Thap Tawan Village (I’ve Never Been So Dark In My Life)

I’ve been put to work right away at a Sea Gypsy village that lost all their homes, most of the livestock, and many lives. We are building 42 homes to replace the ones lost. There have been a lot of interesting characters in the village; Seewai one of the elders of the village is this great old man that asks us to call him Loo (Uncle). Pe, Moo, and one of my favorites O, is a nut, he’s brash arrogant and funny, (sounds like someone I know) rounds out a few of the villagers.

All the volunteers are great people. Some of the standouts are Jan Erik and Kalle are both from Sweden, Ben from England. A few from the U.S.: Adam, Brad, and a Vikings fan (go Packers) from Minneapolis named Anna. A cute Canadian named Leean.Then there is Thilo, from Southwest Colorado, who is leading the project. Pretty fun guy, a bit of a Spicolli and everyone thinks he’s from California because of it. You know, I take offense as a native Californian and as a surfer!!! When will people learn that surfers don’t sound like Spicolli?
“Hey Mr. Hand dude.”

Our days are spent in 90-100 degree heat digging ditches, mixing concrete, pouring footings, building cement block walls. It’s tiring, hard work, but the villagers feed us everyday with great fish curries, varied pork dishes, vegetables and fresh fruit like Rambutans, Mangos and my new favorite Mangosteens.

If we’re lucky we get to work in the shade for a bit but most of the time we are working in the open. At first I would burn from working shirtless, but now I just darken up each day. In fact I was reading the other day in my room with just a small amount of light coming through the window and I looked at my arm… I thought for a minute I was black I have become so dark. My ass still glows in the night but man the rest of me, damn I’m getting sexy tan!!!

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There Ain’t No Pageantry in Cockfighting

A short novela recounting a surf trip to Baja turns South when the engine my '71 Volkswagon seized, leading me on an adventure down Baja 1000 roads, encounters with transvestite prostitutes, and drought ending weddings.

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