Sometimes, being Buster just ain’t that easy! He always tells people, “there is a fine line between paradise, and a jungle full of untamed wild animals.” Most days he seems to
live in the later, with broken stuff he can’t get the parts for or people to fix it, tardiness, thoughtlessness, ruthless third world business tactics, con men thinking every gringo is
stupid, crazy women who don’t think at all, and all the rest who don’t listen because it would require they stop talking long enough to do so. Welcome to Mexico and yes, you
gotta love it. But as you can imagine, it builds up on guys like Buster, and from time to time, he just sneaks away for a few days all by himself to avoid the madness that is
Mahahual, and Buster’s on the Beach.
It had been a long and busy month. Remodeling his restaurant kitchen, and the one at his own casita as well, meant he spent almost every last minute chasing construction
workers and running all over southern Quintana Roo trying to find what he needed to keep them busy once he did get them to actually show up. Throw in the busy high
season at the restaurant, which meant lazy waiters, eccentric chefs, late deliveries … no deliveries, broken refrigerator, broken microwave and on and on. It soon became
obvious to the increasingly grouchy Buster, it was time for a therapeutic, Fun Bus Trip to Playa Del Carmen.
Ernie was nursing his only beer of the day and doing his email on Buster’s internet, in what was an otherwise, end of the day, empty Buster’s on the Beach. The last ship of the
week had left, a 3 day weekend was about to begin and Buster had a great idea for doing a whole lot of absolutely nothing! His plan was to quietly slip out of town on the
morning bus and go to Playa Del Carmen for a relaxing couple of days on 5th Avenue. No hurried tourist to rush after, no lazy workers and most of all, no Livin’ and Dyin’ in 3/4 Time Boys.
Buster closed one of the doors, hoping that would get Ernie to hurry and finish his internet work and get going, so Buster could do the same. “Hurry Ernie, I need to get home
and get ready to leave. I’m going to Playa for the weekend for some food, any food, that is not served with tortillas, and a couple nights in the penthouse at Hotel Delphin.”
“You’re going to Playa?” piped up Ernie all the sudden. “Cool, I haven’t been up there in a while and I heard there was a new micro-brew store I want to check out. Mind if I
The last thing Buster wanted was to have to entertain Ernie all weekend and he immediately began to curse himself for bringing it up at all. It was time for quick thinking and Buster, knowing Ernie was the cheapest guy he had ever met, said, “Delpfin is full except for the penthouses and no you’re not sleeping in my room. Penthouses are $90 a
night, you gonna spring for that.”
“Oh, that’s no problem. Rick wants to go to, so we can share a room somewhere on 10th Avenue for half that. That’ll be fun. All three of us. Road trip!”
Buster dodged a bullet on that but he could see his quiet weekend beginning to get away from him. At the same time, he was still fairly sure he could ditch these guys, no
problem, once he got to Playa. As he began to think of ways to do just that, his worst nightmare walked through the door. Ronny and two very drunk gringos came walking in,
and they were ready to party.
“Guys, I want you to meet my two new best buddies, in spite of the fact they went to Clemson, Johnson and Johnson.” introduced Ronny. “These guys have been divin’ all day
with Bucanerros, and then they forced me to drink beer with them after that. Held me down and stuffed ceviche in me till I told em’ what they wanted to know.”
“I’m going to guess you guys are brothers since you look just alike,” laughed Buster. “I suppose you fell for the old ceviche and beer, Mexican torture routine Ronny does. So
what did he have to tell you, after you tortured him like that?”
Johnson and Johnson looked at each other and just laughed. “We told him he had to tell us where all the pretty girls and the strip clubs are,” said Johnson.
“I told them, Playa Del Carmen!’ howled Ronny. “So guess where we’re going in the morning. Who wants to go.”
“Hey, guess what. Me, Rick and Buster are going too. We’ll turn this into fun weekend yet, eh Buster!”
Buster, grabbed a cold Montejo from the cooler, and sunk a little lower in his chair. The quiet peaceful weekend wasn’t looking so peaceful anymore.
The next morning, the guys were all waiting bright and early for the morning bus. Buster had a plan and he quietly played it over and over in his head. As soon as they
arrived, Buster would take them to the Beer Bucket and get them all started on big litre glasses of Dos XX, and then would say he was going to go his friends and return by the
next round. He would later explain with a story of wine, women and song, and the boys would be fine. What he would instead do is walk the 8 blocks to Mom’s Cafe, a local
all-American food and ex-pat hang out, and a guaranteed,”no tortilla zone”. He would enjoy the philly steak sandwich, with potato salad and peach cobbler. Maybe even a
cold Bud to go with it. It was a do-able plan and therefore he knew he could stand 4 hours in the bus with these clowns. How bad could it be?
Then, it got worse. Giles, one of Buster’s best friends, and his boyfriend Tito, a queen who hated the 3/4 Time Boys almost as much as they hated snotty queen gay guys,
climbed into the bus. “Oh my hell,” Giles laughed as he and Tito climbed into the bus, “what have we stumbled into here. If you guys are going to Playa too, uh, uh, no way
am I baby sitting you guys. Tito and I have shopping to do and not a bit of it at anyplace you guys are going.”
“The only shopping we’re doing is for women, which I kinda doubt you would be interested in,” piped in Ronny. “So unless your going to the strip clubs, you can take
Tinkerbell there and shop for fabric, or smelly soap or whatever it is you guys buy. It ain’t going to be what we’re buying, right boys!”
Johnson and Johnson just moaned and tried to grin through the tequila hangovers they were just getting started on.
“No,no no,” said Ernie. “Leave me out of the strip joints. I’m drinking stouts and porters all weekend and smoking hand rolled cigars.
“Strip joints are for losers,” laughed Rick. “You let the old Rickster loose on these wild tourist looking for a good, “what happens in Mexico, stays in Mexico” adventure, and it is
like shooting fish in a bucket. No strip joints for me either. Ernie, you stick with me and Buster and we’ll show how it’s done, eh Buster?”
“No, strip joints are for guys wanting to have some manish fun here,” shrugged Ronny. “Hey, I didn’t make it this way, but its a macho country man, get with the program. You
can have macho fun here and not be judged or called politically incorrect or whatever it is women and the husbands they won’t allow in Mexican strip clubs always are squawking about. Right, tell them Buster.”
Buster, who had already settled back into his seat, put on his headphones and hit the “Texas” button on his IPod, didn’t hear a word of the conversation and he cared even less
than that about it. Ronny shook Buster and pulled the ear plug from his ear and said, “Buster, tell them about strip joints in Mexico.”
Buster just said, “Yea, sure, count me in. Right after we go to the Beer Bucket.” He put the ear phone back in and drifted off to sleep as the bus rolled out of town.
After about 20 minutes of driving, Buster was awaken by the bus coming to a stop along the jungle highway that went to the main highway. Without even looking up, he knew
that could only mean one thing. A check point. He assumed they would either wave them through, or possibly take a look inside to see if there were any questionable looking
characters and then let them move on. Since the most questionable looking people on the bus were his friends, he didn’t give it much thought and continued to try to sleep. Before he knew it, the military was ordering everyone off the bus for a search, something that is not that common.
“Looks like the dog must have found something in one of the bags below,” laughed Ronny.
“Dogs,” squealed Ernie. “What dogs. They have a dog down there.”
Buster knew Ernie never did a road trip without a few joints, so he figured this was going to get good. Ernie, the former policeman from the US, smoked more dope than
anyone in town and was always sneaking off for a few tokes when he thought the others were not looking. Maybe now, Buster thought, he would stop taking that stuff with them
when they went on road trips.
The military had indeed found Ernie’s bag and there were the 3 joints. Busted! Luckily, it was soldier Sam running the operation so Buster knew Ernie would most likely not be
sharing a cell in a Mexican jail with 10 other guys and a bucket for the next several years. He loved giving the Boys a hard time anytime they came through the check point
most days anyway, but the paperwork on a gringo for 3 joints was something old soldier Sam would not want any part of either. It would seriously cut into his hammock time as
he guarded the jungle “para todos Mexicanos!”
When Sam saw the bag belonged to the gringo Ernie, he told him, “Senior, no problema. Por favor,” and he gestured for Ernie to return to the bus. Ernie looked a bit
confused, but did as he was told, hoping for the best. They then told the rest of the Boys to also go back onto the bus as well, and then it was just the soldiers and the Mexican
passengers left standing. Giles, who could see what was about to happen early on, slid slowly into the Mexican crowd with Tito, trying to distance himself from the Boys.
Soldier Sam began yelling and wanting to know who sold the gringo the pot. Nobody was getting back on that bus until they found it either, and a full search of everyone on
the bus began. Twenty minutes later, all were allowed to board the bus, their bags almost as ruffled up as their feathers, as they passed the gringos who caused the problem.
Giles laughed and spoke Spanish to the Mexicans in front of him in the isle about those “Pinche gringos!”
Once everyone was again settled, the bus began along its way. The first stop was Felipe Carrillo Puerto and of course, Rick as usual, had to go to the bathroom. He was
legendary for his long bathroom breaks, so all wondered if he would get back onto the bus in time. They munched on homemade salbutes and empanadas that vendors came
onto the bus to sell at these stops, not realizing until several minutes after the bus had left, that Rick had indeed, missed the bus.
“Should we try to tell the driver” asked Ken Johnson.
“Naw,” said Ronny. “Rick knows how to get there. He’ll be fine.” Johnson and Johnson just looked at each other and grinned a “as bad as I feel, I’m having a blast” grin at
each other and watched out the windows as the Mexican Yucatan jungle whizzed by.
About 10 minutes from Tulum, a small “combi” van whizzed by the slower bus the boys were riding in, and hanging out the window was a smiling old face, with perfect teeth
and gold chains, waving and yelling, “see you Boys in Tulum.” Rick was smashed into the van between the window and a fat lady, so it was unclear if he was hanging out the
window to wave, or was being pushed out by the crowded little bus. Either way, when the bus arrived in Tulum, Rick climbed back on and told them, “I got a date with the fat
lady if I want it and I still had time to hit the can again before you guys got here. Anybody want part of this sandwich I got back in Carrillo Puerto? Tasted great but it went
through me like Grant went through Richmond.”
Good old southern boy Ronny ate the rest of the sandwich of course, unconcerned with the metaphor, and they continued on the last piece of the trip toward Playa del Carmen.
When they arrived, Giles, knowing Mexicans always have to be the first off the bus, in the line at the store or whatever, jumped into the chaos of the exiting crowd knowing that gringos always wait, and get off after the chaos has settled. By the time the Boys were the only ones left on the bus and began to leave, Giles and Tito were two blocks away, bolting for the fabric store. From there to Wal-Mart, and then to Club 69, their favorite night spot, and a place they were real sure, they would not see any of the Boys!
Buster executed his plan perfectly, with the unsuspecting Boys falling right into his trap. He bought the first round, said he would be right back and that was the last he saw of
any of them for the next 2 days. He could not go to the Delfin now, he blew that early when he told Ernie, but he knew it would now provide a diversion and he instead got a
jungle room hidden in the Jardin Marietta Hotel up the street instead. No way would those guys ever find him there with the huge jungle garden that hides it from the 5th
Avenue crowds, and the wine bar and art galleries inside the garden would also serve to deter any of the Boys, should they actually find the entrance. He strolled the 5th
Avenue bars and drank with tourist from all over the world. Just another tourist from Texas. He ate tacos and beacon wrapped hot dogs off street vendors and listed to jazz at
the bar in the Posada Freud bar until late. The next day he had the desayuno Americano at the Casa Adella and a rib eye at Mom’s for dinner. Not a tortilla in site. Or a Livin’ and Dyin’ in 3/4 time Boy either for that matter. A perfect weekend!
On Monday morning, the guys began to show up at the bus station, all looking a bit worse for the wear, but all still in one piece as well. Buster was sipping his coffee and
munching a piece of sweet bread when Ronny, Johnson and Johnson walked up.
“Well, how was the strip joints boys.” asked Buster, dying to hear the whole story, which he knew was going to be good.
“Ronny is the strip club king of all time,” said Johnson in a tone that was half amazement and half exhausted. “This guy took us on the time of our life. I ain’t never had that
much fun and not got slapped or arrested before in my life.”
“Yea, we’re just going back to get our diving gear and we’re coming back up here for another night with the king before we go. Want to come this time Buster?”
“No, gotta get back to work,” was all Buster could say. But “there isn’t enough tequila in Mexico”, was all he could think. The bus rolled away and again, it was several
minutes before anyone noticed, once again Rick wasn’t in the bus.
“Ernie, where is Rick?” asked Buster.
“I left him in the can at the bus station. He said he would catch up to us in Tulum. Something about wanting an egg McMuffin.”
Buster sat back in his seat, put on his headphones, hit the Texas button again and away the bus rolled back toward Mahahual. And so it goes when you are Livin’ and Dyin’
in 3/4 Time.