The First Bus Ride

Other than local city buses, so far on our trip we have managed to avoid the dreaded long-distance bus rides I have heard so much about.  Our first one would turn out to be a warm-up to what lies ahead as it is only a “short” 3.5 hours from Cartagena to Santa Marta.

The first option was to squeeze on a local bus with our backpacks and ride one hour across town in the 90 degree heat to the main bus depot and hop on another bus that would take us to the depot in Santa Marta, then walk with our packs to our hostel.  OR we could book a door-to-door, air-conditioned service through our hotel or only a few bucks more.  Door-to-door it was!  We were excited to move on to somewhere new and get there backpacker luxury style in a Mercedes van that only carried 8-10 people.

Travel day arrived and we were ready and waiting for our 7am ride at 6:30am in the hotel lobby.  Around 7:30am our bus picked us up and we were first on!  Sweet, free to sit ANYWHERE we chose.  I immediately leaped into a two-seater spot and called the window seat.  Bret in the meantime went straight to the very back where there were four seats across.  ”There’s more leg room back here” he stated.  I hesitantly joined him at the back and again, called a window seat.

The bus drove around to a few other hotels to pick up guests also heading to Santa Marta.  As the bus slowly began to fill up, we still had the entire back seat to ourselves.  Maybe we would get lucky and it wouldn’t be a full bus?  After each stop we grew more and more excited over that idea.  Until the second to last stop. . .   Maybe just one person would hop on and we’d have three seats between us?  Wrong!  A um, rather large couple who could have easily taken up the entire back row themselves had no other choice but to join us in the back. . .  The woman (of course) took the other window seat, leaving the men to battle for what little room remained in the middle.

And so the looks from Bret began.  For the first 45 minutes or so he had a look on his face of utter misery.  About the 46 minute mark that look turned to pure rage!

The following event is not exaggerated.  It is however perspective based and includes integrated visions of imagination.

The foreshadowing couldn’t have been written better by a well thought out and seasoned author.  Sally noting the metal rod that stuck up between seats.  The two of us marveling at the amount of space we had.  ”If only they don’t pick up anyone else”, we repeated after every stop.  But this is South America and to have even the smallest thoughts of the bus running at any capacity besides maximum beckoned to be slaped in the face with reality.

The second to last stop, that’s when it happened.  Time went into slow motion.  The chorus of Bob Dylan’s Hurricane filled the bus like an amphitheatre. “Here comes the story of the Hurricane.  The one the authorities came to blame.  For something he never done. Put him in a prison cell but one day he could-a been the champion of the world”.  I could have been a champion.  It felt so destined to be and yet my prison cell awaited.  The right side of the bus had a sudden and sharp tilt to the right which put us at almost at 45 degree angle.  Her head emerged into view as she took each of the three steps with monstrous force.  She turned toward the aisle and realized that regular forward movement would be restricted by her size.  A slight look to adjust to a sideways shuffle, a smile to the crowd, and then she locked eyes with me.  There was no other option but to make her way to the back seat.  She plopped down next to the window, leaving one seat (half of one seat) between her and I.  ”This isn’t so bad!”  It might actually deter anyone else from sitting on what was left of the seat next to me.  Just as I was getting through those very thoughts her husband boarded the bus.  She smiled and waved to him, gesturing that there was an available seat next to her.  My heart sunk as a man who had clearly been matching his wife’s eating habits made his way to the back of the bus.  He wedged himself between the two us, not even acknowledging the fact that he was hanging over into my seat.  This mother fucker.

My heart started to pound, my head throbbed, and I knew it would be a battle.  This wasn’t trench warfare being conducted on neutral ground.  The way he slung his shoulder over the top of mine (right over the fucking top!) and used the weight of his hairy leg to wedge extra space was an invasion my country, my space, my self worth as a man.  I took deep and slow breaths.  I slid my leg slightly away to avoid the flesh to flesh touching that made me want to jump out the window of the moving bus.  Only to have that void filled immediately and then some by his invasive left calf.  The pressure on my leg was more intense than before, as if he could sense my retreat.  Holy shit.  Breath Bret, breath.

I looked at Sally and she could see the frustration consuming my body.  Just then we hit a bump and I flew up, hitting my head on the plastic ceiling.  We swung around the corner and made our final stop.  Sally and I whispered to each other about the situation.  Her half-smile not matching her words of sympathy.  The driver packed the final bag into the back of the bus (directly behind us) and slams the door.  The seat jolts forward as the back door bounces off the over-packed luggage.  He repeats this attempt four more times, sending us forward with each thrust of the door before he adjusts the suitcase that didn’t seem to fit.

At that point I felt like a postal worker.  My face relaxed, eyes blank, masking the horrendous travesty I was plotting in my head.  I need a distraction.  I quickly found reggae on my iPod.  Knowing that if Bob couldn’t keep me from focusing on every millisecond that was slowly passing by, I would be in for the worst ride of my life.  My right arm began to sweat.  I could feel every wrinkle of my t-shirt making an imprint on the side of my body.  The AC for the bus blew right over the top of our heads and the body heat that was being put out by the two large bodies next to us could very well be responsible for a portion of global  warming.  My willpower to not forfeit any more of my seat finally gave in to the conscious fact that I was only moments away from using this mans face as a break on the pavement the next time our driver made a dangerous pass around a blind corner.  I leaned forward and put my elbows on my knees.  The rush of body into my seat behind me created a small shaking sensation that was felt throughout the entire bus.  After about five minutes of leaning forward I started to calm down.  I was almost able to unclench my fists and return my heart rate to normal.  That’s when Sally leaned forward and pointed.  ”You see that guy in the red hat?”  It was a man who was almost six feet tall sitting next to his wife and looking quite comfortable.  His seat kicked back as he took a little nap.  ”That’s where we could have been sitting.”  The steam that shot from my ears must have been noticeable because Sally’s giggle turned into a muffled laugh.  I shared a few words that expressed my displeasure with her statement and noted that I wasn’t able to enjoy her joke at this time.  She did a great job of pressing right up against the window to give me a little more room.  As I slide over to use part of her seat my left ass cheek was reminded of the metal rod that stuck up.  It took every man gene I had in me to keep from crying like a small child.  Sally wedged her scarf down between the seats to cover the rod as best she could.

It was only two and a half hours of self-pity until we dropped off enough people that I could move to a different seat.  The last 20 minutes of the ride was enough time to decompress and remind myself things could be worse.  I could be sitting in a cubicle, looking out the window at the cold dark rain, trying to excite myself that it was Wednesday, and I only had two more days left until the weekend.

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Reading Is Evil

As a child I found it difficult to pick up a book and read.  As opposed doing what with it you might ask?  Picking up a book and throwing it across the room?

More like tearing out the pages and trying to smoke them! (With a few added ingredients) Turns out the Bible DOES provide some value!  Bahhhhhh-Zing!  Relax, it’s a fucking joke.

To be honest, as a child even the small bubbles above some of my favorite comic strips seemed to be more of an absorbing task than I was willing to undertake.  It could have been because I had a creative mind that didn’t want to conform to the proposed story line that was set forth for the masses to mindlessly ingest.  I preferred to imagine my own commentary and create a story that was unique.  One that isn’t confined to the four boxes of poorly written and obvious drollery that has been regurgitated from the 50’s.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Because he was an unoriginal bastard and his highly predictable life of crossing the road for arbitrary reasons forced him to throw himself under the fastest moving eighteen wheeler he could find.

That could have been why I avoided reading. . . .

Or a majority of my disinterest in reading might have boiled down to the fact that I was fucking lazy.  Still em.  Actually, being lazy is pretty much my hobby.  It is a very diverse hobby actually, widely applicable.  I can do my hobby pretty much anywhere, at anytime. Not many other hobbies have such a luxury.

I digress.

Yes, most books bored me as a child (most still do as an adult) and at a young age I equated reading to torture, which I firmly believe derived from two things:

1) All books in school are fucking painfully boring!  Shakespeare, Dickens, and what ever else was placed in front of me that was immediately thrown into the back of my locker.  Left to collect remnants of chewed gum and overlooked weed scraps.  I mean, come on! Great Expectations!? What a fucking false advertisement that was.  The only thing “great” about that book was it was thick enough to use as a desk pillow during class.

I think it is a government conspiracy.

This is how they ensure the blue-collar work force is sustained.  Bore people to the point of dropping out of high school.

2) The summer reading program put on by my local library.  When you are 8-years-old and reading is the devil, walking into a library is pretty much like walking into the flames of hell itself.  But what are my parents to do with two intelligent future leaders of tomorrow (my step-brother and step-sister) and a child that was kicked out of pre-school?  Yes, true story.  I was kicked out of pre-school.  An obvious foreshadowing of my accolades to come (i.e.) 0.0 G.P.A spring quarter my sophomore year in high school.

The concept was simple: read a book, fill out a summary worksheet, earn tokens, buy shit with said tokens.

Sounds great!

What young preadolescent doesn’t want shove a brand new sparkly pencil up the ass of an anatomically incorrect naked troll with fucked up neon hair?

Fucking sign-me-up!

If I recall correctly I made it through one and a half books that summer.  I say one and a ‘half’ because after the first 30 page torturous endeavor I learned a valuable life lesson.  Read the back of the book, the first few pages for some character names, and then skim the rest to pick up on some key plot points.  That’s right folks, at the ripe old age of 8 I learned that to beat the system, you gotta cheat the system.  It was enough of a showing to keep my parents off my back and earn me a few stickers for participation, literally.

Thus my literary development was an even paced crawl through the trenches of underachievement.  Managing to sustain enough improvement to carry me from one prison cell to another.

Or as the teachers liked to call it, “From fourth grade to fifth.”

Occasionally I would incite optimism in my parents by bringing home a book from the grade school library that didn’t require me to locate Waldo.  A few ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books popped up on my radar after I was informed by a classmate that they contained some type of violence.

My parents desperation for me to read reached an all time high when I was eleven.  Forced to find a book in the public library and told I couldn’t leave until said task was accomplished, I returned with two.  One about mafia hits and the other about serial killers.

They were not impressed.

But it turns out they were determined.

I not only was able to check out both books, they actually became the staple of my extracurricular educational development.  I remember marveling at how many times my name was sloppy scribbled on the checkout slip that was glued to the back page.  Thank God someone out there had the decency to put both of these kick-ass subjects in an easily digestible kid friendly format.  Heavy on the photos with quick little blurbs about the most gruesome facts.

Valentines Day Massacre – Al Capone’s north side Italian gang dressed up like cops and slaughtered a rival gang.  See photo below:

Huh……….cool!

The Night Stalker (Richard Ramirez)  – A serial killer / rapist who was actually detained through the help of mass media.  Locals spotted Ramirez and pinned him down until police arrived.  Administering a little public justice while waiting.

Wow………….. I would have kicked him in the face!

As you can imagine, this was not the best spring board to propel me through the literary challenges that awaited me in junior high and high school.  Try going from stories about the Boston Strangler to ‘The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe’ was a struggle.  Edgar Allan Poe, oh fucking yawn!  Talk about driving someone mad.  Psychologists want to draw a connection between violent video games and school massacres.  Maybe they should take a look at the fucking school curriculum.

I don’t actually recall where I learned the motto for my anti-reading campaign  that ran through the duration of my teenage years.  But having regurgitated it countless times and scribbled it in every book that was assigned to me, I think I have the right to coin it?  Not that anyone can really contest it.  Trust me, I googled it and nothing came up.

“Reading is knowledge, knowledge is power, absolute power is evil.  Thus, reading is evil.”

Seems like a pretty simple case of connect the dots to me.

The (Not-So) Great New Zealand Road Trip (South Island)

The (Not-So) Great New Zealand Road Trip (South Island)

Posted on January 23, 2013

I made the mistake of taking a summer philosophy class at the local community college to fill out some of my elective credits.

This was a mistake for two reasons, which are not mutually exclusive.

One, I found philosophy surprisingly boring.

Two, my professor was a fucking crackpot.

Our second week of class, after spending the entire first week lecturing rhetorically about whether or not ”physical life is real, is the chair real, is what we see real, how many more dimensions are there that we are not aware of, blah, blah, fucking, blah”, he was asked by one of the students, his stance on drug use to ‘enlighten the mind’.

He replied back without hesitation or inflection in his voice, “I think everyone should take LSD at least once a year.  It clears the mind.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I am just as much in favor of the recreational use of hard drugs as the next guy.  But as I took a look around the room and saw just how impressionable my peers actual were and just how much of this guys bullshit they were actually believing, I became slightly concerned.  I envisioned several of these 18-year-old kids explaining to the arresting officer, “It’s for school, I swear.”  While sitting in the back of a cop car, wondering if the hand cuffs that are cutting off the circulation to their hands are actually “real” (Turn on, tune in, and, um, drop out?).

It was about this time that I started questioning the validity of our “professors” teaching credentials.  I know he had written a book.  He had succeeded at mentioning that part of his resume 17 times during the enthralling first week of class (I kept a tally).  He even offered us a $5 discount off the hard copy version.

The fucking cheap bastard!

To top it off, the book wasn’t even something he wrote.  It was simply a collection of philosophers that he felt were relevant, placed into a single book by him (and a co-”author”!).

I use to make mixed CD’s of my favorite rap artists as a kid but I don’t claim to be a music producer.  Can you imagine if I managed to throw this blog into paper back and then used it as evidence that I should be lecturing impressionable, young, naive college students about global culture.  Undoubtedly I would be telling them to come to my class piss-drunk, to get their head right for my lesson.

I personally prefer the philosophers of my generation.  I can not only relate to them on a more personal level, but I feel they are more direct and eliminate most of the bullshit (unlike this blog post).

Take Xzibit for example, “I can drink a whole Hennessy fifth, some call it a problem but I call it a gift.”

That is a great observation of the duality of man.  On one hand, drinking an entire fifth of Hennessy is considered a problem.  While that very same attribute can be seen as a blessing.  Is it a problem?  Is it a gift?  Maybe a gift that is a problem?  Or better yet, a problem that is a gift?  Certainly one for the ages.

Or one of my favorite and more widely applicable quotes:

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” – Mike Tyson

We had a plan for The Great New Zealand Road Trip (South Island).  A complex and in-depth plan that detailed the entire first five days of our two week journey.  We spent an entire half hour putting this elaborate and complex plan together!

Then we got punched in the face.

We drove from Queenstown to Te Anau at a leisurely pace, without a care in the world, chalked full of excitement for our days to come.  The plan was to stay the night in Te Anau and head to Milford Sound the following morning.  Spending an entire day enjoying the wonderful scenery that Milford has to offer from the decks of an overpriced tour boat.

We had become familiar with New Zealand’s weather patterns from our time in the North Island.  But we never thought (didn’t properly research) that the road to Milford Sound might be closed if the weather was too extreme.

Even worse, closed with no fucking clue when it would reopen.

The most we could get out of any of the locals when we asked if the road would open soon was, “Maybe” with a shrug and a half-smile.  That same fucking smile and sense of uncertainty you would get from your high-school pot dealer when asking when the drought would be over.  So you could buy some more of his shitty and overpriced weed.

Convinced we would be missing out on a South Island highlight, we had no choice but to burn a day, sit inside our hostel, and watch as the torrential rains pounded the already flooded streets outside.

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The weather report comes out twice a day for the roads in New Zealand (South Island).  Once at 4:30pm and once at 7:30am.  We waited until the seven-thirty report but didn’t receive confidence-building news.  The roads were closed, it was currently raining, it was planned to continue raining, and no one wanted to give a firm answer on when they thought the roads would reopen.

Our time in the South Island was already fairly limited and after taking advice from pretty much everyone (to include the local North Island hobo) on where we should be spending our time in the South Island, we were left feeling like Shanic Johnson during her supermarket sweepstake run.  Crashing our cart into the wall, trying to grab as much shit as we possible can.  But realizing as we slammed our way through the aisles, there just wasn’t going to be enough time to grab some ribs AND make it to the beer section.  So we did what we thought would be a close second and snagged as many hot dogs as we possibly could.  That is, we cut bait and headed up the west coast.  We were hoping to somehow squeeze Milford Sound in at the end of the trip.

Unfortunately our contingency plan was about as well thought out as our initial strategy. The road back to Queenstown was also closed due to flooding.  We had to make an hour and half detour to circumnavigate the additional flooding.  We managed to get as far as Lake Wanaka, until we were met with flooding again (this is summer right?).  The lack of planning (in general and in regards to weather) left us scrambling for a place to stay, along with half of the South Island tourists.  All of the hostels and hotels were full with people who didn’t leave and or people trying to hustle their way up the coast to avoid further saturation. Thankfully, after five different attempts, we scored a cabin at one of the camp sites for only $40 more than we budgeted for a nights accommodation (that’s drinking money man!).

With nothing to keep us entertained during our stay but a couple of bottles of wine, Dancing On Ice Finale 2011 (featuring Vanilla Ice), and a Thanksgiving episode of Ellen. . . we were more than ready for an immediate departure and sunnier skies.

The drive up the west coast of New Zealand (South Island) is nothing short of amazing. The rugged mountains sharply find their way into the stunning blue water that can only be described as the kind of beauty that literally takes your breath away.  The kind of beauty that could at least land a part-time modeling gig.  The impressively turquoise water seems more out-of-place than an intelligent comment coming out of the mouth of Lindsay Lohan. The color rivals that of the waters of Thailand, but the temperature (if tested), would ensure that your manhood served as dimples for your belly button (regardless what the locals say and do).  It grabs your attention every time you come around a corner and it is brought into sight.  Interrupting conversations, slowing the speed of travel, and requiring one or both of us to state how “fucking awesome” it is.

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After several days of driving and stopping at virtually every scenic lookout available, we finally reached the north part of the South Island.  Our time in the South Island thus far was pretty much spent confined to the inside of the car and or inside our hostel watching the rain pour down.  We couldn’t help but feel like Charlie Brown when we watched the evening news.  It seemed like the rain was literally following us around.  Leaving sunny skies and warm weather both behind us and where we planned on going.  At least we were achieving a scenery change with the different hostels, but we were starting to have a growing hatred for the car.

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Thankfully the following day was supposed to be partly cloudy with off and on light rain. That was encouraging enough for us to make a dash to Abel Tasman National Park.  Even if there was going to be just a moment of sunlight, we had to get outside and do something, anything!

As luck would have it, we arrived to the park just a pinch too late.  Most of the tours had left only 15 minutes prior to our arrival.  We had two options left:  A boat trip up the length of the park and a two-hour break to walk and explore.  Or we could be dropped off half way up the coast and walk back four hours.  Those of you who know me, understand that I am inherently lazy and though I tried my best to smile at Sally and explain that I was game for either option.  We ultimately ended up doing to the longer boat ride, shorter walk (score!).

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P1040791The boat company turned out to be more geared toward taking people to various parts of the park to drop them off.  A taxi service if you will, hence the name Aqua Taxi.  I am not sure why they sell a “Tour Package”, but they do, and we bought it.  The tickets really entitled us to speed up the coast as quick as possible and drop off/ pick up other passengers.  But as luck would have it, the weather took a turn for the worse (surprise surprise) and the waters became a too rough to continue the trip up the coast.  The boat company was able to turn a perceived rip-off into an extremely enjoyable afternoon through the single actions of our skipper.  The local Maori (ex-kayak guide) Eric provided more cultural experience about the local culture, plant life, and history then we collectively experienced during the duration of our trip in New Zealand thus far.  He also catered the rest of the afternoon to our interests.  By taking us (and another couple) to Seal Island and a little cove for a quick swim in the water (Sally and I stayed on the boat).

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Locked Up Abroad

The build up to the Full Moon Party turned from a burning camp fire of anticipation into an uncontrollable wildfire that would take collaborative efforts of both city and state officials to contain.  Evacuations were necessary. . .

We had managed to find a comfortable spot on the giant wood balcony of Mushroom Mountain (or was it Mellow Mountain)? For the purposes of this story, both names are suitable and may be interchanged.  The weathered wood platform stretched out over the ocean at what felt like skyscraper heights.  The tables reduced to mere inches from the floor with worn rugs and old cushions provided to absorb your tired body.  The only light that was provided derived from the almost full moon and countless black lights that were strategically placed throughout the bar.  With mind-blowing, time absorbing, black light enhanced painted pictures placed directly below them.  The thumping techno music was loud enough to reverberate throughout your entire body and excuse any complications that might arise from language barriers.

Chips?  . . . . . Chips?  Oh. . . . you mean fries!  Fuck yeah I want some fries! 

But quiet enough to ensure the illustrated commentary about the significance of life could reach your melting brain cells.  Giving you the opportunity to smile and shake your head in agreement.  While wondering just how in the fuck people like this survived in regular society.

We had been on the island for only five hours before we decided to make the journey through the thick, black, night, to the mystical structure that overlooked Haad Rin Bay.  The journey alone was enough to detour most party-goers.  As you left the main strip of the bay, the silence of the night gave a sobering realization to the madness that you left behind.  The competing music from the string of bars that lined the beach fades into a quite and singular dull thumping sound, before subsiding all together.  The journey is was only further complicated when you reach the base of the cliff that serves as the foundation for the memorizing lighted structure above.  Various sets of unorganized rock steps lead you up to one of two bars (of the same establishment).  The lower bar being left for the faint of heart.  While the rewards of completing the trek to the upper bar was enough to ensure our return each of the following nights.

The full moon gods must have been shinning down on us as we situated ourselves onto an empty space on the floor.  It was only a matter of a few Jack and Cokes before we were officially welcomed with the burning smell of road kill.  Small talk was exchanged and I quickly directed the conversation toward the correct individual to speak with about scoring my own welcoming incense.  Coincidentally the middle-aged women that had befriended us happened to be the girlfriend of one of the Thai bar constitutes.  She ducked away behind the bar and returned moments later with more than enough supplies to sustain the average traveler a week of recreational use.

It was gone that night.

Once my generosity was known, we quickly became the center of attention.  Several other backpackers gathered around our table and the constant smoke arising from our location was enough to induce an introduction from the provider himself.  Who clearly knew how to identify a cash cow investment.

Two Australian travelers that were close to our age returned from the bar with milkshake type concoctions and received several taunting remarks from my friend and I.  The sarcastic comments about ordering a “bitch drink” quickly subsided when it was announced that these “bitch drinks” contained high levels of mushrooms and only cost around $4 each.  Moments later an icy cream drink was in the hands of everyone on the deck.  The party carried on well through the night and into the next morning.

We quickly discovered that the days were meant for sleep, the evenings for food and planning (flyers passed out to travelers about the evenings happenings: waterfall party, jungle party, etc) and the nights were meant to get completely fucked out of your head. Thankfully I had a matured childhood and was already well acquainted with this goal and rarely caught off my game.  I wouldn’t rank myself as an elite (Ozzy osbourne), but I definitely have more than just participation medals hanging from my wall.

Thailand

Thus, the nights continued much in the same manner as the first occurred.  To the mountain, the jungle, the waterfall, and ultimately back to the mountain.  The fruits of our luck not squandered, but rather shared with virtually everyone who crossed our path.  A simple request for a lighter or some papers, followed up with an inquiry.

“You know how to roll?”

“I got weed, if you can roll it, you can smoke it.”

The fact is my rolling abilities at the time were about average (much improved since) but my laziness and enjoyment of sharing have been constant variables in my life.  It was also entertaining to see the pros do it with one hand, in less than two minutes, while maintaining conversation.  Even more entertaining to watch was the desperate amateur. Who stumbled through three papers and half of the weed I provided them.   While fighting back beads of frustrated induced sweat.  All the while ensuring me that they knew what they were doing, but clearly just desperate to smoke some free weed.  It was this generosity that I firmly believe kept me from spending time in a Thai prison for possession.

Four days of constant smoking and four nights of multiple mushroom shakes was enough to cause confusion when forced to look at that stranger in the mirror.

This rare occurrence would find me staring into the eyes of the very same weirdo I so easily dismissed before the 96 hour mushroom binge. The one who told me about dropping out of the grind, the evil of government, and the importance of keeping your mind free (fucked beyond belief).

My eyes widened as a smile began to form at the corners of my mouth.  I reached out and placed all of my finger tips to the finger tips of the stranger and I knew that together we would get through this insane attempt to escape reality.  Or was this an attempt to survive it?  (That’s deep man)

We had watched as the crowds grew from 100’s of people to 1000’s.  Two boats a day brought the new energy of unfamiliar and overexcited (over-intoxicated) tourists.  The long-haired hippies that lived the simplistic and nomadic life of a true traveler slipped into the shadows of the island and the expression of the local Thai become obviously more tense. It was apparent that a long standing tradition had become more of a over-marketed tourist trap then the celebration of traveler and Thai union it once was.

Acoustic guitars replaced by thumping techno.

The spirituality driven with their worn out cloths and dreads are now alcohol crazed college kids sporting their frat and sorority attire, wooooing (there is nothing worse then a fucking woo-girl. . . . ).

We had been warned about this transition.  But our concerns were focused else where.  The boats were bringing more than just thousands of over-intoxicated travelers.  The police force of two, who rarely make appearances and from what I understand are quite good at looking the other way.  Are bolstered to a staggering 17 cops, to include several undercover agents.  This should have been a clear warning sign that the fun was about to come to a screeching halt.

The day of the full moon party had the island pumping with excitement (literally).  The beach was filling up with firework platforms, black light paint artists, fire jugglers, and of course the endless rows of booze buckets sprawled across folding tables and bar stands. Five dollars provided you with a bottle of your choice and a mixer, dumped into a child’s sand bucket.  “Meant for a group”, but often absorbed by a single party-goer.  I wasn’t sure if it was the weed, four consecutive days of mushrooms, or the combination of the two? But I was feeling quite overwhelmed and even startled at the drunken mess that the island had become.  I made my way to the Mountain to conduct my usual transaction and hopefully find ‘a peaceful place to loose my mind’.  But I was informed by the bar owner that he could do nothing for me today.

“To much trouble, to much police.  You come back tomorrow”

“Tomorrow?  Tomorrow does me no fucking good man!”

More than a little discouraged, I ordered a mushroom shake and sat on the edge of the balcony.  I quickly sucked it back as I observed the madness developing below.

Then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The usual 45 minutes it took for the shake to kick in had turned into an hour and a half.  I ordered another one and again waited out the expected delivery time.  I finally asked the bar tender if I was given the “correct” shake and he informed me they had to cut the dose to a fraction of the usual amount.  In past full moon parties the hordes of drunk college kids would try to drink their way through several buckets and then add a few special shakes to top off the night.  They ended up with large scale freak outs and health problems (kids passing out in the water and almost dying).  Thus they have been required to tone it down.

Of-fucking-course!

No weed, no mushrooms, and a head that is quickly fading from a dreamworld daze into a withdrawal nightmare.

Forced to stick to the booze buckets, I did a frustrated shuffle to the closest vendor I could find.  I made my way through one in less time then it took for the ice to melt and began my drunken stumble of self-pity.

As the night weaned on my frustration turned to determination.  I made a second trip the Mountain and again asked to be hooked up.  This time being as discreet as possible to detour any other regulars and employees from noticing.  It might also have helped that I was holding up some extra cash.  By extra, I mean four times the regular cost.

The bartender must have taken pity on my “desperation’.  He slide me a bag and told me I had to leave the bar immediately in case any cops came in.  More than happy to oblige, I skipped my way back to the beach-side bars.  A big happy “I just scored some fucking weed” smile on my face!

It didn’t take me long to find one of my fellow Mountain regulars and we headed to the treeline to roll one up, or two, or three.  By the time we reached what I deemed a safe location, our group, had grown five strong.  We collectively worked feverishly to roll several pain relievers.

We coughed, passed, and laughed for the next twenty minutes.

Just as the last joint was reaching roach status a flashlight pierced through the night and exposed our deer like expressions.  The older French man who was laying on the sand at the time, quickly shoved the last joint deep into the sand.

The cop started yelling at us.  Stating that he knew we had drugs.  He kicked the sand but failed to expose anything.

“I smell your drugs.  You give me drugs now!”

We all denied this accusation and insisted we had no idea what he was talking about.

With an obvious stale mate being reached with verbal instructions, the cop called his partner over to conduct a search.  One by one the group was searched.  My heart began to beat as I had visions of being stuck in a Thai prison.  I slowly slide my hands into my short pockets as I stood quietly and observed the pat downs.  The Thai cop had clearly conducted more than one of these in his time and was not showing any weaknesses in his method.

I debated making a run for it.  I gauged the speed of the cops, factored in my flip flops, and my high blood alcohol level (not to mention cotton mouth).

I thought to myself,  “I just might have the upper hand.  At least I have the element of surprise.”

Just as I was digging my right foot into the sand to prepare for my dash to the left.  The cops radio buzzed with another Thai cop from somewhere else on the island who was headed our way.  It was clear that I was surrounded and I assumed they knew the island far better then I did.  Considering my knowledge was limited to Mushroom Mountain, my hotel room, and the flyer guy that hooked up the tuk tuks to various other party locations (in which I had no fucking clue as to their whereabouts)

What to do? What to do? What to do? Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

I made eye contact with my fellow Mountain man and he nodded with a look of confidence. Just as the man finished searching the third member of our group, my partner in crime jumped up in front of the cops face and threw his hands out to his side.  Jolting the silent air with forced laugh and making a mockery of the searching process.  It greatly decompressed the situation and he even got a few chuckles from the cop.

He also obstructed the cops view with his theatrics.

I lifted my right foot and dropped the bag.  I stood on it and slipped out of my flip-flops. When the cop finished his search I continued the joke and approached the cop in a laughing manner.  Leaving my flip flops in the sand where I had standing, hidden by the shadows.  My search was complete and the cops were satisfied with their results.  They warned us that drugs are bad and very serious in Thai land. (You don’t fucking say)

“You just drink alcohol and you not have trouble.”

We all agreed with the advice and walked toward the party with the cops.  I returned to the “safe location” 30 minutes later to find my flops still sitting there with my bag underneath them.  I grabbed my weed and rushed to my hotel room to stash it.  I marveled at my luck and scoffed at what a miserable event the full moon party turned out to be.

Fucking tourists ruin everything. . . 

Cover Letter

Why settle for an individual that can talk their way out of a parking ticket while explaining how the meter works? When you can have someone that was offered an honorary deputy position and given a key to the city after a routine traffic stop. Do I want to get into the PR fast lane? My entire life has been spent in the fast lane. I spent four years in the Army jumping out of fast moving planes, I was promoted to sergeant faster than anybody in my entire company, and after two combat tours I left the Army so fast it made their heads spin. I not only graduated with an above average GPA (3.6). I graduated from an above average school (Foster School of Business). I am also an extremely fast learner. I was one of the first fourth graders to master cursive writing and I learned to ride a bike without training wheels. I was hired by a start-up company as one of their first Sales Associates (with no sales experience). We worked out of a house in the suburbs when I started and by the time I left I was the top producing Sales Executive and the company was selling to hotels all over the world. You need a broad range of experience? How about getting shot at in war, working a blue collar job, college, working for a start-up and spending the last fourteen months traveling the world.

My name is Bret Armstrong and I have the self-starting and relentless motivation you are looking for. Does my name sound familiar? Yes, you may find my application already buried at the bottom of your trash folder. That is because I allowed the formalities of professionalism to restrain me from presenting myself correctly. But in all fairness, the rejection email I received stated that you were in the fortunate position of having a wide array of talented applicants. Considering that was a week ago and I just saw the job posted again on craigslist, I think we owe it to each other to consider it a wash. So please, do us both a favor and reach out to me before I find myself stuck in a dead-end job, incorrectly filling out TPS reports, and releasing my frustration on stolen office equipment.

Interested in perusing my resume? I would be more than happy to email you a hard copy before our scheduled interview time.