The day started uneventful enough. We took a bus to downtown Puerto Vallarta to get a new screen and sim card for my old iPhone 6 plus. The first place we found had a nice young woman working there, who spoke no English. I struggled to get my message across and she tried equally hard to understand me. Finally, a dishevelled looking man, 36 he told me later, stood up from where he was squatted on the sidewalk and asked in almost perfect English, if he could be my interpreter.
“Please.” I responded. After some back and forth Spanish he told me that she had sim cards but could not fix the screen but he knew a place less than a block away, so off we went.
Neither of the two men in the store could understand English so again after some more Spanish dialog my new friend said, “They can fix it in an hour for $100 US dollars.”
“What? This is Mexico I can get it fixed for less than that in Canada.”
He spoke with them some more then said he knew another place so far away so off we went again. The fellow in the new shop seemed even less interested in our business and apparently said he could fix it for $200 but it would not be ready until 7 pm.
“What do you want to do? I don’t know of any more places.”
“Okay, let’s go back to the first place and start again.”
After taking the order the man suggested we should go near-by to wait and have a beer.
“Can you buy us each a beer?”
“Sure,” I said looking around for a sidewalk café or pub.
“Over there, you can buy two at the OXXO store, the Mexican equivalent of a Mac’s store. We went in and bought two cans, then came out, found a shady spot and then sat on the edge of the sidewalk, opening the beers. I don’t know the last time you sat on a sidewalk and drank beer, but it has been some time for me and I was surprised at the looks cast our way.
My new friend told me how he had worked for years in New York City but had been caught with a joint and shipped back to Mexico with no charges and now lives on the street. He saved his money and boarded a plane for Vancouver as he thought Canada would be a good place to live. The customs agent asked him how long he was coming into Canada for and he said he wasn’t sure, two or three months maybe. She asked if he had a place to stay to which he said no. Then she asked how much money he had.
“That’s personal I said. Then she said I must know. I said what difference is it to you, if I have a dollar or ten thousand dollars? Then we got into an argument and she put me back on the airplane to return here.
I’m going to try again when I save up enough money, maybe you could give me your address and I could use it as the place I will be staying.”
“Sure” I said, why not so I gave him Eddie Wrights address.
“Say do you have ten dollars?”
I thought well he had been helping me for over an hour now and it had been a big help so I said sure and gave it to him. He finished his beer and said, “Just wait here, I will be right back.”
He returned a few minutes later and asked if I smoked pot. I assured him I did not so he took the two joints he had in hand and re-rolled them into one.
“They make these so skinny now.” He admired his handy work and lit up.
“This can’t be legal?” I said.
“We have an expression here that rules are made to be broken.” He smiled showing his healthy gums where I am sure teeth used reside.
“Look when the police come I am not going to jail with you.”
As stated the job was done in the hour and we were back at the first place. “She needs 300 pesos for a sim card and a plan that will work for a month, with unlimited international calls.”
“Does she take a credit card?”
Some more Spanish then, “No. but I know where there is a bank not too far from here.”
Three or ten blocks later we arrived at the bank. He waited outside while I went in to the ATM machines as the branch was closed. I put the card in and remembered the Spanish for pin number but the next screen had several choices that I could not understand. I didn’t think it a good idea to solicit his help so I went back outside and told him my card was rejected.
“What will we do now?”
“My son Liam is in the area I will text him to come and lend me the money.”
“Well this is taking longer than I thought, do you have another ten dollars?” Feeling a little bid extorted I gave him the money thinking I was doing so to help a fellow human in hard times.
Back at the store Liam finally showed up and gave me the money I needed. My friend brought a wireless speaker over and asked if I would buy it for him.
“I’m sorry, you have twenty dollars of mine, buy it yourself.” Too harsh?
We tried to test the new phone but it died and I had to take it back to the room and charge it before for calling Myrna. I called her three times then texted her as it was not like her not to answer.
Her reply was simple. “Try again your calls all registered as coming from Belgium.” The phone works fine if you all answer your Belgium calls.
I was to run into Hector again the following day and he helped me with some more shopping and we shared a great fish at a very out of the way Mexican place.
This was the quiet part of the day; the rest was to end in a missing wallet and a high-speed chase.