That’s been my curse, or my blessing. I was growing a little tired of Rosarito. The crazy tuba bands, the fucking fireworks going off at 3 AM. I’d eaten at every good restaurant in town at least a dozen times. I began to hate getting on the elevator to go down 10 floors only to have to deal with the security guy just to get out to the street. I was beached out.
On the other hand, the seafood was great, the locals were cool, I had discovered the wonders of mezcal. and it was cheap. I had been waffling about moving on. But before I could even think about giving notice, I got caught by surprise. I was given notice. The owner of my condo had sold the thing out from under me. I had 30 days to clear out.
I compiled a bucket list, things to do again or for the first time before I left: Ride a camel, grab a lobster in Puerto Nuevo, watch the sunset from the terraza at Los Pelicano’s one more time, try the wineries I’d missed in Guadalupe Valley, ride a horse on the beach at sunset. Thirty days came and went and I didn’t do any of those things.(I did make it to Puerto Nuevo but was offended that they were asking $70 for a fair sized lobster. I got the fried calimari appetizer and a margarita and split.)
Hard to believe I’ve been here for over 2 years. Some days dragged on to the point that I couldn’t wait for the sun to go down. Other times months blew by without even registering. I studied Spanish, tried to learn a few new licks on the keyboard, read 500 page history books, ran on the beach, worked out like a son-of-a-bitch. Drank a lot of tequila.
I’ve always been accused of staying too long most places. I did a radio show in Winter Haven, Florida for a couple of years back in the 70’s. It was a shit little radio station operating out of an old ranch house on the edge of a lake, run by a dictatorial prick by the name of Randy Jeffries. I had to drag my ass to work at 5 AM every day, hardly got paid enough to get by, put up with Randy’s abuse, and everybody said “What are you still doing here?”
But my old high school buddy and college room mate at U.F., Bill Szakovits, was in town so I had someone to pal around with. Like a couple of homos, we bought matching motorcycles: Yamaha 650 Specials, modeled after those Brit bikes of the 60’s, with a kick starter and a big fat back tire for straight ahead stability, which was good because there were no curves in Florida. I loved the smell of the orange blossoms when I was tooling through the groves in the Spring. I loved playing tennis for hours each weekend, then getting hammered and watching pro wrestling on WTBS. I can still smell the semi chrome, the barbecue, and the coconut oil. I thought that I had it made. If Randy Jeffries hadn’t fired me, I might still be there. But I really think I stayed a year too long.
A few years before that, I spent some time in Wrightsville Beach, NC., a long, narrow sand spit flanked by an massive salt marsh on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. I was a country and western deejay in nearby Wilmington and, again, had to be up an at it before dawn and, again, made chump change. Everybody said “What are you still doing here?”
But I loved the ocean. My great friend at that time, David Dwyer , and I spent every non-working hour in the warm water, body surfing, getting pummeled by waves, sometimes just drifting with the current. In the late summer, the waves would be silver with little plankton eating fish called menhaden, and when the menhaden arrived, the ferocious blues were not far behind. Best to be out of the water when that happened. But on special nights, the water there would glow phosphorescent purple from a single celled critter called noctiluka. You could dive in at night and coat your skin with it and you would glow purple, too.
I guess I stayed too long there, too, but I was having fun and didn’t have much of a sense of career or future. One Friday night I refused to MC the Charley Rich show at the Wilmington Armory and took my phone off the hook for the entire weekend so I wouldn’t be disturbed. On Monday morning I was fired from the country and western radio station. Otherwise I might have never left Wrightsville Beach, NC.
I’m not sure yet if I’ve stayed too long in here in Rosarito Beach, or not long enough. Not sure if even now I have a grasp on the difference.