Thirteen and a half hours from Mexico City to Puerto Vallarta by bus, and I’m left smoking a joint and brushing my teeth in the bathroom of the Hotel Azteca. With eyes red as blood, I’m feeling remarkably fresh, considering. I’ve had very little sleep in 24-hours, but it was a good idea to catch the overnight bus. It’s now 8:30 AM on Monday morning and the bus cost 266 pesos.
I take a nap for an hour before thundering out into the streets to find that Puerto Vallarta is a tiny resort town with a cobblestone centre. Everything is within easy walking distance or a cheap taxi ride, but there are far too many American tourists around for comfort.
At Chilly Willy’s, I have a beer and get talking to Joel (Hoel). He is the Mexican tour agent stationed outside the restaurant/bar here today. We chat about life, the world, poverty, and racism. A few more beers later, I shuffle back to the hotel for another kip and a welcomed leave from the scorching sun.
Snuck out again around 7 PM, but the sun is barely going down at this time. I’m eating steak and French fries at a price that’s far too cheap to charge these cocky American tourists hanging out here tonight. Then, I’m off again to sniff out the local boys at Club Paco-Paco. Nothing is going on downstairs, so into the upstairs bar I walk and hit eye-contact with the most beautiful man in the place. By far the best looking man I have yet seen in Mexico.
“I like your style,” he says to me.
“My brother, you don’t look too bad to me either,” I respond.
He looks just like a young Elvis Presley but even more handsome. He is about five foot nine inches tall and built like an athlete. Silky jet black shoulder-length hair frames the golden skin-tone of his face and emphasises a rock star smile. Anyone who looks this good ought to be in Hollywood, but here he is at this bar hoping I’ll buy him a drink.
“I’m Luis,” he says, extending a hand.
I shake it, “Paul,” I smile.
“Nice to meet you,” we chime in unison.
His eyes light up then, as I order two beers, and before long we’re talking like long lost friends.
“You should be going South if you want to see Mexico. If you want to explore the Mayan culture, beautiful sceneries, rivers, and the old ruins. Do you want to come home and smoke some Pot at my house?”
I must have looked stunned, or eager or something foolish because he jumps up from his stool just then, before I could even whisper, yes, and says, “Let’s go!”
Luis lives one road from Hotel Azteca, on the left, up some steep dark long narrow stairs to the roof of a dingy hotel he shares with other out of town strays, conmen, hookers, and poor Mexican families. His room must be the highest point you can get to in the hotel. It has no wood for doors or glass for windows, or pretty pictures hanging from walls. What it does boast is the best view in Puerto Vallarta from the spaces in the brickwork where doors and windows should be.
I wonder at first what he does when it rains. But it’s still warm here even in a thunderstorm, and his room is hot as hell. The bed is a brick box with no mattress or any comfort you could mention. A pillow and two thin sheets scattered above with clothes flung everywhere. The toilet too is a C-shaped brick structure with no door or roof, but only a make-shift curtain for privacy.
Well, sod all that, we smoke weed and dance on the roof to Carlos Santana. When we are through and exhausted from the thick, night heat, he turns to face me and says:
“I was watching you; moving there just now. You have a great spirit. It is a beautiful, shimmering, shining thing.”
“Thank you,” I stutter. Not knowing now where to lay my eyes.
“You should let it light up more.”
“I never see it.”
“You don’t, but we do. It’s the African blood–is it not?”
“You may be right.”
“It’s the beauty of Africa.”
“I like your beauty, too.”
“I have the Mayan blood flowing through my veins. It is a different way of seeing, but we are similar. You are a lion, a warrior, I am also a big cat.”
I love him then. Want to touch him there. I imagine his lips on mine at that very moment. We lay side-by-side on the roof, on our backs, counting stars in a black and distant sky. When we have both nearly fallen asleep from the counting, and it seemed as if I could no longer resist not touching him, I think it best that I should leave.
“Buenas Noches, me Amigo,” I say to him in perfect Spanish. “Perdóname, but I must go. Manana.”
Finally, after two weeks in Mexico, I may have found in Puerto Vallarta a reason to turn bilingual. Back at the Hotel Azteca, I kept tossing and turning in bed, but could not sleep. Satan, the one-eyed monster, was up and needing some gentle stroking until he would weep.
So ended my first 24-hours in Puerto Vallarta. I had not planned on staying much beyond a few days, drawn here primarily by the intriguing love story between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton while filming “The Night of the Iguana” in 1963. Now I was here; it seems I might hang around a bit longer to soak up some of the spots they frequented. You never know your luck in a small fishing town, I told myself. I must have dropped off to sleep shortly after then.