coming inside the room. It was Faridy and her male camp counselor companion, Mogly. I pretended to be asleep as Faridy verbally objected once again to the sleeping arrangements. She shuffled the beds yet again and I hid powerlessly under the flannel sheet like an abducted foreigner in a game of Russian roulette. The lights went out again. This time I was once again on the outside. I looked over at the swelling under the blanket in the bed next to mine. Something was thrashing under the covers. I feared the worst. I rolled over and faced away from my sexless bed mate. Just then a voice in Spanish echoed out from underneath the covers, “Are you going sleep with your back towards me?” I had no idea what to do next, I was a 26-year old shivering under a paper thin blanket with a beautiful Mexican girl inches away from me.

I finally got the nerve to turn in her direction. By that time she had rolled to the other side of her mattress. I had to do something, I put my hand underneath her covers. I felt my hand run into her back. I started to pull up her sweatshirt. After getting through that layer, my hand still didn’t feel her bare skin, there was yet another sweatshirt to penetrate. After peeling off two more could I still feel another sweatshirt. I asked her in a low voice as to not arouse Mogly, “Faridy, can you take off a sweatshirt and loan it to me, I’m cold.”

“Get your own sweatshirt,” She replied. I immediately hit the brakes and abandoned my pursuit.

I lacked the fundamentals when it came to relationships with women. Applying my skills from high school didn’t improve the situation.

The two most beautiful girls in my high school were Michelle Salinas and Sara Pemberton. Michelle Salinas was considered one of the coolest girls in the school because she went to Raves in the Bay Area on weekends. Most of her male friends had facial hair and various parole violations. I knew there would be no chance for me to be popular her clique of friends. I had one group project with her for English class. It was a five person group and we met at Ethan Robert’s house and tried to put together a documentary about an eastern European family coming to America. Michelle would usually show up late if she came at all and we spent the entire time together watching Ethan Roberts practice guitar with his band in the garage. Although Ethan was barely over 80 lbs, he was in a band and therefore squeezed me out in terms of winning Michelle’s attention.

Sara Pemberton on the other hand was a little more accessible for me because I sat next to her in biology class. We sat behind huge lab tables designed for science experiments. The nice part about these tables was that they covered the teacher’s view of each student from the chest down. I spent the entire period vandalizing Sara’s biology book under the table. Her revenge was writing a bunch of perverse sayings on my hands. One day she wrote her phone number on my hand. After that period I wrapped my hand in heavy plastic and vowed not to sweat or wash my hands before I got back home, so as I could carve her number into my bedroom wall.

By the time I got home, the only digits visible were 633, the prefix of everyone in my high school. I never got the nerve to ask her for her number again.

I graduated high school with no clue on how to get to first base.

Moctezuma’s Headdress Is Still In Austria

December 27, 2012

An aerial view of Mexico City is like peering into the insides of a hallowed-out pumpkin. The numerous highways and neighborhoods tangle together like a pumpkin’s matted intestines. There is no wind in Mexico City. The sweat, humidity and smog stick to your clothes, your windshield and your pets.Image

The Aztecs knew Mexico City as Tenochtitlan, the city that sat atop Lake Texcoco. The lake is long gone, and the city is slowly sinking into the void. A tour to the Zocalo (historical center of town), will reveal a bewildering finding. The window lines of the buildings start to sink towards the middle, like an accordion full of water.

Mexico City has so many people, it has run out of phone numbers to give to the residents of the city. Unlike the United States, which uses various area codes for one metropolitan area, Mexico City uses the same prefix for the entire city (55). TelMex (Mexican AT&T) had to expand to an eight-digit telephone numbering system to satisfy the demand. Mexico City’s population is larger than Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego County, combined.

Adding another strain on the city’s bursting seams, Mexico City’s municipal government cannot expand the subway system. Each time construction begins to break ground, the tractors expose sunken pyramids that nobody knew existed. Even construction that only involves removing a few feet of soil is tedious. Construction workers all over complain about how many days are lost clearing all the Aztec artifacts that saturate the soil strata well beyond the borders of the city. Most artefacts retrieved from construction sites are mixed in with the construction waste and deposited into the city’s dumps.

Even the Headdress of Moctezuma, the crown of the Aztec ruler of Tenochtitlan, has a story behind it. The headdress dates from 1502 and contains more than 500 quetzal feathers, a native bird species from the Southern part of Mexico and Central America. The headdress can be visited at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. The only problem is that the Headdress is a fake. Hernan Cortes stole the original from Mexico over five centuries ago. After being stolen from Mexico, nobody quite knows what happened after that. All that is known is that the headdress was purchased by Austria in 1880 and has stayed in their country ever since. One theory of how the headdress ended up there was that while the headdress was being sent to Spain by boat, the boat was attacked by French pirates and brought to France where it stayed for over three centuries. It was later auctioned off to Vienna.

Now that the headdress is known to be on display in Austria, the Mexican government is demanding its return. Austrian President Heinz Fischer has warned that the return of the headdress would only lead to a flood of similar claims from countries all over the Americas to recover valuable Pre-Hispanic artefacts illegally taken from their land. The logic of such a statement isn’t lost on Mexico, only temporarily misplaced.