March 13th, 2022
I went up to the pool at around 5pm on Friday night and much to my surprise, there were people up there. I had been staying here at Gustavo’s for 3 days and hadn’t seen single soul yet. In fairness, I had only been up to the roof, where the pool and kitchen are, a handful of times, but every time it’s been empty. Suddenly, the place was packed (by packed, I mean there was 5 people). I got in the pool, meanwhile three people conversed in the kitchen, and two people were tanning near me. One person in specific stood out to me right away, because she was a gorgeous, blue-eyed, blonde-haired, topless woman, and not a gay man. Did I mention there’s a lot of gay men in Zipolite?
I took a quick dip, overhearing her talk to a couple of people, but never got involved. I ultimately got out 15 minutes later, dried off, said “see ya later” to everyone, and left. About an hour later, I ventured back up to the roof to read my book, and there she was, this time alone. Right away, she sparked up a conversation and I never read a word.
She came and sat next to me, lit a joint, and required assistance with her flight booking. Her flight back home to Switzerland on Tuesday got cancelled by the airline. Not postponed, but cancelled, so she needed to find an alternative way home to open up her restaurant on time. After about an hour of searches and “write this down’s”, she solved the issue (kind of). Her flight itinerary home sounded brutal, but I guess you gotta do what you gotta do when you own your own business.
Natasha is a younger-than-she-looks 37-year old from Switzerland, where she lives in a beautiful cottage-looking home off the shore of a lake in the countryside. She’s a chef, and owns her own restaurant in the nearby village. She was working on her English, which she seemed self conscious about but was actually speaking fluently and spoke with a lovely accent. She had bright blue eyes filled with life, a contagious smile, and a noticeable kindness about her.
She cooked me a candlelit dinner, just the two of us on the rooftop, as the sun was setting, over a bottle of wine. It was delicious. You could tell she was the type of person who really feels good about feeding people. I love that quality in people, not only because it shows a caring nature, but also I get fed. She told me stories of her life, her work, her travels (which included over 30 countries), and we talked about art, love, and purpose. We talked about family, about the world, and about the future. I also noticed quite a lot of laughing and touching, which I think is flirting? I’m awful at picking up signals. I have no fucking clue if someone is flirting with me or not, so I tend to air on the side of caution and assume they aren’t if I’m not sure. If one or two instances go down that make me question it, I assume it’s nothing, but this was reaching “obvious” territory. Look, maybe she was just a really friendly, really touchy person.
After we ate, we put on some music and cleaned up. After cleaning, we sat in some Adirondack chairs on the rooftop and talked for hours. We talked about life, about beliefs, about cool, deep things that you can only really get into with people you share an identical frequency with. We talked about God, about our heroes and idols, and what our perfect day would look like. I noticed that she included “make love” right away as one of the first elements of her perfect day. I totally agree, and felt like a dingus for going first and saying I’d paint and watch wrestling bahaha.
We talked about Zipolite as a town, what we liked about it, what we didn’t like. We agreed that it was kind of crowded and a little over run by an instagram-y type of vibe rather than a more authentic vibe we both prefer. This place is nice, but it seems like a tourist destination, where people come to vacation, which I don’t think was the case over the past several years while it was still a hidden gem. It’s not hidden anymore.
Quick tangent, but that’s sort of been a recurring sentiment this trip. I’m never more in my element than when I’m the only white person in the room, and that’s sort of what I came here looking for. The less white people, the better. Don’t tell them, because I gotta see them at the reunions and work with them and shit, but I can’t stand white people. I came to Mexico because I wanted to be around some Mexican people and do some Mexican shit. I feel as though I definitely got that in Oaxaca Centro, but since coming to the coast, the past month and half has felt like I’m in tourist destinations and vacation towns where people come to let loose and unwind and get away from their lives for a little while before heading back. I don’t feel like I’m here to escape anything but some cold weather. I’m still doing my regular life; I’m still working, I’m still getting to bed early, I’m still living the same routine I would at home, I’m just doing it somewhere nice and hot. I came here to feel what it feels like to live somewhere else, not to vacation.
Back to the story: Natasha and I sat there talking and talking for what must have been five or six hours. At one point, it must have been around midnight, a very gay man came up to have a nightcap glass of mezcal. The two of them seemed to have met before, but I introduced myself. After a few minutes of conversing, he said something along the lines of “Well kids, what happens in Zipolite, stays in Zipolite. Have a good night” in a very cool and sassy gay way and then left. If a flamboyant gay man basically tells me that I’m on a date, then I must be, right?
Either way, I was having a great time, and was in no rush to call it a night. Whether I was right or wrong about the romantic tension, I was in good company, having just eaten good food, and was having a good time, so I was in no hurry to make any haste changes to the situation. I thought about making a move, but opted not to. Eventually, the wine and beer changed to tea and we started to get sleepy. We ended off the night with a long hug and exchanged numbers, making plans to hang again. She wasn’t schedule to leave until Sunday night, so we’d have time.
The next morning I woke up and checked my phone, and at that exact same moment, she sent her first message: “Is he hungry?”
I replied, “Oh, he can eat!”
We made plans to meet out front and walk over to a nearby cafe, where we ate breakfast and talked some more, about food, about culture, about people. After breakfast, we went for a walk; she showed me her favourite murals. She made friends with strangers on the street. She even tickled little children’s bellies because she’s a person who can do that sort of thing, but I don’t think I have the same ability. You can’t look like Shrek and go around tickling strange kids on the street. After walking around for about an hour, we headed back to Gustavo’s with the pool in mind. “Meet you upstairs in 5?” Bet.
We got up to the rooftop pool at around 2pm. Like usual, it was empty up there, so I followed her lead and we popped our clothes off and hopped in the pool. I thought she needed five minutes to get a bathing suit on, but I guess not. We spent the next several hours between the pool and the lawn chairs, talking and tanning. She played me some of her favorite musical performances on YouTube, we played some hilarious rounds of Fuck/Marry/Kill, and we shared some of our most embarrassing personal stories.
After several drinks and a few hours in the sun, I grabbed my art supplies. Together, we painted a picture of our two outlined hands. Hours before, while we were out on the walk, we stopped to analyze some Mexican blankets that a street vendor was selling. I recalled her saying her favorite colorway of blanket was the purple and blue one, with a little bit of green. I said my favourite was the yellow and orange one, with a little bit of red. When we started painting, her taking the responsibility of doing my hand and me taking hers, I started filling it in with a melange of purple and blue and a bit of green. She noticed, smiled, and then, without saying a word, leaned up against me, not unlike a cat showing affection, and started painting my hand a delightful pattern of yellow, orange, and a hint of red. On the part in between, where our hands touched, we collaboratively coloured in a rainbow.
At this point, I was puddy in Natasha’s hands. I was in love. Like I said, I’m awful at picking up on signals, but if someone I’m attracted to does, like, 30+ things that make me go “Huh, I think that was flirting?” then I can start to pick up on it. They weren’t all obvious, though. For example, at one point she asked me to stand up so she could press herself up against me, to measure how tall I am. There was also a lot of leg rubs and hands being held and so on and so forth. It definitely felt like she was waiting for me to make a move, so after we finished our painting, I decided I was going to. In my fucked up, strategy-driven mind that I think needs more therapy, I concocted a game plan on how to broach the subject. I’ll ask “So, do you have a boyfriend back home?” She had already asked me if I had a girlfriend the night before, but I somehow missed the opportunity ask her the same thing in that moment. Plus, I figured that’ll either get a yes, in which case I abandon ship and emergency pivot into “nice, what’s he like?”, or a no, in which case I say something dumb like “oh, so do you wanna make out?” Hopefully she finds that endearing.
Turns out her boyfriend is 47 years old. He has three kids, and she’s not so sure about it. She’s a free spirit, uncomfortable with the idea of having that stable of a life and family. She travels. She parties. She meets people and falls in love and all that shit. She talked to me about being at a weird place in the relationship; she thinks he’s a good guy and really likes him, but just isn’t sure if she sees it going any further. She also made sure to add “I just wish there was like an obvious connection, like with you. You know how you meet someone and you just know them without knowing them but you just have the same energy right away?” I mumbled “Yeah… hah” in reply.
Then she had to run and meet her friend Gypsy because they had plans to hit the beach. She gave me a big hug and a long kiss on the cheek and we made plans to meet for dinner about 90 minutes from then. She had made reservations at a fancy place around the corner, where she originally planned to dine alone but was now being joined by me, Gypsy, and her other friend Adam.
I met up with the gang along the main road just around 6:30pm. The crew consisted of myself, Natasha, Gypsy, Adam, and Adam’s dog Lylah. Now that I had latched on, the five of us formed Megatron, a dastardly stable of ne’er-do-wells with a wonderful evening ahead of them. Gypsy was an elderly woman originally from Paris who’s been travelling the world since 1970. She’s wheelchair-bound, but that doesn’t stop her from seeing the world, traversing rocky, dirt roads, and living her life to the fullest. She talked about going to Washington, DC, after Mexico to visit her daughter, and unsure of where to pick after that. I don’t think Gypsy had any particular place that was “home”, instead being home wherever she found herself. Adam was a super friendly 31-year old originally from Mexico City. He spoke no English, which made conversation difficult, but somehow not impossible. It’s actually not hard to get along with someone and have fun together without the need for verbal communication. If you point at a painting of some boobs and the two of you laugh, you’re friends. Adam had a thick, black ponytail, a piercing that traversed through the bridge of his nose, and a charming smile. Lylah was very sweet and cute, too. They were all incredibly kind and compassionate and within a few minutes the gang felt like family.
Dinner was great; we hopped between English and Spanish throughout. Natasha and Gypsy could speak both languages, so it was either Adam or I that wasn’t going to understand for a bit. That somehow worked, as the conversation flowed easily and was filled with group photos and big laughs. Gypsy shared some truly incredible stories about her past, like the time she hopped on the Hippy Bus travelling through Paris in the early 70’s and rode it all the way to India. She talked about Thailand and Japan and South Korea, and all the animals she’s encountered and adopted along the way. At one point, while we were eating, Natasha leaned over to me and said “remind me, I have to show you something later”. I’ll get back to that. After dinner, we went for a stroll to a nearby ice cream shop. Along the way, I bought a cannabis brownie off a street vendor for 150 pesos and ate half of it. About an hour later, I would be extremely grateful that I only ate half, because WOW.
As we sat at the ice cream shop, I showed Gypsy how to add a contact on her phone and how to properly use WhatsApp. We exchanged numbers and made plans to hit the beach some time next week. She was glad to meet a big, strong guy like myself, because she needs someone who can carry her into the ocean so that she can feel the water. I’m excited to do that with her.
After ice cream, Natasha bought two 6L bottles of water for Gypsy and we walked her back to her place off the main road. Her room was small and nondescript, with a twin bed in the corner, a small sink in another corner, and a bathroom. There was a makeshift wheelchair ramp outside her room that someone build by laying down a plank of wood. The place was covered in her stuff; bags of bracelets, patches, sketches, and assorted items and artifacts. She slept on just a small corner of the bed, because it was so covered in her things. Natasha helped Gypsy get ready for bed, while I plugged in her chair to charge and filled up some smaller water bottles for her. At this point, the brownie was really starting to hit me hard. Here I was, baked out of my mind, in a dark alleyway in Mexico, filling up water bottles for a woman named Gypsy outside of her room. I didn’t know any of these people hours ago, but at this point, I’d die for them.
This is also where I really started chatting with Adam. I’m not sure how long things lasted in reality, but I’d estimate that it took Natasha about an hour to help Gypsy get ready for bed. In that time, Adam and I stood outside, attempting to make conversation. Maybe it was the cannabis coursing through my veins, but I felt like we could understand each one. It all made sense, all of it, despite neither of us knowing what the words meant.
The four of us, Lylah included, took turns hugging Gypsy and saying goodnight, then we walked back along the main road. Adam, being a popular local on a busy Saturday night, kept running into people he knew. Natasha and I walked along, talking about the heartbreaking feeling of making these sorts of connections while travelling, and how hard it is to say goodbye. It’s especially hard to say adios to someone older like Gypsy, who we have no idea if we’ll ever see again. As we reached the end of the road, it was time to say goodbye to Adam as well. He had some sort of cool beach party to go attend, which I’d probably have entertained had I not been so damn wavy. We exchanged numbers and will hopefully meet up again while I’m here.
The walk home with Natasha was quiet. I could tell she was feeling emotional about Gypsy, and while I shared the sentiment, I was too high to function. I also got deep into my own selfish thoughts and started thinking about what I imaged were the four possible scenarios for Natasha and I. Either she was here on vacation, as a get-away from her regular life, to flirt and get some attention from someone who lives half way around the world without going out of bound, and go back home without feeling guilty. Option number two is she totally was willing to cheat on her boyfriend. Another possibility is that she was in an open relationship, or at least comfortable with the notion of being with other people. She mentioned her “hippy” lifestyle several times, so maybe there was a genuine connection between us that I was overthinking by making her relationship my responsibility when it totally wasn’t. Maybe my depiction of a relationship is wrong, and it should never be a reason to hold back or hinder love, you know? Or, final option is just that my ability to read a situation is all outta fucking whack.
I decided then that I wasn’t going to make any moves, but I’d be open to it if she did. I’m grateful that, to the best of my knowledge, none of my serious partners have ever cheated on me, so I don’t want to go fucking around with that karma. However, if she initiated it, or expressed an outright interest in that happening, then who am I to judge someone else’s life?
Along the walk back to Gustavo’s, we passed the mezcal bar that I had wanted to check out earlier that day, so she asked if I wanted to go in for one drink to end the night. All I wanted to do was get into bed and zonk out, because I cannot stress how hard that brownie was kicking my ass, but my mouth was as dry as the Sahara desert, and I’d always rather do and regret than not do and regret, so I said let’s do it.
We went in and were immediately seated next to two older, very flamboyant men. The fact that Zipolite is swarming with older gay men, and these two looked and acted just like the rest of the crowd, led me to assume they were gay. However, soon into the conversation, the man sitting closest to us crossed his legs, folded his hands over his knee, leaned in and swore he was straight. I still wasn’t sure if he was pulling my leg or not. He had a homosexual level of sarcasm to the way he spoke, something I could never dream of achieving, and I was basically in outer space, making it very difficult to make sense of it all. At this point, I wasn’t sure if I was on a double date or if none of us were fucking.
After telling us about his life in US politics, about winning and losing elections and how the political system works, the very gay older straight man started talking to us about sex. He and his pal were in Zipolite on vacation to pick up older chicks, a destination they’ve been visiting for years. The bigger, quieter dude chimed in only once to say “I’ve had sex with more women over the age of 65 in the past month than you could image!” That was definitely a cool thing to proclaim, and I will remember the excitement he delivered it with for a long time. The politician explained that Zipolite isn’t only a gay destination, but a swingers destination as well, probably on account of the nude beaches. He talked about how it isn’t what it used to be; it’s not some wild, open orgy for everyone to jump into. Swingers tend to interact with other swingers, and they stay rather private about their trades. Or at least that’s the case in this guy’s experience, who’s looking to bang but doesn’t have a partner to swap. You can’t show up to a drag race without a car and expect them to let you race, bud.
After talking about their sex lives for a while, the conversation shifted towards Natasha and I. He asked where we were from, assuming we were there as a couple partaking in the swinging, to which I explained that we just met yesterday. He insinuated on more than one occasion that Natasha and I were fucking, eventually going so far as to ask outright if we had yet. Natasha’s answer was an interesting one, stating just, “My mom taught me that anybody can ask you anything they want, but its up to you what you want to answer” That’s an awesome way to respond to such a blunt question, and I commend her for it, but it really did me zero favors. Natasha and I shared a mezcal cocktail before bidding adieu to the gentlemen, who made crass remarks about us as well left. We all giggled.
Again, it was just me and Natasha and silence and darkness. The rest of the walk back was uphill, in the pitch black, along a dirt road, and I was steering her bike back up for her. My shorts were loose, so I had to take a hand off the bike to pull them back up every few seconds. Along the walk, we had some brief moments of chatter, but it was mostly quiet. When we got back to Gustavo’s, she reminded me that she had something to show me, then invited me into her room. I assumed she was going to show me said thing, or that something would happen, but instead she sort of just started packing up her stuff and going about her business while I sat on her bed waiting patiently. At this point, I was so high that I didn’t even want any sort of sexual encounter to take place. Sex is cool and all, but I only want to do it when I feel good about it, and I wasn’t in a state where I felt good anymore. She was one of the kindest, coolest, most beautiful people, both inside and out, that I had ever met in my life, but at this point I just wanted to be alone in my bed. Rather than wait any longer, I remembered that she had left some items up on the roof, so I offered to go grab them to expedite the packing process. She said that’s a great idea, and that she’d join me.
So we head up to the rooftop of Gustavo’s and, obviously, no one is there. At this point, I can barely keep my eyes open, but I decided to sit in a lawn chair and take in some stars while she gathered her things. At least 5 minutes of silence went by. I don’t know if she was waiting for something to happen, but that’s what it felt like. Instead, I eventually built up enough saliva to mutter out “So, what did you want to show me?” She excitedly said “Oh, right,” before turning on all of the lights, taking me by the hand, and leading me into the kitchen.
There, she got really close to me, almost pressed up against me, and just looked up at me. After a couple seconds that felt like hours, wherein we just looked at one another with uncomfortable smiles, she whipped out her phone and said “I wanted to show you this”. She handed me a 100 pesos bill and told me to hold it out straight on the counter. With one hand placed on top of mine and the other holding her phone hovering above the bank note, the butterflies in the background of the money came to life on her phone and started moving. This worked with numerous different bills; whatever detail was in the background of the bank note would come to life in a 3D motion animation on her screen. There was one with a whale and another with some flowers. Admittedly, it was pretty cool, especially in my altered state, but I also have zero clue why she had to show this to me, or why she brought it up several times throughout the evening and told me to remind her about it. It was kinda like making a big deal about showing someone the lighter app on a first generation iPhone. It’s cool, but something tells me that wasn’t what she actually wanted to show me.
At this point, I was done. This was not only the most inebriated I’d been in months and on the verge of a legit panic attack, but it was also the latest I’d stayed up and the most social I’d been in weeks. I was finished; completely out of gas. I said goodnight, we shared a LONG hug with several deep inhales, promised to see one another tomorrow, and I left.
It’s now 1:29AM and I just got to my room. WCW Thunder from the year 2000 is on the TV and I immediately feel relaxed. I knew I had to crack open the laptop and write this story down before falling asleep, which was another reason I wanted the night to end. It’s not that I wasn’t having fun or enjoying her company, because I absolutely was; I just have an instinctual need to give my attention to creativity when it presents itself. That’s the deal I’ve apparently made with the universe; when the ability to write arises, it takes precedence. I had no choice; I heard a knock at the door and was obligated to answer it.
As soon as I got into my room, I got a text from her… just a winky face. I replied “I’m grateful you exist and that I got to enjoy a weekend”, a sentiment I very much meant. She then sent over a bunch of photos from the evening, and a message saying “I like you. Thanks.” That felt like a really sweet, appropriate ending to a beautiful, impromptu connection, but in classic Tyler fashion, I needed a better punchline. After exchanging really touching goodnight messages, wherein she hoped for more time together next time we meet, I just couldn’t let a sleeping dog lie. I waited a few seconds then replied with “I’m so fkn high lmao”.
I GUESS THE HUMOR JUST DOESN’T TRANSLATE??
She asked if I was okay, I assured her I was great and was just oversharing, and we did a second, watered-down round of goodnights. I gotta learn when to call it.
As I sit here, writing this, I wonder… You think you have a sense for that kind of thing; chemistry and flirting and sexual tension. You think you know, but you also never really know until something happens. Nothing happened with Natasha, although I feel strongly that it could have. Then again, if she really wanted it to happen, she’d probably have made it happen at some point.
I guess the moral of the story is that it’s irrelevant. I had a great experience regardless, so my confusion about it shouldn’t really hold any significant value, because I had fun. Why worry about what didn’t happen when I can instead be grateful for what did? I definitely never want to miss out on a potentially awesome romantic experience, but as the wise philosopher Charles Oakley once said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t break it.” I even like to think that travel romances can exist and be great without anybody having to cum. It was a real, authentic, and lovely experience. I met an awesome person, who introduced me to even more awesome people, which led me to feel an array of strong feelings, and had an incredibly enriching couple of days.
The fact that this pandemic started two years ago to the day makes it all the more meaningful. After two years filled with isolation and solitude, not to mention a lot of stress, frustration, anxiety, and fear, I feel like I’m in a good place. I’m living my life again; I’m experiencing! I’m meeting people and having fun and most of all… I’m happy! The pandemic is certainly not over, but I’m grateful that I’ve managed to live again within the confines of it. That’s exactly what I came here for: to live. Natasha helped me do that this weekend.
Edit: It’s now 5:30pm on Sunday as I post this. I realized around 3pm that I had missed a message from her at 8:30am (my WhatsApp sometimes doesn’t send notification alerts… Gypsy was right not to trust that app) asking “How you feel my dear Tyler?” along with an emoji of a fish (another quality I love in a person: unhinged emoji usage that has no rhyme or reason). I responded by saying I felt great and asked her if she wanted to grab a bite. She didn’t respond, so after a while I decided to go up to the roof to see if maybe she was hanging by the pool. As I left my door, I saw a note left on it: “Tyler, all the food in the fridge (in the kitchen) is yours. Was beautiful to meet you. Love, Natasha” I knew her flight out was Sunday night, but I never realized that meant checking out of Gustavo’s in the morning. I know she doesn’t have any more data on her phone, so she’ll likely get my reply once she gets to the airport tonight.