Monday, June 24, 2019

Hitchhiking back to the Sea of Cortes

Sea of Cortes, Baja, California.
Ed dropped me off at the local convenient store. Two minutes later, I saw a red truck and asked the driver where he was going. He had a motorbike inside. I asked if I could join, and he wondered with the motorbike in the bed. I said, "I'm small. I can fit."

So he said, "Yes."

I hopped in the back of the truck. The sun was beating down on me, and I could feel it.

* * *

Yesterday afternoon, Aidi, Ed, and Olivia went to a beach. They were social. And so the bartender liked us very much and brought us out free mezcal. It was strong and tasted like agave. I wondered if it was Aieda's mezcal. Her brand is called Apapacho. It's an Aztec word for when a hug is given and two souls connect.

I ran on the wet sand. Sometimes I jumped into the cold Pacific Ocean. There were many stones at that beach. Aieda's dog followed me and barked and barked. She was the most undisciplined and needy dog I ever met. It would howl if it didn't get attention for even a second. 

Olivia's two dogs on the other hand were well-behaved. I told Aidea's dog once, "Gallete." (Shut up in English.) And Aieda said, "No. He needs to be free."

No wonder why the dog was so undisciplined. I thought about our cat at home and how well behaved he was. 

Earlier in the day, Aieda told me the most interesting story. She said it was in her family that they could sell anything and that her grandparents used to sell candy and dresses in Mexico City. One day, a rich businessman partnered with her grandfather in a candy making business. But after the businessman stole her grandfather's recipe, he kicked him out of the business. So, he had to come back to Mexico City and start all over.

I asked her, "What happened to the businessman?"

"I don't know," she said. "But what's crazy, is that one of the grandchildren of my grandfather, and one of the grandchildren of the businessman ended up marrying each other in another part of Mexico three generations later."

The people listening were impressed with the story.

* * *

Then for dinner, Ed and I ate at a Sushi place in town. They raved and raved about it.

There, I asked Ed about his time in Thailand and Bali. 

We talked about forgiveness. 

I told him about some of the people driving me crazy in life. If you don't have such people in your life, you're lucky.

I added, "You know what they say about resentment. Unmet expectations are at the root of all resentment."

He said, "That's true. I had a teacher who talked a lot about forgiveness. He said the same thing. You have to let go of the expectations you have others."

I said, "It was worth coming out here, just to have this talk." 

But I don't know if I'd go back to the same restaurant to eat. The service was slow. The food was good but not awesome. I should've just ordered the sashimi.

When the bill came, I realized I didn't have my wallet. How embarrassing. Ed had to pay for me. I was worried about it. How about if I lost it? How would I pull out anymore money? 

Every second I had to wait to get back to the house felt like hours. But when we got back, I rummaged through my backpack and found my wallet. A sense of relief washed all over me.

* * *

Me hitchhiking back with Alexander and his father
10 minutes into the ride of the pickup truck, the truck pulled over to the side of the road. The driver asked me to join them in the cab. I knew that he wanted to talk.

The father and son only spoke Spanish. They were from Michoacan originally. The father was in the import and export business for 30 years, and now he had owned his own business. He imported and exported fabrics from Guadalajara to around the whole country. He was proud of himself he had enough to support his family and 

He told me about the slangs and foods of Michoacan. He told me that the most beautiful girls come from Michoacan.

I told them they were in Colombia, Cartagena, specifically. He said they were all full of plastic. And we all started laughing. I told him I did see a lot of women in Cartagena who had plastic surgery. 

I told him about my world travels all over South America and told him Peru had the best ceviche. I highly recommended seeing Machu Picchu to them.

When the ride was over, he dropped me off at the supermarket.

* * *

From there, I bought some coffee and red wine and walked back 3 miles to my hostel. There, I called my client and talked to them. 

After talking about 15 minutes, Monse came back with Arturo (same Arturo the baker) and said, "Paul, get ready! We're going to the Full Moon party now. We want to see the moon rising."

I said good bye to my clients and rushed out with my stuff. I was going to my first Full Moon Party at the beach.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Magical Trip to the Tropic of Capricorn

Sergio, Ed, me, and Aieda
(From left to right).
I told Monse, "I'm going to the West Cape this morning."

She said, "Arturo [the baker] is making a delivery there. Ask him to take you."

I texted Arturo - who said he'd take me. I packed my stuff. The baker picked me up. He took me to his bakery.

I was tired. I didn't have time to make a coffee. So, I drank two plunger coffees at Arturo's.

Later, a girl named Vanessa joined us for the ride. She brews her own Kombucha (fermented tea) and sells it locally.

And off we were on the toll road to the West Cape.

On the road to the West Cape, we saw these sea eagles soaring freely. It was then, Art told me that eagles were his spirit animal.

He asked if I had one. We were taking a desert road to the Pacific Ocean, where the cacti grow in the red and gold sands. The jagged rocks have aggressive, weathered, and mean character.

Vultures circle in the sky above. And on the ground, there are tons of huge jack rabbits.

There was sudden point in the trip, where the temperature dropped, and I felt cold. Uh oh, I thought. I didn't bring a jacket.

I've never hit a thermocline of air. It was like hitting a literal wall of cold. One side was hot, the other chilly.

Arturo said, "We've arrived at the Tropic of Capricorn. We are exactly at that point."

And from the horizon, hilly beaches and the roaring ocean came into view. It became dark and cloudy and misty. Arturo then pointed to the ocean and said, "That's the Pacific."

I followed them on their deliveries. At one cafe, there was a dog so huge, it was like the dog that Clara had in Isabel Allende's House of Spirits. 

I told people it was half dog and half horse.

While I stood around, the dog came to me and started licking my hand. I petted him. He was so huge. (People are always saying our cat back home is huge, but it couldn't compare to this gentle beast.)

After, I bought Arturo some carnitas tacos (pork shoulder tacos), which were really good. (Though the next day, when we went back, they didn't taste as good.) Art lent me his jacket, because I was underprepared. That was kind of him. And we ate and enjoyed the food, until my friend Ed joined us.

Art and Vanessa knew Ed, because everybody that's part of the community knows Ed. I told Art, "It's a small world."

He responded, "Yes, but a big community."

Art handed me off to Ed, an old friend and acupuncturist. (I've known Ed now for 6 years. How time flies.) Then, Art and Vanessa rode off on the long road back to the Sea of Cortes.

Ed wanted me to meet a local Mexican-American activist lady down there named Olivier. She was having problems with the government down there not taking care of waste. But they were collecting taxes for it.

We didn't know what to do. So, I said, "Let's go to the cafe to see the huge dog as big as a horse. It'll be a good memory."

So we went back, and the dog came back to me. And I petted it. I was happy.

Then, Ed took me back to his place, where I met the people who were renting from. They were an expat family from Santa Cruz. They liked to eat bbq meat and drink beer. They were hippies at heart.

After I settled in, Ed said let's go see Aieda - a hippie at heart. She lives on wild property called, "Espacio Amor."

I told Ed, I needed to take a picture of the sign, because I have too many friends back home with their panties all bunched up.

Aieda came out of her trailer. She looked like a psychic gypsy to me and spoke with a strong and heavy and attractive accent.

I told her, "This place looks wild."

And then she said, "What is wild to you?"

I laughed and said, "That sounds exactly like a question a gypsy would ask."

And then she laughed too.

After introducing ourselves, she told me she was writing a children's book about a white wizard that was on a journey from a cold mountain to an exotic, hot place. On the journey, a white wolf follows him on one side; and a black wolf, on the other side. The wizard has to choose when to feed one at the expense of the other.

After telling more stories, we go back to Ed's - where Ed and I cook dinner for a small group. Night falls, and the sky transitions from a light blue into fiery colors of sunset into a midnight blue. The moon and stars rise. We cook dinner and go back to Espacio Amor and find Aieda with her handyman, Sergio and two Germans. Later, Olivier join us too.

Over a campfire, we eat dinner and drink wine. Around the bright and hot fire, we tell stories to each other. The Germans talk about how they are doing an exchange program in Mexico City. They find it a culture shock that all the university students there are filthy rich and don't have to study. (Is it any different in America after our recent admission scandal?)

After we get tired from our conversations, we call it a night. I told them that I'll bring coffee for everyone tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Council Member, Ricardo Pacheco Paid on Public Agency Money to be at Strip Clubs

Baldwin Park Council Member, Ricardo Pacheco,
 looking upset at losing Free Speech trial.
Baldwin Park Council Member and West Valley Water Board Assistant General Manager, Ricardo Pacheco, allegedly frequented strip clubs, at which time he was paid by the water board, according to a one-million-dollar lawsuit filed against him. The complaint suggests that he may have charged the strip club services to a waterboard issued credit card. Allegedly, Pacheco has maxed out the credit card for these indulgent and personal expenses. The West Valley Waterboard and other plaintiffs have sued Pacheco, board members Michael Taylor and Kyle Crowther; its general counsel Robert Tafoya; and others, to recover a million dollars, which has allegedly been stolen by them.

In his past, Pacheco has been the center of both political and sexual scandals. First, there was his South Gate days, where Pacheco had to quit around the time the City Treasurer Albert Robles was indicted and eventually convicted of bribery and corruption. In 2003, for working 8 months and quitting, South Gate gave Pacheco an extra $95,000 (closer to $135,000 today). At the time, "Experts in municipal affairs say such separation agreements are almost unheard of."

Michael Taylor,
Fired Baldwin Park Police Chief,
and Current West Valley Water Board Member
Next, a number of anonymous Baldwin Park police officers have confirmed that Pacheco has been caught receiving oral sex from a prostitute at Baldwin Park's Green Spa during a police raid. At the time, Police Brass, Michael Taylor, who is the Water Board Member who hired Pacheco without following standard policy and procedure, refused to file charges against Pacheco.

Some witnesses have wondered whether he abused his own daughter. Several times, witnesses have reported the repulsive body language she's given in response to Pacheco hugging her in public.

Furthermore, there are so many scandals tied to Pacheco, an entire page has been devoted in chronicling them.

Then, in his most latest scandal, Pacheco voted to fire former Police Chief Lili Hadsell. Recently, however, a jury found that Pacheco sexually and racially harassed her. As a result, he cost the City of Baldwin Park $7 million.

Now there's West Valley Water Board. Pacheco's hiring at the board has been controversial from the start. Pacheco voted to hire Michael Taylor as the Chief of Police. After his hiring, contracted Baldwin Park City Attorney, Robert Tafoya, then drafted a contract for Taylor - which stated he could only be fired for felony. Pacheco and two others voted to accept the controversial contract.

Then, after the legalization of cannabis in California, Taylor received dirty drug money to run as a waterboard member in West Valley. By pumping more money into his campaign, Taylor finally won a seat on the West Valley Water Board. Taylor's previous attempt at public office failed abysmally.

After being elected, one of Taylor's first acts was to create a new position and hire Ricardo Pacheco as the first Assistant General Manger. The position pays close to $200,000 a year.

Yet, Pacheco has no experience in executing one of the primary functions as Assistant General Manager - which is to procure grants. In fact, Pacheco struggles with grammar, spelling, and writing in general. Although Pacheco tells others he's graduated in engineering from Cal State Los Angeles, he will not prove he's even graduated with a high school diploma. To date, and expectedly, Pacheco has obtained zero grants for the waterboard.

Robert Nacionales-Tafoya, aka Robert Tafoya,
Attorney for both Baldwin Park and West Valley Water Board
Taylor also hired Tafoya as the new general counsel of West Valley Water. Before Taylor was elected, Tafoya was already fired once for allegedly being incompetent. After his firing, he told the board members that he swore revenge and that he'd be back.

And even though Tafoya allegedly works full time for Baldwin Park, he billed the waterboard over $320,000. Tafoya bills Baldwin Park almost $500,000 a year. Therefore, in total, it appears Tafoya grosses over $800,000 a year.

Furthermore, Taylor authorized Pacheco to have a government agency credit card, which appears to have been used exorbitantly for expensive food, hotels, casinos, and possibly strip clubs. Pacheco maxed out the credit card, it appears on personal expenses.

This entire example points to our failed American system of checks and balances. How can someone, who has stolen so much money from the public and violated so many laws, still be allowed to stay in government?

One, Pacheco and Tafoya, given the conflicts of interest associated with Taylor, should've never been hired by West Valley.

Yet, in countries like New Zealand, Germany, or Sweden, exposed facts like this would lead to resignations, prosecutions, and even convictions. But here, Pacheco is getting paid as an assistant general manager to be at strip clubs for sexual services.

In the end, there's no doubt that ratepayers will be affected by rate increases. But rate increases were never meant to pay for the sexual addictions and indulgences of corrupt government officials and administrators.

At the very least, to solve problems like this, the California Public Records Act needs to be overhauled. (1) Records need to be released sooner by faster court adjudication. (2) Heavier attorney's fees and sanctions need to be levied against intentional violators. (3) If records reveal self-dealing, as here, there needs to be personal accountability for those with dirty hands that stonewall the truth from surfacing.

As Bono said: "The worst disease in the world today is corruption. And there is a cure: transparency."

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Beach with the hippies

Manu, me, Andres, Arturo, and Monse
(From left to right)
"Can I go to the beach too?" I ask.

"Sure," says the manager at my hostel. Arturo takes me in a van, which has a mattress inside.

I wave hi to the people passing by.

Art says, "Stop doing that. We're in a van. They'll think you're trying to kidnap them."

Soon, a Portuguese girl comes with us.

We drive to the beach.

There, an Argentine, named Andres joins us there. He's surprised that I've been to Argentina. We talk about it.

Then we all swim and play in the water. We have with us banana bread, wine, mescal, and beers. Some of them smoke weed. I stick to the wine.

And that's all we do. Play.

I remember when I was a kid, I played a lot and loved playing. Then somewhere along the way, authority told me playing all the time was not a good thing.

Especially in America - it's all about work. How boring.

So, I'm playing again.

Actually today, I've been invited to a full moon festival. I wonder how it's going to be.

Happy Father's day to everyone!

I miss everyone at home. See you soon, but first: More playing.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Re: Breaking News - Whistleblower lawsuit filed against Michael Taylor, Ricardo Pacheco, and Robert Tafoya

Baldwin Park Council Member Ricardo Pacheco,
also General Manager of West Valley Water District
Baldwin Park’s city attorney, former police chief and a city councilman have been accused in a lawsuit of engaging in a bribery and kickback scheme in their roles at a Rialto water district that has cost ratepayers about $1 million.

. . . Article on the San Bernardino Sun
Former Baldwin Park Chief of Police, Michael Taylor
also Water Board Member of West Valley Water District
Baldwin Park City Attorney Robert Tafoya,
also General Counsel for West Valley Water District

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Sharpening the mind

Sharpening the scythe
by Antti Faven 1928
I bake in the sun, tanning, at the pool. I do my reading there. When I feel hot, I'll jump into the blue water. I enjoy watching the beautiful birds of paradise flutter and hear them sing around me. They look like living gems. A pair has built a nest nearby, and it's an amazing sight to watch the father and mother bird take turns hatching the egg.

One thing I notice here is how fresh and clean the air is here. It has the sea breeze crispness to it when you breathe it in. I feel like my lungs are cleared up and cleansed.

I finished my book on killers. Too academic, too much fluff, but still insightful. It's not something that would be easy to finish at home, because of the dense nature of the material. I generally bring more difficult reads with me on my holidays.

Now, I'm reading something that is the exact opposite of my first read. It's Father Gregory Boyle's second book on gang members who are reforming or have been reformed. He's a great writer, but this book is not as good as the first one. Also, I find flaws in his theology. Nonetheless, no one can deny the incredible work and suffering he's invested in reforming the lives of Los Angeles's untouchables.

The food here is incredible. So much so, I've decided that the cuisine in this region has made it into my top five favorite cuisines. I keep telling my mother what I eat and she says, "Is that all you're doing, eating? And eating?"

I love the raw clams. I like the slices of beef ribs still on the bones. I rip the flesh off with my teeth and enjoy that ungy-rich taste that only comes with meat off the bone. Maybe, it's because I'm also tasting the flavors in the bone.

They grill the meat here on charcoal - which is fanned to scorching temperatures. The result is delicious meat kissed by smoke, air, and fire.

I told my mom - "I keep eating the beef ribs, because you stopped making them." I remember again the rich ungy flavors licked off the bone. Mmmmmm.

Unamused, she says, "Eat as much as you can then."

But I exercise some self-restraint.

I need to run today on the beach at sunset. There's no feeling like the wet sand on your feet, while you're running with an expansive amethyst sky above you.

The experience leaves me feeling like I've been running inside a watercolor painting.

Anyways, I'm recharging my mind. I solved a complicated case.

Next, I need to write some letters before I leave. That's important.