Every Tuesday, for one night only, there is a traditional venue in San Pancho where an otherwise empty bar is filled with enthusiastic musicians and singers and way too much tequila. The mix provides us with an open mike experience that goes late into the night. The standard of performances is in truth a mixed bag but surprisingly most acts are pretty good and some are excellent. There are occasions where a brave soul murders some tune at great volume or recites some angst-ridden poetry at a whispering monotone. These moments only make the dancing violin bloke and the slightly creepy puppet guy all the more acceptable. It in is this high vibe venue that Suzy decides to play. She rocks up to the tiny stage and whips the tequila soaked masses to a frenzy with her guitar and sing skills. She is now our newest local rock star.
Time moves too quickly and it’s time for Suzy to leave. Back to December weather in the UK but with a fresh Mexican glow. She leaves behind a bunch of new fans & friends along with tea, cheese and whisky, god love her. She will be back.
It’s the time of year where masses of visitors and locals from USA get all wound up about the throwy catchy runny smashy game. The concentration of folk from the pacific north west mean that the Seahawks from Seattle create the most excitement. It’s worth watching them suffer and celebrate in equal measure. There are private game nights at our Lo De Marcos bar and Sundays are often spent amongst the Seahawk sufferers. It does take me back to the time when I was a professional American Football player.
It was 1987 and the NFL and the Budweiser pretend beer company got an idea into their heads that Europe and in particular the UK was ready for an American Football league of their own. The Budweiser League strategy was to approach martial artists, rugby players and nightclub doormen and persuade them to give the game a go. They provided all the strange armour and helmets and coaching and offered a stunning wage of around 10 quid a game. As it happens I was a martial artist rugby playing doorman at the time and turned up on a wet windswept field in Hartlepool to join the largest group of thugs that could be assembled dressed in helmets and padding. It was a lot less glamorous than I had imagined. We were encouraged to enthusiastically inflict short bursts of freestyle combat with a ball chucked in somewhere as an excuse. My job was to destroy the bloke whose task it was to throw the ball away before I got to him. Easy enough.
Well certainly at the time we considered it all a bit easy. Our bits were protected by metal and plastic and our entire lack of skill or knowledge of the game was replaced very effectively by extreme violence. The slightly embarrassingly named Darlington Dragons rose to the top of the league. Many teams took one look at us and gave up. To be fair we were a particularly huge and ugly group.
Our reward for consistently creating terror and distributing injury to our opponents was the right to play the American Airforce team based at the Harrogate Airbase. When the day arrived, we were treated to the joyous sight of scantily clad bouncing thighs and tits with brightly coloured pom-poms. There was a marching band with hats and local TV cameras, a sport journalist or two, and for the first time, an actual crowd of onlookers holding up banners, hotdogs and pretend beer. The Americans turned up in shiny uniforms and looked generally smaller and considerably better looking. In order for us to identify those of them that were actually American and therefore familiar with the rules and tactics of the game a large black letter “A” was painted on their helmets. The first play arrives with much pomp, ceremony and distracting bouncing. Their entire offensive team lines up showing us worrying amount of AAAAAAAAA. They do, however, seem to have made a schoolboy error and leave the bloke with the ball unprotected and within bashing distance of me. I launch myself at him. Our eyes meet. Rather surprisingly he looks very relaxed with a hint of anticipation. More surprisingly was when I get but a yard from him I am hit very hard by three “A” blokes at exactly the same time from three different angles. I am not in the best of shape. In fact, I am an entirely different shape. I have two broken ribs, along with a dislocated shoulder and jaw with a few evenly distributed cuts and bruises thrown in for good measure. It hurt quite a lot.
It transpires that because it had been noticed that I had notched up a high number of victims in previous matches and been awarded most violent person (MVP) for knocking out the most ball throwing guys this lot had actually planned this ambush in advance. How very rude. It is apparently part of the tactics of the game. Who knew????
Inadvisably I managed to relocate my shoulder and jaw and continued. We all painfully learned many new tactics while getting very bored of picking ourselves up and leaving parts of us behind. We all slowly began to realise that these metal and plastic bits we were covered in were not protection at all. They were thinly disguised weaponry. A shoulder pad sliced into your neck or a helmet colliding with your solar plexus at speed really changes your day. Who knew ???
Thankfully the end of the game saved us from entire annihilation but safe to say we did not win that one. There ended my short-lived American football career. It was some months later when we got our own back on the field of rugby battle but that is another story.
The Superbowl 2020 is in a few weeks time. There will be a huge party on the beach and we will all be there even though, to the heartbreak of many around us, the Seattle Seahawks will not.
My spider bite injury is not improving fast enough. I’m starting to be known as the “limpy guy”. On doctor’s advice, I am to have a series of injections in my bum that will somehow sort out my knee. I’m a trusting soul and allow my doctor to inject me the first time. She wants me to return every two days for two weeks but to save time it is agreed that with a little training I can inject myself. I take all the needles and vials back to the jungle and give it a go. The needles are longer than I thought and the angle of penetration a touch awkward. I reluctantly ask Jayne if she fancies stabbing me in the arse with a large needle. Her little face lights up like Christmas. She is worryingly enthusiastic. Can’t imagine why this process gives her such joy? Arse a little sore, knee improving.
It’s starting to get less than warm. Especially at night! We didn’t really sign up for this and it has taken us somewhat by surprise. For the first time in two years even I have put on long pants and long sleeves at the same time. Unheard of. More blankets are required. It’s all very strange indeed. Now as I am a ghostly pale ginger man from viking stock I find it quite a blessing to breathe cool air but this view is not shared by the soft delicate Canadian types used to central heating and piping hot water. Bless them. They will probably survive.
Christmas comes and goes. We both very much appreciate the lack of fuss and tinsel. Our present to each other is to not give presents and just eat good food and share the day with friends. But sharing my roast lamb is a different story. We eat by ourselves before the throng arrives. It is only with great reluctance that I am pretty much forced to share some of the leftovers with the incoming hoards. I am not happy about that. Humbug!
Open house Xmas day in the jungle happens again. Waves of folk bringing heaps of food (didn’t have to share my lamb after all!). There is a flood of donated booze. The over indulgence begins around 2pm and goes all night. More than 60 folk turn up over the course of the day. Probably many more. We lost count very easily early doors. We are in abundance. Food, booze, music, friends and jungle. Ho Ho Ho !
A good friend arrives for just a few days laden with gifts and a heap of stuff we sent him to bring down. We have more whisky and a few more practical things like sheets but also essentials like a reverse camera for the sub. Much as we love the sub it is all but impossible to see behind it when reversing. Now we have a screen on board where we can clearly see the terrified faces of any dogs, old people or children we are running over.
It has been decided we have far too many vehicles. The Wrangler has been spruced and fixed and gratefully returned to its rightful owner. The Sub has become part of the family and our love together grows by the day. The Razor electrics all failed when we ripped off all the fairy lights it was covered in when it was recovered. It is our work horse on the land during daylight and remains very useful. We will keep it for now. The Jungle Jeep is finally working like a dream. The incredibly useful Pauly Paulus has returned for another long stay with us and we immediately deployed him on fixing the thing. He soon discovered that the shocks were seized and, once replaced, the suspension copes admirably with jungle life. No more serious back and arse injuries. It is ready to sell after Pauly has left us. In return for fixing it he gets first dibs on using it while he is here. They do suit each other! That leaves Django. Our much beloved van is parked in Lo De Marcos with a vandalized window which so far no one has been able to find a replacement for, a stolen battery and no real use for us. It’s time. We decide to gift her to a good friend who will restore her to former glory. Django will ride again!
So now we have three. Our day Razor (lights don’t work), The Jungle Jeep (Pauly’s ride for the next month) and our beautiful Sub. That’s quite enough to be going on with. Although we do have our eyes on a Crew Razor with six seats and a tipper box …. Maybe.
New Year is upon us. We have plans to be at a house warming and surprise birthday gathering for friends who have just in the nick of time finished building their house pretty much the day before Xmas in time for their large family to arrive. It a stunning modern design with infinity pool just out of town. It’s a very good start to proceedings. We are fully refreshed by the time we all head into town to join the masses gathered in San Pancho. The masses are further swollen by refugees from a rave on the beach a few miles away that was cancelled at the last minute (by our environmental vigilante friends) to save turtle nests and the damage to nature 2000 stoned dancing ravers can inflict. They forced the corrupt county president to revoke the illegal permit he issued. Our friends had to call in the army to protect them from the “well connected” organisers that were less than impressed by this development.
It’s a long night. Two separate DJ dance areas in the main street with Samba drum band thrown in for good measure. The place is packed with happy well behaved highly refreshed people. It starts to rain just after midnight. It doesn’t stop raining till about 36 hours later. We wake up rather late the next morning on “Big Blue”. Big Blue is our favorite sofa in town. Big enough to sleep four of us comfortably it turns out! The rain is heavy and it is very unlikely that we will make it back to our place. The rivers will be raging. Everyone is feeling rather average and although going home and hiding away for the next few days seems incredibly attractive it’s not going to happen. To add to the days challenges the power is out in town.
We muster ourselves and pack a group of six of us into the sub and head off looking for somewhere to have a very long lunch. It’s raining hard and the streets are flowing with many inches of water. No power means no lunch. No places are open except one. One place to eat in the whole town and its packed. It’s a corner on-street location and we huddle out of the rain waiting for tortas (warm sandwiches). It appears everyone in town has ordered before us. It’s taking an age and we are all feeling decidedly normal. We realise we are within yards of a friend’s dry warm flat and we brave the rain to run to his door and barge our way in. Poor bugger has six soaked and hungover refugees dripping puddles on his floor. Food eventually appears and is inhaled instantly. We just bought the last bread buns in town. The kitchen served us and closed. The rain is coming down harder than ever but we are slightly cheered as the power finally comes on. Our phones start making “look at me” noises. We have two lots of guests at our place. A family of four from Oregon and a French theatre director and his boyfriend from Mexico City. They are all trapped on the other side of the rivers with no food. The solar has had no solar for some time so they only have a few hours of power left too. They are contacting us to request rescue. Rescue is not happening anytime soon.
We wait for a gap in the rain for a few hours. We are all camped out on the only bed in the house watching terrible TV. Hangovers have had time to fully develop. It’s a sorry sight. We all need a shower and few days sleep.
It is decided that we will decamp to another venue. Our friend from Montreal is a chef and has offered to cook for us. A huge feed may help our mood. The rain hasn’t let up for a moment so we resign ourselves to being in town till after dark at least and expect our guests will be having a real adventure. Especially now they have no power. Poor buggers.
We find ourselves camped on someone else’s bed waiting for food and feeling grim. Pauly delivers a few cartons of undrinkable red wine he found on a dusty shelf in a nearby shop. A huge face full of spaghetti carbonara and no wine was actually incredibly restoring. It’s 9 pm and the rain is slightly less than torrential for the first time all day so we decide to make an exploratory dash for home. We pour our sorry selves into the sub and head out.
The rivers are flowing hard and many of the banks have been washed out but it’s not a problem for the sub. We make it home with relative ease just as the rain returns to torrential status. We deliver bags of spaghetti carbonara and cartons of terrible wine to grateful damp guests in the dark. Pauly and I drag ourselves over the hill in order to pull the generator out into the rain. We make it a temporary shelter and get the power back on. We are home, soaked and exhausted. Happy New Year.