Chapter 4 Answering the call to duty



Chapter 4

“Answering the Call of Duty”

As my old friend fate would have it, the day after I finished painting a house the Captain called and gave me marching orders to return and sail away. “Yes sir, Capitan” I retorted, “I’m on my way”! I now had enough cash on hand for a flight to Miami and still have a cushion to fall on. Yes! I was going back to the boat; an avalanche of uncertainty surged through my body. There was always cause for concern when the Captain was involved. The night before my departure I visited some friends for an evening of our ritual indulgence in pot and mindless chatter. An attractive woman that I had briefly met a few weeks earlier showed up and joined our little party. The conversation steered towards her pending divorce which was not being terminated as quickly as she had hoped. To help with a case of the blues she brought a few hits of mescaline to add some festive Day-Glo colors to the party. “Why not”? This was my last night in Stockton and a cerebral light show might be fun. We all participated and sat around waiting for the drug to drop kick us into an alternate reality. After what seemed like hours I thought the pill was a dud and started to mentally unpack my luggage for the trip. Just then two pit bulls lying in the center of the small room began to morph. The female that had the markings of a Jersey cow began to look like one. Every tit blossomed into giant udders. “Holy Cow”! I think I yelled. It was the big male that really freaked me out. He transformed into a red eyed hybrid hyena/Tasmanian-Devil. His eyes pierced through me like laser beams. I could feel the hair on my back of my neck stand out like railroad spiked. I felt a panic attack creeping over me when I looked up and made eye contact with the divocee in waiting. Without saying a word she got up from her chair stepped over the now monstrous pit bulls, took my hand and led me into a bedroom where we again without a word being said settled into an evening of psychedelic sex. We remained coiled together in a tangle of pleasures that lasted until morning. I was more than reluctant to end the affair but I had a plane to catch. She offered me a ride to the Stockton airport which I readily accepted. I could not have asked for a more proper and appropriate send off.

I was still in a semi stupor on the plane to San Francisco. Steeped in multi-dimensional dreams I slept through most of the flight from SF to Miami. A little bleary eyed but still coherent I scoured the airport lobby for the Captain who was to meet me. After about an hour of waiting I called his number, no answer. After several more hours and a half dozen more calls, I got a notion that something was amiss. As darkness set in, my optimism faded into a gray mist. What the Hell! What to do now? I tried one last call and if that failed it was time for plan “B”. The only problem, there was no plan “B”. Praise the Lord, his current wife answered the call. She sadly informed that I would have to take a bus down to Marathon because the Captain was sitting in a jail cell somewhere in the keys and bail would not be secured for several more days. OK then, at least the mofo was still alive. I jumped into a cab for the bus station only to arrive too late for the last bus to Marathon. After a silent outburst of profanities, I regained a semblance of composure and picked out the most comfortable looking chair to sleep on; the bus station would be my home for the night. OK then, this was feeling like a slightly inauspicious beginning to another outing with the Captain. If I had the power of clairvoyance at that moment and was able to scan the future my jaw would have dropped to the floor with apprehension spiked with a touch of horror.















Chapter 3 Sailing into the Unfamiliar


Chapter 3

Sailing into the “Unfamiliar”

So, after avoiding a small scale reenactment of the “Titanic” we were afloat and once again under full sail. This time vigilance was on everybody’s mind. All eyes were on the lookout for shallow water and coral heads. We spotted a small sandy cove that seemed to offer a safe shelter for our weary crew. We cautiously slipped through the narrow passage, dropped anchor and settled in for the duration of the day. First order of business; check our patch up job on the center hull; it was holding fast. Big smiles and sighs! We stumbled into adversity and prevailed.

After taking a quick survey of our surroundings I immediately fell into a spell of amazement. We were now in the center of a shallow croissant shaped cove with about a three hundred foot diameter. A beach with blazing white sand supported a row of palm trees just to punctuate the idyllic and simple beauty of Mother Nature at her most sublime. The water was so clear that fathoming the depth was difficult at best. Fortunately the boat was equipped with a depth gage which showed a four foot clearance beneath us. We were reasonably safe here. My initial plunge into the beyond clear water was a shock. A soft buoyancy enveloped me; It was like being suspended in warm liquid animation! My crew mates quickly plunged in and joined me in celebrating life and still being alive! After revelations our born again crew made the short swim to the beach where we collapsed and sprawled out. I could feel the collective weight of anxiety and forebodings from our near miss with disaster dissipate as we all lay naked basking in the glorious afternoon sun. Someone mentioned food; on cue we all got up and swam back to the boat. Famished we devoured the last of our conch. With our bellies full we piled on the deck to watch the sunset. I rolled up a big fatty for the occasion which by the way became a sacred ritual. Whenever possible we would sit on deck and with a toke to show reverence for the setting sun. As we sat in a stoned stupor gazing at the sunset we also noticed the tide ebbing and draining out of the cove which would make leaving impossible even with the boat’s shallow two and a half foot draft. What We Worry? If we were able to enter in on a high tide we surely could exit on the next high tide, right? With that assurance in mind we retired for the evening and slept like stoned babies.

We woke up the next morning with a gratifying realization and relief that we were indeed right. The tide had come back in and the shallow passage was now open, we were free to leave but unanimously chose to stay for a few more days. We were the only humans occupying the cove and wanted to pamper ourselves in this private piece of paradise. The crew of a passing sailboat spotted our vessel peacefully floating in the cove, dropped their sails and made an attempt to join us. They quickly realized that with their deep draft entering the cove would be impossible. Their crew waved at us and sailed on. Whew! That was close. We were not ready to share our cove with any other squatters. We would remain alone for the rest of our stay. All was right in the universe again except for the relationship between the Captain and his escort who was thrust upon him. Despite her earnest efforts to sexually please him he openly displayed his disenchantment with the arrangement and eventually banished her from his forward cabin. She now had nowhere else to bed down except with me. Holy Hell! I now by default inherited a bunk mate, a rather attractive at that, nevertheless it was an uncomfortable position to be in. Desperately trying to ignore subtle hints that she was receptive to a little boink in bunk, I resisted even as temptation boiled in my blood. I felt terrible about adding another rejection but I could not run interference between the Captain and her. It became very clear that a boat had no extra room for conflicting personalities and the resulting discord.

We finally pulled up the anchor and eased out of the cove and headed down the west side of the Eleutheras chain of islands. The first priority was to find a settlement big enough to have a sea plane link to Nassau where our now dejected and sad escort could fly out and make connections back to Atlanta. We left her on a beach with a suitcase in hand. As we pulled away she gave us a farewell wave. I felt a wrenching sorrow for the poor girl; she really didn’t do anything wrong.

So, the crew was paired down to four the Captain, his two old friends and me. For the next few months we blindly sailed along on a learning curve into the unfamiliar. I can’t speak for the rest of my mates but I quickly learned to fully appreciate every aspect that sailing generously provides including the times of pure joy and times of ultimate terror. I really don’t have the vocabulary to adequately describe the feeling of being under full sail and skimming across the pristine water of the Bahamas. It’s like a total detachment from distracting idiosyncrasies of the so called real world. The past was just a fond memory and the future a looming mystery; the present was the only time frame that had any relevancy; it was simply living in the moment of unfettered freedom.

Besides being schooled in the potentially dangerous hazards lurking beneath the water we learned, once again the hard way again, how to spot cloud formations that would quickly develop into squalls. Even on a bright, cloudless day they magically appear on the horizon. They begin as low lying clouds harboring an ominous dark gray center and then exponentially grow into a monster punctuated by a brilliant white mushroom cloud (thunder head) billowing up and out like a nuclear explosion. With amazing speed the storm approaches with a blast of cold air that is followed by gale force winds whipping the water into an immediate frenzy. Then the now black clouds unleash a torrential downpour accompanied by an awesome display of lightning strikes. In our first encounter we, unconsciously marveling at the spectacle of a squall, plowed right into the center of the tempest. We were shocked by the sudden and violent change of weather conditions. The boat was originally about a hundred yards from a rocky shoal but the raging wind was too strong for our little eight horse power engine and was pushing us right into the shoal. At about a hundred feet from the rocks the realization that we were losing the struggle stirred us into panic mode. We were getting perilously close with imminent disaster. The boat would surely be rendered into kindling leaving us stranded on the shoal in the middle of nowhere. I stood by on the bow with the anchor in hand waiting for the order to drop it. The order came with the Captain hysterically screaming, “Now”! I tossed the anchor and waited in an excruciating eternity for it to hit bottom and catch hold. The line finally became taut; I then quickly tied it off. The anchor held tight! When I looked back at the stern and saw just how close we were to absolute annihilation my knees buckled, I hit the deck and wept with unbridled elation. The storm eventually passed leaving behind a bright and sunny day with calm water again. Once again we barely managed to thwart a life threatening calamity. We pulled up the anchor and humbly sailed on.

In spite of our first harrowing experience with a squall we did learn how to recognize them and even take advantage of their positive properties. For a wild ride we would hoist the sails and let the wind blow us across the water like lickety-split. We would go so fast I swear it felt like the boat was hydroplaning. Fun stuff but we mostly used the squalls for a more practical purpose. When a squall was about to release its fury we would gather on deck with soap in hand and allow ourselves to be drenched in the torrential downpour. The rain was cold but after days and sometimes weeks of only bathing in salt water we relished the opportunity to shower in fresh water. The fast moving storms would pass over in twenty minutes or so leaving us and the boat sparkling clean. We would then lay on the deck and let the sun dry us off while working on our tans. These were some more defining moments that reinforced the virtues of living close to nature. Yes, life was good.

Our maiden voyage came to an unceremonious end. We were on the cusp of hurricane season and everyone was getting low on cash. We steered a course back to Florida and the now unreal world. For me, that meant going back to Stockton. Ugh! I stayed with my parents for the summer and painted houses to resupply my coffer. Along with hard work I did manage to stumble into a little mischievousness.













Book 2 Chapter 2 The Landlubbers Maiden Voyage



Chapter 2

“The Landlubber’s Maiden Voyage”

And a Dolphin Rescue!!


We arrived safe and (sound?) in Ft. Lauderdale after an express run from New Orleans. Every one jumped out of the Enterprise and excitedly ran to the berth where our boat was tied up and waiting for us. I stood with my mouth agape, awed by the boat I was to crew on; a twenty eight foot tri-maran a vessel designed for stability and speed. With its’ sleek beauty I always thought of it as the 63 Corvette Stingray of sailing boats. (See chapter 1 for a picture of the boat)

I have to take a moment and explain the composition of our crew. The Captain’s original plan for the maiden voyage had only three mates; the Captain of course, one of his old friends and me. Well, his buddy’s girlfriend made it very clear that he was not going sailing without her. The Captain grudgingly agreed. Not wanting to be the only woman on the boat, she invited an old girlfriend (a professional escort from Atlanta) to join the crew. The Captain was not pleased. It was an arrangement fraught with awkward and uncomfortable moments. I sensed an urgent need for a whole lot of compatibility with a splash of harmony to make this a pleasant journey. We used a couple of days to stock the boat with provisions and familiarize ourselves with living in very close quarters.

Early one morning the former owner of the boat hopped on board to show us the ropes so to speak. He also made the crossing from Ft. Lauderdale to the Bahamas and gave us a “sailing 101″ crash course in the art and mechanics of sailing. Unfortunately, the calm weather did not provide a more realistic learning experience. With absolutely no wind and the water smooth as glass, we had to power it across which gave us no opportunity to get practical knowledge of maneuvering the boat under full sail. After an all-day crossing we finally reached Nassau and tied up to a reserved berth. The former owner and his girlfriend jumped out, wished us a safe journey and then quickly left the marina for their hotel in town. We were on our own now; five landlubbers who never sailed before. What could possibly go wrong, right?

Early next morning the Captain rang the bell for all to rise. After eating a breakfast at the marina and using its’ amenities we piled aboard Xochi (the short name for Xochipilli, the Aztec Goddess of pleasure and partying down). We untied and pushed off from the pier and I cannot think of a word to describe the whirlwind of conflicting emotions was sweeping me into a frenzy. First of all a tidal wave of euphoria flooded my stream of consciousness. This is it! I was embarking on a dream that’s coming to fruition. I was beside myself with a joy so pure and sweet I actually felt slightly queasy like from an intense sugar rush. On the other hand, the memories of my past experiences with the Captain had not been forgotten. With the thought of getting on a boat with him and sailing into the unknown unleashed an avalanche of apprehension, actually it was more like a powerful jolt of terror. The combination of joy and terror was an incredible high. Man, I’m so on board for this journey!

We cranked up the eight horsepower Saab diesel engine (powerful enough to get in and out of marinas and as we discovered not for much else) and putted out of Nassau Harbor. Reaching open water we hoisted the sails and pointed the boat on a course to the Eleuthera Island chain. I cannot begin to describe the exhilaration of gliding over one of the most pristine and clear bodies of water on the planet. I was perched on the bow as a spotter and had a commanding view of the world as it should be. Yes, everything was right in the universe, I felt quite comfortable and at home in the moment. I relinquished my post as spotter to one of the girls and took up a fishing pole on the stern to try my hand at trolling for a catch. The spotter yelled back at the helmsman “I think something is ahead”. We were warned about small waves lapping where they shouldn’t be. It was a sigh of shallow water or worse a coral reef. I pulled in the fishing line, turned to run up to the bow and see what the alarm was about. Too late! As the boat raised out of the water like it hit a speed bump we all heard and felt the sickening sound of wood crunching. Holy shit, we just ran into a coral reef. The Captain frantically ordered to drop sails and the anchor; a good call to make because if we had continued on the boat would surely have been shredded by massive coral heads. Upon peeking down into the center hull our worse fears were confirmed. Yikes! The hull had been breached! We all looked at each other with a touch of terror in our eyes. To get the gist of our situation here we were anchored in the center of a reef circle and taking on water. It took a moment to fully appreciate the dire predicament we were in; I then asked myself, “What could possibly happen next”? The answer to that question came quickly. The Captain and I donned on snorkeling gear and plunged into the crystal clear water to assess the damage. I was overwhelmed by the unfathomable beauty that surrounded us. Coral of every size and description, sea flora from another planet and the fish, oh my God, fish that I had only seen in aquariums were parading around in the hundreds. I had more pressing issues at the moment and had to avert my attention away from the mind-blowing scenery. Checking the main hull again confirmed our worse fears; about a foot below the water line a softball sized hole had been punched in. Fucking Hell! What now? We came up for air and gave each other a resigning stare, no words were needed to convey the glaring truth; yep here we are in big trouble. He motioned for us to go aboard and alert the crew to the tale of woe. As we swam towards the stern the Captain stopped and pointed down. We had been hovering over conchs perhaps thirty or more laid out in a staggered spiral formation. The Captain surfaced and yelled for two buckets; what is he up to now? He handed me a bucket and said, “Let’s go get us some conch”! What? Was this the proper time to pillage a village of conchs, I thought not but I did as requested and dove down about fifteen or twenty feet and began gathering them like Easter Eggs. With our buckets full we surfaced and handed them to the waiting girls. The Captain was the first to try and climb up the rickety rope ladder. Treading water waiting for my turn I noticed a dark shadow moving into the inner circle of the reef. I got a sudden sense of urgency and started to clamber aboard. One of the girls let out a blood curdling scream; just a few feet under my dangling legs a monstrous shark sped by. I shot out of the water like a Polaris missile and landed on deck with a thud. Looking over board the girls gasped, “Oh my God, there’s more of them”! True enough, a school of sharks were now circling around the boat. Did they sense our predicament and were now waiting for an opportunity to feast? OK then, we had some brain storming to do. We had only one rational option at the moment and that was to stay put. The sun was going down for the day and the angle of its’ light made it difficult to look for a passage through the coral. Even if we did find an escape where would we go in the dark, bump into more reefs perhaps? Because of the boats’ design we were theoretically not in any immediate danger of sinking. Even though the main hull was half full of water the two outer pontoons were keeping the boat afloat, so far. Darkness fell on us like a heavy black blanket. In spite of our current situation we did eat well that night. Conch was the dish of choice. The wind picked up making the boat sway back and forth giving us another concern; if the anchor didn’t hold we would drift into the coral and sink. I was sure the sharks would be waiting there licking their chops. Sleep did not come easy that night. I had dreams of sharks gnawing away at the hole to make it bigger; I woke up a few times with such a start I bumped my head on the rafters over my bunk. The morning light shined on a boat that was still floating. That was a major relief, but we still had more hurdles namely how to get out of the coral corral that held us captive. Another bright moment, the sharks had given up their siege and disappeared. We waited until the tide seemed to be at its’ highest level before trying to find a safe passage through the reef. Taking on so much water had lowered the boat to about a foot below the natural water line. That meant our normal draft of two and a half feet was now more like three to four feet making for a dangerous way out of this quagmire. I was positioned on the bow as the lead spotter with the responsibility of guiding us to freedom. Shit! I had no prior experiences with this kind of task. One slight miscalculation and we would be in an extreme set of circumstances. We cranked up the engine, hoisted the anchor and with due caution approached the reef’s rim. Several attempts had to be aborted, there was just no way the boat could safely pass over the coral heads. After about an hour of prying for a passable passage one finally appeared. We would have to barely clear two massive coral heads and then make a hard port turn to avoid three more off to bow and starboard flank. It was our best chance of getting out. Fortunate for us the wind had died down and the water was still. OK then, the Captain gave the nod to go for it. We had two crew members stationed on the two pontoon bows armed with gaffs to if necessary push off from the heads. I was shouting directions back to the Captain at the helm. There was a lot of “easy to port, now to starboard, straighten it up, Fuck, slow it down”! Our spotter on the port side yelled, “Oh shit! We are getting to close over here. “Same here screamed the starboard spotter”! From my vantage point I could see the boat sliding through with maybe a couple of feet clearance. Some mighty tense moments, golf ball size sweat was popping out of my forehead. As soon as the stern barely cleared the heads I screamed, “hard to port, full speed”! The Captain turned to port and slammed our poor little Saab two stroke engine into overdrive. We cleared the coral with just feet to spare and were now in open water again. A spontaneous cheer erupted but before we could celebrate our escape the next hurdle was as daunting. What do we do now?

We headed straight for a small island about a mile away. After a short search of the shore line we found a likely spot to ground the boat and attempt to repair the damaged hull. At full throttle we ran her up on to a small beach then jumped out and pushed it as far up as we could. We anchored the boat to prevent it from slipping back into the water as the tide ebbed. A search party was dispatched to explore and find help but we had beached ourselves on a small uninhabited island. We were stranded with our own devices. Meanwhile, the tide had dropped below the puncture in the hull and as the water poured out of the hole the enormity of our situation became ever too clear. Instead of becoming paralyzed with apprehension we rallied and in kind of an instinctual survival mode rushed into action. With the combined efforts of a bucket brigade, hand pumps and a less than efficient bilge pump we managed to just about empty the flooded hull. The next glaring problem to solve, plugging up the gaping hole. Fortunately we found a piece of plywood and cut it into two matching square pieces which served as patches. Using a very liberal amount of underwater epoxy we glued the two patches together with one on the outside and the other on the inside of the hull. A stick was used as a wedge to hold the outside plate in place and an oar for the inside. While waiting for the tide to come back in and see if our desperate fix-it job worked we finished the rest of our conch.

All right, the moment of truth had arrived; the tide was coming in and almost up to the patch. We had to give the boat a gentle heave-ho and slide it back into deeper water. We all held our breaths and I’m sure everyone was praying to their favorite deity. The Captain stuck his head into the hull and with a flashlight looking for any signs of leakage. He emerged with a thumbs-up and exclaimed, “Looks good so far”! Another spontaneous cheer erupted. Of course the real test would be when the boat was under way. We promptly pulled up anchor and set out for parts unknown.

There was a celebratory air on board and well deserved after all we did manage under duress to tap into basic survival instincts and devised our own rescue. Quite an accomplishment for clueless landlubbers, no? The jubilation was short lived though. Just minutes from the island we started to run aground. We had penetrated a maze of underwater sand dunes. The water being so shallow and clear made visual depth perception impossible. Every time the boat ran into a dune we had to jump into the water and push off. This was disconcerting because of the knowledge that sharks were in the area. It was maddening to see the aqua green of deeper water about a quarter mile away. We had to find a way out of this labyrinth before the tide dropped out from under us leaving the boat high and dry with no chance of escaping. Perched on the bow as the point man I was beginning to feel a deepening sense of gloom. Had we just gotten ourselves out of one dire situation only to wander into an inescapable trap? Just as a heavy cloud of doom settled on me a dark figure swam between the main hull and the starboard pontoon. Holy Hell! Had the sharks again sensed our plight and were closing in on us? Lord have mercy, it was a dolphin! It positioned its-self right in front of the bow and made unmistakable gestures to follow him. I shouted out the directions to the Captain and after several hundred yards of twist and turns the dolphin guided us to an open channel leading to deeper water. I began to shed tears of gratitude and awe at what just happened. The dolphin seemed to be just as happy by displaying corkscrew leaps out of the water. We were suddenly surrounded by his pod maybe twenty or more. Word must have gotten around about his good deed for they all gave us a show of pure joy by jumping and frolicking around the boat. Below are some pictures that chronicles the encounter.

Below is the very dolphin leading us out of the dunes. My hero!


A mother dolphin and her baby joining in on the fun.





Our rescue dolphin would swim in between the main hull and the starboard pontoon like it was a water tunnel. I leaned over the deck and stroked it with my hand as it passed through. The dolphin circled and returned many times to receive my attention and adoration. The last few passes it turned on its’ side so I could pet his belly. This was another one of those moments that changed my perspective on everything. When we were safely in deeper water the pod of dolphins swam off leaping into the horizon. Holy fucking shit! If the events of the last few days were any indication of what could be expected to occur, man I was on board and beyond jazzed!






Chapter 1 The Dream Comes True


A Decade in the Life of Dr. Zorro

Book Two

Chapter 1

“The Dream Comes True”

The flight from Mexico City to Houston was a roller-coaster ride between euphoria and angst. I was bubbling with an electrified happiness at the prospect of my boat dream becoming a reality yet mired in dread at the possibility of spending a big chunk of my life behind bars because my Fry boots were packed with about a half pound of the best Michoacan pot I had ever smoked. I was torn between doing the prudent thing and get rid of it in the toilet or making an unwise and foolish attempt to successfully smuggle it past the watchful eyes of U.S. Customs. I reluctantly slipped into the plane’s cramped lavatory and began to tug at one of the quarter pound loafs. I couldn’t do it; the pot was just too good to flush. I’ll take my chances.

Shuffling off the plane with the rest of the passengers I tried to maintain an air of indifference. As we waited for our luggage in the baggage claim area my air of indifference started to slightly deflate. I could almost hear the air hissing as it escaped through a small puncture. Alright now, time to patch the hole and maintain my cool. Fuck! My green Air Force duffle bag was the first to launch out onto the turn style, like a big green turd. I wanted to position myself in the middle of the pack but now I had to grab my bag and be the first in line for inspection. The long narrow corridor to the customs station seemed to be closing in on me like I was being squeezed through a straw. I tumbled out into a waiting area and sat on a long bench. Just a few yards away large black garbage bins lined a wall with a big warning sign hanging over them basically saying this was the last chance to dispose of any illegal contraband before going through customs. My confidence wavered as poisonous paranoia pulsed through my body. I felt weak and a tad bilious; this is madness, what the hell was I doing? I was just about to heed the warning and dispose my precious pot when two customs officers opened a door and assumed their positions. They waved me to their station; it was too late to toss the weed. Gulp! My legs went all rubbery on me. Holy Hell! Approaching the agents I thought for sure they would be able to smell the pungent aroma of pot wafting from my boots. I had just enough time to give a silent shout out to the Ganga Goddess for guidance through this adventure. I gently dropped my bag on the counter trying to show no emotions. There were only two officials, a man and a woman. Since I was the first to be inspected they took a long, long look at me. Curses! Even though I had previously cut my lengthy locks my countenance was still that of a person who had no objections to drugs. Speaking of hair; I made my wife take scissors to my head about six months into Mexico. Shortly after the shearing our marriage started to fray around the edges. A coincidence? I think not! It had an uncanny parallel with the saga of “Samson and Delilah”. Samson was quickly dismissed after Delilah cut his mane. After my defoliation my wife no longer had a bona fide hippy as a spouse. Hmm! Of course there were other icebergs in the relationship but the hair shoring opened a “Pandora’s box”. Uh, I’m digressing here, back to the issue at hand. The two customs agents played tug of war with my bag both desperately wanting to search it. The male won with brute strength. He gleefully dove into the bag looking like a kid opening a Christmas present. After several minutes of rummaging he pulled out a brown paper bag that had the consistency of marijuana. His eyes lit up like he had just discovered gold. He couldn’t hide his devastating disappointment when the content turned out to be a hammock that I bought in Cholula. He gave me a subtle scowl, stamped my passport and waved me out. It was all I could do to keep myself from singing and skipping out of customs into the main lobby. I was so high on elation I almost passed out and had to sit down. It took a while to wrap my brain around on what I had just gotten away with; it made me giddy and slightly nauseated.

Anxious to move ahead, I will quickly wrap up this chapter. Nothing of any real significance happened until we reached our destiny in Florida. The Captain picked me up at the New Orleans airport after a nondescript flight from Houston. We played around for a few days in the French Quarters which of course meant patronizing “Johnny Matasseus” the infamous safe house for the most wretched of human creatures. I was actually developing an affinity for the establishment and felt quite at home. Besides wallowing in the Devil’s Den we managed to purchase necessary item for the boat such as snorkeling gear, scuba tanks and food rations. We piled in the Enterprise, set out for Fort Lauderdale where the boat that the Captain had just bought was waiting for us. Our dream was about to be realized.

Below is a picture of the boat I crewed on for the next four years.















Chapter 28 Hasta Luego Mexico

Chapter 28

“Hasta Luego, Mexico”

The Continental Trailways bus ride from New Orleans to Brownsville, Texas went as suspected, an exercise in humility. Anyone who has ever had the golden opportunity to ride the Trailways knows what I am talking about. I swear the bus made stops at every hamlet and isolated outpost along the way. It took forever just to get out of Louisiana. Now to my reasoning, there are basically three types of travelers; first, second and third class. The third class generally consists of an eclectic blend of the frugal and the poor. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not casting any aspersions on the third class traveler for we are all on this bus together but an affordable ride does attract a colorful cast of characters. I especially love the proverbial wino who staggers aboard looking for an empty seat. Sitting next to a wino is perhaps the ultimate bus experience. Somewhere in East Texas a post card perfect wino sat next to me. His attire and aroma suggested that he hadn’t bathed in a blue moon. Oh my God, the conservation he conducted was beyond comprehension, I couldn’t understand a damn thing. All I could say was, “That’s a total bummer”. He smiled and offered me a swig from his bottle wrapped in a paper bag. Just perfect! He finally passed out but still muttered on. Just when I was about to abandon ship at a stop and hitch hike instead, he stumbled off the bus and disappeared but not before shaking my hand and thanking me for listening to him.

By the time the bus arrived in Brownsville my feet were so swollen from the torture of confinement it felt like I was walking on inflated party balloon. Nevertheless, I hoofed it from the bus station to the border crossing only this time going in the opposite direction. As I peered over to the U.S. customs facility my body involuntarily shuddered from head to swollen feet. That was the scene of our near miss with dire consequences. Passing through the Mexican Customs was a breeze. I couldn’t bear the thought of getting back on a bus (especially a Mexican one) for the long haul to Cholula. I chose to check into a cheap motel room near the station. As I surveyed the room with its’ faded and peeling paint, a single bed that probably hadn’t been changed in decades, an open toilet that probably hadn’t been properly sanitized in decades and a shower stall that looked like an abandoned aquarium situated so close to the crapper that someone could actually shit and shower at the same time, an awkward revelation struck me that I have actually slept in worse places. I didn’t care all I wanted was to elevate my feet and sleep. Fearing what critters may be lurking in the bed, I opted to roll out my sleeping bag on the hard floor that was flat and not moving. I slept like a hibernating bear. The next morning I was shocked out of my coma by gunshots a not so uncommon occurrence in border town barrios. I scrambled aboard the next bus to Mexico City. All I can say is that it was an uneventful nightmare; a long, long trip trapped in a bus filled with frijole farts! I may have passed out a few times along the way.

Taking a boiling hot shower was the first thing I did upon returning to Cholula. I then crawled into bed and slept for about twelve hours straight. A sharp knock on the courtyard door snapped me to attention. I trudged to the door and opened it, “Praise the Lord”, it was Goga standing with her arms crossed and looking slightly perturbed. She was clearly miffed and admonished me for leaving the country without telling her. What’s this? I was somewhat startled and frightened by her reaction. Was I now under some unspoken obligation to keep her abreast of my where-a- bouts? Call me paranoid but this felt like a passive aggressive form of entrapment; a subtle display of talons perhaps? Yikes! Just as I was about to take issue with this sudden post script to our relationship she gave an exacerbated huff, grabbed my hand and led me to my bed for an afternoon delight. I totally forgot my issue with her and furthermore promised to behave and be more thoughtful in the future. Yikes!

About a week later a friend dropped by and invited me up to his cabin in the mountains of Michoacan the premier pot growing region in Mexico. He somehow befriended a family of growers who built him a shack to manufacture a very potent form of hash oil. About once a month he would come down from the mountains to sell and share his product. I readily accepted his invitation and hopped on a bus with him to the wild state of Michoacan. After eight hours of rolling along on a narrow and winding road the bus stopped at a small town. Everyone piled off and dispersed. My friend “Little Richard” linked up with the jefe (chief) of the family. He informed us that the truck would not be leaving for a little while and asked us if we needed anything. On an innocent whim I asked if he had access to opium. He smiled and said, “Claro, come with me”. He led us down a narrow alley way to a small dark room hidden in a courtyard. We were told to wait for him. He presently returned with a rather gruff looking character. He sat down at a table, slowly looked around the room and then reached into his pocket and produced a wad of black tar opium. Intrigue filled the room like a heavy fog. He then gingerly pinched off a pin head size ball, placed it a pipe and asked if I wanted to try it. Oh man, just one puff convinced me that this was the real deal. I immediately purchased a sizable chunk for about five dollars. A loud rap on the door ended the party. A young voice shouted “the truck is ready”. El jefe led Little Richard and me to a flatbed truck and ushered us aboard. The truck quickly filled with passengers and started with a jolt on its’ way up a steep, winding one lane dirt road. Women and children sat on benches running along the length of the bed. Men except for the elderly stood holding on to the side rails. Because Little Richard and I were with the jefe we got the privilege of standing behind the cab which offered a commanding view of the super lush rain forest like mountains. My opium high served to make the ride even more enchanting. About two hours into the rugged climb the truck stopped at a small way station. Everyone piled off the truck to stretch their legs and use the out houses. All the men disappeared into the station and came back out with their weapons, rifles, shotguns and pistols. Little Richard took this opportunity to give me some critical information. An escort will be assigned to me and under no circumstances was I to wander off without him by my side. Outsiders were unwelcomed and would more than likely be shot. For an added bonus, tensions were running higher than usual because a few weeks earlier an old fashion shoot out took place between two families due to a lack of respect. “Gulp”! Was I heading into the “Wild West” or what?

After another two hours on an even more rugged and steep road we reached a plateau with small level clearing. Everyone scrambled off the truck and dispersed onto the trails leading to their parcels of land. My assigned escort el jefe’s eldest son a twelve year old boy packing a 45 in his holster stuck close to me insuring my safety. I actually felt secure with him; he was taking his assignment so seriously. We followed el jefe to the family compound which was a simple adobe style structure housing three generations. I was introduced to the whole family including the “Abuelo” (grandfather) a weathered old character with piercing brown eyes and a hardy laugh. The women folk were shy and slightly suspicious of this gringo in their midst. We arrived just in time for dinner; la senora had a big pot of beans boiling away on an outdoor fire pit and making tortillas the old fashion way with her hands. Dios mio, that was the best bowl of beans and tortillas I ever had. As darkness fell onto the mountains all the women quietly retreated indoors while the males gathered around the fire and chatted about manly kind of things. The grandfather getting a little tipsy started to get slightly demonstrative in his behavior, I think trying to get his opinion acknowledged by the rest of his family. His grandsons finally picked him up and steered their wobbling grandfather towards the house but before entering he looked right at me and asked, “Como se dice “Chingale” en Ingles”? (How do you say fuck you in English) “Fuck you”, I responded. He thought for a second and repeated, “Fuck You”! “Si”, I confirmed. He smiled, then turned to the rest of his kin and yelled, “Fuck You”! Whistling, he happily went inside. The men looked at each other and burst out into an uproarious laughing spell. The fire was almost out, time for everyone to retire. Little Richard and I had the small patio to ourselves. We rolled out our sleeping bags and smoked a joint before signing off. With no electricity there were no lights to obscure the night sky. The stars were so bright I could feel a slight and soothing sting from their piercing light. It couldn’t get any better than this at this moment. I fell into a dazzling dream. The next morning we were again treated to a breakfast of beans, tortillas and eggs. The best! El jefe then took point on a narrow path winding through a thick forest. Alongside the trail volunteer pot plants were growing everywhere. They were considered weeds and not tended to like the patches of cultivated plants. Nevertheless, I was in a pot paradise. We arrived at a small one room shack well hidden in a clump of trees. This was Little Richard’s hash oil factory and residence. I was immediately impressed with his operation. A one person cot was tucked into a corner with a small table and chair to complete the rustic décor. But the focus of the room was on a table laden with an assortment of flasks, Bunsen burners, beakers and boxes full of marijuana ready to be rendered down into hash oil. Oh my God, it was a charming little science lab run by a mad but charming chemist. Little Richard was indeed in his element. We stayed at the lab while el jefe and his son moved on to inspect their secret plots of pot crops. Being the unknown factor, I was not invited to join them. Just as well, the hike to the shack was exhausting enough. I was contented to spend the day with Little Richard and watch him at work and sample some of his latest creations. We both passed out into a heavily sedated siesta. It was late afternoon when El jefe and his son woke us up saying it was time to head back to la casa. We had to pick up our pace before the night fell on us. We moved in a single file with about thirty feet between us to lessen the chance of an ambush! Fuck!! This caused a wee bit of consternation putting me on high alert and suspicious of any movement in the thick vegetation. We came to a juncture where our trail crossed another one. As I entered the juncture a man appeared just a few feet from me startling both of us. He reacted by drawing his gun on me and yelling something that I interpreted as “Freeze” which I instinctively did. Carlos, my young escort came running up shouting, “Don’t shoot, he is with us”! The man gave me the once over and slowly lowered his gun. Carlos shoved me forward out of my frozen stance and commanded, “Vamanos, let’s get out of here”. I thawed quickly and started to gallop my way down the trail. God Damn it! Here was another situation where I would have to check and see if I soiled my “pantalones”.

Back at la casa the family got a kick out of my surprise encounter on the path. I was just grateful to be alive and able to laugh with them. After another filling dinner of beans and tortillas, everyone retired early. At the first sunlight everyone piled back onto the flatbed truck for the long decent down the steep mountain road. It was market day in town and time to buy provisions. After almost being shot, I felt it was time for me leave and hopped aboard. The women hid bundles of weed in their baskets for the waiting middle men in town. All the men jumped off at the way station and secured their weapons in a hidden bunker. I wouldn’t need an armed guard from this point on. There seemed to be an inordinate amount of activity and scurrying about by the town’s inhabitants. As we were starting to get off the truck a man came running up and confronted El jefe who turned and yelled for everyone to get back on the truck. A column of Army soldiers was just a few hours away heading towards town. This could mean only one thing; a raid on the town and the mountains above. Little Richard had to go back and protect his lab. El jefe warned me to immediately get out of town; if someone spotted me getting off the truck I would be arrested in the sweep and subjected to a severe interrogation, Mexican style. I ran and jumped on the first bus heading west to the coast. The road east would probably have been set up with check points. I was carrying a half pound of Michoacan mota not to mention the chunk of opium; I could not risk being searched at a road block.

The bus dumped me off at Playa Azul a small obscure beach hamlet; a perfect place to lay low for a few days. The only real hotel had only ten rooms and they were all booked. With nowhere to go the beach seemed a good place to start. It was stunning; a palm tree lined beach of brilliant white virgin sand stretched for miles, the aqua blue Pacific pounding the shore with majestic waves, man this was paradise. To sweeten the pot, I was the only one on the beach! Where is everyone? No matter, it couldn’t get any better than this at this moment. It wasn’t a difficult decision to make; I’ll stay here for a while. Near a grove of palm trees I began making a dugout for shelter. The first task was to dig out a hollow long and wide enough to fit my torso. Next, constructing a simple A-frame with driftwood, sticks and whatever I could find. The final touch, layering the structure with downed palm leaves. It was crude almost primitive but effective. It provided shade for siestas during the hottest part of the day and a sense of security at night. My first evening was spent under blanket of stars that again were so bright they cast a reflection on the ocean. I lit up a small bowl of opium and watched in wonderment as the crescent moon slowly sliced into the Pacific. I thought to myself, “Again, it just can’t get any better than this at this moment”. I was then struck by a revelation; strive to string as many as possible of these precious moments together into a lifelong series of joyous delights.

I blissfully lingered in this piece of paradise for more than a week. I had everything and wanted for nothing. My little beach bungalow was more than comfortable. A small shack/restaurant about a quarter mile away served a fabulous huachinango (red snapper) dinner with all the fixings for two dollars and an equally fabulous breakfast of huevos rancheros. I even found a place to take a shower for twenty five cents. Life was good. One afternoon a young local lad strolled up to my hut as I just lit up a joint and asked if he could join me in a puff of mota. But of course, I shared my doobie with him. We were having a pleasant time with small talk when he suddenly grabbed his head with both hands and said that mota makes him do crazy things. “I can feel El Diablo in me trying to get out”, he confided to me. Great, that is just what I wanted to hear! After several awkward and uncomfortable minutes he grunted, got up and walked away. Shit! Devil boy now knows where I live and will probable return to release the evil lurking within. I took this as a sign to pack it up and move on. I couldn’t stay in paradise forever. That evening I slept with one eye open and twitched at every unusual sound. The nest morning I woke up with something weighing my legs down. Fuck! He is here and ready to do the Devil’s bidding. I opened my eyes, raised my head and let out a giant gasp; Holy shit, it was a five foot boa constrictor coiled on my legs. Whew, that was a relief. I slipped out of my sleeping bag, gently picked the snake up and set it free in the palm grove. OK then, time to go.

The bus ride back to Mexico City was fortunately unimpeded by Army check points because I was still had mota and opium in my bag. Back in Cholula I ran into Little Richard who had a horror story to tell. “You got out just in time”, he said. The Army sent troops all the way to his neck of the woods. He grabbed the bare essentials from the lab and ran for his life from the pursuing soldiers hot on his trail. “I don’t think it is safe to go back there for a while” he lamented. I invited him to my place for a puff but he had business to take care of. I trudged home ready for a shower and a siesta. A letter was shoved under my door. Glory Be, it was from the Captain. I tore it open and screamed out loud; he bought a boat in Fort Lauderdale and wanted to know if I was still interested in sailing to the Bahamas. It took only a micro-second to process this; I burst out of my door, ran to the post office and attacked a public pay phone (there were no cell phones back in the day). I nervously dialed the number in his letter. He answered. “Captain, its’ Doc”. “Hey Zorro, you coming”, he asked. “Most assuredly so” I responded. “Good, meet me in New Orleans”, he ordered. After writing down all the pertinent information I hung up and ran back to my place. Oh my God, it is really happening. The dream is coming true! I had only a few days to get my shit together. Two days later I was at the Mexico City airport boarding a plane for Houston. I packed everything that was necessary into my Air Force duffel bag, the half-pound of Michoacan mota was tightly packed into my Fry boots. I knew the insane risk I was taking and the dire consequences of smuggling contraband into the US. I tried to stay focused on the dream but at the same time prayed for a less than thorough inspection at US Customs. One last thought before boarding the plane; I didn’t get a chance to tell Goga that I was leaving the country again. Damn, she is going to be pissed!  I vowed to make some serious amends if our paths ever crossed again.  For now though my thoughts were focused on the most uncertain future facing me.  Hopefully, I would soon be crewing on a sail boat with the Captain at the helm and that would certainly mean risking life and limb with more mad cap adventures.  I couldn’t wait.     



















































Chapter 27 Mardi Gras Mayhem

Chapter 27

“Mardi Gras Mayhem”

After my near death experience in Puerto Angel, I hunkered down and kept a low profile for a few days. The solitude was needed to chill and take inventory of myself. Surfing with the Grim Reaper (I could still feel his cold-breath on my neck) and barely escaping his design on me had a generally disrupting impact on my status quo. What next? Where do I go from here? I couldn’t stay in Mexico forever. The future was a vast uncharted unknown and I had no plans or direction to plot a course. At this juncture in my life all I could do was to have a little faith in fate.

Speaking of fate, the good Captain dropped by and asked me to join him in a boat hunt. My God, he really was serious about it. In my short hiatus I did manage to make an observation noteworthy of concern. On my last two outings with the Captain I had the unintended opportunity to flirt with the dark Angel of Death and confront my own mortality! Now, I’m thinking was this just a curious coincidence or was it the very nature of the beast when in the Captain’s company? I chose to rely on the benefit of doubt and took another leap into the lap of fate. “Sure thing my Captain, count me in”, I responded. Once again I found myself riding shotgun in the enterprise, this time on a quest for an alternative means of circumventing a mundane and sedentary existence.

Before leaving Cholula we welcomed aboard two young students and the wife of a professor with their two children, all needing an express ride north to Texas. The Captain and I took shifts behind the wheel while our passengers hunkered down for the long haul. After two long days we reached the Brownsville border crossing. All of our fellow passengers chose to abandon the enterprise and walk across. Hmmm, did they have some sort of premonition? We pulled the enterprise into the check point and submitted our passports. Within minutes we were surrounded by a squadron of custom agents with a look of fierce glee in their eyes. We were dragged out of the van as drug sniffing canines violated the sanctity of the enterprise. We were deposited in a stark windowless room. Gulp! This did not bode well! We then had to endure an invasive and humiliating strip search along with an abrasive interrogation. After about an hour of sweating in anticipation of the worse possible scenario the custom agents and their dogs found nothing and we were clean so they had to release us. As it turned out the Captain’s checkered past caught up with him. His very name caused their computer system to light up and triggered a red alert. We were duly scolded before being set free. Whew!! There were moments when I almost soiled myself with fear from the looming possibility of decades in a Texas prison. Wait a minute, what’s this, another near miss with disaster and once again happening in the Captain’s company? Despite a disturbing pattern developing here I continued to be a companion and faithful confidant with this mad man which paved the way to many more harrowing near misses with disasters yet at the same time opened up glimpses into a world of unimaginable beauty.

So, upon our release from Customs we scurried aboard the enterprise and in warp drive sped away from the border. We stopped at marinas dotting the Gulf coast and did find a boat in Corpus Christi that was to our liking but priced beyond the Captain’s means. We pressed on determined to find a worthy craft even if it meant going all the way to Florida. As we passed through Port Author Texas I gained an understanding of Janice Joplin’s desperate flight from this dreary Hell Hole; we didn’t even stop for gas. Our next major landing was New Orleans, the Captain’s favorite home base of operations and where his infamous reputation was pervasive and well known throughout the French Quarters. Why, he was practically a legend in these parts. He had friends that graciously put us up for the duration of our stay and to our good fortune we arrived just in time for the 1974 Mardi Gras! For those who have never been, Mardi Gras is a non-stop outlandish and slightly hedonistic street celebration with a million exuberant and not so slightly inebriated revelers packing the narrow streets of the Quarters. Not for the meek or slight of heart. I think the Captain already had this destination in his plans nevertheless the motion was made and unanimously agreed upon to postpone our boat hunt and participate in Mardi Gras madness. So as we readied ourselves to venture down into the French Quarters our host handed us two tabs of LSD and said, “This should make it more interesting”. The Captain and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and took the acid. We jumped on the Canal St. bus and hopped off at the Bourbon St. entrance to the Quarters. It was still early enough before the hordes of humanity would be clogging the streets with drunken and disorderly conduct. The Captain led me to his favorite hangout a bar called “Johnny Matassus” the very epicenter of debauchery. It was a safe haven for all kinds of reprobates and their ilk. The bar was well off the beaten tourist path but even the locals shunned the establishment. “Matassus” was the last resort for those who had been eighty-sixed from every other bar and were bent on self-destruction all needing a familiar place so they wouldn’t have to die alone from alcohol poisoning. As we neared the bar the acid started to take effect. Everything began to quiver. From the open doors a thick greenish cloud belched out like a monstrous fart. The pungent aroma smelled akin to a fine blend of stale beer, urine and petrified vomit. Entering the dark tavern I was semi shocked by the utter display of depravity. One person was passed out on the bar, two others were asleep on a table and one patron was prostrated on the floor with no one seeming to be alarmed about his wellbeing. Two obviously intoxicated men were dueling with their exposed cocks. Everything came to a crashing halt when the Captain walked through the door. Those who were still standing staggered up to the Captain hailing him as a long lost hero, the Legend has returned to his people and I being his cohort was treated like royalty. As I watched the two dick-dueling dudes the acid kicked in big time; their units suddenly became gigantic and disturbingly grotesque. Dumbfounded, I used a small parade floating by as an excuse to escape and darted outside to take a whiff of fresh air regain my composure. The parade consisted of about fifty or sixty drag queens all exquisitely attired for the occasion. I was blown away by the sequins on their dresses which were exploding with the ferocity of supernovas. Without warning a queen broke ranks with the pack, coiled around me and started to make out. I kind of freaked out and tried to voice a protest for her unwarranted attention when she released her grip and returned to the parade. Just then the Captain burst out of the bar; his eyes were as big as saucers. He loudly confided, “Lord have mercy, this acid is a mite strong, let’s go for a walk”. We slowly swaggered down to Bourbon St. the main artery for the ultimate in street theater and at this time of day it was already in a state of siege. The hordes had crawled out from under their massive hangovers and were ready to do it all over again. Everyone was in costume whether by design or not. I could feel a highly charged undercurrent surging through the throng; social anarchy was in the air. The acid suddenly shifted into a higher gear. Faces were beginning to melt and morph; I couldn’t distinguish between those who were wearing mask and those who weren’t. I felt like an extra in a “Fellini” movie on steroids. Feeling a tad claustrophobic and a little pressed for some breathing room I looked for the Captain. Holy Hell, he was nowhere to be seen. The crowd had swallowed him up! Shit! I was on my own and left to fend for myself. Worming my way through the barely moving mass of humanity I found a side street that was relatively uncluttered with people. The farther I ventured up the less inhabited it became. I must have wandered for several hours gawking at the architecture of the French Quarters. There were moments when I was transported back to the era of “Bat Masterson”. Just way cool! The sun was on its’ way out and getting cold. I was still in a lost state with no direction. I walked past a vacant lot that had been turned into a vehicle camp ground. My attention focused on a young and very attractive hippy girl sitting on the steps of a converted school bus that looked like Ken Kesey’s “Merry Pranksters psychodelic bus the “Further”. She spotted me and yelled, “Hey you there, want to share a joint with me”? With one hop a skip and a jump I was sitting next to her. She lit up the reefer and handed it to me. When our fingers touched I felt an overwhelming surge of sexual energy pass between us. I tried to say something about the sensation but my words were garbled and incomprehensible. She gave me a quizzical glance and asked, “What are you on”? “Acid”, I answered. “Wonderful” she chirped, “So am I”. She grabbed my hand and led me to the back of the bus where she had a private cot enclosed by tie-dyed sheets. No words were spoken, no words were necessary. We undressed and explored each other with gentle caresses and soft butterfly kisses. All the vital erogenous zones were located and tenderly dealt with. Oh my God, I almost lost my cargo right there. After what seemed like hours of discovering new g-spots that needed attention, we coupled and achieved the ultimate goal; a simultaneous orgasm exploding with the force of two galaxies colliding and becoming one. For a fleeting moment while in the throws of unrefined pleasure I understood the universe. Everything was right in the world. Both of us melted into a pool of rapturous delight and remained coupled for what seemed like an exquisite eternity. Really, there are no words that can accurately describe sex on acid; it is a must for every bucket list. The spell was broken when her bus mates started to roll in from a hard day of fun. The drawn curtains around our cot were an “occupied-do not disturb” sign, we remained embraced until the morning sun broke through the bus window and woke me up. I quietly put my clothes on and planted a soft kiss on her cheek. She woke and gave me a smile and a little wave good-by with her fingers. I managed to slip out of the bus without disturbing any of her passed out friends. I had no clue how to find the house where the Captain and I had lodging. Wandering through the Quarters it dawned on me that I never did get the name of that lovely girl. I felt slightly heart broken. I worked my way back to Canal St. and walked for a mile or so until I found the right street and the house. We stayed on until “Fat Tuesday” to get all of the partying out of our systems.

We were about to continue our boat hunt when the Captain got word from his family estate in Mississippi that some legal formalities had to be taken care of before he could receive his yearly stipend from a trust fund. Without the funds he would be theoretically broke; hence no money no boat. He had to return home and deal with his family and paper work which could have taken a few weeks or months to straighten out. I couldn’t hang around indefinitely waiting for the outcome so there was only one viable option open, make the long and arduous trek back to my safe house in Cholula.


















Chapter 26 Lessons Unlearned



Chapter 26

“Lessons Unlearned”

I boarded the good ship Enterprise with high expectations for another journey into the unknown and with the Mad Captain behind the helm we would surely go where no sane man had gone before. We plotted a course south through central Mexico to Oaxaca and ultimately Puerto Angel a relatively unknown seaside paradise. We initiated the launch in our usual fashion with a big fat joint and set the craft on cruise control. The ride to Oaxaca was long and slow due to antiquated road conditions. No matter, we were not hampered by a rigid schedule; we were two crazy unattached dudes with the freedom to leisurely exploit the time we had on our hands. Between the long moments of silence I recounted my adventures with Dutch Boy in our quest for a boat. He was particularly interested in the idea of boating as an alternate means of traveling. Buying a boat and sailing around was at the top of his “things to do list”. The more we talked about it the more animated he became and blurted out, “hey, if I get a boat would you like to come aboard and be my first mate”? “Aye, aye Captain”, I responded thinking that this was a wishful pipe dream and would more than likely never happen. “OK, then”, he shot back. “Be aware of what you wish for, because it just might happen”!

We rolled into Oaxaca just as the day was drawing to a close. We found a lovely spot to land the Enterprise adjacent to Monte Alban the ancient capital of the Zapotecs. The Zapotec culture thrived for about a thousand years before it collapsed around 800ad. Monte Alban remains as a lasting testament to their tenacity. Anyway, we had a panoramic view of the site and watched with our mouths and minds agape as the setting sun bathe the pyramids in a phosphorescent golden hue. Splendorous!! After an evening puff I plunged into a deep sleep and became tangled in ancient dreams. We lingered for several days enjoying the warm winter days. Not to mention, Oaxaca is a gorgeous city basking in a high semi-lush valley between two mountain ranges. The architecture is timeless and OMG the Mercado was one of the best I’ve ever seen. All good stuff but we had a yearning for the coast. Our plotted course took us on a narrow, scantly paved road and often barely passable. Half way up the mountain pass the grim reality hit us; we really needed some kind of four wheel vehicle like a 1947 Dodge Power Wagon and not the smooth road craft we were navigating. There were moments when I prepared to press the escape button and launch out of the doomed Enterprise. We were well pass the Fail-Safe point and kept on “truckin” up the mountain. Through stubborn guile we made it to the summit of the mountain range. A small village was perched on the top. As we slowly passed through the narrow streets, the Captain and I got a brilliant idea. This region had a reputation for growing magic mushrooms “hongos”. Let’s try and score some. I rolled down my window and hailed the first likely suspect a young man with shoulder length scraggly hair. I asked him if he knew where to get some hongos. He looked at us, gave a knowing smile and said to wait for him. He quickly disappeared and few minutes later reappeared with a bag of freshly harvested mushrooms. He charged us about three dollars for his service; we gave him five as a token of our appreciation. He was overjoyed and so were we. Fortune was with us when we thwarted the temptation to eat the hongos and wait until we reached our final destination. The road down the west side of the mountain range was no less treacherous than the nail-biting drive up the east side. It would have been a nightmare to try and descend under the spell of mushrooms. After about eight hours of a frightful and grueling ride we arrived in Puerto Angel. We found a perfect little spot under a grove of palm trees with an awesome view of a beautiful little bay at our disposal. The sun was fading and so were we. Fatigued and broken we both crashed and didn’t wake up until noon the next day. Our first order of business; eat mushrooms. We walked to a nearby outdoor fruit stand and bought a bunch of bananas and freshly squeezed orange juice. The bananas would help to alleviate the sometimes nauseating effects of mushrooms and the orange juice was an excellent chaser to mask the earthy taste. We plopped ourselves on the beach and waited for the breakfast of chumps to kick in. It didn’t take long. We were soon hallucinating and laughing hysterically, man these hongos packed a powerful punch. As I sat in yet another altered state of perception the seascape before me became a four dimensional masterpiece. The sand turned soft and spongy like microscopic marsh mellows. The clouds were skimming across the sky and morphing into circus animals. As the waves crashed on the beach, I could hear a symphony of thunder and feel its’ power as visceral vibrations making the sand quiver and my entire cellular structure bubble with excitement. An idea struck the Captain; I could actually see a flickering light bulb over his head. “Let’s go surfing”, he exclaimed. “What? Was he serious? The waves were now beginning to look like tsunamis and I still had vivid memories of our last mushroom trip involving the ocean. Alas, he was serious! Besides the now broken and discarded canoe a surf board was strapped down to the top of the Enterprise. The Captain was the first to test his surfing skills. I watched with amusement in the safety under a palm tree as the Captain tried to catch a wave without falling off. After multiple attempts he gave up and dragged the board ashore. It then hit me; I had never surfed on mushrooms before this might be an excellent new adventure. I jumped up, grabbed the board and paddled out to meet the waves. I managed to catch a good sized wave and ride it for a few seconds before losing my balance and falling off. The board surfed itself to shore leaving me behind. Shit! It was only about fifty yards from the beach so I started to swim in. After a few minutes I looked up to see my progress. What the Hell, I was farther away! I began to swim with an added sense of urgency. I paused again to check my location. I was even farther away from shore and could feel myself being pulled out to the open ocean. Holy fucking Hell, I knew exactly what was happening; I was caught in a rip tide! Panic prevailed. Instead of following the proper procedure of swimming parallel to the shore and angling in I swam head on into the current. I rapidly lost strength and started to swallow way too much sea water. The harder I tried to swim the weaker I became. I got to the point where exhaustion was paralyzing me and the grim realization of the uber-seriousness of my situation only made matters worse. Panic was replaced with a dire sense of dread. I couldn’t swim another stroke and started to go under. I abandoned the struggle to survive and let go. Everything turned a dismal gray; I didn’t know if my eyes were open or closed. There are many accounts of people, when death is tapping on their shoulders, see their lives flash before them. I had a condensed “Reader’s Digest” version of that phenomenon. My life visually whizzed by me. The good and bad times, the rewards and regrets were all accounted for. Resigning to the inevitable, I felt peacefully and light like a burden had been lifted from my being. I suddenly felt myself being violently tumbled forward in a swirl of gray foam and thought, “This is it”! My time has come! I bobbled to the top of the tempest and realized death had temporarily lost its’ grip on me. I watched in horror as another big wave was about to break over me. I was once again violently tumbled forward. When I surfaced the beach was much closer. I was scooped up and hurdled by series of big waves. Still too weak to swim I started to sink again. This time I felt bottom, I was close to the beach! Mustering up the last reserves of energy I swam like a mad man fleeing fate. Another wave swept me up and un-sympathetically dumped me on the beach. I had just enough left in me to crawl a few yards up the beach just out of reach from the angry and ever growing surf. My jubilation about still being alive was quickly diminished by at least a solid hour of painfully regurgitating the sea water I swallowed. My system had been poisoned. Now, I was still very much in a mushroom mode so everything that occurred was amplified by a factor of ten. After vomiting up about two gallons of a liquid rainbow hell I literally crawled on my hands and knees to the safe haven of the Enterprise. I then began a three day campaign of throwing up every fifteen minutes or so. I couldn’t eat or even hold down water. I felt like maybe fate hadn’t done me such a favor by letting me live because I now felt like I wanted to die. On the fourth day I was able to eat a banana and drink orange juice. By God, I was coming out of a dark tunnel. Yes, it was once again good to be alive. I was now well enough to hop back into the Enterprise and head back to Cholula and recuperate. On the way home little talk was made about the Puerto Angel episode. I was still trying to process all that had transpired. Fucking Hell, what did it all mean? I did learn one obvious but still valuable lesson though; mushrooming and playing in the sea had so far been incompatible in my recent experiences.


Chapter 25

“Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out”

We arrived in Cholula early Friday evening. I bailed out of the Enterprise and immediately jumped in bed. Still feeling battered and bruised from the beach beating I lived through a day earlier, sleep was a welcomed refuge. I woke up about twelve hours later, smoked a little mota, took a long hot shower and felt the pain flush down the drain. Feeling revived and glad to be alive, I began to make a big pot of soup with vegetables that were ready to go south. As I stirred the concoction a sharp knock on the front door stirred me out of my bliss. Damn it, who is knocking at this hour? Hell yes, it was Goga! How did she know I was back in town? She was either a clairvoyant or had a network of informants, nevertheless, I was beyond grateful to see her standing there. We rushed into my quarters, I first turned off the boiling soup and we then assumed our favorite position, curled up together in bed. This was the first time that she stayed with me the whole night. A glorious night indeed! The next morning she gave me a tender and passionate kiss and quietly left me to realize that I was growing quite fond of her almost teetering on the precipice of love. Gulp!

Speaking of Goga, I recently found a picture of her. Below is a photo of my Mayan mamacita.

So to get back to the topic of this chapter “Tune in, turn on, drop out” a directive made famous by Dr. Timothy Leary, I was striving to “tune in” to my inner self and open a path to an understanding of the core meaning of existence. I’m still striving for that point of clarity and I hope it happens in this life time. Concerning the second edict “turn on”, well I think my indulgence in mind altering substances speaks for its’ self. I took Tim’s last piece of advice, “drop out” literally and dropped out as a student of the University of the Americas. God, I could not bear the thought of returning to classes and the drudgery of homework so I just quit. The school failed to notify the U.S. Government of my non-student status so I kept receiving monthly checks. Without having to pay quarterly tuition and cost of books etc, I was able to live quite comfortably for about another year in Cholula. Years later the Government discovered the discrepancy and tracked me down. They gave me an ultimatum, pay up or pay the consequences. I promptly reimbursed them in monthly installments; you don’t fuck with the Feds! It was still worth the inconvenience and slight embarrassment of having to pay the Government back for its’ role in financing my life style. I now had free and unencumbered time to expand upon and fully enjoy that life style. The next year was littered with crazy road trips and sexual escapades. I’m not going to bore you and labor over the issue of amorous dalliances, suffice to say that I did not suffer from wanting. Life was indeed very good. Concerning the numerous road trips though, there are three that still shine brightly in the recesses of my memory. I will begin with an excursion to Oaxaca and Puerto Angel with the Mad Captain. The title of the next chapter “Lessons Unlearned” is a telling indictment of the way we operated without a code of conduct.

Chapter 24 “Mushrooming Mariners”



Chapter 24

“Mushrooming Mariners”

At the crack of dawn we bolted from Las Estacas before the no-see-ums awakened and attacked. Making a rapid advance towards the coast we paused briefly in Cuernavaca for fuel and decided to keep on our way; there were too many Gringos running around. Feeling the same resentment about the over-abundance of tourist we skimmed through Acapulco and steered ourselves north on a little poorly maintained palm tree lined road to Zihuatanejo, a sleepy little fishing village that so far escaped the rigors of modernity. We passed by a scattering of aging wooden shanties and stopped at a small row of unfinished stucco and thatched roof single room dwellings. The white walls stood with no windows or doors and stood eerily like a ghost beach town that had been abandoned and left to weather the erosion of time. We chose a hut that would be suitable for our headquarters and established a beach head. I noticed a couple of cute cabana squatters a few huts down from us. They gleefully waved back to me as I waved with enthusiasm and high hopes of a friendly encounter. As the sun was preparing to set we prepared ourselves with a fat joint and walked a few steps to the beach plopped down and waited for the evening miracle. We invited the two girls to join us in the holy ritual; they readily accepted our offer. Few words were exchanged, we mostly watched in awe at the sun danced below the horizon. The girls thanked us for sharing the sunset with them and to our disappointment returned to their bungalow. We retired shortly afterwards.

We began the day with a morning puff of pot to aid in scripting our plan of action for the day. We decided to make use of the canoe latched to the roof of the enterprise and paddle out to the center of the bay. The plan was well within the parameters of our creed, “We shall go where no sane man had gone before”, and anyway at the time it seemed like a perfectly logical course to take. The Captain and I lifted the canoe off the enterprise and carried it a few yards to the water’s edge. (A foot note is needed here: now keep in mind that this canoe was designed for paddling on still lake waters, an important distinction.) So, we packed the canoe with snorkeling gear, a few snacks and water. Ready to cast off, ah wait a minute! The final ingredient – in our blind obsession to push logic aside, we ate a palm full of mushrooms. Arg! We went blissfully off to be mushrooming mariners on a sea faring adventure.

We paddled to the middle of the bay and stopped for a breather. The mushrooms were now blotting the barriers between realities. Perfect time for a little snorkeling! I took the first plunge. Oh my God! I was only in about twenty feet or maybe twenty fathoms; I couldn’t tell at that point but the water was clear to the bottom and teeming with exotic creatures which were turning into Disneylandish like cartoon characters. Oh man, this was just too much fun. After a few minutes or hours, couldn’t tell at this point, I floated into a scene that made me question if I was still on the planet Earth. A monstrous snake like creature was slithering down into a sea bed hole. It was way too big to be an eel or sea snake and had the girth of a giant anaconda. I dove down to get a better look at this phenomenon. The closer I got the bigger and longer it became. It finally disappeared down the hole. I got a creepy feeling that this sea monster was about to burst out looking for something to dine on and I was the right size for a tasty morsel. I shot up to the surface like a rocket and scrambled aboard the canoe. After hearing about my slightly terrifying encounter the Captain jumped overboard to see for himself. He remained underwater for the longest time and just as I was sending up mental flares he breached and spouted like a crazy whale. Whew! He hadn’t been taken down by the creature. He almost capsized the canoe trying to ungracefully heave his hulk aboard. Amazed and also slightly shaken by some of the things he had seen the Captain still couldn’t confirm my sighting of the Jules Vern sea monster. I swear it looked too real to be my imagination tempered by mushrooms. The Captain, with an inordinate yen for adventure and with a dangerous lack of fear for the likely consequences of acting on ill-conceived ideas, suggested we paddle out of the bay and hug the coast for a little ways. I immediately had serious reservations about this idea but agreed anyway. As we paddled towards the mouth of the bay the water’s demeanor began to change from calm to a churn. A tour boat passed us on its’ way out of the bay. I curiously noted that the passengers were all piled on the starboard side and waiving franticly at us. We returned the friendly gesture and continued to paddle on. Leaving the relatively calm of the bay the ocean quickly turned from a churn to a crisp chop; we were now in open-ocean. Before we realized it the waves grew in size and were lapping over our port side making us take on water. I started to feverishly bail with the only thing available, a red plastic beer cup. To make matters worse the wind was pushing us into the rocky cliffs that seemed to be beckoning us to our doom. We could see the waves crashing on the rocks; I could sense disaster waiting for us. At that moment as I was still madly trying to bail with the plastic cup I noticed that the clear blue water under us suddenly turned black. Holy shit, something huge and black was just a few feet under our canoe! I yelled at the Captain to look at the massive monster below us, his eyes got big as ostrich eggs. By this time we had past the fail safe point, there was no turning back; we were in big trouble. A larger wave hit us broadside; we somehow managed to ride it to the top without capsizing but took on more water. From the top of the wave we could see a small beach etched out of the cliff face that offered us a possible place to land our sinking craft. The Captain and I paddled like our lives depended on it, which was indeed the case. We were able to surf on the waves which had now grown to about six to eight feet in height. We tried in vain to catch a wave that probably would have carried us all the way in; it broke under us and we slid back down into the trough. Totally exhausted we again paddled like mad men to catch the next wave. I looked back to check on our position and let out a shriek. This wave, bigger than the rest, was cresting and fixing to break over us. “Jump overboard” I yelled. We both dove into the wave as it curled and broke plunging us into an aquatic hell. My first sensation was being violently tumbled in a murky mixture of sea, sand and foam all the while trying to establish what was up or down. The wave then slammed the canoe onto my back and sank it to the bottom with me trapped under its’ weight. Now remember, we were still in a mushroom mode making this experience truly exceptional. After dragging the canoe and me along the bottom the wave finally spat us out onto the beach. Fortunately for me the bottom was just sand and not rocks or I would have been sliced and diced to death. Unable to move the Captain and I laid on the beach for the longest time just staring at each other. We were still alive!! It must have looked like a scene out of a cheesy “B” survival movie set. I finally attempted to get up but a sharp pain from my shoulder sent me back down. Shit! I could barely move my arm. To add insult to injury just a few feet from my prone body stood the red plastic cup half full of sea water. Perfect! We eventually got to our feet and collected the paddles and snorkeling gear that washed up. After dumping the water out of the canoe we gasped in horror, the craft was cracked in two. That probably happened when it was slammed on me. No wonder I was lame. The only way out of this small beach was narrow steps carved into the side of the cliff’s wall. There was no way we could carry the canoe by ourselves especially since I had one arm dangling like a dead limb. We left the canoe behind, climbed out and followed a trail to a small village. We employed two young and hardy men to help us haul the canoe out. They carried the canoe like it was made of balsa wood and ran up the steep trail as if it was an escalator. All we could do was limp behind. Examining the crack in the hull the two men said they could probably fix it. We gave them the canoe as payment for their help. They were happy and we were happy to rid ourselves of the burden. We then walked to the main road that wrapped around the bay and stuck our thumbs out hoping to flag down a ride. An elderly couple in a dilapitated pickup stopped and motioned to get it. We climbed into the back and heaved a big sigh of relief that this adventure was coming to an end. Had I the luxury of foresight I would have seen the warning signs that this episode was a precursor of the future with this mad man; a future which would be fraught with perilous adventures. Nevertheless, to this day I have no regrets and thankful for linking my life with the crazy Captain. I did things with him that I could never have dreamed of.

The driver dropped us off at our beach headquarters as the sun was sinking into the sea. Our cute neighbors had a small fire going and waved us over. We joined them for a sunset smoke. They asked us what kind of day we had. When we got to our canoeing into open-ocean they screamed, “Was that you guys in the canoe?” We proudly acknowledged our folly. “Oh my God” they exclaimed, “Did you see us waving at you”? They were on the tour boat that passed us leaving the bay. They went on to say the skipper of the tour boat shouted in astonishment over the ship’s PA system for everybody on board to look at the two “payasos locos” (crazy clowns) heading out to sea in a canoe. They said everyone was astounded at the sheer audacity (code word for stupidity) of such an undertaking. Some passengers even made bets on our survival. That realization made a tad less proud of our misguided antics. Before I knew it the tall dark haired beauty took my hand, pulled me up and started dirty dancing with me! I didn’t question her motives and dirty danced with her through the night. We slept together next to the fire until morning. I must say, she had a healing touch that made me forget about my bruised body and pain. As the sun peeked over the palm trees we parted with a quick puff and a kiss. I had to get back to Choulua and catch up on the classes I was playing hooky on. It was also time to sleep in my own bed, nurse my wounds and anticipate the next field trip with the Mad Captain.


Chapter 23 In pursuit of the unimaginable




Chapter 23

“In pursuit of the unimaginable”


Peeking over the horizon the sun exposed a dry, desolate and rather unforgiving landscape a perfect location for an alien invasion. Speaking of aliens I jumped out of the enterprise and scoured the distant slopes for a day sighting. I could only see the memory. Drat! The Captain, after a heavily sedated sleep (rum and NyQuil) woke with an exaggerated start and realizing that he was still here in the flesh and not in some titanium torture chamber being dismembered, rushed to the helm, cranked the ship up and darted away like we were in an escape pod fleeing a near miss with doom. After a couple of tokes on la mota he finally mellowed out and slowed down from a blurred warp drive and let cruise control take over. We stumbled onto “Las Esacas” a small river that upwells from some unknown depths, surfaces and flows for about a mile or so only to disappear underground to unknown depths. The water naturally heated by its’ proximity the volcano “Popo” created a lush green river oasis snaking through the dry and drab terrain. Before we ejected out of our seats the Captain suggested we take some LSD. I offered no objection to his motion so we dropped a couple of tabs. After a fifteen minute hike to the headwaters of the mini river the acid started to manipulate normal perceptions. Without hesitation we jumped in. Oh my God, I just plunged into the middle of a liquid crystal orgasm! I felt like a giant sperm gleefully and effortlessly swimming in a warm and clear silky fluid gently flowing towards the ultimate zygote; the beginning of time and consciousness. As I’m blissfully floating along I’m thinking, “Oh man, this is going to be an awesome trip”; and it was until the very end of a long day hallucinating in the river of Eden. As I said we spent the day blissfully swimming the length of the river, jumping out at the end, retracing our steps to the beginning and plunge back into the depths of a deja vu experience but with a totally different perspective which created a totally different adventure. There were moments when the river’s gentle flow suddenly turned into a wild white-water tumble through a primeval jungle bursting with prehistoric flora and fauna. Other times the river was so still it became time-frozen into a 360% degree glimpse into past, present and future. Man, I almost blew a gasket on that experience. With the day and acid both on the wane I reluctantly pulled myself out of the river of Eden. I found my way back to the Enterprise which was actually beginning to look like a space ship that just landed in a prehistoric setting. So, I’m drying myself off and reach down to towel my legs; I let out a bloodcurdling silent scream! My legs were teeming with perfectly round dime sized red spots! Upon closer examination the spots began to change colors and itch like crazy. Worse yet the spots started to crawl around! “Fuckin Hell”! What was happening to me? I was just about to totally freak out when a young Mexican boy passed by and in perfect English exclaimed, “The no-see-ums got you good”. What the Hell were no-see-ums? He informed me that they were almost microscopic blood sucking insects hence their name “no-see-ums”. I was relieved to hear that the scores of itching spots would clear themselves and also relieved that the LSD was finally releasing its’ hold on reality. Exhausted from a full day of a psychedelic swim coupled with the assurance that I didn’t contract a flesh eating infection I slept soundly. Waking up the next morning with a degree of clarity plus disappearing red spots I was now fresh and ready for the next onslaught of fun.