Monday, October 17, 2011

Intermission, Entry 7

A pair of stories for you today.

I met a Texan on the train last night who told me a story about a friend of his dad's. This friend decided to take his family (wife and two daughters, both under ten) on vacation in Mexico like he used to do as a kid . . . without knowing that Mexico has changed a lot since then. They drove across the border and started heading inland . . . a few hours in, three big black SUVs pass them on the road and then cut them off. Ten men with machine guns get out, rob them of all their belongings, and leave them by the side of the road.

They start walking. A few hours later three more big black SUVs pull up. Different men get out, also with machine guns. "Did you just get robbed earlier?"


"Get in the car."


"Get in the car!" They got in the car.

An hour later they arrive at this huge villa. The cars are waved through . . . there are gardens, fountains, and pools inside the walls. They pull up to the big house and are forced out of the cars. His family is taken inside the big white house, where they're kept under guard. The men, though, tell the father to come with them.

He ends up in a smaller room, where two more guards dressed all in red come in before a short man in a white cotton suit walks in (the boss). Without a word, he motions the father to the next room. Inside are the men that robbed him, on their knees and hands tied behind their backs.

"Are these the men that robbed you?"


Without a word, the drug lord pulls out a pistol and shoots each one of them in the head right down the line. He turns to the father and hands him his keys.

"Get your family, drive home, and never come back to Mexico again."


Another story, this one told to me by my friend Alex.

Alex was on tour in Central Asia with his band last summer, backpacking and hitchhiking through Kazakhstan, Turkey, and China (among other places). They met a guy named Jason from Santa Barbara, California, who has been biking through Russian war zones for the past couple years (Georgia, Chechnya, etc.). He told this story about a snowed in village.

Jason was stuck in a village in the mountains, snowed in. He'd been there several times in the past couple years, though, and had several friends who were like family that he could stay with. One of them came to him and said, "It's my friend's birthday, come celebrate! We can't go anywhere!" So Jason agreed.

He was on his way to his friend's house when he came across four drunk Polish tourists. "What are you doing here?"

"We need to leave, we have to catch a plane tomorrow."

"You can't, we're snowed in."

"But we have to!"

"You can't. Hey, do you want to come to a party?"

So the drunk Polish tourists came with him to the party and they proceeded to continue drinking as the snow came down. One of them started to get a little upset, though, about missing his flight. They tracked down the only working phone in town and called the Polish embassy. Unfortunately, iin their drunken condition they were in no shape to talk to the officials. Jason took the phone from them and explained the situation, about what village they were in and how travel would be impossible.

To emphasize his point, he said, "The only way you're getting anyone out of here in the next week is by military helicopter."

"Okay, thank you."

They hung up and continued drinking. A half an hour later, the phone rings. It's the Polish embassy; they put Jason on the phone. They asked him how familiar with the village he was. He answered that he knew it pretty well, as he'd been there several times over the past years.

"If someone wanted to land a helicopter in the village, where would you recommend landing?"

Jason laughed, and then explained that the kids' soccer field would be the best place. He hung up, and they all had a good laugh about the poor sap at the embassy who's boss had played a practical joke on him. Land a helicopter in the village to pick up some tourists? Preposterous.

After another half hour of drinking, the phone rang again. Jason picked it up, pretty soused at this point. It was the embassy again.

"Can they be ready in a half an hour?"

"For what?"

"For the helicopter."

Sure enough, half an hour later, they hear whuppa-whuppa-whuppa above the village. Jason herds the four drunk Polish tourists through the snow and pushes them up to the helicopter. Then he has an idea . . . he's always wanted to ride in a helicopter.

"How many are you?"

"Five!" answers Jason.

"I thought there were just four?!?"

"Nope! Five!" he shouts over the sound of the propeller. The pilot waves him on.

A few moments later he's on a helicopter flying through the towering mountains on the way back to the Polish embassy. He'd left all his possessions in the village, but remembered to bring two flasks of the village moonshine that they'd been drinking. He and the Poles begin to pass it around. Just to be polite, he offers some to the pilots, figuring that they'll refuse.

They don't! They each take a big swig, and by the time they land at the embassy everyone in the helicopter is singing in Polish at the top of their lungs. The officials who meet them at the landing pad all get big sloppy hugs. Jason never found out who the tourists actually were, but I guess Poland takes care of its own

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