Getting Bombed for the Bomberos
Posted by Tony & Cheri on March 21, 2009
One nice thing about the expat community in Playa del Carmen is its willingness to help local charities make Playa a better place. While traditional volunteering is generally not allowed under the provisions of most expats’ visas, that doesn’t preclude them from stepping in and supporting fundraising efforts for various causes. Angel Notion and the Peanut Pet Shelter are two of the more popular and well-supported causes. But probably the most well-known and respected “charity” is the Bomberos, or the local Playa del Carmen firefighters.
The Bomberos are led by a US expat, Comandante Brian Borjesson. After moving to Playa many years ago, Brian dedicated himself to creating one of Mexico’s finest firefighting teams. Through tireless dedication, he begged and borrowed equipment and funding and even created an annual weeklong firefighting “Academy.” Each spring, expert firefighters from the US come to Playa on a volunteer basis to train the firefighters here. In turn, the firefighters here help train other firefighters throughout Mexico. Everybody benefits.
As there is never enough money to fund all of the important work the Bomberos do, they turn to regular fundraising. One of those fundraising events is the yearly Three Legged Bar Crawl Race, which the expats see not only as an opportunity to raise money for the firefighters, but to get falling down drunk with their friends. How much fun is that! The race is not all expats–some locals as well as the occasional tourist always show up to enter the race–but the teams are primarily made up of those who have come from other places and now call Playa their home.
Teams of two collect donations from individual and local businesses in the weeks leading up to the race. There’s usually a fair amount of good-natured competitiveness in this effort, as the team who collects the most money earns a certain amount of bragging rights. Last year’s race was so competitive that the total earned (largely by two very competitive teams) was enough to buy TWO new Jaws of Life for the Bomberos.
This year’s Three Legged Bar Crawl Race was held last night, and it was very well attended, as always. Participants and spectators assembled at the sponsoring bar, Bar Ranita, on Calle 10. Teams of two, some in costume, with their inner legs tied together, were sent out at staggered intervals with timekeepers noting the time (it was, after all, a race!). Starting and ending at Bar Ranita, each team was required to stop at six other bars (Babe’s Noodles & Bar, Manne’s Biergarten, Dirty Martini, Bad Boys on the Beach, Tequila Barrel and Zenzi) and have a shot of tequila or a bottle of beer at each bar before moving on to the next. Without knowing the exact figures, we believe that the fastest runners/drinkers finished the race this year in under 15 minutes! We doubt we could even run that fast to each of those bars, let alone have a drink at each one! A great time was had by all, and once again a lot of money was raised for the firefighters. With the tough economic times this year, it was more difficult to squeeze pesos of out people, but these dedicated teams still managed to do it.
The Luna Blue Hotel & Bar was proud to sponsor three teams this year: Sara & Heather (playamayanews and caribesunrise); John & Libby (intheroo) and Chris & Keith (chrisbolister.com & the previous owner of Keith’s Bar). Word has it that Sara and Heather (dressed as the cheerleaders from the Nirvana music video “Smells Like Team Spirit”) finished second and collected the most money (yah girls!). John & Libby also raised a good amount of money from regular readers of their website. Chris & Keith….well lets just say it was a pretty big social event for those guys! We saw these two drinking beers before the race even began. Then, after officially starting with a drink at La Ranita, instead of running off like other contestants, they stayed awhile joking and laughing with friends, and then casually strolled off to the next bar. We never saw them finish; we’re not sure anybody did.
We hung out at the starting spot, watching the teams excitingly gulping their first drink before hobbling out to the next bar. After all the teams left, we sauntered down the street to Babe’s to hang with our friend Michele (Life’s a Beach blog) who was the official race monitor at Babe’s, the next-to-the-last spot before the finish line. It was hilarious to see the difference in the people from their first shot to their seventh. One woman ran up, tied at the knee to her mom, and while grabbing a shot said, “Mom, this is Michele.” Mom, slamming her seventh shot of the evening, tried to focus her glassy eyes on Michele and said, “Hi.” It was a funny moment.
Everybody had a good time, and lots of money was raised for the Bomberos. We salute all the organizers, participants and contributors and those who just showed up to cheer on the runners.
Here are some shots from the race last night.
The crowd before the race
Our friend Mayte, always a huge Bomberos supporter
Some Bomberos watching the race
The barf buckets were much used and appreciated
Starting the race with tequila shots
Chris & Keith with the first beer of the race (but not the evening)
On the home stretch
These two won the race
Part of the “Dutch Army,” Soraya & Jessica, heading towards the finish line
One of our sponsored teams, Libby & John of intheroo.com
The winners celebrating
One of our other sponsored teams, Sara & Heather of playamayanews and caribesunrise at Babe’s just before their 7th shot of the night
Local boys Rick, Andy and Max (Peanut Pet Shelter). The boys are drinking tequila and Max, who only has 3 legs, is drinking water as they all approach the finish line
Comandante Brian handing out prizes and congratulating the winners