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Author: Subject: A Magic Place
Baja Bernie
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[*] posted on 11-2-2007 at 06:38 PM
A Magic Place

Well, it did start in Baja....From my book, Bouncing Around Baja

A Magic Place

Well amigos and amigas, on this one you have to bear with me as I set a little background before I get right into the yarn. Lu Ann and I have been married 48 years and as soon as we could rub a few pesos together we would head south to celebrate our wedding anniversaries. Unfortunately, that meant we stayed home for the first 15 years, raising the kids. So, for those of you who can count in Spanish, that means that we have spend the last 33 of our anniversaries in Mexico. Where the heck else!

I started to write about Cabo then started thinking of this trip and bounced clear off the golden peninsula. We’ll hit that one when we get clear of this one.

When we started going to Mexico they didn’t even want our money. It was a matter of Mexican pride and I don’t blame them a bit. But, after a few peso devaluations the people began to smile at the green backs and accept them, much like “comfort food.”

Back into dim history, our first real trip was to Acapulco. Having a little pull with the SDPD, we parked our car in the Southern Division parking lot and asked the duty Sergeant if we could get a ride to the border with one of the units because we were flying out of Rodriguez International Airport in Tijuana. “No problem, boss. . .but the only unit we have free is an ambulance.” We were running late to meet our flight so I asked him to have the ambulance 10-19 (return) to the station and pick us up. Lu Ann delicately arranged herself in the front seat, while I tossed our luggage in the back and plopped down on the gurney and off we went. You should have seen the Mexican Custom Officers gape when they saw us get out of the ambulance and saunter across the border to whistle up a cab to the airport.

Next stop: Mexico City, where we had planned to have a six hour lay over. We wanted to hire a cab and see what was what in the capital. A representative of Aeromexico greeted us as we walked down the ramp. She advised us that we could board a plane bound for Acapulco in 30 minutes. Confused, I accepted—and was never to hear the end of it, as you will see. At this point I should tell you that we are always happy to fly Aeromexico as it had the best safety record in the world. You heard right and it still has an enviable record.

Flying over the mountains was more than interesting. Drink in hand we hit an updraft and the drink stayed put BUT when the elevator came down the liquid just rested in mid air. Being alert and young I caught it in mid-air and gulped it down.

On landing we found that our luggage had abandoned us in Mexico City. They are not first in this area. What to do? We hopped a cab and headed down to Acapulco. Damn, the cliffs down are worse than anything Hollywood had to offer. A sheer drop of about a million feet, a blind curve and our cabbie is whistling to himself as he pulls out to pass a lumbering old madero (fire wood) truck. My heart stopped and my lady covered her eyes. My fingerprints (impressions) are still on the roof of that cab. Wow!

Got to the bottom and thought we had entered a fantasyland (the Las Brisis Hotel and Resort). Looking over the ocean were stark white bungalows, each with a swim up pool. You left the emerald green golf course, dove into ‘your’ pool and you were in your bedroom. Sexy? You bet! But why would anyone be wasting their time knocking a little ball around? Pink flamingos and VW Things painted black and white like Zebras. Lu Ann demanded that we stop and so we did. Hat in hand I entered the lobby and asked about accommodations. “Sorry, Sir, but we are full up!” Wonderful, I said under my breath. “Sir, our getaway units start from $500.00 a night.” This in 1972! Lu Ann was upset but I was glad to be out of there.

Got to our downtown hotel and checked in without luggage. Found a wonderful, open-air bar and began to relax. Hot, hot and hotter, we were dressed for the weather in San Diego in October. Thank God! Lu Ann fell in love with the parrot in the bar. A few drinks will fix anything!

Hot, sweaty, overdressed, and tired of the parrot—all it could say was “buy me a drink” and that was in Spanish. We retired to our room for the night. We both promptly reduced the amount of clothing on our bodies to a level of ‘cool’ comfort. A little later the phone rang and the deskman advised me that our luggage had been delivered. I thanked him and was about to drift back to sleep when it dawned on me that he had said that I must come down and sign for it or they would take it back to the airport for us to claim tomorrow. Okay, climbing back into my sweat-dampened clothes I rushed down and claimed our baggage. Had to sign forms in triplicate and five dollars poorer I hauled the bags up to the room. No, I am not cheap! The bell people went home at eight in the evening.

The next day saw us doing all kinds of silly tourist stuff. We watched the guys diving from the cliff, took a cruise around the bay and a few other things.

Back at our hotel we swam in the pool and then Lu Ann talked to the parrot for a while.

Later we walked down the main street to an elegant hotel, went in and asked if we could order dinner—Graciously, they accepted this interruption to their daily routine. Lunch was at three and dinner was at nine or later and they normally closed from 5 to 9. No matter! They waved us into the dining room—dance floor. The tables and chairs were stacked everywhere and the band was practicing. My Lady’s feet started tapping and then her shoulders began swaying. Don’t forget me, the gringo with the beat.

The Mexicans were fabulous. They removed the tables and chairs clearing the dance floor. They insisted that we dance. We had the floor to ourselves for hours. NEVER HAVE WE BEEN TREATED SO WELL! You’ve have heard of dancing all night—we got close! At about 9:30 the maitre d’ suggested that we might wish to order dinner. We did and it was fabulous. A few more glasses of wine, more dancing and happily exhausted after a day of sun and fun we wandered slowly back to our hotel. That was the one and only time I ever left a $50.00 tip.

A little more about this wonderful and crazy place. All of the hotels in the downtown area have no windows or doors on the first two floors. Reason they were open all of the time and when it rained the rain fell straight down—never at a slant. There were no bugs of any kind. Lizard-like creatures, yes. Even the native huts up on the hill by the airport had only roofs and corner supports.

In our wanderings Lu Ann found a rock shop that sold all kinds of wonderful stones from jade to geodes. She loves rocks so she bought about 40 pounds of geodes as souvenirs.

Some other things struck me as funny—one if you wanted a cab you had to be aggressive, jump right in front of them and whistle! I could not do this crazy feat so I sent my brave bride into the streets. The cabbies had a language all of there own. They played their car horns. One series of notes exclaimed, hello good looking do you want me to stop for you? There were others but most of them were not worth noting. A middle finger would suffice! If you wanted a waiter in a restaurant you had to purse your lips and make a ‘fssst’ sound. They would hear a soft one clear across the room.

Okay, now you remember that we lost our luggage on our arrival. I was determined that this would not occur on our trip home. Couple this with the fact that in those days you had to confirm your return flight at least 24 hours in advance. So with this in mind I started calling Aeromexico offices in Mexico City so that we would not be stranded. After all, I had to be back to work in a couple of days. All I got after three hours of trying was a busy signal. Frustrated and disgusted, I marched down to the head desk clerk, by now my friend, and told him my problem. He laughed, lifted his phone and made the call. Confirmed by Juanita at 10:42am for flight #----. Another five dollar bill flew out of my wallet. That is when and where I learned that in Mexico the busy signal was the ‘ringing’ signal.

Doggies, I got lost in that dream.

Our last day and I am determined not to loose our luggage on the return trip. Confirmations in order and we are winging it back to Mexico City. (We still have never seen it.) Deplaning I demand that I receive my luggage so that I may carry it to our departing flight. Okay! Rushing down the length of the airport to our ticket window—carrying luggage with forty pounds of rocks. Made it!

“I am Mr. Bernie Swaim and we have reservations on flight # ---.”

“I am sorry, Señor.”

“Wait! I have confirmations by Juanita at 10:42am.” Hands in the air he stops me. “You do not understand, Señor. The whole plane she has been canceled. But do not worry. We have a flight into Mexicali and that is only a little ways from San Diego.”

Damn! Looking at the pay phone I wonder how many pesos I have to shove into it to call the Police Station and tell them I will not be to work TOMORROW.

“No, sir, that will not work. Do you realize that we have people waiting for us at the Tijuana Airport? No, that will definitely not work.”

“Señor, I am so sorry! There is an American flight leaving for Los Angles in about 40 minutes. Perhaps we can refund your money for the return flight and you can book on that carrier.”

“Okay, lets do it.” When all was said and done the nice Mexican supervisor only discounted our tickets by 30%. Interesting that was the exact amount I had to pay to go to Los Angles, via an American carrier, because of their mistake.

Now we are on the flight to Los Angles and I am worrying about getting down to San Diego because I now have only $6.00 in my pocket and while PSA is cheap it is not that cheap. I was offered several drinks (which I needed) on this flight but I declined because I didn’t have the money. Got to L.A. and realized that those drinks were free.

Well, we got back to San Diego—rocks and all—and I was not late for work the next morning!

Our second trip to Acapulco started out on a very high note (Lu Ann won the one week trip including airfare)! Two other couples from her realty office decided that they would like to join us so off we flew.

We had reservations at the newly finished El Presidente Hotel. As we attempted to check in they tried to explain that our check in would be delayed a couple of hours for some reason. This is when we found that one of the guys in our group was the original model for the ugly American. He started hollering and screaming about his rights. He carried it to the point that the manager pleasantly explained that we would have to stay in an older hotel across the street for the night. Lu Ann and I explained that this was not a problem as Mr. Big Mouth continued to complain. We spent the night across the street and when we entered our rooms in the El Presidente the next morning two (couples) were greeted with flowers, champagne, and a large fruit plate and a wonderful view of the bay and the town. The Big Mouth was placed in a room with a wonderful view of the next building and nothing else!

The first night found us showing the others one of our favorite cliff side restaurants. This is where we began to think that we had made a very large mistake because one of the couples turned out to be recovering alcoholics. Anyway, in deference to them we all ordered ‘ice tea’ before our dinner. No one seemed to want to decide what to order. So, after two wonderful iced teas I ventured that I really enjoyed the giant shrimp that were the ‘specialty of the house. That settled it; we all ordered the shrimp. When they arrived, large as lobsters, two of us were very pleased and the three women just covered their mouths or eyes and made funny sounds that were not expressions of approval. They couldn’t get past the fact that the head and eyes were still affixed to the shrimp. Well, the four of them ordered spaghetti. No problem for me although I didn’t quite finish my half of the shrimp.

Well, after we sorted things out the ‘AA’ couple just sat around the pool, ate early dinners and retired to the safety of their room. The rest of us wandered about and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our stay. In fact Chuck and Colleen borrowed $500.00 (US) from us so they could stay another week!

Sorry I got so carried away. Forgive me. We will land back in Baja shortly!

Dreams are dreams and they never should ever be forgotten!!

My smidgen of a claim to fame is that I have had so many really good friends. By Bernie Swaim December 2007
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[*] posted on 11-2-2007 at 09:56 PM

Wonderful story....We leave Chula Vista Nov 30th for Las Barriles. We are so looking forward to having baja stories of our own. :biggrin:
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[*] posted on 11-2-2007 at 10:45 PM

Thanks Bern. Two great stories. I'm smiling and that's a nice way to head off to bed............
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[*] posted on 11-2-2007 at 10:48 PM

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[*] posted on 11-4-2007 at 06:06 PM

Bernie ~

Such a wonderful account of twin trips that were unidentical. The romance of the first one was sweet. Loved that they opened the dance floor for you two to enjoy. Hospitality Mexican style for sure. Also interesting how we may never know a person until we travel with them (reference story number 2). :lol:

Thanks so much for sharing your great expereinces with all of us!

The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well. - Ancis
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