Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Memories of Mexico


Recent pic of the bull fighting ring, it's still there!
There are no crazy drunken bar stories in this post. My crazy drunken bar stories all happened during the 90's in Philly. As I've said before, another post, another time.

As a child in the early 80's, I remember traveling with my family across the border from El Paso, Texas to Cuidad Juarez, Mexico. We just drove in, no questions asked; no passports or government ID cards were needed to enter and return. It was a hot dry dusty August day. I remember driving down the main thoroughfare with no real destination in mind. It was just the thrilling idea back then of going into Mexico.  I remember looking out the dirty, dust covered windows of our sky blue Pontiac Phoenix and seeing a bull fighting stadium in the distance.

We ended up at a shopping mall and walked around inside. It was nearly deserted, dark and foreboding. I was nervous. I remember finding it peculiar that half of the lights in the mall were out. There was canned Mariachi music. Obviously, it wasn't like malls in the US that I was used to.  Local faces were staring back at us. We must have looked pretty peculiar to them, this family from New Jersey with three loud kids. I stared at a boy my age and he stared back at me, both of us wondering about the other and perhaps a bit suspicious. My mother searched for and bought a LLadro porcelain figurine of a young girl. You could purchase them for far cheaper there than in the states.

Mom and Dad loved Mexico. When Mom and Dad were married back in 1976, they honeymooned in Acapulco while Adam, Sheryl, and I stayed with Nanny and Grandpop in Willingboro, NJ. It was a fun time staying with our grandparents. When Mom and Dad returned, they picked us up in the evening and we had to wait to see what they brought us as gifts. We kids were so excited. I remember staying up late in the evening in living room just waiting. It was later than I had ever stayed up, like 11 or 12 midnight.

Mom and Dad got each of us a colorful yarn covered bird, a wooden turtle, and for Adam and I, little clay bulls and bull fighters. Sheryl was given a handmade fabric doll. I still have my gifts to this day. And coins! they gave us Mexican coins. LOL, I forgot about those coins.

Mom told us of a story that on the flight home they hit major turbulence. Her Coca-Cola fell off of the tray table and went pouring down the aisle like a stream. We all laughed, just giddy from our beloved parents being home safe and sound. We also learned that Dad had been very sick for several days after getting bit by a mosquito. Aside from that, they said they had a nice trip.

I have been to Tijuana, and Baja, Mexico several times since then, all with my brother Adam. I always felt safe going across the border because he was a border patrol agent at the time. I love the country for it's colorful vibrant culture, history, art, and people. I know violence can happen but I don't put myself in those situations or areas. Instead, I stick to the main drag of Tijuana, enjoy my cerveza, and haggle for some great sterling silver. Although once, I did buy a bracelet marked sterling silver which ended up turning my wrist green! I guess "buyer beware."

The last time I was in Tijuana was years ago, I went with John, Adam, and my Dad. We were walking the main strip, the Avenia Revolucion, going in and out of shops. Dad was on a mission to find a soccer shirt for his grandson Westleigh. He went into every shop! Now Dad is an extremely wise, astute, intelligent man. He also talks to everyone! For better or for worse, this is a family trait. My brother, sister, and I also share this trait.

Well Adam, John and I were going in and out of shops with Dad trailing behind us. I then looked turned around to show him some art work and he wasn't behind me. I ran out onto the street and he wasn't waiting on the sidewalk! I was seized with fear and ran back in the store to get Adam and John.

Restaurante Iguana Rana
"We lost Dad!" I yelled.
John was a little freaked, grabbed our purchases, and we ran out the door to look for Dad.
Mr. Cool, Calm, and Collective (Big Brother Adam) was nonplussed by it all as we ran by him.
"Dad is fine," he said, "he is probably just talking to people again."

We checked the store next door, nothing. We checked the store after that and the store after that. NOTHING! No Dad!  There we were, Adam, John, and I, heads spinning looking up and down the main drag in TJ. Finally, we spied Dad across the street in front of a shop, haggling with the owner over a soccer shirt for Westleigh.  Adam sighed heavily, rolled his eyes, and muttered "DAD" really loudly.

We crossed the street and there was Dad, proud of his purchase for Westleigh and eager to show it to us, but not before the three of us admonished him for freaking us out! Dad brushed it off, exclaiming "But I got such a great deal Man!" I was just happy we found him quickly. Lunch was at Restaurante Iguana Rana with an old school bus hanging off the second floor balcony. Don't ask me how they got it up there. LOL. The beer and tacos were great.

One last memory of Mexico involved Adam, his wife Teresa, Sheryl, and I. We drove down the Baja coast from Tijuana down to the colorful small fishing port of Puerto Neuvo, the self described "Lobster capital of Baja". We drove past abandoned buildings and houses, followed by wealthy homes and colorful condos. What was finished was beautiful, vibrant, and gorgeous in color and style. What wasn't finished were just shells in various stages of completion. When the money stopped coming in, so did construction, and rather abruptly so it seemed.

Once at Puerto Nuevo, we had a delightful open air lunch at the Lobster House on a balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean, toasting each other over Coronas and margaritas. But the best part, besides family, was the fried lobster lunch I devoured, Puerto Nuevo style! It was a first and was SO good! Afterwards we shopped at the colorful arts and crafts stores which dotted the town.

My memories of Mexico will keep me coming back there. I know there are problems, I am fully aware of the possible violence and the poverty. But if you travel with friends, keep an eye on each other, and don't become a drunken idiot American, you can have a wonderful afternoon or trip.

NOTE: Photos are for representative purposes only. I do not own them.

Bull fighting stadium pic courtesy of the blog: http://mannypsjournal.blogspot.com/2012/09/a-bullfight-in-juarez-mexico.html
Restaurante Iguana Rana, Tiguana: http://www.dsfrazee.net/2003/2003.11.18.san.diego.html
Lobster House, Peurto Nuevo:  http://www.tripadvisor.com.mx/LocationPhotos-g580456-w3-Puerto_Nuevo_Baja_California.html

3 comments:

  1. Hey Little Bro........fun memories of Dad "haggling!" I do look forward to revisiting Mexico to explore the ancient history and art that no doubt influenced the western part of the United States.........hugs Big Sis.

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  2. Great stories, Marc. I also enjoy Mexico, but I have only experienced the touristy parts. Maybe one day some other places will land on my bucket list. ~Lisa

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