New Years Day – Garry Smith


The temperature is rising, it  is just gone 9.30am here in Mexico, the Riviera Maya to be more precise. It is going to be a very hot new years day, the first day of 2016. My office today is beside the triple jacuzzi pool at the small bar La Iguana. Our room is half minute away, this morning after breakfast we had to step around a large Iguana to access our block and again as we came to the pool there are lizards everywhere. This is my office today. Does that set the scene for you?

Well it is our fourth day with ten to go, we are having a lovely time, wish you were here etc. The thing is the whole place is a laboratory, I just love being here because I love to people watch and it is so easy to blend into the background and observe. Just as the place teems with wildlife it teems with people of diverse nationalities. Predominantly Canadians and Americans there are English, Scottish, Japanese, Indian, Russian, Mexican and who knows what else. It is a fairly wide palate of humanity in all its shapes, sizes and phenotypical differences.

Last night we saw in the new year at the Hacienda, a large entertainment complex that serves the three hotel complexes, the show was very good, the fireworks excellent and the alcohol flowed. Boy did it flow, The waitress looking after our tables kept asking me if I wanted more red wine, I could easily, very easily have got smashed. Instead we took a break around 10.30pm and went down to the beach to take in the stars and relax.

We returned shortly before midnight and the party was in full swing, thousands of revellers partying, and drinking, and drinking more. A whole mishmash of different cultures, thrown together in a packed square, most intoxicated to some degree, some heavily as they have been drinking all day, or days in some cases. What could possibly go wrong.

Do not get me wrong, I like to drink, too much sometimes, yesterday my wife and I had our first beer around 11am after visiting the Mayan ruins at Tulum, it was sweltering there. We had wine at lunch then with our evening meal, then at the Hacienda, then at the beach (though the wife switched to just tonic here, sans gin), then more back at the Hacienda until the bottles of bubbly were circulated then we had some of that too.

The trick is its not what you drink but how, and where. I felt really comfortable last night, we have been here before for new year and I know the layout, I chose us a table in a nice position, close enough to the bar, a good view of the stage and several options for egress, and slightly raised from the masses in the middle, close to an emergency exit. I did so consciously and confidently, and I do not think my wife noticed, as we wanted to enjoy ourselves but this kind of situation can go tits up really quickly and then I just want to get my wife out quietly and not get caught in a stampede of panicking drunks.

Now here is a confession, I read ConCom on the way here, actually read Rory’s version. It has been on the Kindle for a year and I only just read it, the thing is I know most of it having discussed it with Rory and Marc  and I have had a sneak peek at the twist Marc is adding to his version, nuff said. The last time I was in Mexico was four years ago and I read Facing Violence, it was just before I was to meet Rory and Marc for the first time. As you may guess as a founder of CRGI and a self defence instructor who takes his job very seriously, always looking to learn more, I take Continuing Professional Development (CPD) very seriously.

A great deal of learning takes place in classrooms, dojos and at seminars, we are currently developing a range of online courses accredited and unaccredited at a range of different levels but all of this learning is useless unless you go out and apply it in the field. No, I do not mean the physical stuff for now, here I am talking all of those soft skills, the less tangible than physical contact skills although these have to be good too. I am talking about what Rory and Marc identified and explained beautifully in ConCom, understanding the scripts and understanding the triune brain.

Back to the Hacienda, as midnight approached the stage crew began to whip up the audience, an audience already reaching, in parts, quite a frenzied pitch. It was hot, it was loud the lighting kicked in with swirling spotlights and strobes, the big screens around the square showed images amplified of the party in full swing, the stage was overrun by hundreds of revellers blowing horns, whistles wearing party hats and all dancing to a heavy beat like crazy people. It reminded me of the scene from the film Halloween with Bet Middler et al where the witches cast a spell on the party goers to dance until they died. It was fascinating. I cannot help but watch this stuff through a different lens, I kind of step aside and enjoy watching a species so alike my own but astonishingly different.

But they are not different, we are the same, I see the scripts, I know the monkey and I see him in full charge of thousands of people all locked in their monkey brains and following their own particular scripts. That is why I control the speed of the alcohol intake, that is why we sat where we did, I really enjoyed myself with my wife in our own way, part of the occasion but not. I have had too many wtf happened morning afters before when the monkey took control, and not just the monkey, but a monkey on alcohol driving the bus. So experience is a great teacher, that combined with learning from it and from others, those with vastly more experience than me, and applying that knowledge ensured a safe and really enjoyable night.

We left the party not long after midnight, experience tells me it generally goes downhill from there, we returned through the warm night air to our rooms, enjoying the soft breeze and the stars. I thought of loved ones far away safe in their beds far closer to dawn than us. I slept like a baby, nothing had happened and it was fun, I enjoyed the night on two levels, one good company, excellent food, good wine and a great show, on a separate level I quietly employed what I learned without the need to let others know, our night was fun our night was safe. Happy New Year.


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