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.
We 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.
The 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.
Fernando 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.
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.”