23. Some Sick Halloween Joke?



Fernando and Jerry didn’t notice when I slid off my bench and wandered off to inspect our surroundings. The trailer park sprawled over a half block of level, tree-studded land between two boulevards. Huatulco, a sleepy backwater tourist destination, didn’t have much traffic and sounded far away. Our host’s wife had taken their older son to his school for an event, and Jerry had charge of the newborn baby—a pickled-looking, week old girl sleeping in a portable cradle on the table. My heart clenched. This father toked bowl after of bowl of potent dope. What about the tiny life? Even their abode, an old travel trailer, was too small for a family of four.


Crafting in the Rain

I listened to the birds in the trees and watched a couple of hens peck around deserted picnic tables. Jerry’s homestead lay near one of the streets and I noticed few people on the sidewalk, but one group caught my attention. A mother hurried several children past the park, around the next corner and out of sight. It wouldn’t have been noteworthy, but on their tails came an aroma lacing the salty air I found both familiar and alarming.

“Do you smell that?” I asked the men.

Mota,” replied Fernando and gestured an offering with the pipe.


“Malathion!” I exclaimed in English.

“No, thanks. I mean that chemical smell. What is it?” I looked over my shoulder toward the street again. A dense fog-like cloud enveloped the street, billowing toward us, and my tongue salivated with a greasy taste. What was it? Some sick Halloween joke?

Jerry looked blank for a beat as the drone of a plane approached us, “Get in your bus. Close the windows and cover your faces!” He grabbed the baby and bolted to the door of his trailer. “Don’t come out for at least forty-five minutes,” he shouted and slammed the door.



The bug bomb slithered closer. Fernando appeared confused. He hadn’t understood the man’s directive delivered in English and didn’t realize that we were being fumigated. I grabbed Parsley by the scruff of her neck and pushed her into the combi, pulling Fernando in after me, “Veneno, poison!” I grabbed some towels, dampened them with bottled water and wrapped our heads.

The closed bus heated up into a stagnant swamp of sweat and dog breath. I feared that Parsley would die. Her eyes looked dull; she panted heavily and slobbered all over the towel I held on her snout.



An hour and a half later, the air cleared and the day returned to its warm placidity. We clambered out of the bus. The poison left a slick over everything it touched. Dead insects littered the table and ground. I saw a dead bird and I wanted to leave. Fernando wanted another toke, and knocked on Jerry’s door, but the American refused to answer.  “Thanks for the tokes—we’re outta here.”



What kind of town poisoned its air and citizens? A town that hosted Club Med—that’s what kind.


Club Med  Pinterest

22. I’ll Take Another Hit

October 31, 1991

Halloween dawned over the beach. We woke up and prepared a leisurely breakfast with plenty of coffee. Fernando, a great short-order cook, chopped the serranos, cilantro and tomatoes into salsa fresco. According to Fer, tortillas should not be crispy, but moist and pliable, and stored in a cloth to stay hot. I stuffed the steaming tortillas into my mouth as they came off the comal while he scrambled eggs into the salsa.

 When the eggs and half-kilo stack of tortillas were ready, He taught me how to properly use a tortilla as a fork. Fernando’s way was to tear off a bite-sized wedge of tortilla and scoop up the eggs, pour a healthy dollop of salsa on top and pop the bite into his mouth. His  huevos mexicanos, cooked over our camp stove, count as some of the best I’ve tasted.


After breakfast I cleaned up and we settled in with our books. We had the whole day to think up something to do. I assumed we wouldn’t be trick or treating  as Mexicans celebrate All Saints and All Souls days, November first and second, and not All Saint’s Eve, but my October 31, 1991 turned out to be one of the spookiest I’ve experienced—no costumes needed.

I wanted to go into town and buy ice and fresh food, but that meant breaking down and stowing our furniture and equipment back into the combi. Once we shopped, we’d have to set-up camp again. Maybe it would be better to go in the afternoon when it got hot.

We lounged in the early sun, sipping coffee and sharing bits of our books and gazing at each other in that silly way of new lovers. I can squint up my eyes and peer into the memory, but the title of the book eludes me. All I see is Fernando—and we didn’t get much reading done in that first month.

Warming up with the heat of the day, we raced each other down the slope to the surf, and Fernando dove in. The waves came in too fast and strong for me and I was afraid to swim. I preferred the gentle rolling surf of Pto. Escondido and suggested we go back there. Anything was possible. I had plenty of time and money, and with a native speaker who knew something about VW engines, I could do the exploring I’d come for.

I watched Fer swim and contemplated our next move. As it turned out, we headed back to the bus to make love until beach visitors disturbed us and we deemed the time right to head into town. Parsley didn’t like beaches anyway and grinned from her spot under the bus as we packed up. Beaches were too hot and shade-free for a German Shepherd, and she took offense at sand falling in her water and food. She’d grown accustomed to living by salt water in Sausalito and enjoyed swimming in the calm bay, not crashing surf. But she liked the bus and rode like a queen until the day she died.

images-5We wound into Santa Maria de Huatulco, found the trailer park and our new friend. Fernando wanted to take Jerry up on his offer of an overnight, although I wasn’t so keen on the idea.  I hankered for a hot shower in a hotel in Puerto Escondido.


images-2The tops popped off the Coronas and the three of us settled around the oilcloth covered picnic table, crowded with ashtrays, baby bottles, dishes, packaged food, books and magazines. In the open space between the trailers, vans, campers, even a boat on a trailer, the pipe appeared. My compatriot lit the bowl.

UnknownFernando reached for the pipe before our host finished his toke, a clue as to his ‘overnight’ motivation. When my turn finally came around, the pot tasted sticky with resin and hit me quickly. I passed after a couple hits. Weed in Mexico tasted fresh, not like the harsh, dried up stuff I’d pretty much given up in the ’70s. Marijuana never was my drug of choice. I didn’t like the feeling of separation and paranoia when I smoked. I wasn’t opposed to a little recreational use, but I preferred the sociability of beer and margaritas, and by the 1990s, I’d moved out of my youthful “hippie” phase, although some might think living in a VW bus and traveling around foreign countries smacks of the freewheeling hippie caravans of the ’60s.      images-8

I drifted off into my own thoughts while the men blathered in Spanish. Unbidden, Sam’s image crept into my mind. My behavior in Zipolite had been inexcusable, so much so, I felt the shame flushing my cheeks. I’d been mean and inconsiderate to someone who cared about me and had come when I needed him. He didn’t deserve the treatment he got—and his kindness wasn’t going to make me love him. Didn’t I have the right to my adventure? My thoughts started that familiar spiral downward. I shoved Sam back into a dark closet of my mind and bolted the door.

I smiled at Fernando and held out my hand. “I’ll take another hit.”