What began as a field trip to the beach and an invitation to an annual party for 15000 ended up as twenty four hours without sleep. The driver and his trusty side-kick, a German gap-toothed lesser version of the late Jack Palance, had errands* to do, which meant that we left four hours behind schedule. *(dropping off a blonde in the City).
Map? What map — .all he knew was that the party was somewhere west and it couldn’t be that far because the Mexican border was only a few hours away. Five hours, to be exact, because that’s how long it took to find the sleepy river and beach town of Ocos, twenty kilometers out of Tecun Uman and right on the border. (it’s hard to find on any map).
We were told to look for the giant spotlights in the sky — check — saw those white beams rolling around as we sped through the hot and humid night, following other SUV’s going 80 MPH. A dog made the mistake of crossing the road at the wrong time. The SUV in front didn’t stop and check for vital signs.
The advertised crowd of fifteen thousand appeared to be fifteen hundred that night, all dressed in white. The White Party! Dancers, a beauty pageant, Mexico’s version of the winner of The American Idol singing contest, a famous ranchera singer (great) and several hours of disco music, complete with three glitter balls hanging under the canopy that sheltered the lights and cameras.
Miss Pacific was crowned with the tiara from last year’s queen, the runners-up were given smaller versions and sashes signifying lesser awards handed out. The sweat rolled, the rum flowed and the loudspeakers made the stage vibrate. One of the two personal bodyguards for the man who created this massive party carried two pistols in his fanny pack — .an automatic of some medium caliber and a S&W .357 — it was a night of feathers, crowns, music and pandemonium. At five in the morning I knew what the dog felt like.
The entrance fee of 35 quetzals or roughly five dollars? This was not only about largess…this was money-laundering in action, bread and circus the Guatemalan way, with the local feudal lord keeping his people happy.