This Is Not a Travel Column

Taking a free ride on the press plane

Photo courtesy of Stacy DaviesI arrived in Mexico still buzzing on my 10 a.m. screwdriver (it was noon Mexico time, after all), when I was greeted at the airport by a nubile young virgin who led me to a private Oldsmobile. The ride was blistering--the air laid on our skin like a sheepskin soaked in jam. The driver was silent--or asleep--and I felt just like Donald Pleasance in that movie Ten Little Indians where a mysterious host invites a gaggle of ne'er-do-wells like Frank Stallone and Brenda Vacarro to a holiday in Africa, and then bumps them off one by one. Or maybe I felt like Donald Pleasance in the Prince of Darknesswhen he finds that test tube full of Satan and gets sucked into a mirror. Or what about Donald Pleasance in Dark Secret of Harvest Home where Powers Booth gets his tongue ripped out by Bette Davis? That was scary.

From the balcony of my ninth-floor double-bedded room, I surveyed the commercialized landscape below: pools surrounded by white lounge chairs, all orbiting the required swim-up palapa bar; The Love Boat run aground. The body count was spartan, which I guess is the upshot of terrorism--no one travels, i.e. "crowds me." I grabbed a 5-cent Modelo from the mini bar and lit up a cigarette inside my room, which contained three ashtrays. [Sheraton plug here.]

In the lobby, I was introduced to the Blue Sky PR junket--all women, all good. We ate in the very American restaurant, and since the food was so mediocre, I suspected they may have imported some real Americans to cook it. All went quickly down el crappero, however, when the worst margaritas made by a blender were dropped off. If there's one place that makes a truly horrible margarita, it would be the country of Mexico. [Jose Cuervo Instant Margaritas in a Bottle plug here.]

After dinner, it was time to cruise the promenades of Puerto Vallarta. One of the journalists, Laurel, and I felt the need to sample the foreign spirits of this village-town and hustled down the bustling, moonlit cobblestone strip of the seaside Malecon. We acquired refreshment in the yeasty brew called "Corona" and winded through tattered stands of pinatas, Che Guevara T-Shirts and shot glasses adorned with blond, Sculpty tits and asses.

We bought some local dessert-like treats called "Chicklets" and retired from our block-long walk to the Kahlua Bar, where two tequila-shooter girls sauntered over for a string of "hold the plastic water pistol under my rack, or on the side of my rack, or down the middle of my rack and grab my ass" photo fun. [Kalhua Bar plug here.]

On the way home in the taxi, Laurel and I took turns making out with the cab driver because it was dark and the streets were harrowing and because Juan-Jesus-Jose-Fernando's pals would never believe his tale, not even now. [Mexican cab drivers plug here.]

The following days were a tug of war between ingesting alcohol until my liver exploded or pecking out a first-rate travel column. I opted for the former (even now), but I soon felt the pressure of the press like a puncture wound in my beer gut. How on earth is one to stay snockered when others insist on writing things down. Like every place we went. And what's with this asking of questions? Lots of questions: "What ingredients are in that delicious entrée?" "Who carved that breathtaking, one-of-a-kind sculpture?" "May we photograph that secret, illegal document?" Yadda, yadda, yadda. Then there was always someone handing me a hard-to-transport-with-a-Mojito-and-cigarette-in-each-hand folder full of glossy pictures and glossy brochures and glossy CD-ROMs.

Then things suddenly took a really dirty turn: introduce the "cultural representative" or spy. While I was carousing Gringo Gulch to catch site of the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton "love bridge," the annoying one from the city's tourism bureau constantly prodded me about how I liked the food, the town, the massage at the hilltop Tierra Nobel day spa, the lamb shank at Café Des Artists, the Galleria Pacifico walking tour and the Mayan Solid Gold Dancers at the cove of Las Caletas, the former home of director John Huston. She poked and pinched me, again and again. What was I going to write, what was I going to write, what was I going to write! I finally bought a pen.

I countered her. I kept on my toes. I kept my jokes to a breathy murmur. I kept a flask. I began to scribble notes. I took pictures with my Weekly-issued camera in a box. ("For a rustic effect," I slyly covered.) And when we ate fabulous handmade ravioli at the illustrious Mediterranean restaurant Trio while others merely wrote down ingredients, I took a picture of my ravioli. And when we went to the 16th century town of San Sebastian by 14-seat propeller plane, I purchased coffee from the Cafe Altura beanery--see, I didn't just ask what it was made of (coffee, I think), and hey, I don't even drink coffee. I also snapped pictures of decapitated chickens, tree fungus and a skinless, dismembered cow piled high in the back of a passing pickup, atop which sat a young, bloody boy making the "moo" sound. [American Beef Council plug here.]

I only almost puked four times; I burned just the very tops of my thighs; I bought a $350 painting by an artist whose name I can't remember; and I tongue kissed only once. And two weeks after my return to the Weekly, I received an e-mail from Blue Sky--inviting me to St. Maartan.

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