Positive Vibrations

I have sometimes been accused of being too negative. But that was in the old days when I used film – once I changed to colour transparencies people could see right through me. Now I am thoroughly digital, including my fingers.

But it is not all negative waves, Moriarty. I have had positive vibrations, too – and didn’t even need batteries. 1957 for instance.

Our family took a work trip down to Mexico to survey a railroad job – more or less straight down to Mexico City with just a few small tourist trap stops. My parents spoke Portuguese so the Spanish language needed for successful eating and travelling was easy. I like Texican food so the Mexican version was fairly okay. Not a fan of Swiss chicken enchiladas, but – then or now.

Anyway, we got to a rather nice fancy hotel in Mexico City with an apartment set of rooms on the sixth floor. They rather looked like the sets on Hollywood television shows of the time. Lovely. I had a bit of a Tijuana Tummy so we settled it with flat lemonade and tea, and off to bed.

Some time after 2:00 AM the earthquake hit. Mexico City is built on a raft of shit over a swamp and when a big undersea fault lets go the whole town tears itself apart. In this one the hotel started to sway from side to side and crack. The window blinds gyrated so wildly they beat the window panes out into the street.

My Mum and Dad were sleeping in the next room and when the rumble started my dad streaked in to grab me and hold me in a doorway. As soon as the first shock subsided my mother dived for the suitcases, passports, and money and my dad threw clothes on me. Then we raced for the stairway. All down the 6 floors the stairs were buckled and the wall plaster and tiles had come down over it. It was Hollywood all right – but the sort of set from a war movie. We hit the front door running and didn’t stop until we were in the widest plaza we could find.

My dad stood guard over mum and I while we hunkered down on a bench – the Mexicans were more or less running around distraught because the independence angel statue that formed a central part of the plaza had fallen down – a terribly bad omen. There were aftershocks, but they rumbled less and less through the night – and we were away from any walls that could come down.

My dad marched off after dawn to the hotel to pay the bill – and then went and retrieved the car from a car park. Remarkably, the Chevy didn’t have a scratch on it. When he got back, my mum had already mapped an escape route out of the place heading for Guaymas on the coast – with alternate plans to beetle straight north if the shocks returned.

The rest of the trip was uneventful – but we made sure we slept in ground-floor bungalows all the way north to Arizona.

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