We stayed a night in El Tunco. It was a really good night, I’d had a lot of fun. Boxhead had gotten up early to watch the football, but because nobody in El Tunco had the rights to watch it legally he was forced to stream it in the hostel bar. When he came to see me at half-time, I was panicking, trying to get out of the room in time for check-out. He told me that the stream wasn’t too good, and he couldn’t really tell me what had happened because he didn’t actually know. When I walked into the bar not long afterwards, Chelsea were beating Manchester United 1-0. I laughed in his face. “HAHAHAHAHA!”
The stream kept freezing, cutting in and out, it was so poor it really was just a waste of time. There were two others sat around the laptop trying to watch. The number of hours I have wasted trying to stream fucking football.
Eventually the girls joined us. We’d taken a look at the menu while waiting and it did look good. There were home-made Belgian waffles.
“God damn, they look good”, I whispered. ‘”You want to eat breakfast here?”, I asked the girls
They shook their heads. No. Just like that.
“But they have Belgian waffles, look!”
M was hungover and just wanted coffee.
“They have coffee here, you know? All right, fine. Where are we going to go then?”
“The Coffee Cup. There is one nearby.”
We walked out to the car. Nobody wanted to drive so we played rock, paper, scissors to decide. I lost. The guy without a valid driver’s licence.
Well, there was no Coffee Cup, just a Mister Donut and Pollo Campero. We walked into Mister Donut. They’d stopped serving breakfast.
“We just want coffee”, said M.
I glanced at the coffee machine. It was those premixed powder sachets, you know the type, Nescafe lattes and cappuccinos, powdered milk and sugar, just add water.
“I can wait”, I said. “We’ll go somewhere else.”
“I’m fucking starving”, Boxhead complained. “I don’t understand why we left the last place! I KNEW I SHOULD HAVE ORDERED BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL!”
So we drove to the malecón in La Libertad, a row of cheap restaurants facing the ocean.
“Is it just seafood?” Boxhead asked, “Because I don’t want seafood”
We parked across the road and walked on over to the malecón.
“For fuck’s sake, it looks like it’s just seafood”
It was hot, like a dog’s breath. We reached the row of restaurants when Boxhead realised that he’d left his water in the car.
He headed back in the direction of the car park, shaking his head. We waited. Eventually he returned, sweating.
We chose a restaurant and ordered our food. Boxhead was happy that it wasn’t just seafood. I had started to feel slightly hungover when a couple of guys with guitars snuck up on me from behind, where they started making much noise.
“Jesus! I can’t stand it! I could really do without that right now!”
Uh, a god damn hangover. Where did this come from? I guess it doesn’t really matter, well, it doesn’t really matter at all. It was there. That’s all that mattered. I looked over at Maria. God, she looked good. I hadn’t even done my hair.
After a while the musicians left us in peace.
“You want to go to the beach?” M asked us
I’d been already a few weeks back. It was a special beach.
“Yeah, sure, why not?”
We couldn’t take the walkway bridge over the road into the car park because Maria was afraid of the altitude of it, so we had to enter the car park via a slightly longer route. Boxhead wasn’t happy.
“Are you having a laugh? We can’t use the bridge? Jesus Christ”
“It’s almost exactly the same distance, we just have to cross the road instead” I said.
“I’ve had a tits full.”
Driving to the beach, we passed cows, cyclists, trees, palm trees, shops, homes, horses, crossed bridges, rivers, lots of green, things I only remember because I was teaching Maria what they were in English. The trees threw shadows down onto the road and the potholes were lost in the shadows and I drove into the shadows blind, praying that there was no pothole hidden. In the back of the car I could hear Boxhead shouting at M crawling across the seat trying to get close to him
“STAY OVER THAT SIDE! PUT YOUR SEAT BELT ON! JON, TELL HER TO PUT HER SEAT BELT ON! IT’S NOT SAFE!”
After some time I blew past a road to the right of me.
“THAT WAS THE TURN OFF!”
I turned around.
Maria pointed, “This one here”
I went into the bend.
“Noooooooooooooo” said a tiny voice in the back.
A car was coming around the corner, headed straight for us. It looked like we were going to ram right through the centre of it.
We plunged at each other, head on. At the last second I went left, he went right. The car missed us by a hair. A tick the other way and we were all finished. I stopped in the road.
“It’s one way!”
“WHERE WAS THE SIGN?”
“Quick, turn around!”
I couldn’t see around the corner. It was blind. I did a quick turn and got back on the right side of the road, the right side.
I stopped, preparing to go down the first road that I had missed, the correct road.
There was a police car coming
“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?”
“Going down there”
“RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE POLICE!”
“WHAT? THEN HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO GET DOWN THERE!!!”
I went for it.
We’d come close to death. I just went on driving – doing the movements. I couldn’t really understand it. What had just happened.
We went along in silence for a while.
M was still trying to get close to Boxhead, testing the tensile strength of her seat belt. It really was at its limit.
“NO, KEEP YOUR SEATBELT ON! YOU SAW WHAT JUST HAPPENED!”
“Good thing we have a good driver, eh?” I winked in the mirror, then careening into a pothole at 70kmph.
We continued in silence.
“Is it here?” I asked, indicating to an exit fast approaching.
“No… I don’t think so…”
I went past it.
“Yeah, that was it!”
There was an unmistakeable grumbling in the back. “I don’t fucking believe it…”
“What are you doing? Turn around here!”
“Why not here!”
“There’s a turning!”
Boxhead simply said, “Wait for a driveway”. His voice was soft and intense.
Well, I managed to turn and we got back on the right track, again. We found a car park by the beach. The shirtless guy said that it would cost $8 to leave the car there for 15 minutes.
What was that shit about 15 minutes? I thought. Why did M say 15 minutes?
M wasn’t happy. “PUTA MADRE! $8! ANDATE A LA MIERDA HIJO DE PUTA!”
Anger ripped through her little body. Boxhead was laughing, so was I.
“Oooooo calm down! It’s ok…”
“$8! PUTA MIERDA…”
Four minutes later we paid $12 to park in a hotel.
I felt no anger. I didn’t care anymore. We’re here. Let’s just pay it. At first they said $24, but because it was already 3pm they made us a deal.
Boxhead stood in his shorts, rubbing cream into the underside of his chin.
“Who the hell puts cream there?” I asked
“Can you do my back for me, please?”
I lay on the sand for a bit looking out at the ocean with Maria to next me. I got it right, I thought. This beats working.
Then. M’s shadow loomed over me blocking out the sun.
“Right, we’re going now.” she said.
“What? We’ve only just arrived!”
It had been 15 minutes, ok, maybe 25.
The girls went to wash the sand off, leaving Boxhead and I on the beach. I vented my frustration.
“WHAT’S THE FUCKING POINT? IT’S TAKEN TWO HOURS TO GET HERE! I DON’T BELIEVE THIS! WE ALMOST DIED GETTING HERE! WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY”
“I’ve had a tits full”
We stopped on the way home for ice-cream in an effort to cheer Boxhead up. Everything was all right for a few minutes in his life. I had finished my ice-cream and was looking at Maria. She really did have the sexiest lips I had ever seen. M caught me staring.
“Aww, look at them”, she said to Boxhead, “why can’t you be more like that?”
That was it. Boxhead’s ice cream was ruined.
M drove back into the city. Boxhead was supposed to but he was too angry. He was pulsing with it his contours were blurred. So instead he sat in the front chewing on it. I couldn’t stop laughing. Maria slept in my lap. Then I slept too.
We took the girls home, stopped in the supermarket and arrived back at our apartment. In the cupboard there was one bag of the nice green tea left. I picked it up for a moment, then put it back down. I thought I’d better leave it for Boxhead.