The only possible excuse one could hate a Canadian is that they say things strangely. Take the word portage. How do you pronounce it? Por, as in poor, tage as in midge with a t instead. But then there’s Jason Dalsgaard from Seskaschewan, Canada. Poor-taaaj, he says, like he’s too fancy to speak English entirely and has to remind us all that Canada is vaguely French. Of course, aboot should come to mind too, as in: let me tell you aboot how silly Canadians sound. But that’s really the only thing I could ever possibly hate him.
I arrived in Mazatlán much the same way as someone who has been fired from a canon: a shit show. But I arrived, and I thank the stars ever more for the hilarity of that journey. I spent night one is a very cute, old, lofty hotel with intent on finding the Funky Monkey, an incredible hostel, later. I found it, and it was all very much like some higher power had eased the pain of the unknown for me and guided me directly where I needed to be. It was perfectly flawed and yet absolutely smooth at the same time.
After a brief tour, I thanked Salem, the hostel owner, and wandered where the people were, and took to chatting to Seamus, a Kiwi, and Colin and Jason, Canadians. Oh what a blessing to be speaking English. I didn’t hold back, all my Cali slang oozed out, “duuude, I’m so stoked.” They were a kind bunch. Seamus was a bit timid, a very warm heart but controlled and he liked to know a person a little better before he fully lightened up as much as his composure would allow (we’d later learn that enough cervesas turned Seamus into the ultimate gentleman riot who did not hesitate to hug you politely while he told you about his sexcapades on the beach), Colin, despite knowing he was Canadian made me think of Norway (turns out it was a lisp… and Jason gave him shit for it all the time) and was apt to steal the limelight from his quieter, zebra-clad companion, Jason who was more of a free-spirited hippy than the actual free-spirited Cali-born across from him.
The beach beckoned in the waning hours of the evening, and Colin convinced me to join him. I poured us the jenkiest coke and tequila, he handed me a beer, and we wandered off to the beach. Even Canadians like to thaw out, and as it turns out, Colin and Jason had been traveling together on motorcycles all the way from their homes, slowly working their way as far south as their savings would carry them. They’ve known each other pretty much since puberty and both serve in the Canadian Air Force (I know… news to me too, I didn’t even know Canada had a military. Turns out they don’t just sit around drinking maple syrup and apologizing to each other). Their duty? They pretty much get to dick around and fly gliders all day teaching a cadet camp for young kids. (Why didn’t I join the Air Force again? Oh that’s right… I’m not Canadian. At least I got that going for me.) There respective stories are a delight and can be read at the following links:
Jason’s journey – The Somewhere Between
Colin’s journey – Going Nowhere Slowly
The sun dipped low behind the jagged tops of islands, sending vibrant gradients of orange and yellow into the ever darkening sky, and I debated the worth of jumping into the sea without the sun. Even at night, Mazatlán’s coast is alive with people dancing and laughing, and Colin promised it was still warm without the light of day. I set my things on the sand and Colin smirked in response. Now here’s the thing about me: I’m constantly evaluating a situation for better or for worse (Colin is a giant teddy bear, it’s always the nice ones you gotta look out for), particularly one with a stranger, and when it’s dark out and you look up with devil eyes at your new amiga, most would think, “uhoh haha,” but I think, “Jesus Christ I left the knife back home.” So Colin ran at me, and with nothing to defend I went into what I call limp gazelle mode (that moment when the cheetah attacks the gazelle and the gazelle knows it’s gameover so it simply goes limp because that’s easier and less painful). Colin slung me over his shoulder and ran towards the roaring waves. But before his plan could reach fruition, suddenly, I found myself violently football-spiked into the sand with Colin toppled on top of me.
Colin laughed and professed his embarrassment, checking that I wasn’t hurt and completely unaware of my thoughts. I sat still, wide-eyed, sweet baby Jesus, the cheetah tripped… I’M ALIVE. “Thanks. I was just thinking that I needed sand all over me.” I told him before laughing with him. (Alright, maybe not EVERYONE is an ax murderer-rapist.) And we both laughed and jogged into the waves with the thermos of terrible cocktail.
The night rolled on and the drink ran out, and it was time to journey home. Halfway through a park, we found a coconut, and since every freakin coconut in Playa del Carmen is already cracked open and served to tourists, I had not yet had the chance to actually crack one open. Colin offered to teach me, and whether he failed because he sucked or failed to be a gentleman, I’ll never know… but the coconut was in my hands now. Destiny waited. I bashed that thing on the harsh corner of a cement bench. Three hits later, the juice drizzled out and I ripped the fibers aside: mission accomplished. “There you go! Now you know how to crush a human skull too!” Colin said enthusiastically as I smelled the delicious aroma of the milk (Teddy Bear Theory, I’m telling you).
The route home was longer than the journey to the beach, but we were so locked in shared stories I had failed to notice our deviation until we had truly ventured far from the hostel. I stopped and interrupted him, “weren’t we supposed to turn left a few blocks ago?” Colin was silent as that same devil smirk grew across his face.
“I wanted to see if you’d notice.”
“In other words, you forgot where we were going because you were too distracted, right?” I thought. But my blatant pride never lasts with tequila… and the seashell museum was my downfall. I’m pretty sure we’re some of the only people that hold the prestige of saying we were kicked out of the sea shell museum. A combination of the store’s approaching closing time and Courtney gets a lil pissy when she sees abalone shells improperly labeled after drinking earned us the conquest. And we limped home to call it a day.
Colin packed his things and left the next day, loyal to his journey, and I must say that I was sad to see him go. Such is the sad part of living from a backpack: many great souls and not enough time to truly know them all! His comrade, Jason, stayed behind. He had lost his debit card earlier on the journey and his bank promised to immediately ship a new one to the hostel. But immediately is an ambiguous word in Mexico, and Jason eventually spent many days that rolled into weeks in Mazatlán. And as time progressed further, he delayed to film the mural I was painting, and further still… I had him convinced to join my journey.