Here’s the deal; on Saturday September 13th, I was in need of a taxi to the airport. I was embarking on a journey. This journey would be my first solo adventure into a foreign land, and possibly the most interesting one. For this reason I am chronicling the events of my trip into this blog. I will try to dedicate one post to each day; however I make no promises. In case you couldn’t guess from yesterday’s post, I am in Mexico. Guadalajara to be exact, mira:

When I arrived here Saturday evening, I checked into the Presidente Intercontinental Hotel, witnessed the Guadalajaran Soccer team take over the Hotel lobby, and went to bed…

September 14, 2008. Guadalajara, Mexico. Day One, Exploration.

Awake. First day in a foreign land, and I had nothing to do. I sat up groggily from my king sized bed and turned on the lamp within arms reach. The curtains in this room were the standard hotel issue: triple-ply canvas laminated in a mystery wax-like substance. Somehow, they always have the ability to defy the very laws of physics by resisting all light penetration, even when slightly parted. It was impossible to intuitively grasp what time it was, so I used every ounce of energy left in my aching body to roll all the way across the bed and flop face-first into the stack of unused pillows. From this vantage point I had a clear view of the alarm clock, which read [:18:88]. I took that as an omen, closed my eyes, and tumbled from atop pillow mountain into white sheet valley below.

I opened my eyes once more. I wasn’t sure if I had slept any longer, but the room was definitely darker than last I saw it. Was it still night time? Was it even Sunday anymore? “Am I really in Mexico?”, I wondered. Forcing myself out of bed, I stumbled to the non-Newtonian curtains and threw them open, letting the harsh sun stab me in the eyes like a bad scene out of Nightmare on Elm Street. It certainly appeared to be mid-day, but there was no way of being sure without a working clock, so I turned on my laptop. It was barely past 10 in the morning, which was a plus since I had no intention of sleeping through my day of relaxation. After nearly ten minutes of absently staring at my background image of Aurora Borealis my brain functions activated like a Particle Accelerator. I’m in a new time zone. It’s actually 9 AM. While updating my timezone information I logged into my company’s network and checked my email. I already had email from the local Guadalajara folks, which was somewhat of a comforting sign… but what’s this? “Tomorrow is Mexican Independence day? The plant is closed until Wednesday?!”. Suddenly my day of rest and relaxation was turned into a three day marathon of unpredictability and self-discovery.

It had been a long time since I had even thought about the Spanish language, and I figured it was time to dive-in. Face first. Engulfed in flames. Covered in salt. And dripping with bleach. Throwing my cares to the wind, I threw on my shorts and a tee-shirt and headed out the door. I had been briefed by my colleague/mentor about the Plaza del Sol, located conveniently across the street from El Presidente; so that was my destination. In order to cross the “street”, which is really a 4-lane highway with regards to how fast people drive on it, I had to cross a pedestrian bridge. As soon as I stepped onto the decrepid metal monstrosity I was transported to a set prop from LOST. I felt like I was in a tunnel going into an abandoned Dharma facility, where I would be met by a gaggle of Raptors. With guns. And machetes. Alas, there were no Raptors and no Dharma facility. Just a gigantic shopping area that was like the Voltron of strip malls. An outdoor strip mall for the legs, with an indoor shopping mall area as the torso. There were large banks and department stores on opposite sides (there were the arms). And finally there was a long, and festive courtyard with three fountains and lots of kiosks for the head. Yes, I got lost walking around this area, but I didn’t really care. I had nothing better to do really.

Four hours later, and nothing to show for it except for a tube of toothpaste that I almost left at the counter when I bought it, I decided it was time to return to my lodgings and grab some lunch. This is the boring part, so I’ll skip ahead a bit… It’s now late afternoon. Aware of the impending Steelers game, I frantically asked around the hotel if any local places carried American Football. They assured me that the Hotel bar would, but the Guadalajaran soccer team that I saw in the Hotel Lobby the night before was on. There was no way that they would switch their futbol for American Football, which made me a very sad panda. So I proceeded to eat dinner at the restaurant next to the Lobby bar, and longingly stared across the hallway towards the televisions.

7:15 Central Time. Kickoff. Did mine eyes deceive me or did I just see a flash of Black and Gold? Yes! My Steelers were on! I missed their first regular season game because of the Panthers game conflict, so what sweet, sweet retribution this was. I hurried to scarf the rest of my dinner and ran over to the bar, so that I could relish in the majesty of the Black and the Gold. There I sat, alone. Whooping and screaming with nobody else around but the barman. A few hours later and a second regular-season victory for my Steelers. Could this day get any better? Yes. Yes it could, as upon retiring to bed I turned the TV on, only to discover the holy grail of television channels. Golden, a movie channel that plays all American movies with Spanish subtitles; however there was a catch: the movies are censored… in the subtitles. Yes, unedited American movies. They had me at Lethal Weapon. They had me at Lethal Weapon.