16. Paradise Found



Sam stalked back to our campsite with Parsley in tow and glared, his arms tightly crossed over his chest, at the Mexicans lounging in our chairs. I introduced the men and busied myself with collecting up the cups, maps, books, and miscellany that littered the table to begin packing the combi for the drive south. Fernando shook Sam’s hand, made some polite remarks then left. Gerardo was determined to cause trouble, but Sam didn’t have a clue what he blathered on about. Gerardo had already downed three of my six-pack. He and Sam should have ridden together—they made quite a pair.

“You actually spent time with that drunk?” Sam scoffed at me as we finished tying down the cargo on the bus’s roof.

“You should have seen him last night. We ditched him. Fernando doesn’t drink.”

“Just smokes pot.”

“Haven’t we had this conversation? It’s called mota here, anyway.”

“So you want to drive off to some beach and smoke mota with this guy?” Sam sneered.

“Sam, my adventure in Mexico is about visiting as many of the out of the way places I can, to take pictures and lie on the beaches. If you don’t want to go, stay here. I don’t care. I didn’t invite you on this trip and you’re not going to spoil it for me—as hard as you’re trying.”


Our Zipolite caravan commenced just after two o’clock, Gerardo’s orange combi in the lead. Reggae, Sam’s least favorite music, blasted from the Clarion tape deck. I cranked it up louder for “Lively up yourself, and don’t be no drag,” and received several thumbs up from surfers carrying their boards across the highway. Sam was not amused.

We doubled back toward Pochutla, but turned left when we came to the junction with Ruta 175. The flat coastal lowlands gave way to green forested hills and there was no evidence that we were only about five miles from the Pacific. We twisted our way down a sandy, hard-packed road to a bluff above the rock and jungle ringed bay of San Ángel. This was the postcard perfect sleepy fishing village. The brightly painted and rusting trawlers bobbed at their buoys and the familiar pangas littered the narrow beach.

I turned down Jimmy Cliff’s The Harder They Come for the breathtaking sight as we rumbled over a bridge where the mouth of the creek fed into the bay. If Zipolite was anything like San Ángel, I was on my way to paradise. The sun descended toward the horizon and I salivated at the thought of a margarita and fresh dorado mojo de ajo melting on my tongue at the first beach café we found.

The orange combi pulled over, and Fernando hopped out of the passenger door wearing his ridiculous tassel loafers. I pulled up behind them, idling.

 “We’re here,” Fernando said.

images “This is Zipolite?” I looked around. A stretch of blinding white beach sloped to the surf. A few scrubby palms dotted the top of the beach and a series of hovels and animal enclosures, mostly overgrown with trumpet flower and bougainvillea vines, were strung out on either side of the road. The dense jungle crowded up against the sand. I didn’t see any restaurants. My stomach growled.

“Look for somewhere to park,” Fernando said. “We have to negotiate a place with one of the families.”

“We what?”

“Follow me,” he said, clopping back to his ride.

Sam scowled as I hopped back into the driver’s seat. “So there’s nowhere to stay?” He demanded. “Your new boyfriend doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

“It’s an adventure, Sam. Relax.”

 I hoped he wasn’t right.


10. On the Beach


Parsley and I rambled through the sand with towels, lotion, water, book, hat—the acoutrement for a day of leisure by the sea. I found an unoccupied weather-beaten wooden chair under a thatched umbrella stationed in front of a funky beachside restaurant playing some good ol’ rock-n-roll.

On Sunday morning, both tourists and locals staked claims to the beachfront real estate sloping gently to the surf. Kids ran in and out of the water splashing and laughing; girls basted themselves with coconut oil and stretched out to roast in the sun; images-2surfers carrying their boards, stalked the perfect wave; young men milled around the restaurants making deals in low voices and admiring the women in loud voices, “Mamacita!” Lot’s of laughing, hand slapping and greetings of “Que onda, guay?”

Mothers, aunts and grandmothers sat in the shade of the palapas and fussed over picnics, children, and each other. A wiry, dark-skinned ten-year-old came up and asked what I would like to order and returned with my first Negra Modelo of the day.866391095

Sam never showed up and I passed a relaxed beach day drinking beer, meeting people, eating fresh fried fish, swimming, and eavesdropping on the local gossip. In the afternoon, a band set-up and played reggae. A handsome kid asked me to dance. He was probably no more than twenty, but he was charming and claimed to have some “killer mota.” It wasn’t hard to convince me to hook up with him later that evening at a popular salsa club on the hill. Hannibal promised that I would get “muy prendida,” stoned, and he could teach me more Spanish. William joined me for the afternoon. He planned to checkout the club with me—after the World Series game ended. I bet myself that Sam would refuse to go. Where was Sam, anyway?


As the surf calmed and evening shadows lengthened, I packed up, paid my bar tab and Parsley and I trudged back to Las Palmas through the soft sand. Sam, it turned out, lay in bed, miserable with a debilitating case of turista and told me to go out and leave him alone.

¡Que suerte! I wouldn’t have to drag an anchor on the town that night.