Many people know of Bodie through his regular writings in M Magazine English-language magazine. He has agreed to post a couple of pieces here. Bodie holds the copyright and these are not for republication. If any form of dissemination or republication is sought, please contact us. Bodie hopes you enjoy these.
THE SILVER COWBOY
© Bodie Kellogg 2010
Carnaval is upon us. This, claimed 4th largest in the world mardi gras festival, in Mazatlán in Mexico, is coming. The madness begins this week. The first two years I lived here, I avoided Carnaval because of my deep seated fear of the unknown. As the locals will very happily tell you, tens of thousands of revelers descend on Mazatlán and for 7 days, anything goes. Many of the gringo expats leave town because the noise level, often until 7am, is unbelievably high. As I had spent most of my life where the population density was in the single digits per square mile, flinging myself into the throbbing masses was a frightful prospect, to be avoided at all costs. This was until my research assistant adamantly proclaimed that Carnaval was a required Mazatlán experience. It was good advice. From that time on I have attended at least several events including of course the transcendent parade, and wandered the enormous street party, each year since.
A couple of years ago while wandering the street party in Olas Altas with several friends; I witnessed a Carnaval moment which was beyond priceless. This particular year there were individual performers dressed in bright silver costumes with silver skin and hair. These people were scattered throughout the area and each would strike a pose and hold it for quite a long time. This was analogous to having living statues along the Malecon, and each one would draw a small crowd.
The one we stopped to watch was dressed as a cowboy, complete with a silver hat and boots. He would strike an artistic pose and hold it for 6 to 8 minutes without trembling or flinching. After watching this guy mime a statue for an inordinately long time, a member of our group commented that the guy would certainly flinch if an attractive woman walked up and grabbed his package. Since the evening had, in compliance with informal rules, included a number of Pacificos and multiple shots of tequila, we all laughed while conceding his point. It was then that one fellow turned to the wife of his friend and said ”I dare you to do it”. Since the woman was raised on the frozen prairies of Canada and was up to any challenge, her reply was………….oh ya? Oh ya?
She slowly worked her way through the crowd towards the unsuspecting silver cowboy until she was within arm’s reach. The cowboy did not change his pose; however he had been tracking her with his eyes and was attempting not to look apprehensive. She then slowly reached out and cupped his crotch in her right hand while looking him right in the eyes. A collective noise arose from the crowd, camera flashes lit up the night and the silver cowboy’s eyes grew to the size of saucers. Had any of us wagered on him flinching when his package was grabbed, we would have lost money, he was solid as a rock. At this point everyone was either laughing outrageously or in a state of shock; this is not typical fare for Mexican society. After a 30 second grope, the woman dropped her hand and retrieved a 50 peso note from her purse. As she took the note and slipped it into the top of his pants, his belt buckle began to flash with colored lights. It was then that we knew he had enjoyed the moment as much we had.
© Bodie Kellogg 2010
Hot Summer Days
© Bodie Kellogg 2015
Summer’s heat is breathing down my neck like the fetid breath of a rabid baboon. The midday sun unmercifully strikes unprotected skin with the intensity of a blow torch, it can actually cause pain. This time of year air conditioning is not a luxury; it’s a life support system. But what the hell … it’s summer in Mazatlán, my favorite season, and a great time to get out and about. Acclimating to the thermal abuse of a Mexican summer requires careful planning, essential summer liquids and a solid sense of self discipline.
During the summer months, anything involving the outdoors takes place, other than for mad dogs and Englishmen, during the cooler hours of the day. When I write cooler, I am referring to the difference between blistering, and sweltering. If you dare to venture into nature’s sauna, don’t do it in the middle of the day. Plan your activities carefully, any more than three hours of midday heat could bring even Dante to his knees. The evening is the best part of the day. It is not that the heat and humidity have diminished, but that the thermonuclear furnace has finally dropped below the horizon.
There are several liquids essential to the summer survival of gringos in Mexico. At the rate body fluids flow from every pore, sucking down two gallons of water per day is not excessive. Add to that a hefty dosage of electrolytes and a serious amount of ice cold cerveza, and you have successfully insured yourself against dehydration, while blunting the edge of summer’s intensity.
The Pacific Ocean is also considered a liquid essential for summer survival and it costs less than beer or water. Full body immersion, at least 4 times a week, is recommended to help mitigate the effects of the relentless heat. Since alleviation is directly proportional to the amount of immersion time; the more time ocean the better. Any of the beach front palapas in Mazatlán can provide the three primary summer liquids set out above, so astute gringos use the hot days as a perfectly valid vindication to visit them all. Palapa hopping might not add time to your life, but it will add life to your time.
By mid July, the tap water is too warm to produce a refreshing shower. And no matter how enthusiastic you are, you can only do so many palapas in any given 24 hour period. So the next liquid to seek out is the rain. I find playing in the rain very refreshing and quite therapeutic. A summer thunderstorm will drop the temperature from oppressive to damn near tolerable within minutes and then dump a biblical amount of water. These meteorological events are a perfect way to enjoy a summer day and really cool off. I advise a sturdy ball cap, shorts and a t-shirt along with good foot protection that can stand to get wet. Be warned however; if you are of the female persuasion be aware that your t-shirt will be wet. Just wearing a bathing suit would be the most practical; however cultural considerations negate this option. There is a generous portion of the local populace which frowns on scantily clad gringos frolicking in public. Overall, wandering the streets during intense downpours is always entertaining, and the chances of drowning are minimal. The streets of Centro Historico run like rivers with standing waves and swirling eddies, while the Golden Zone can quickly be transected by a small lake which snarls and stops traffic. But no matter where you are, nature’s onslaught will provide hours of low cost enjoyment.
However, the spectacle of cars and people floundering through the flooded streets palls in comparison to the lightning displays which accompany the rain. Last year I saw a lightning strike disintegrate a pole-mounted electrical transformer, two blocks from my hovel in Centro. The monumental thunder clap melded with the instantaneous detonation of the transformer, to produce a sound not unlike heavy ordnance. Sparks and flaming debris showered the area, and half of Centro went black. There were a number of other strikes that sounded close that day, but the hit on the power pole left an indelible impression on both the neighborhood and my slightly unbalanced psyche.
So, if you are planning to walk in the rain during a thunder storm, do not carry a metal handled umbrella or wear significant amounts of copper jewelry. Nature’s short circuit can incinerate you quicker than a house cat in a microwave.
The self discipline aspect of summer survival is to muster the personal courage to venture out of your air conditioned box and into summer at the tropic of Cancer. It may be a bit uncomfortable at first, but always remember, the proper application of essential summer liquids is the key to acclimation and enjoyment of summer in tropical Mexico.