by Takeo De Meter
Past the town of Igualá, near the foothills of the Sierra Madre, about half way to our first destination, we pulled off the main road and dunked the Landy into a shallow river bed. We stacked all our stuff on a heap on the river bank. First came the disinfectant; a full gallon of sodium hypochlorite solution was carefully poured out over all aluminium surfaces we could find, rubbed in with a brush and left to settle for half an hour. Then it was rinsed off with large bucketfuls of water. Step 2 was pretty much the same but with rose-scented dishwashing soap. Big scrub-down with lotsa suds all over the place. After rinsing, the truck smelled really nice, canvas top and all. Dripping all over, we drove her out of the river, back on the road and an hour later it was about time to look for night shelter.
Another small town off the main road, a motel / cantina. Some US-built pick-up trucks parked in front. 3 dollars / room and a large tavern/bar. Guys wearing sombreros and cowboy hats at the counter. Young gals wearing provocative dresses got Hideki drooling. At the counter, we paid for the rooms on beforehand and got ourselves a drink. One of the barroom girls spotted the dribbling Jap and got closer. I turned away and asked the barkeep for a glass of ice cubes. Next thing I saw was an odd-looking couple leaving the tavern and next thing I heard was the Landy firing up and driving off.
Someone dropped a quarter into the juke box and pressed a number: Sukiyaki by Kyu Sakamoto, the then # 1 (Japanese) hit, even in the US charts.. Nice theme but no-one understood Ue o muite, arukoo... I am looking up to hide my tears ... but tonight I am walking alone. Not tonight Hideki, have fun.
Waiting for my pal to show up again, I got involved in a beer chuggin and burping contest with some of the locals. I didnt like the beer much but my burping was real good that night and I got confronted with a mex guy that was a full head taller than my 61 and about a foot wider, with biceps the size of my thighs. He could even spell his name, burping. Big laffs till he dared me to repeat his name in burps and I spelled H-i-j-o-d-e-p-u... which is as far as I got, just in time to duck his fist and serve him one in the stomach. He bent double and his chin met my knee. Owch both sides. Saw a bottle coming my way and before I realized it I was in the middle of a full-size bar brawl with chairs being flung around and gals screaming and all. Someone served me a very good imitation of a professional uppercut and I landed on the floor behind the counter between the cockroaches and other garbage, from where I could make it to the toilets on all fours and locked myself in. About ten minutes later I heard a police siren over the general tumult. So I decided to sit quiet for a while.
Take-chan ! Hidekis voice brought me back to reality and I got our of the shithouse cubicle. He was still holding the girl by the hand, the same one he had taken out a couple of hours earlier. Or had she taken him out ? The barroom looked like it had been hit by the mother-in-law of a tornado on one of her bad mood days and a couple of guys were cleaning up the mess of broken bottles, blood and beer. My face hurt like I had been hit by a Greyhound bus at speed. Hideki told me he had fallen in love.
The next morning, my bathroom mirror did not split immediately out of sheer disgust when it saw me, but gave me a good image of myself instead. Yuck. So I scraped most of the hair off my swollen face, brushed my teeth and spat one out. I got rid of the beer and puke stench under a cold shower. Time for breakfast, I thought.
The taverns innards looked kinda back to normal in the morning and at a table by the window sat Hideki with a BIG smile on his face in the company of a large pot of coffee and a young girl who, by the expression on her face, looked as she had been run over by a Caterpillar garbage dump compactor - several times. She looked kinda happy, though, but her hair was a mess. Ohayou gozaimasu I bowed with mock politeness towards Hideki. Buenos días I said to the girl. She looked up with big doglike eyes. Buenos she answered and reverted her attention to her cup of coffee. In her early twenties, long black hair and vague asian traits, very pretty, about the size of Hideki. He started to say something but I cut him off short. I dont wanna know I said, Time to be on our way.
She is coming with us, he said, her name is Rosita. The girl looked up when she heard her name - she did not speak any English except for Hello, I am Rosita and Five dollars for one hour. Great. He fell for a hooker. All we needed.
TO BE CONTINUED...