RHYTHMS OF THE NIGHT
By Jeannie Weiner
The road, once dusty, is now paved in stone, but the tiny, clean coffee shop is still across from the sign, “NO TIMESHARE, DISCOUNTS, WHALE WATCHING, SUNSET CRUISES.
As I sit savoring the coffee and eating my favorite sandwich with scrambled egg, jalapenos, onions and tomatoes, I chat with the owner, telling her I’m grateful she’s in business during these down times. After paying her, I walk across the road to Scot’s Tours.
“How much for the Rhythms of the Night?”
Scotty points to one of the white plastic lawn chairs and hitches up his leather belt. He is preparing for a leisurely discussion. A simple question to Scotty is rarely answered with one sentence and today is no different.
Scotty, a Mexican citizen, was born in one of the two countries considerably north of his shop in Nuevo Vallarta. With his grizzled face and blotchy pale skin, Scotty appears to be an older man wrinkled from too much sun, but he’s probably about sixty something. Dressed in cotton clothes and sandals, his language switches easily from Spanish to English.
Before he answers my question, we discuss the virtues of Rhythms of the Night – the food, the music and dancing, the lush island, and the boat trip.
Because this travel agency is a garage-like edifice with several lawn chairs, some in the sun, some shaded, a desk, chair, telephone, and mounds of pamphlets and flyers, passers-by on the street comfortably step inside for conversation and information. Some tourists wait politely until Scotty pauses his conversation, but acquaintances jump right in, so I shouldn’t be startled when I feel a vigorous tap on my arm.
I look up to see a grinning man in shorts with a two-day growth of hair on his face and no hair on his head. His wide grin allows me to see he has missing teeth and at least one large gold filling. Speaking as though I were across a large room, he bellows, “Want to go on a three day fishing cruise?”
The man leans sideways. I notice his eyes are deep blue in a sea of red. As he leans forward, I hope his dangling cigarette doesn’t burn me.
“Want to see my tattoos?”
“I’m not much of a tattoo person.”
When he pulls his shirt over his face and flints it across the room, the small area erupts. Keys, cigarettes and loose change scatter on the cement floor. As his head reappears, he grins and edges close to me.
He turns his forearm inches from my face. Too close to properly focus, I believe his tattoo has an USA or Canadian flag. I cannot read what is written in black and red going laterally down his arm.
“Well, well, whatcha think?”
“Nice,” I answer. Scotty smiles as the man turns toward him.
“Call me a cab, amigo?” he asks Scotty.
“Where you goin’?” Scotty dials the phone and asks for a cab.
“You’re in Bucerias now, man.”
“Lots of places. Gotta go lotsa places.”
In a business-like tone, Scotty tells the taxi company that a customer needs to go to “various lugares.” I return to the discussion of Rhythms of the Night. I still don’t know the price. As Scotty rattles away on his calculator, a car drives up.
The tattoo man has picked up his belongings and shoved them into the pocket of his shorts. His shirt is on Scotty’s desk. When he sees the car, he begins to shout, “Mannie, amigo, hola, hola.” Lunging toward the car, he opens the driver’s door and pulls a smiling man out to give him a bear hug.
Still sitting on his lawn chair, Scotty raises his voice slightly and addresses the driver. “Mannie, you ever get your reverse fixed?”
Tattoo man continues to hold Mannie, the driver, in a stranglehold. “I pushed him backwards about five times yesterday. He’s my amigo, no?”
Scotty throws the shirt into the open car window and the vehicle speeds away.
“He should’ve waited for the cab,” says Scotty. “But Mannie can make a lot of money with this man. He has a lot of money.”
“Yeah, he owns a buncha stores and a bar. After driving around in that car all afternoon, Mannie can get his reverse fixed. Been out about a week.”
The next day, after my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed Rhythms of the Night, I saw Mannie and asked about his car. He was on his way to get a new transmission.