Let’s Wrap This Up – Acapulco 1973

2 Apr

The remote places of Mexico were easier to find in 1973. Three students, of which I was one, traveled down a beach road to a time forgotten. We spent a week with a family who was eeking out a living on the Pacific coast south of Acapulco.

This odd “parking space” was for drying coconuts! Taken on my old film camera.

Probably the most memorable activity of the week was drinking cold rum and coke. There were glass bottles of coca cola stacked against the house. One day, the fishermen were taking a run into town for supplies and asked if we wanted anything. Thinking we would provide a little fun for everyone, one of my fellow students gave them some pesos for a bottle of rum. When the rum arrived, we discovered to our surprise that none of the guys wanted any.

We bought our coke from Maria and proceeded to pour ourselves a drink. It was then that one of the fishermen casually asked us the most amazing question … “Quieres hielo?”

Old cases of coke,

It doesn’t take much Spanish language skill to know that hielo means ice. ICE? With no electricity and no running water, how could he be asking us if we wanted ice? My brain imploded with confusion.

Then this fellow proceeded to walk over to a large pile of wood chips that I hadn’t even noticed. And there, buried deep underneath was a block of ice. He pulled out an pick and hacked us off enough to fill our glasses. Voila! Cold rum and cokes. Talk about having to pinch yourself!

Cuba libre

I sat with my companions and watched the sunset, feet in the Pacific, miles from anywhere drinking cold rum and coke. We later realized that the ice was used to keep the fish cold for its trip to market in Acapulco. Wood chips provide adequate insulation. Who knew.

The boss showed up to haul the week’s catch to Acapulco. He is weighing the fish.

We three students from California, Connecticut and myself from New Jersey would never be the same. I think this is the first time I really talked about the experience in detail. The three of us went our separate ways after our adventure and never hung out again. For me, having met people with so few possessions who appeared so happy changed me. I realize that I was only there a week. I don’t want to glorify poverty as I’m sure they had their own problems. In the repaired van we said our goodbyes to return to classes having to force money on them to cover our stay. And like the 1954 musical Brigadoon, the veil closed and we went back to our student lives. Forever changed.


A Gene Kelly taps with men in kilts from the magical village of Brigadoon.

7 Responses to “Let’s Wrap This Up – Acapulco 1973”

  1. LJones April 2, 2023 at 8:45 am #

    I love this, Alex – and I wish I had a memory like yours: happiness with so very little. Thank you for yet another wonderful blog:)

    I leave for Valladolid in a day – will be there until Thursday night. Then back to Bacalar for a few more days. We had a sad thing: a couple of days ago Marissa didn’t realize pirate was under the car and ran over him – he didn’t make it. He died on the way to the vet in chet (they needed xrays) The dogs have always know to stay out of the way of the cars…but for some reason Pirata changed his behavior and it had a very sad ending..

    Hoping you all are well and enjoying Sunday morning..sending love, Lorrie

    Lorrie Jones Simple Serenity simpleserenity.comhttp://simpleserenity.com/ 253.312.3117 there

    Liked by 1 person

    • afish25 April 2, 2023 at 10:05 am #

      Sorry about Pirata. That is heartbreaking. Come by please.


  2. Jack Scott April 3, 2023 at 3:42 am #

    Rum and coke was my drink of choice in my teens!

    Liked by 1 person

    • afish25 April 3, 2023 at 7:55 am #

      Teens? 🙃 I was raised by non drinkers. I learned the hard way. 🤮


  3. emilys72016 April 3, 2023 at 7:58 am #

    I really enjoyed this series — thanks for sharing your memories. What an amazing, formative time you had.


  4. Emilie April 7, 2023 at 9:06 am #

    A block of ice under a pile of wood chips. How very creative.
    Mexico in those days was so wonderful. Still it, but in a different way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • afish25 April 7, 2023 at 10:41 am #

      There was lots more smoking and drinking then. Today people drink coke and struggle with diabetes. Young women didn’t go out without a chaperone. Truly a lot has changed, some good, some not so.

      Liked by 1 person

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