Mexico, Part 2 The Statue and Spooky Ju-Ju

It’s always hard joining a team that has already gelled, but on this assignment, that was not the case.  

It started with Lisa.  Lisa reminded me instantly of Ashley, my Honda contact — she even looks like her — and I had to stop myself from yelling “OMG!  IT’S ASHLEY.”
When I finally arrived at the Coatzacoales Centro de Convenciones, I wasn’t sure I was in the right place.  Like most of Mexico, it seemed half finished, an impression not helped by the heavy construction equipment in front of the center — on display for this convention (I think, I was never quite sure about that).  I timidly tried the front door, and was told, in RAPID Spanish, to go around back.

I call my Spanish “pig Spanish”, because, despite 7 years of high school language classes, Senora Lindenmyer, my teacher, would not be proud.  I do the best I can, but to say it’s “broken” is to use a polite term.
Anyway, I went around back, down a dark hallway with tiles missing in the ceiling and floor, through a set of double doors, into a darkened ball room.  I head to the center of the room, and there, like a shimmering white mirage, is a 20′ x 20′ center aisle Pemex booth.  “Stan?” I ask loudly.
“That’s me.  You must be Mike.”
I started to unload, and as I unzipped my suitcase, I tossed aside the backup green screen.
WTF is a backup greenscreen?  Well, I was working for Freeman, and Freeman constructed the booth.  They built me a custom wall, painted green, and that was going to be the background.  But I wasn’t sure it would work – the paint came from the local Home Depot (yes there is a local Home Depot), and who knew if it would be the right shade of green? So, at the last minute, I threw a light weight green screen in my suitcase just in case.
That flopped out.  Lisa looked down.  Tears came to her eyes.  
“OMG, you brought a backup green screen?”
“Yes.” I said, “Of course.”
“You are so in.”
And I was.  We worked together, had dinners together, lunches, Coronas, drove to and from the center together, and we all stayed in the same hotel.  By the way, the green screen wall?  It was perfect.  No backup needed.  Stan pulled the color profile off Google.  Gotta love Google.
One of the team members, especially — perhaps in some way the least likely — really hit it off with me.  THE VIDEOGRAPHER.  Now, those of you who aren’t either a photographer or a videographer may not understand.  Typically, we hate each other.  It’s an instinctual kinda thing, like dogs hating cats.  But with Jake?  Instant bonding.  (Unlike the other characters in my little saga, his name isn’t ACTUALLY Jake.  I changed his name because he asked me too, when I told him I had to tell his story on my blog. )
Jake travels the world with Freeman and Pemex shooting video.  And, when he was in Puerta Villarta for the first shoot, he picked up a “saint statue” for his girlfriend.  It seems Mexicans store great importance into specific saints, and one way of demonstrating this is to have their individual statue.  Jake tracked down the obscure Puerta Vallarta saint, and purchased the statue.
He then travelled with it around the word, until the next trip home, like Tom Builder’s son in Pillars of the Earth.  While this statue didn’t miraculously weep at the sight of God, Jake thought it had strange karma.  Perhaps it was even possessed?  And, on the last leg, just as Jake was about to carry the saint home to his girlfriend, his cell rang. He received a $3 per minute international call to be told:
“I’ve done a very bad thing.”  Click.  The call disconnected.
Jake fretted the whole way back to the states.  He knew the saint was staring at him from behind the lid of the overhead luggage bin, working saintly ju-ju on Jake that didn’t feel quite right.  Was it a saint or a false idol?  Sniff.  Sniff.  What’s that smell?  Is the saint lighting a fire in the luggage bin?  There!  I saw him move.  No, really.  Watch him. Sneaky saint.
Jake made it safely home, with no weird supernatural incidents, but still worried.  Things didn’t feel RIGHT.
With trepedation, he called his girlfriend.  He asked, What was the very bad thing you did? 
It seems the girlfriend isn’t very saint-like.  She slept with another guy.  And so, the couple  broke up.
But what about the statue?  What the hell do you do with a cursed Puerta Vallarta sneaky saint statue?  
In a moment of inspiration, Jake still gave it to the girlfriend.  Let the bad sneaky saint Ju-Ju bug her for a while.  
And, the strange thing?  Upon unburdening himself, his luck turned.  The strange karma disappeared.  
Today, as I write this travelling between St. Louis, MO and Peoria, IL, Jake and the entire Freeman/Pemex team are in the air, flying to South Korea, and I miss them.  I have the same feelling as I do about the Honda shoots:  the team is my family.  And even though this was just my first shoot with this team, it feels like we’ve known each other forever.
In fact, that’s why I enjoy my contract work so much.  Whether it’s Freeman, Honda, or AARP, these events you work throughout the US (world?) with the same people.  And, event in, and event out, they become family.  It’s more than a team.  I know it sounds corny, but it’s true.  Well, I feel like their family, and in other ways I feel like an over paid carney.  But I guess it’s all good.
With that feeling of team in mind, I feel compelled to protect Jake from future bad saint Ju-Ju.  And so, 
I think I’ll pick him up a St. Christopher’s medallian.  He needs it.  At least St. Christopher will protect the traveller, instead of f****g with him.  Those Puerta Vallarta saints are clearly sneaky little dick heads. 
That’s Jake, to the left, with another tram member in my rental car on way to centre de Convenciones.
That’s the famous Stan to the left, with the client (the dude who dubbed me El HOMBRE) and my translator (la señorita).