We found places to park and strolled on into the park. The children were immediately off on their own, visiting with friends and, in Lupe’s case, getting ogled by the boys. She’s at the awkward thirteen year old stage where she is pleased to be noticed but just a little annoyed by it too. Maria and her sisters took off on their own and were soon seen mixing and mingling with the other town women. That left the men, Juan, me, B and Wilbur on our own. There is a little store across the street and on one side of the plaza. Wilbur, who lives permanently in Akil, is a lawyer by profession and should know, assured us that it would be ok to buy a six pack of beer there as long as we did not drink it in front of the store. That is a strange little law they have here. You cannot drink take out beer where you bought it. Except of course on the island. All normal rules are suspended here due to the tourist industry being so important. So I told Juan, “You fly, I buy”. After I explained what that meant, he gleefully trotted across the street to make our purchase. He returned with a six pack of Sol (my favorite beer!) and we were soon happy with the world.
Juan stayed with his brother-in-law, Wilbur, while B and I moved to the back of the crowd. We usually do that whenever we are at some sort of public festivity. We feel really guilty standing in front because we are so much taller than most of the people and don’t want to block anybody’s view. We can usually see just fine over their heads from the back. Juan offered Wilbur a beer, but he declined. This from a man that I have seen down a bottle of beer in one swallow!
There was a group of Americans on the square, off to one side, keeping to themselves. There must have been about sixteen of them. It was very easy to tell that they were some sort of church group. The leader of the pack spotted us and made his way over to chat. Seems we were right. They were there "to help the poor people build houses". We admired the work that they were doing but were not especially pleased with the aren’t-we-good-Samaritans-to-help-these-less-fortunate-people attitude. Other than that, he was a nice guy. All the time we were talking to him, I was very publicly drinking my can of beer and making no attempt to hide it. Even though the police station was right across the street and directly behind us. I think every officer on the force was standing over there that night. I never even gave it a thought, since I believed what Wilbur had told us.
The plaza in Akil is a little different from most Mexican plazas. Most of them, as I have described previously, have a center gazebo like structure and lanes spoke out from it. These are usually tree, or at least bush, lined and have benches along them. In Akil, it was just a city block paved with cement. There was an occasional tree. The really unusual part was that the block it was on was downhill. This allowed them to have the back half at street level and to make stairs that formed bleachers half way across, leading up to the other street level. In this lower level they had set up a stage, complete with runway.
We had all come together this night to celebrate the Games of Summer and to crown the new Miss Games. Being the jokester that I am, I quickly renamed the festivities. The word games in Spanish is juego. This is very similar to the word for juice, jugo. So, in my heavily accented Spanish, I christened the party Juice of Summer and we were to crown Miss Juice. Juan just rolled his eyes since he is used to me slaughtering his language, but I found it hilarious. Could it be the beer? After much fanfare and talking on stage (what is it about a microphone? Any amateur who has one thinks the world just hangs on every word they say and won’t ever shut up!) the introduction of the candidates began.