Years ago, when I was but a lad of 24 years, I worked for a civil engineering company. They had me in Laredo, Texas overseeing a large project.
I met a young couple like myself, and we became fast friends. Fernando had a job as head of the civil works in Laredo. He had grown up in Mexico and had married an American girl Tracy. Tracy taught at the local college. A great couple.
They had friends in Monterrey who I had gotten to know so I took ten days off and drove to Monterrey with them. I stayed there and had a great time. Later we drove down to Mexico City. Again I stayed a few days enjoying the sights.
I reunited with my friends and we took a flight to Oaxaca, in South Central Mexico. On the way we met a beautiful Swiss girl named Bridget. She had a six month old baby and was heading to Oaxaca as well to stay with her boyfriends family. I stayed out of the conversation that was primarily between Tracy and Bridget.
In fact, I was polite but not too polite. She was a woman with a baby and taken. Enough said.
My friends and I did all the tourist stuff in Oaxaca, the ruins and rich history of the Zapotec Indians as well as the Mixtecs.
After a few days we bumped into Bridget. She insisted that we had to stay at her house in Puerto Angel south of Pueto Escondito. Her boy friend she guaranteed would welcome us.
We took the flight to Puerto Escondito on the west coast with Bridget. When we landed the shit hit the fan. Bridget’s boyfriend met us on the small airports tarmac with a posse of rough looking guys with pistols stuffed into their pants. Great.
The ride south twenty miles or so was horrible. Bridget’s boyfriend Carlos kept insinuating that I was having a fling with his woman. All of us protested so he kept silent.
When we go to his house it was an interesting place on the edge of a cliff high above the small horseshoe bay of Puerto Angel.
To get to the house you had to climb a hundred steps at least. Once at the house it was constructed in an open fashion with a three foot wall all around. Inside was all open except for a bathroom and two bedrooms raised about six feet off the ground. Between them was a staircase leading up to the bedrooms.
The house was swarming with “Federales” or Mexican Federal Police. Not only that, but the house was chock full of pot bales and bricks of cocaine. Oh shit, why did we come again?
To say we were unwelcome would be a huge understatement. Fernando, Tracy and I went outside briefly to discuss our situation: Grim… We now knew we were in deep shit and highly unlikely that we would make it out alive. Bridget had disappeared into one of the bedrooms and I could hear her sobbing gently.
The only luck we had was Carlos announcing that he and the “Federales” had an important meeting and would return the next morning. He glared at me and smiled as he left. “Tene Cuidado Gringo!” he barked and left with his posse.
We had figured out the situation. They would go to drug busts and exterminate the dealers stealing everything. Carlos worked with the Federales on this deadly scam.
That didn’t leave us in a good position as Carlos had left two of his men to guard us. Of course they were armed.
Night came finally and I was at the kitchen table pondering how deep the shit was that we were stuck in. Fernando and Tracy had retreated to the bedroom opposite Bridget, who was still sobbing and hiding.
The guards stared playing cards. They were drinking “El Presidente” brandy. After a while they got bored playing with two hands and asked me to join them. The dug into one of the bails and started to smoke pipe-fulls of pot. They eventually offered me some, which I took as well as some of the brandy. For my every glass they had three. For each toke they had five. We played until three in the morning when I announced that I was too tired to continue. I stumbled up into the bedroom where Tracy and Fernando where crouched down on the bed watch the two continue their marathon.
After what seemed a second Fernando was shaking me awake with his hands over my mouth. “Jim!” “They are talking about shooting us now, get up!”. We grabbed whatever we could, a lamp, a small knife from my travel kit and waited at the top of the stairs hidden by the side walls. Bridget was sobbing more loudly as we waited.. and waited.. and waited.
Tracy check them from the open part of the bedroom and hurried over. “They are sleeping!”. I looked, they were sprawled out over the table, both of them, guns on the table along with several empty brandy bottles and the pot pipe, pot spilled all over the table.
Our chance had come. Bridget rushed over “Go! Now!”. We grabbed our stuff and ran out the door down the many many stairs. It was dawn. First light had streaked the sky and creatures began to stir. We made it into the small town of Puerto Angel. Now we were faced with another problem. Carlos was coming back any minute with his deadly posse and if he found us we were done. Carlos owned the town, he was “El Jefe Grande”. We walked about frantic about what to do.
After five minutes or so I spied a taxi in a yard. I banged on the front door and yelled if the taxi was available. “Go Away!” the reply came. I came back with “Twenty American Tip plus fare for ride right now” in my half baked Spanish. At that time $20 in Mexico was a good amount of money. He appeared in the doorway tugging on his shirt and off we went. We were shitting in our pants the whole way thinking Carlos would see us on the way back from his ambush. We never saw him. The taxi dropped us off at the airport where we made reservations for the first flight at seven thirty. It was now six thirty.
We killed the hour drinking beer on the beach at Puerto Escondito feeling damn good. I can’t explain the feeling of relief we had, incredible.
We left that place amazed we were still breathing and wondering about the fate of the Swiss beauty Bridget.
Years passed and a friend of Tracy’s went to Puerto Angel. She recounted seeing a blond foreign woman living there. Bridget? I can’t imagine she managed all those years but life is a strange trip sometimes..