Did I ever tell you about the time I got my ass kicked in Puerto Escondido? Yeah, it was the summer of 2006 and I was studying abroad, something I wish I could do for the rest of my life. We had a three day weekend, that is the students at El Instituto Cultural de Oaxaca, so a group of friends and I, self dubbed “La Cliqua,” decided to go in on a rental van together and embark on an eight hour journey across a treacherous but beautiful mountain terrain. Those mountains are a story in themselves but I’ll skip ahead to the me getting my ass kicked part of this tale.
It was our second night there, and we’d already had a good amount of partying under our belts, as any students serious about immersing themselves in another culture should. To be honest though the scene we’d found ourselves in by 2am, a bunch of drunk gringos slobbering all over each other, had ceased to tickle my fancy. This Pocho was never one for MTV’s Spring Break and where were all my hip gay boys at anyway? So when buzz spread of an after hours beach party… I was there.
Complete with drum circles, pot smoking and much better musica than the strip had to offer, I’d found my second wind and proceeded to party. La cliqua was minus uno that night, with Megan at the hostel, nursing her self-inflicted beer bottle wounds from the night before; hey even the craziest of party girls (and believe me she’s one of them) need some down time. Demonio was hopped-up on coke (allegedly) and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Mary was being true to her name, but I don’t remember where. Katia was immersed in intellectual conversation with Duglas, the bartender we’d met the night before. And Mely and I, we were getting our feet wet with a couple Australian boys on the beach, just tripping out on these crazy little critters that glowed in the light of either the moon or the stars… I don’t remember which. It was my kind of party, but by about 5:30am Mely and I decided that the comfort of our hostel was a little more appealing.
No one else wanted in on a cab, and there weren’t any outside the party anyways. So Mely and I thought, hey lets walk down this dark ass road to that far, far away street light that promised no more cabs than the spot we were in. Brilliant. And wouldn’t you know it, we stumbled onto a group of about five or six guys from the party. No biggy. Oh except for the fact that Mely, a relatively conservative girl was wearing a short, white skirt per my provocation and I quote “You’re on vacation, slut it up.”
At first the guys were nice enough. Drunk enough, as we were, to want to keep the fun going right there in that half way point between the party and the street light. But lets just say they didn’t want to have fun with me. Mely claimed she was my girlfriend but I don’t think I was all that convincing, so what was left of our better judgement told us to go back to the party and wait for a cab there. Mely, a petite woman who looked like a petite girl, stuck close to me and I stuck close to… well Mely. And the guys, they stuck close to Mely too, all the while, laughing and joking and asking if they could see up her skirt and shit. I was getting nervous but the party wasn’t that far away, so I told them to leave her alone, cause they weren’t listening to her. Finally they cut their losses and just went in for the grab up her skirt like it was a cheap 70’s Mexican flick and she screamed. “Ey! Déjela en paz” I eh hem demanded, and this time one of them put his hand on the back of my neck calling me “Amigo” and I promptly removed it.
He broke. We weren’t amigos anymore.
Right there on that dark, dirt road I saw the machismo I am all to familiar with solidify on his face and he went in for a drunken punch. I ducked it but before flight or fight could even kick in the rest of ’em were on me like skiny dogs to a chicken bone. I remember covering my face, out of instinct and vanity. With dust kicking up in the air as we moved closer to the fenced entrance of the party, we must have looked like a cartoon fight with only fists, feet and exclamation points popping out of a cloud… oh and then there was my sandal. When a car pulled up on the road I was pushed on to the hood and I thought, surely these people will help me out, but they just joined in on the fun and started kicking the shit out of me too, one of them, some dumb broad whose weapon of choice was the heal of her shoe. By this time, the dust cloud of mayhem had moved right up to the party where I made eye contact with our Australian mates, stunned and uh… not wanting to get involved. And then, it was like we’d hit an invisible wall, and those boys didn’t want to be seen kicking my ass on the other side of the fence. They all just stopped. So with only one sandal, a hysterical Mely by my side and something resembling dignity I made my way back into the party.
At the bar we found Katia and Duglas and told their drunk asses what had just happened. There was something about Duglas that I trusted… maybe it was his name. He told us to be calm and not to inflame the situation anymore, because those boys, they were part of a cliqua all their own. And soon right there on that bar I found myself negotiating my safe release from that party with a skinny little dude with a tattooed tear drop on his face. Fuck. He wanted to know why I was starting trouble. Me, start trouble? No no no I only do that in the United States. I told him I was a student, I don’t know why, honestly comes naturally to me I guess, and that trouble was the last thing I wanted. That my friend and I were just trying to get home when his goons, who were standing right behind him, hit us up. After debating the situation for a while, he pondered the matter all stoic like, then turned around and gently slapped mi amigo on the face, looked him in the eyes and told his ass not to be starting shit for no reason. Just like that it was over, and I felt like I had an in with the leader of a crazy ass Oaxaca street gang.
The sun was up over Puerto Escondido when Mely, Katia and I finally got to our hostel. My back ached with the memory of a high heel and about a dozen cheap shots, my ego was slightly bruised too, but my face was in tact. I sat in bed with Blake, my trusted iPod and finally let a tear or two of my own stream down my face as I listened to Beck’s Sea Change and thought to myself, this is going to make a damn good story one day.