I was sitting inside of a small Mexican shop outside of a Mexican town called Ensenada. My English is far superior to my Spanish, which means I sit silent and hope the locals don’t spark up conversation. Apparently the beans I was waiting for are the best around town so I had no choice but to wait it out. Also, I was too unfamiliar with my surroundings to go anywhere.
As I waited at the small rusted table the store clerk said, “You don’t talk man?” in his extremely heavy accent. I smiled, “No I can talk.” Without asking the clerk poured a shot of something, I’ve leaned that if there is one common trait to relate men and it’s drinking together. I wasn’t going to deny what was poured in front of me, I raised my shot glass to cheers, and as I did a man who I somehow didn’t notice raised his shot off to the side. The clerk gestured that it was from that other man. I quickly found out my shot was Tequila.
I thanked the mystery man sitting off to the side he was Mexican but spoke great English. He asked what I was doing in the shop as he gestured for me to come take a seat with him. The clerk let me know my beans would be a little longer, all I could think about is why it takes so long for beans, but at this moment I was going to sit with a mystery man who bought me a shot, he seemed much more intriguing.
“Hello, I’m Josh.”
“I’m Victor. What are you doing here?”
“Getting some beans for my family and I.”
“No, No, It’s for my mom and sister.”
“Ah, you guys visiting?”
I was a little hesitant to let Victor know what I was doing in the shop but it was a fair question. I wasn’t sure if it was the potency of the tequila or my attempt to fit in but I decided to fill in Victor how I arrived at this point. He seemed genuinely interested, his eyes were very relaxed and his voice very calm. Victor was a steady man and that made me oddly comfortable in my surroundings. The store clerk brought us another shot. It was set in front of me and I started to tell Victor why I was sitting where I was.
I picked up my mom first and then my sister from LAX, and immediately we made or drive to Mexico. It’s peculiar because we all seem to live such fast paced lives so for all of us to get away together was something great. I was initially excited, I was excited to leave simple electronics behind and deal with my thoughts rather than the constant movement of a busy town. I was hoping to spend some quality family time that wasn’t on a holiday.
My mother never needs an excuse to see her kids, that’s what she was telling us as we crossed the United States border and headed into a different country. As we drove I noticed the similarities of Mexico to the United States and at the same time noticed the major differences. On the corner where we saw a man holding a gun it reminded me of parts of Los Angeles…except for the gun aspect.
We drove for hours, stuck in traffic, worried about my car that was making a loud Alien noise. I wondered what the hell would happen if the car broke down not to mention I was low on gas. I was the man and was doing my best attempt to play the situation cool but my family is who they are and they know me all too well. Of course they could sense my uncertainty as we drove through a patch of road that consisted of 30 dead dogs lying off to the side.
Closer and closer we came to our destination. The perfect spot that was referred to from a family friend was becoming a reality. We approached the secluded beach house, as we made ourselves at home the first question was regarding dinner and food. We recalled a few shops we saw a few miles back, and with the recollection I said I would do the honors of making the adventure to the store. Typically both my mom and sister would come with me but I could tell they were tired. They also had some Mother/Daughter issues to discuss that I wanted no part of.
After settling into the house I told my family I would be back in a bit. I was instructed only to buy American bottled water, rice, beans, and some other “good stuff.” I let them know I would be back in an hour or so.
Two hours later I was sitting across from Victor about to take my third or forth shot, I picked and chose various aspects of my arrival for Victor. I always feel more comfortable talking to strangers, and this was no exception. We were bonding over tequila. My beans had apparently been ready for quite some time but my family could wait, I felt engaged with a foreigner and I relished this moment. The idea of connecting with a human completely out of my comfort was more appealing that making dinner right now.
“So Victor, do you live around here?”
“Where do you live?”
“I’m jumping around.”
“Are you from Mexico?”
“But you don’t live here?”
Victor was clearly a man who loved his alcohol and it was on full display. He eloquently consumed double my amount.
“Do you have family?”
This is strange what kind of man has no family?
“Kids, Wife, Mom, Dad?”
“Victor, I feel a little tipsy right now, I can’t tell if you are messing with me.”
“I suggest you head home Josh.”
For the first time in the conversation I felt uncomfortable. Did he mean Los Angeles or my beach home? Uh oh. It hit me that I don’t know this guy at all, and my fear had sobered me up a little. I was kicking myself in my head for disclosing more information than I should to this stranger. I started to wonder why I trusted people as much as I do, more and more my paranoia was setting in.
“Home, like Los Angeles?”
“No, back with you family. Spend some time with them.”
“Victor, I’m going to level with you. You’re kind of freaking me out a bit.”
“Why are you talking to me?”
“Why not? I needed some company, you were here, and you got me a shot, I’m sorry to intrude.”
“No, no. Don’t be worried. I ask because you have other things to do. So why talk with me?”
I didn’t know how to answer him. I didn’t want to tell him I wanted to fit in. In the store I felt like a local and wanted some sort of acceptance.
“Well, I’m talking to you because you bought me a shot and I thought we were enjoying each other’s company.”
“Great! We are.”
“Are you alright?”
Typically when I’m this uncomfortable I make a joke, but I couldn’t think of how to incorporate one. I still feel very awkward in this moment and I’m hoping for some miracle to happen, I was hoping my sister would walk through the door to get me. As I was getting ready to incorporate an uncomfortable joke and be on my way Victor made things very clear.
“All my family passed away 15 years ago, that’s why I have no family. I don’t live anywhere cause I like to travel—NOT A TRANSIENT though! I just like to meet new people.”
“Great, good, okay me too.”
“But one of us should go.”
“Attachments, we are attached to this conversation now. Take what you can from this and move on.”
“Take what? I’m confused?”
“Josh, I hate when people leave my life. Everyone hates when people leave their lives. But, it happens it is normal, but people like me get attached. I sense you get attached too.”
“Attached, how so?”
“Because you’ve sat here and talked with a Bungdeleon for two hours when you should be home with you family. You’re on vacation”
“Did you just say Bungdeleon?”
He ignored the question, Hmmm, maybe that was just his last name?
“Trust me, holding onto to things and conversations for too long can only hurt you. You have to know when to get out.”
“To get out? Of conversations?”
“No, no, small attachments, the ones that won’t be their forever. You can take or leave some things, but you gotta know when to leave sometimes. Trust me, it will ruin your life.”
“Or you can learn from attachments.”
“Yes the smart one’s do.”
Victor ushered his final shot into his mouth and stood up.
“Where are you going?”
“Everyone has to pee.”
“Oh. I thought you were leaving.”
Victor walked towards the back of the shop, I was intent on asking him what a “Bungdeleon” was. I’m certain that’s what he said. As he was gone I couldn’t believe I was sitting with him for as long as I was. I just came for some beans, which had been sitting in the same place for hours now. I decided that when he got back I should be on my way.
A few minutes had passed. I stood up and walked towards the bathroom, the door was open, and nobody was inside. I noticed a backdoor and stuck my head out looking for Victor. I couldn’t find him. I asked the clerk if he had seen Victor. After some poor Spanish the clerk understood what I was saying. He told me Victor went out the back, but he paid for my beans. I didn’t believe the clerk and thought he was joking with me, but it was no joke. I took the beans and walked outside.
As I walked to my car I looked around for Victor, and I saw nothing. I didn’t believe this man had vanished but I wasn’t about to go looking for him. I made the decision to drive back to meet my mom and sister. But, before that I had to know something, I ran back to the store clerk.
“Excuse me, Do you know what a Bungdeleon is?”
“Yeah, slang, it’s slang.”
“Slang? For what?”
“Travel, it mean’s to travel, you are a wander.”
I had never heard of that but it made sense. I accepted the meaning thanked the man for the beans and headed to the beach house.
As I walked in my mom was sound asleep my sister was frantic as she always is about my whereabouts. I explained things took awhile but didn’t get into detail. We stored the beans for a later time and both went to get some rest. I was definitely a little drunk and knew I should sleep it off. I wish I hadn’t forgot to buy the bottled water.
The next day I hoped to see Victor, didn’t happen. I knew I’d never see him again but I felt for him. He needed constant movement for whatever reason and that stayed very close to me. In the grand scheme of things I didn’t know Victor but there was no way he would have allowed me to leave first. I preferred that because I didn’t know how long I would have talked to him, I would have gotten more attached to the conversation.