I finally made it to Mexico in each of my dream travel job. There was a plethora of choice. Do I start in the legendary Cabo San Lucas? Known for its ever flowing jello shots and picturesque rock formations? Or do I skip to the spring break haven of Cancun, where body shots flow like Cabo’s jello shots and America’s top college students go abroad for a cultural experience? Or perhaps I should start by tackling the heart of Mexico and see the biggest city in the world. I think I will take a pass on a Juarez tour this time around as I don’t think I am quite hard enough to get a dream travel job in one of the cartels, although, given my travel endurance and ability to elude authority (primarily responsibility), I would probably make a good drug mule. No, instead I opted to start my trip in Puerto Vallarta because it seemed close enough to Southern Mexico to move on with ease (it is not) while still retaining all the charm of Mexico’s other resort towns (heavy tequila solicitation and the “finest” authentic, Aztecan jewelry). Despite its reputation as a tourist Mecca, Puerto Vallarta really does in fact boast beautiful beaches, a vibrant bar scene, and great surf, hitting just the right note for the start of my trip. However, there is one more interesting factoid about Puerto Vallarta that I did not know about prior to my trip: it happens to be the gay capital of Mexico. How do I know that it is the gay epicenter of Mexico? Well…
My first night was characterized by the usual faire when one enters Mexico: One-dollar Coronas, tequila
pounding sampling, and the gringo version of salsa dancing (flailing about out of rhythm to the music as Latinos eye you with disgust). My posse actually consisted primarily of Mexicans, a couple of Europeans, and my friend Juan. There was one member in the group who moved like Ricky Martin on the dance floor. This, however, did not mean much to me, after all, most Latinos move like Fred Astaire when the music starts. His double twist in perfect unison with the music’s high notes seemed natural. The raw enthusiasm of other men in the venue to dance with one another, with few women in sight, could have been a hint. But then again, in Europe, men have no qualms with the all man-dance circle. Soon, more clean cut and super-stylish looking Mexicans started appearing to in the dance mix. But since when were style and hair gel only a gay man’s domain? In Australia, despite popular belief that all men are rugged Paul Hogan Crococile Dundee types, you are more likely to see more hair product on a man’s head than a womans. The scene still did not set in. Maybe I should have taken notice when the usual late-night drunk-food session began. Every country has its own unique offering. In the US it’s hot dogs, the UK – a kebab, but in Mexico, it is all about the tacos. While late night tacos are no exotic cuisine for me, it did seem strange when three of the patrons of the taco truck were wearing no shirt at 4 in the morning in the cold while chowing down. Um…
The next day I faired no better at understanding the true nature of my environment. I needed to switch accommodation, and luckily for me, my Ricky Martin friend had a car. Maybe his vintage VW beetle with a wine cooler in the back filled with Sea Breezes should have been a hint, after all, no straight man has pulled off driving a Beetle since Kevin Bacon in Footloose, and even then, it was a movie about teaching men how to dance. At his suggestion, I agreed to meet him later that day for a drink on the beach.
Despite my obliviousness, the charm of the Puerto Vallarta beach scene did not escape me. I admired the progressiveness of it. Expecting the typical Americano-style, I was surprised and pleased to see that my countrymen had finally gotten hip with it like our European cousins and donned speedos with pride. Soon however, I began to realize it was a whole other kind of pride.
Men strutted the beach; their partner’s hand in one hand, and dog leash with a Chihuahua on the other. It was like being at a small-dog dog park. Every breed of small dog was represented. As I walked up to the beach bar, I located my friend sitting on a blue chair. He once again promptly offered one of his Sea Breezes, as he ordered some more drinks from the waiter. As I opened my first drink, “It’s Raining Men” began playing in the background. We drank and chatted. My new friend mentioned how white I was and how I should take off my shirt to get some “color”. Fair enough. I am rather pasty after spending the fall in Seattle. I could use the vitamin D. But then again, I did notice that something else was also adrift. I was no longer being offered t-shirts declaring “Uno tequila, Dos tequila, Tres tequila, Floor tequilas” or “I drank the worm and lived”, but vendors were selling bright vests, hand bags, and oddly shaped drug paraphernalia. While warding off the persistent vendors, the two amigos that were laying a few feet away from us began to apply sunscreen to one another. Strange. But then, it finally hit me. In a Eureka-like moment, it clicked. My vision became clear. I finally understood as our waiter returned with drinks and asked, “Is there anything else I can get you honey?”
Conclusion: My gay-dar is broken and I am fucking scarred.