23. Some Sick Halloween Joke?


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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.

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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.

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“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.

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swallowingthecamel.me

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.

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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.”

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Youtube.com

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

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Club Med  Pinterest

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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.”

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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


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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?

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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.

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