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June 10th, 2012 | Mexico

“Chico…!! Give dis man a gon…!!”

While Mexico has become synonymous with violence and drug wars between Mexican drug cartels, I had not seen or experienced any activities that made me believe I was in any danger…

The Remada Resort Hotel, on whose grounds Joe’s Bar and Grill is situated, was right across from my hotel…

The many people who had given me advice about which cities and areas to stay clear of, did so as a result of either newspaper articles or news clips on television, which they had either read about or seen… Few of them had ever encountered a specific “incident” that they could relate to me in any detail…

In southern Mexico, I had encountered many patrolling police vehicles, both in the countryside and in the towns and cities… The further north I rode, I began to see army patrols as well… Convoys of jeeps with mounted machine guns were commonplace, usually manned by stern looking soldiers, all of them scanning the vehicles they passed or the countryside around them…

Ah… Finally a place where they could understand my firm grip of Spanglish…!!

I seldom saw them smiling and few returned my greeting as I overtook them or stopped behind them at traffic intersections… This made me a little nervous…!! The drug cartels had armed their members with the best weapons money could by, and it was not uncommon for police stations or patrolling police vehicles, to be attacked by these gangs…

None of the bikers I stayed with ever made mention of drugs and hardly discussed the details of the problems that apparently beset their country… They did however seem to know exactly which areas I should avoid…

While I was waiting for Ishmael at my hotel in Mazatlan, I decided to have a quiet beer on the terrace, from where I could see out onto the road… The bike was parked nearby and I watched as many of the hotel staff walked around it and pointed out various items of interest to each other…

I was hoping that my friends would be steering clear of this place…!!

A short, neatly dressed, middle-aged man, followed by two younger guys walked past the bike, then went back to take a closer look at it, before entering the terrace bar where I was sitting… They sat down at the table next to mine, ordered drinks and then looked across at me…

“Is that bike yours…??” asked one of them, his eyes sliding to my BMW jacket that hung over the chair in front of me…

“Yes it is…” I replied…

“Is it true you are riding around the whole world…??” asked the older guy…

And so began a long and interesting conversation, which the younger guys hardly contributed to, but seemed to keep the older guy enthralled…!! He asked many intelligent questions about the continents I had ridden in, and seemed to know exactly where the various countries I mentioned were, and a little of the history about them…

You’ll love Tacate… A full-bosomed…..er… I mean, full-bodied, beer…!!

I noticed that the waiters treated this guy with much respect, and began to suspect that he was more than just a prominent local businessman…

He asked if I was enjoying my stay in Mexico, and when I confirmed that I was indeed, he went on to ask if I had encountered any “problems”… I told him that so far, everything had been just dandy…!!

“Sinaloa is a dangerous state, amigo…!! Many problems here…!! They say you are riding alone…!!”

“Yes, I am, but I have met many wonderful people here and have made many friends… I keep to myself when I am not with them, and do not get involved in anything that is no business of mine…!!”

“Mmmm… That is the best way…” he said with a sigh, leaning back in his chair to sip his beer…

“And what do you have for protection…??” he asked…

“Apart from a fast bike, nothing really…!!”

“You don’t have a gon…??” he said, eyebrows raised…

“A gon…??” I asked, momentarily confused by his pronunciation… “Oh, a gun…!! No, I don’t… I have to cross too many international borders to bother with stuff like that…!!”

“You travel alone and you don’t have a gon…” he said to himself, nodding his head up and down… He seemed to think about that for a while, then shook his head from side to side in apparent exasperation… He turned to one of the younger guys sitting next to him and said,

“Chico…!! Give dis man a gon…!! A good one…!!”

Chico placed his hands on the arms of the chair, ready to get up and carry out the instructions of what I now assumed to be his employer…

“Er… Thanks for the thought, Senhor…!!” I said quickly, waving at Chico to sit back down, “but I really don’t think it is wise for me to carry a gun in a foreign country…!! What if I was stopped and searched by the police…!! How would I explain the gun..??”

“If it is in Sinaloa, you can say you got it from me… They all know me…” he said enigmatically, a thin smile on his face…

Judging from this massive mural on the wall near the swimming pool of the Playa Bonita, bikers are popular in Mazatlan… The painting is about 10 metres wide and 4 metres high…!!

I resisted the temptation to laugh out loud, and thought it best to treat this conversation as though it were a “little business deal” we were discussing…

“Muchos gracias, Senhor, but I really can’t accept your kind offer…” I said, straight-faced, and then decided to inject a little humour into things by saying, “I might find myself using it to get a little speed into these waiters…!!”, raising my empty beer bottle in the direction of the bar as I said this…

The man roared with laughter and seconds later, a full bottle of Corona appeared magically at my elbow… He then translated what I had said for the benefit of his two “friends”, who also burst out laughing, and then jabbered away at the barman, who smiled sheepishly in our direction once they had finished…

They finished their beers and then rose to leave… I stood up and shook hands with them, and they left the terrace, wishing me a safe journey as they went…

Just then I heard the roar of a Harley and figured it was Ishmael coming to collect me. I went over to the barman to pay for my beers and was told that “the Senhor”  had already paid for them…!! I never did get his name, and was never able to thank him, for by the time I walked down onto the sidewalk, he was gone…

©GBWT 2012

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