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.






Chapter 22 Riding Shotgun on the Enterprise



Chapter 22

“Riding Shotgun on the Enterprise”


The above photo is a good likeness of the land craft that I helped to co-pilot with the mad James H. McShan at the helm. Our ship on the other hand was a blinding bright blue and white behemoth not well camouflaged for blending in with the Mexican terrain. I say “ship” because I christened the van as “the Enterprise”. Our purpose and mission was “to boldly go where no sane man had gone before”! Without fore thought or reservations we blindly went forth and committed ourselves to the success of the mission. And because of the many insane adventures he steered us into I dubbed James as “Captain Quirk” which was later shortened to just “Captain”. He had a unique gift of veering off reasonable courses into precariously crazy and often dangerous circumstances. I should have recognized the obvious warning signs of raw, untamed madness residing in this man and jumped ship when I had the chance but I really liked this eccentric character and I was thoroughly enjoying the wild rides he was taking me on.

Our first road trip together started off rather innocuously enough; we left Cholula heading in a vague Westerly direction towards the Pacific coast. The Captain had his supply of rum and NyQuil; I supplied the mota (pot) and hongos (magic mushrooms). We had the necessary staples to sustain us; “Damn the torpedoes, Full speed ahead”! We rounded the southern slope of Popo and leveled off to a comfortable cruising speed. Tokin on a doobie with the Doobie Brothers blaring in our faces we were feeling kinda groovy. Before we knew it darkness quickly enveloped us. We were in the middle of nowhere, a semi desert scrub brush area that had a reputation for highway robberies and car jackings. We pulled off the main two lane highway on to a dirt road and followed it for about a mile. We came to a small clearing and pulled in for the evening. We were far enough from the main road to be totally hidden from view. Feeling comfortable we piled out and honored the full moon with mota. As I passed the joint to the Captain out of nowhere a huge raven swooped down and flew between us, so close I could feel and hear the wind flowing over his wings. As the raven passed it looked at both of us and let out a blood curdling caw then disappeared into the night. This spooked the Captain! At that time Carlos Castaneda’s “Separate Realities” was a must read especially in Mexico. The raven was an integral player in the mysticism of the northwest Mexican culture. So, the Captain interpreted the raven’s brash appearance as a warning and a bad omen. He let out a moan and high tailed it back into the enterprise. I was unable to coax him out again to enjoy a beautiful moon lit evening. I decided to follow the road which was now more of trail and explore a bit. The trail headed toward two mountain slopes that joined together at their base making a perfect “V” shape. I just began my journey when I noticed a red flashing light hovering next to one of the mountains. My first thought, “helicopter”, but then it made some odd maneuvers. I stared in disbelief as the red light started to pulsate and landed on the steep slope of the mountain. Now I’m thinking, “This cannot be a helicopter”! Suddenly another flashing red light dropped down and landed on the opposite slope. I was stunned with incredulousness and ran back to the vehicle; I needed to get creditable confirmation on what I was seeing. I yelled at the hiding Captain, “You got to come out and see this”! He grunted and reluctantly opened the door and stepped out. At that moment a flurry of red lights burst on to the scene and in formation began corkscrewing out of the sky all landing on opposite sides of the mountain slopes. The Captain’s eyes rolled back in their sockets; he almost broke the door down in a frantic retreat to the safety of the enterprise. I’ll have to admit that before this incident I was somewhat of an agnostic concerning aliens and UFOs but I instantly became a convert and a dedicated believer in the phenomenon. I begged the Captain to walk with me and investigate this sighting, after all we were just a couple of miles from the mountains; this was a chance of a lifetime. He shouted something unintelligible which I took as a “no way”. I just couldn’t let this opportunity escape me so I took another puff of mota for a boost in courage and with high expectations started walking towards the landing site. About a mile from the mountains all the red lights perched on the slopes went out simultaneously which gave me a slight pause but I kept on going. From the distance a dog started to frantically bark like it was scared; another slight pause but I now cautiously continued my quest. The dog’s barking suddenly stopped; a bigger pause but this time second thoughts stopped me in my tracks. I felt the ground rumbling from something big running towards me; a big pause turned into a fear induced paralysis. I couldn’t move as the rumble became a deafening roar. A small herd of stampeding cattle at full throttle broke through the brush and almost trampled me. I could see a terrible fear in their eyes as they ran in full gallop past me. They were terrified; I was terrified! I took their cue and ran as fast as I could right behind the fleeing herd. I couldn’t keep up with them and was now running alone and didn’t stop until the enterprise came into view. I felt that I was far enough away from the mountains festooned with UFOs and their unknown agenda to slow down besides I was out of breath and couldn’t run another step. When I was able to breathe again I silently approached the van. I figured that the herd of frightened cattle must have passed around the enterprise. I also surmised that by now the Captain must have soiled his knickers with fear and had dosed himself with NyQuil. Oh man, he was primed and ready for a practical prank. I stealthy moved in on the enterprise. I grabbed the back bumper and began to rock the van. “Doc that better be you” he yelped. I didn’t answer and continued to rock the van. The next sound that came out of the van was more like the woeful wailing of a wounded wilder beast. Excellent, he was now for the next stage of the prank. I scratched on the door and began to slowly open it. The Captain’s wailing became shrill, kind of like that of a screech owl. I then quickly opened the door, poked my head in and innocently asked, “What’s up Captain”? He exploded and bombarded me with a litany of profanity that even shocked my sensibilities. I responded by collapsing to the ground in an uncontrollable fit of laughter. Thus began a beautiful and lasting friendship that included many years of madcap adventures looming on the horizon.





Chapter 21 Unleashed

Chapter 21


Vrandi and her boyfriend arrived for the summit conference. It was decided that I should move out of the big house and find a place of my own. I found that ruling quite agreeable. We then played “let’s make a deal” and divided up our meager belongings. She got custody of the stove and I the portable stereo. The wicker furniture was split up, I retained the small two person couch and she the chairs. All considered, it was pretty much an equitable exchange of communal property. Fortunately, I was able to find a place to live that very day and employed Vrandi’s boyfriend to help me move my belongings with his car! Irony abounds! She accompanied me to the door and with a tear rolling down her cheek she parted with, “I never promised you a rose garden”. At that moment I realized that my love for this woman would always be a part of me. My eyes started to well up. In our short time together we managed to have experiences that most people will not have in their lifetime. My fondest memory is our dalliance in the dunes of Morocco. Nevertheless, we had come to our crossroads and going our separate ways was the logical course to take. Anyway, I moved into a two room safe house for sixteen dollars a month. I would be sharing a small court yard with my friend S.David and la familia; a middle age husband and wife and their three children. They were just the best landlords ever! La Senora would bring us plates of wonderful homemade Mexican food. I got to play futbol in the court yard with the two older brothers and inevitably a flower pot would be knocked off its’ perch bringing their mother out to scold someone. “Que cosa” she would ask. The kids would laugh and knowing she wouldn’t believe them pointed at me as the culprit. With a smile La Senora would shake a finger at me and say something I didn’t quite understand. She and her sons got a big laugh out of it and things quickly returned to normal. Those were some of the best two years of my life.

One early evening I heard a series of knocks on the front door of the court yard. No one was answering so I assumed the task. I opened the door and almost had a heart attack. Oh, my God! Goga, the Mayan princess who tenderly tortured me with her seductive charm and then broke my heart by moving away, was now standing before me. My first instinct was to envelope her with a crushing hug of happiness. She beat me to the punch and gently embraced me and I returned the affection. Cholula is a small town and she through the grape vine learned about my separation from Vrandi. To add just a tad of intrigue, Goga and Vrandi were also friends! Not standing on formality I of course invited her in. After a few minutes we abandoned our efforts at small talk and drifted to the bed where we made out like two horny teenagers hyped up on hormones. It was a glorious introduction to our tenuous two year relationship. She would come into Cholula two or three times a month and stay with her older sister who lived a short walk away. Under the pretext of seeing her old friends Goga would make a nonstop hop to my place and resume our sexcapades. Not for lack of trying I was not able to fully consummate our secret encounters. On every occasion when we were so very close to the ultimate act of coitus she would balk and firmly rebuff the attempts. Now, I could relate to her reluctance and fear of losing her virginity; Catholicism! Even though she was already steeped in sin just from our ongoing sexual proclivities losing one’s maidenhead before marriage was in the top ten lists of mortal sins and being raised as a Catholic I understood how gilt and fear could be insidiously imbedded and stifle natural sexual urges and almost any other forms of pleasure. I sympathized with her conflict of interest and didn’t try to persuade her abandonment of ingrained beliefs and risking an eternity in hell. Without that pressure hanging over us like a dark cloud we had the most passionate and satisfying sex. Her favorite course was cunnilingus which happened to be one of my favorites too and when she came, oh my God, it was like tasting a torrent of mango nectar; intoxicating, I couldn’t get enough of her sweet vagina. The term “amor” would frequently pepper our convervations. Oh no, heaven forbid I was falling in love again. In her absence though, I did manage to fill the void with a variety of exuberant co-eds.  For the sake of expediency and modesty I will not attempt to elaborate on the lurid details of my indiscretions but suffice to say that I probably had more than my fair share of fun!

One day I bumped into a middle aged gringo with a young buxom blond hanging on his arm. I felt stirrings of sympathy for this poor guy. Did he have any idea what was in store for him? I invited the couple in for a puff of reefer and developed an immediate affinity for him. Little did I realize that I had just befriended a man who would drastically steer my life in unimaginable directions and also little did I realize that this man had a nefarious reputation that cut through a wide swath of the United States and especially in New Orleans. The mere mention of his name “James H. McShan” evokes a wide range of emotions from those who knew him. I was about to set off on adventures with someone who’s nick name was “Mad Dog” which should have raised concerns about prudence and my wellbeing. I threw caution to the wind and became a traveling partner with “El Diablo”.





Chapter 20 Surprise Surprise



Chapter 20

“Surprise, Surprise”


It was about two in the morning when I finally reach my house in Cholula. Oh shit, I didn’t have my keys and not wanting to wake the neighbors with loud banging on the iron door I thought of a rather devious way to enter by means of stealth. I scaled up the outer wall using a water drain pipe, carefully shuffled along a narrow ledge leading to the balcony. The door was open so I let myself in. I know now that my antics from that point on were a tad over the top but at the time they seemed like good tacky theatre. Now keep in mind everyone thought I was somewhere in Alaska, so my presence was unexpected and unannounced. The bedroom was next the balcony and the door was wide open. I was ripe with anticipation and a heavy dose of dread. What I did next was totally out of character and protocol resulting in a shock for everyone including myself. Whether it was a total collapse of reason or a morbid curiosity or even the Devil’s influence in my knee jerk reaction I flicked on the bedroom light and inadvertently yelled, “Surprise! Surprise”!

I was shocked but not surprised to see Vrandi in bed spooning with her lover. Vrandi was shocked to see me standing in the room. Her boyfriend was shocked and by the look on his face terrified to boot. I think I already said all I could about the situation at hand, “surprise, surprise”! I turned and Lord have Mercy, Beanie, in a state of shock, was standing right behind me adding another unexpected dimension, my head spun like a top. I suggested we all go down to the kitchen take inventory and see if we could come to some kind of kind of consensus. I ran down the stairs eager to find my stash of Popo Blue hidden in a Quaker Oats container. I thought a little marijuana would put a mellow on the cast of this soap opera. Entering the kitchen I had to take pause and gasp at the sight of a carefully placed pack of Camel cigarettes on the table. Just a small jab in the heart. So, I found my stash, rolled a dubbie and waited for the rest of the crew. I could hear Vrandi upstairs crying her eyes out. There is nothing sadder and more heart wrenching than hearing a member of the opposite sex cry. I started to develop a lump in my throat. Beanie was the first to enter the kitchen and by her arms akimbo and shaking head I got the message; she was very displeased with me. “Couldn’t you have made a less dramatic return”? she inquired. I confessed it was a spur of the moment reaction and not very well thought out plus the Devil made me do it. Vrandi still crying and her boyfriend (his name escapes me) finally joined Beanie and me at the conference table. Her boyfriend still looked shocked and terrified. I lit up the joint and passed it to him. That small jester seemed to lighten his little load of terror. We all sat around the kitchen table unable to speak. Vrandi was still semi-sobbing, her boyfriend was nervously avoiding eye contact, Beanie was still akimbo and shaking her head in disbelief and I was paralyzed from the tongue down.

Beanie was the first to break the ice and proposed that we all reconvene the next day allowing the heat of emotions to simmer down. My wife would go home with her new love and Beanie and I would spend the rest of the night together. I quickly second that motion. Vrandi left in a state of tears, Beanie and I went upstairs and silently slipped in bed. I’m sure I subconsciously envisioned a more romantic outcome with Beanie but she had no such intentions. Besides, the heavy slap of reality struck me down into a blubbering mess gushing tears the size of lemons. I felt like I was drowning in a thick sea of suds in this soap opera. I knew that our marriage had surpassed its’ expiration date but the vision of my wife in bed with another man put a heavy spin on my perspective. I re-coiled into a humble heap of humility. Beanie gently held me in her arms and comforted me to sleep. I woke up the next morning still smarting from the knockout blow to my ego. Beanie was down stairs rattling some pots and pans; I got dressed and joined her in the kitchen. She gave me a tender hug and asked me if I was ok. “Yes”, I meekly responded. The other half of this team was due to arrive at any moment to negotiate some kind of agreement on an equitable future for us all. Ug! I was not looking forward to this encounter. I felt another jolt of dread.






Chapter 19 North to Alaska

Chapter 19

“North to Alaska”

This run to Tijuana was the most demoralizing bus ride ever. For one thing I didn’t have a chance to bake another loaf of banana pot bread to smooth the way. Second of all I had three long and lonely days to think about the events that brought me to this particular trajectory. What the hell was I doing? How can this debacle that I embroiled myself in be remedied? I didn’t see any feasible solutions as I peered out into the endless Mexican desert. And last but not least, all the way from Mexico City to Tijuana a fellow passenger sitting very near me would periodically cut the most retched farts that filled the whole bus with a toxic cloud that made everyone gasp for air. Oh God, I almost blew a gasket. The ride from Hell finally ended at the border. I crossed into California with no problem. I jumped on a Greyhound to Bakersfield figuring it would be easier to hitch hike from there to Stockton on the infamous High Way “99″.

I only had to wait a few minutes before a man in a pickup stopped and gave me a ride to Fresno. He reminded me of a lumber jack with his short hair and full black beard. After a few miles and some small talk he asked me if I would like to join him in a puff of hash. Yes, yes I certainly would! The ride to Fresno was a breeze. He dropped me off, shook my hand and wished me good luck. A most pleasant ride indeed. Again, just a few minutes later another pickup rumbled to a stop. Alright, at this rate I might make it to Stockton before night fall. The driver was an average straight looking white dude maybe a farmer’s son. After some silent moment peppered with chitchat he asked where I was going. “Stockton”, I replied. He gave me a thoughtful stare and stated, “Look here, I’ll give you a ride all the way to Stockton if you let me give you a blow job”. Blindsided I was momentarily speechless. Not quite believing what I just heard, I coughed up, “What”? He reiterated and clarified his proposal, “I said, I’ll take you to Stockton if you let me suck you cock”. Oh fuck! That is what I thought he said. Not wanting to offend this chap’s sensibilities and yet be resolute so there was no ambiguity I responded by telling him I truly appreciated his generous offer but I was a hopeless heterosexual and therefore had to gracefully decline the invitation. He immediately swerved off the freeway and came to a sliding stop on the shoulder. “Unless you change your mind, this is where you get out”, he ordered. I got out and he sped away in a cloud of dust. Whew! That could have gone wrong in so many ways. So, now I was standing in the middle of nowhere; brown fields as far as I could see. The freeway shoulder was too narrow for anyone to safely pull over. The traffic was zooming by, this didn’t look good. A car finally pulled over but it was the Highway Patrol. Great! He ushered me into his car and asked for identification. The first piece I showed him was my honorable discharge papers from the Air Force then my passport and driver’s license. He asked me what I did in the Air Force. “Security Police”, I said proudly. He liked that answer and gave me a ride to a better hitch hiking spot and drove off with his red lights flashing to some emergency up the freeway. I stood for several hours and not a hint of anyone even thinking of pulling over. It was now getting dark, cold and foggy. No one in their right mind would pull over now. I heard a train coming down the tracks that paralleled “99″. Maybe I could jump the train and crawl into an empty box car. Not happening, the train was moving way to fast. Ok then, I made one last effort to hitch a ride before finding some kind of shelter from the cold. Just as I was ready to give up a classic white 1959 Cadillac full of young hippies pulled up to me. “Need a ride”, the shotgun passenger yelled. I jumped into the back seat between two young farm boys. “Smoke some pot”? the young long haired driver asked. “Is a pig’s pussy pork”? I quipped (a term I learned from my sergeant in basic training). They howled at my response, passed a joint and then invited me to a party. I was on board; maybe I could find a couch to crash on for the night.

After a few miles the driver skirted off the freeway onto a little two lane road towards some lights off in the distance. I began to get a little concerned; the four young men were acting a tad peculiar. “Where are we going”? I inquired. “Chowchilla” they sang in unison and then started to laugh hysterically which spiked my concern even more. The only thing I knew about Chowchilla was its’ reputation of being an ultra-conservations farming community saddled in the bible belt of San Joaquin Valley. We abruptly came to the only stop light in this one horse town. On the corner adjacent to us in an old gas station was a gathering of big young white farm boys. I mean these guys were authentic cowboys! From their Stetsons, tight Levi’s and fancy Saturday night cowboy boots to their pickups with beer stacked on the hoods, my God, they were the real deal. The gang of young men saw us and began to yell, “There they are”! They reached into their trucks and pulled out some heavy artillery, shotguns and rifles! I’m thinking, “Holy Hell, are they getting ready to shoot at the Cadillac full of hippies. They then aimed at us and began firing. I saw my life flash before my eyes, is this how I’ll go out, in a hail of gunfire and in of all places, Chowchilla! They kept firing but their aim was over the vehicle. On cue from the head Cowboy they stopped firing. He yelled at our young driver, “Hey Jimmy, this is the best God Damn acid ever”. Jimmy yelled back, “I told you so”. “Jimmy, get us some weed, ok”. Jimmy assured them, “Ok, we will be right back, stay put”. They started hootin and hollerin again followed by more playful gun fire. Whew!! All that gun play was just a relatively harmless but terribly frightening salute to their young hippy drug connection. The light turned green we sped off. Holy shit, gun happy cowboys on acid! This is an unnatural and probably dangerous combination. Who would have thought? The crew I was with started to giggle. Holy shit, these guys were also trippin on acid! What next?

We pulled into a small country house and piled out. God it felt good to be standing and alive. Jimmy disappeared into a bedroom and returned with a baggy full of pot. “Come on”, he ordered,” Let’s get this weed back to those crazy cowboys before they shoot somebody”. Just as we were leaving the phone rang and Jimmy answered it. His eyes got really big and slammed the phone down. “We gotta go now”! It was something about one of their cousins’ involvement in a gun battle. What is this and who is this and why do I have to go with them? Before those questions could be answered I found myself in the back seat on the way to an old fashion shootout. Holy Hell! Things just couldn’t possibly get any worse, but they did! The young stud sitting next to me realized that one of his kin was on the opposing side of the dispute. He freaked out and brandished a gun just inches from my head screaming, ‘That’s my cousin you’all are shooting at”! The youngster on my right pulled his gun out and pointing it just inches from my head and yelled back, “Put your gun down”! Holy mother of all fucked up places to be! Here I was sandwiched between the Hatfields and McCoys who are on acid and angry. Once again, my life flashed before my eyes.  At that moment I was thinking maybe I shouldn’t have been so hasty and let my sexual convictions preclude a blow job from that guy in the pickup; I probably would have been in Stockton by now.  Jimmy and his copilot were also screaming for everyone to calm down and put their guns away. Reason took hold and my two young adversaries re-holstered their firearms. We arrived at a ranch in a cloud of dust and scrambled out of the car. I’m still wondering how and why I have to be involved in this family feud. Someone came running up to Jimmy saying that everything was ok, the dispute was resolved no one was hurt. I took this moment of calm to reach in my pants to make sure I hadn’t defecated in a moment of extreme fear. All clear, what a relief. We all shoved ourselves back in the car and headed back to town and deliver the bag of weed to the acid buzzed cowboys. Sure enough they were hanging out at the gas station and acting crazier than ever. Jimmy asked me if I still wanted to party with them. I took this opportunity to escape and told him it was imperative that I get to Stockton and needed to get back to the freeway. Besides, I had enough excitement for one night. It was now very dark, cold and foggy. I would not be visible alongside the freeway. I found a little shelter under the overpass, slipped into my sleeping bag and thanked the almighty for sparing my life.

The next day luck was with me and I got a ride all the way to Stockton. I hooked up with some friends and sequestered myself in their basement for a few days. The time had come for me to stop feeling sorry for myself and try to resolve this convoluted situation I was sinking into. My ill-conceived plan of going to Alaska was taken off the table. I couldn’t imagine myself doing hard labor in the frozen Yukon tundra. Hiding out in Stockton was definitely not in the cards. I couldn’t stay on the lam trying to evade myself forever. I had to man up and return to Cholula to face the consequences. I borrowed some money to fly back to Mexico. I was not going to try and hitch hike again.

Touching down in Mexico City woke me from a vivid dream; I saw a pack of Camel cigarettes carefully placed on our kitchen table. I interpreted it as a premonition and a clue to what was waiting for me in Cholula.





Chapter 18 Meltdown in Mexico

Chapter 18

“Meltdown in Mexico”

So, as it stood, Vrandi was safely tucked away in Toronto for the summer and I remained in Mexico to fend for myself. The physical distance between us (three thousand miles) made me feel like the oppressive weight and insidious nature of contempt had been lifted and replaced by a sense of quiet relief. We both hoped the separation would lead to redemption. The next few months would test this exercise in futility.

Now, being left behind in Mexico was no picnic, it was paradise! Summertime in this part of the country is on one of the top rungs of the stairway to heaven. It’s the rainy season and like clockwork the clouds gather in the afternoon and release their content in a down pour lasting about an hour then clearing out moving on to the Gulf Coast. The valley turns into a thick, dripping green shag carpet of foliage. The outdoor mercados are flooded with fresh exotic fruit, vegetables not to mention marijuana and mushrooms which were all abundantly available. Another wonderful aspect of the summer was all the young gringas parading in halter tops and tight shorts a fashion that bewildered and sometimes shocked the locals. I on the other hand appreciated the display of legs. I really, truly did my very best to behave myself by resisting temptation and open invitations for promiscuous endeavors , after all I was still a married man and in theory trying to be faithful to the concept of marriage.

S. David and I had free days to pal around and enjoy the life of leisure. One morning we decided to drink a mushroom shake and descend into the bowels of the enormous pyramid looming over the town. The mushrooms came on us like a torrent just as we arrived at the pyramid. The two poorly paid guards/tour guides took one look at us and waived us on into the entrance; we were on our own to explore the tangle of tunnels which were totally dark. At the end of each passage way we turned on a string of lights that illuminated the next length of tunnel. We were alone and beginning to hallucinate. I really don’t have the words to describe what we were seeing and feeling. It was like being the first explorers to penetrate the pyramid in thousands of years. The tunnels were squirming like radiant worm holes in a structure that was alive and breathing. As we passed through the passage ways the walls changed colors like a chameleon. This was wonderfully intense. At one point we came to the end of a tunnel and turned on a switch that lit up three different directions to choose from. We stood at that three way crossroad for the longest time unable to proceed because the transparent tubes were now undulating like snakes luring us deeper into infinity. We tripped for hours happily lost in ancient history. Pictured is one of the tunnels that we navigated through in an exceptionally altered state of consciousness. What a brain blast!

Beanie (my wife’s best friend) and I began hanging out together and became summer sidekicks. As mentioned, I fell in love with her the moment we met. That initial infatuation morphed into a longing and yearning for her. Lord help me, I was in love with this girl. Yes, I still loved Vrandi but the heart has the capacity to love more than one person. Knowing how badly this scenario could end I kept my feelings under tight restrictions all the while tumbling down into the valley of love. I wanted so very much to open the flood gates and release the torrents of feelings I had for her. Devine torture! At one point our hands accidently touched sending a molten current through my body. I could barely contain myself. A few days before I had to leave the country to renew my visa I mustered up the courage and with my heart pounding blurted out how I felt about her. Not knowing what kind of response I would get, she surprised me and quietly whispered, “I’ve been thinking about the same thing”. She quickly added, “It is an impossible situation, we just can’t do this”. My heart shattered but I had to agree with her and reluctantly dropped the subject. I didn’t see Beanie for the next couple of days and sadly thought it was probably for the best.

On the eve of my return to the States I heard a hesitating knock on the door and upon opening it I almost lost consciousness. Oh my God! Beanie was shyly standing at the thresh hold. I had to contain the explosion of utter delight that if left unchecked would have left pieces of me scattered about. Oh, Hell, oh Hell, my fantasy of sleeping with Beanie may happen. I couldn’t talk for a few minutes; got taken away in a swirl of scenarios and consequences. We walked upstairs, sat down and had a halting conservation about the very present and the near future. She started with a discouraging note and said, “You know what we are thinking of doing is so wrong on so many levels”. I couldn’t argue with that and agreed with her. We then weighed the pros and cons of having sex. In the con column – if we did sleep together would we be able to come clean and confess our sins which would hurt my wife and jeopardize Beanie’s friendship with her? Not good! If we kept it a secret, could we live with the spike in our conscious? Probably not! Then there was the fact that secrets have a way of festering and oozing. Not good! The scale was tipping heavily towards abandoning our ploy. We had one last card to play before folding. We could forsake better judgment by dismissing the likely consequences and cave in to our carnal cravings. A decisive decision had to be made and quickly. I looked into Beanie’s facial expression to get a reading on her leanings. Well, I guess this is it then. “Que sera, sera”. I got up, took her by the hand and with my heart pounding like a diesel piston led the way to the bedroom. The sex was an easy application; we slipped right into a quiet, slow motion rhythm making every movement a moment to remember. Only our deepening breaths could be heard. Looking up at Beanie as she was methodically and sensually writhing with her long dark hair draped over her shoulders creating a veil that sheltered both of us I was struck by how much I really loved this girl; a love which I knew would surely lead to complications. Nevertheless, this one night of sublime sex was and still is a precious memory. After a colossal climax we collapsed in each other’s arms and slept like we just completed a cross country marathon.

We were awakened by a sharp rap on the front door. S. David was there to drag me out of the house to catch a bus on a grueling three day and two night ride to the border. His eyebrows noticeably arched when he saw Beanie emerge looking slight disheveled. She gave me a quick peck on my cheek and skirted off. God, I wanted to postpone the horrid bus ride and stay a few days longer but my schedule didn’t allow time for this unexpected event. I had to return to Mexico City and reunite with my wife. To prepare for this dreaded bus ride S. David and I made a loaf of marijuana banana bread which helped us to survive the trip. I think our fellow passengers began to wonder why we would break out in muffled giggles for no apparent reason. From the border we hitched to LA and stayed with a couple of friends for a day. Our friend lent us her mustang to hasten the way to Stockton. We stayed long enough to renew our visas in San Francisco and zoomed back down to the border to once again endure the bus ride from hell. To make matters worse I had three days to ponder the possible scenarios looming in the very near future. I couldn’t for see anything but turmoil. We made plans to meet at a hotel near the central bus station. Approaching the hotel I felt rather queasy and had to take some deep breaths before entering. Oh holy hell, there was Vrandi standing at the check in counter. I marveled at the timing of our link up, this could be a good omen. We held each other in a reserved and awkward embrace. Our kiss was equally reserved and awkward; I knew at that moment our marriage was in question. “Que sera sera” It didn’t take long before the shit hit the fan. I was sitting between Vrandi and Beanie at a school event when the understanding of paradox hit me like sledge hammer. I still loved my wife but desperately wanted to be with Beanie. I had to get up and walk out before totally losing my composure. I went to S. David’s house and dumped my dilemma on him. He lit up a big fatty and offered his sympathy with my plight. After careful considerations of my options we came to the conclusion that I would have to come clean and release the truth letting consequences take their due course. All the way home I fretted over on how to broach the subject and spill the beans about Beanie. As I walked through the front door I could hear Vrandi in the kitchen. I could feel and hear my heart pounding in my ears. I met her eyes; ok the moment of truth had arrived. I started to choke on my words, “Vrandi, I have something to tell you”. Before I could confess she held up her hand and stopped me, “I know, Beanie just told me everything”. Wow! I immediately felt lighter as the burdensome weight of secrecy had been lifted off my shoulders. She then continued with her own confessions of infidelity. I seemed that she hooked up with an old flame and had an entanglement with a middle aged married man. Under ordinary circumstances I probably would have been enraged by such news but I was relieved, this was perfect! Our extra marital affairs in a way cancelled each other out. Not only had the secret’s oppressive weight been lifted but the corrosive poison of guilt had been neutralized. Without recriminations we were now at square one. How do we proceed from here?

Vrandi had a plan. There was a four day weekend coming right up. She was attracted to a fellow student and wanted to go off to Acapulco with him and Beanie would stay with me for the weekend. Despite it only being a temporary solution, I enthusiastically endorsed the proposal. I could spend four days with Beanie; I was beside myself with joy. On the day of transition Vrandi left with her weekend lover. Beanie informed me that she couldn’t go through with the sordid scheme. It was just too much for her to deal with. She ran off with someone else leaving me alone to wallow in self-pity. I couldn’t believe what was happening; my wife was with her lover and my lover was with someone else! Just how convoluted can a situation get? I felt betrayed and abandoned even though I knew such emotions were just a matter of a severely bruised ego and had no legal standing. Nevertheless, I lost my cool and melted down into a pathetic puddle of protoplasm. In a panic I did the only thing I could think of doing; I packed up and left the country. Before leaving I left a letter on the bed apologizing for my lack of strength and character to weather this storm. What seemed like a reasonable plan at the time, I added a post script stating that I had intentions of heading north to the Yukon and work on the oil pipeline. With my back pack slung over my shoulders I set out for Alaska.












Chapter 17 The University of the Americas

Copy write 2015


Chapter 17

The University of the Americas

“A bilingual sex ed”


After procrastinating as long as possible, I finally enrolled and became a full time student at the University of the Americas. My major just had to be anthropology. What better location to pursue a low paying career than Cholula. From my balcony I could see the worlds’ largest pyramid in volume. The place reeked with history. The University was about a mile from town at the end of a rare paved street. The neocolonial campus was teeming with students from all over the Western Hemisphere. There was an unsubstantiated rumor circulating that the CIA had a clandestine listening post on campus to keep an eye on nearby Puebla Mexico’s second largest city and a hot bed of anti- government sentiment. In spite of this rumor, I quickly understood what the attraction was for this obscure little school; Sex and Drugs! Oh my God, this was a heavenly paradise for both of these vices. Mexico was an exotic and wild frontier in the sexual revolution phenomenon that was sweeping the world. Most of the students were temporary only staying for a semester or two. This was for a majority was the first time out of their country, away from home, away from parents, away from prying eyes and gossip. Everyone had a carte blanche check to spend on sexual indulgences resulting in a delightful explosion of promiscuity that dusted its’ powerful pheromones on the hapless community. Even the less attractive gringas were afforded the opportunity to sew wild oats because a rich source of sexually frustrated Latinos were ready and more than willing to make their stay in Mexico a memorable one. It was a win, win for everybody! Although, the sexual spell hypnotizing the population did have a side effect. Everyone I knew who arrived in Mexico as a couple, their relationship quickly deteriorated and crash landed, including yours truly.

As far as the drug scene in Mexico, close to Heaven! Anything to ones’ preference was available for the asking. I shied away from the pharmaceuticals and stuck with the organics, marijuana and mushrooms which were illegal but still easy to come by. Back then the going price of a kilo of grade “A” pot was twenty to twenty five dollars! There was no wanting for potency or variety. The mushrooms “hongos” were amazing. Horizons blended in with altered realities making a visual scape of other colorful and enriched possibilities. Didn’t have a mushroom trip I didn’t like except for one to be shared in an upcoming chapter. Through the “Gringo Grapevine” word spread quickly that the “Mushroom Man” would be in town. Several times a month a little old campacino would come down from his small farm on the side of “Popo”, the volcano, with his donkey loaded with bags of freshly harvested mushroom. A hippy from LA was the distributor for the magical merchandise. On mushroom day a steady stream of customers would file through in anticipating pleasant journeys.

So, Vrandi and I settled in and acted like newlyweds. It was a rather blissful stage to be in. We took advantage of our central location to branch out and visit places like Acapulco and Oaxaca. Oh, just a slightly humorous side bar here. While in Oaxaca we stayed in a cheap hotel where bed bugs ruled the night. Waking up in the morning Vrandi made a blood curdling screamed. Holy shit, she looked like some albino creature covered from head to toe with bright red spots. Sadly, it seemed that the bed bugs had a taste for soft white flesh to dine on; I didn’t have a bite on me!

Anyway, with the end of the honeymoon phase small hairline cracks began to weaken our foundation. Bickering became an all too familiar source of irritation. Upon an invitation to come down to Mexico, the arrival of my friend S. David who stayed with us for a few weeks in Toronto provided a brief but welcomed distraction from our crumbling marriage. Steve and I would wander off and do things that Vrandi wasn’t interested in. She also buddied up and did girl things with her best friend a foxy little Tex-Mex who as a term of endearment I nicknamed “Beanie” who I also fell madly in love with the first time we met; a recipe for disastrous complications. Anyway the timely breaks from each other did temporarily pave over the developing fissures in our marriage.

The time to return to the States and renew our visas crept up on us. We had to make the dreaded two thousand mile bus ride back to California and visit the dreaded Mexican Consulate for new visas. This time was much easier because I had with the encouragement from Steve and with outrage and ire from Vrande cut my hair. We stayed a few nights in Stockton with my parents; because we were now married we could sleep together. We finished our business and rushed back to Mexico in high hopes of rejuvenating our fragile marriage. To give Vrandi and I privacy Steve moved out and found a place a few blocks away. Steve liked Mexico so much he persuaded his father to break into a college trust fund set up for him and send money to attend the University of the Americas. Swift move!

The marriage revival lasted a couple of months but leaks developed in the hull of our love boat allowing contempt to trickle in. Senseless spats became the highlight of the day. On one fine afternoon while engaging in a heated argument over nothing Varandi launched a full bottle of wine at my head to make an assertive point! The bottle came so close to me that I could read the label as it whizzed past my face and smashed into a thousand pieces against the wall. If that bottle had hit me my skull would have been crushed like a ripe cantaloupe! I stood quivering in shock; Vrandi fell to the floor crying like a tortured soul. It was an eye bulging epiphany. We had come to the fail safe zone; turning back was an unlikely option at this juncture. We agreed that a little more time and distance between us would be beneficial. Vrandi returned to Toronto for the summer; I remained in Cholula. We were both alone with our own devices.



Chapter 16 Magical Mexican Mystery Tour

Chapter 16

“Magical Mexican Mystery Tour”


Let’s see, where did I leave off? Oh yes, Vrandi and I just moved into our departed neighbor’s two story house. We were happy to have taken over their estate but I was still stinging from a little heartbreak for the loss of “Goga” my gorgeous Mayan Maiden. But as I mentioned, providence provided for future entanglements with her. Vrandi and I settled in and struggled to master the nuances of marriage. Before I go any further into our attempts to sail through holy matrimony, I’ll take the opportunity and devote this chapter to Cholula. After a brief history of this historical area I have included some pictures that I hope will give you an idea of the paradise that I lived in for three years.


It has been estimated that Cholula’s history goes back three thousand years the longest continually inhabited city in the Western Hemisphere. Around 200BC Cholula transformed from an agrarian village into a powerful religious center coveted and conquered by various civilizations including the Olmecs and Toltecs. Each wave of new rulers constructed on top of the existing temple until it became the largest pyramid by volume in the world. Through centuries of neglect and indifference all but the very top pyramid became overgrown and covered with flora making it look like a mere mountain.

I think things were going along just fine until a Spanish scamp  by the name of Cortez and his merry marauders marched into town for a little stopover before he strolled into Teotihuacan to subjugate the Aztec empire and loot its’ gold.  Cortez stayed long enough in Cholula to slaughter over three thousand inhabitants in a preemptive move to quash any ideas or attempts to impede his conquest of the Aztecs. To add insult to injury the Spanish conquistadors destroyed the very top pyramid not knowing the bulk of the structure was hidden under dirt and over growth.  A church was eventually built on top of the remains and as an extra punishment the locals were ordered to construct three hundred and sixty five churches, one for every day of the year. The culture collapsed after the scourge of Cortez and his wrecking crew.

When I lived in Cholula (1971 to 1974) it was still a sleepy and rustic town nestled in a lush green valley surrounded by volcanos. Even though the new university attracted students from around the world along with their influx of money, the local inhabitants remained untainted and lived true to their wonderful nature. Today because of Cholula’s charm and the ongoing excavation of the massive pyramid it has become a major tourist attraction. I hope the inhabitants haven’t been jaded and lost their charm.

So, as promised the next few pages will be filled with photos of the place I loved and called home.





The two pictures below are of the zocalo and the church of San Pedro. The next two are night views. I lived just on the other side of this church.

Following the street down to the church and turning right you will come to the second door in the blue building. That door leads to the house where Vrandi and I lived.


The three pictures below are different views from my roof top.

Views of the church on top of the pyramid.


Street scenes of Cholula.


Two more street scenes.




Sunrise on Popo. Popo looming .

Popo and the church atop the pyramid.




Above Popo is coming to life. Below Popo is asserting its’ prerogative.






Chapter 15 Vamanos a Mexico



Chapter 15

“Vamanos a Mexico”


Vrandi and I liquidated our few assets, packed our backpacks and pulled up stakes in a matter of days. We boarded a train and railed it from Toronto to Vancouver. What an incredible continent crossing adventure and if it still exists I highly recommend taking the train which goes through a landscape dotted with thousands of lakes , an endless expanse of golden prairies and ultimately winding its way along sheer cliffs in the Canadian Rockies. We had to settle for second class fares; third class is absent from the Canadian vocabulary. Nevertheless, second class was actually quite comfortable. The bench seats were padded and long enough for one to stretch out and sleep. Two young unassuming chaps befriended us before the train left the station. They were genuinely gregarious but I truly believed their fancy was focused on my soon to be wife, a harmless crush to be sure. Anyway, these two likeable guys looked alarmingly like a couple of Bible toting young republicans on steroids, the epitome of all that is righteous and good. As it turned out these characters were actually drug dealers, what a perfect disguise. Their drug of choice, hash! At stations when the train would stop for ten or fifteen minutes the four of us found a secluded spot and smoked a pipe full of their product. After one late night stop and hash session, Vrandi and I waited until everyone in our car was asleep and tip toed into the men’s bathroom for covert sex . There is something very special about having sex on a moving train. I think the combination of the train’s motion and the clickity-clack of its’ steel wheels create a perfect cadence for intercourse. We locked into the train’s rhythm; lucky for us our visceral vocalizations were muffled by the roar of the mighty locomotive.

After a breathtaking cliff hugging ride through Banff we arrived in Vancouver. We adhered to our new best friends who led us to an extremely hip hostel which served as their base of operations. Everyone was anticipating their arrival. These two guys were approaching sainthood status in this community. When Vrandi and I walked in with them as their entourage we were given royal treatment. We were even afforded a small private room; yes it does pay to know people in the right places. After all their slabs of hash were distributed into the proper hands it was time to celebrate their good fortune. The two hash brokers sponsored an all-night party in their state room. It quickly became a standing room only fiesta. A thick fog of hash smoke lowered visibility to only a few feet. Vrandi and I retired early and had splendid sex before passing out in each other’s arms. The next morning I called the local office of Auto Drive-Away. They just received a car that needed to be delivered to Los Angeles. Wham! We got a lift to the office and completed the necessary paperwork. We were rewarded with a smoking hot, royal blue with white racing stripes Mustang “Mach 1″. We jumped in, put the pedal to the metal and sped off laying a trail of rubber from Vancouver to Los Angeles. God that was a fun car to drive, pure muscle!

We drove non- stop except for an occasional power nap. San Francisco was our first pit stop. I enlisted a friend from high school and a leading member of the Victory Park People to be my witness and best man. We had a very civil ceremony in the SF courthouse. We were now new members of the legally bound. Below are pictures of the deliriously happy newly- weds basking in front of the San Francisco court house.




I will have to digress here for a moment. After the shock of affirming her surprise marriage proposal wore off and I could again focus, Vrandi convinced me that our marriage could very well provide a financial boost to our personal coffer which was perilously close to nothing. She surmised that both sides of our families would gladly contribute to a marriage therefore assuring we would no longer be living in sin under the watchful eyes of the Lord. By God, the slightly devious extortion plan worked! Both of our parents chipped in to help facilitate the marriage thereby helping to deliver us from sin and the embarrassing stigma of adultery. It was a win- win situation. They were happy and we had a comfortable nest egg to start a life in Mexico. After the brief but emotionally charged ceremony we dropped in on the Mexican Consulate to procure visas. We completed the paperwork and were issued student visas instead of the regular tourist/visitor status. The difference was the length of time one could stay in Mexico without having to renew. Student visa – one year; tourist – six months. At the time to renew a visa one was obligated to leave the country and reapply in the States. The reasoning was lost to me. Anyway, making the long gruesome trip up to the border and then return was every Gringo’s worst nightmare. A once a year renewal was the lesser of the evils. As we gathered our visas the Consulate General briskly walked up, looked in my eyes and barked, “You are going to have to cut your hair or you will be denied entry into Mexico”!! He then turned on his heels and dropped his bulk behind a big desk. Vrandi and I were stunned into silence. What a Pinche Pendejo! Neither of us wanted to have my mane sheared. The solution popped into our heads at the same moment. Short wig! We walked a few blocks and ducked into a wig shop on Market Street. We were able to find one that kind of matched my color. Stuffing my big wad of hair into the wig was a painful struggle. Oh my God, when I looked in a mirror a slightly deranged Beatle was staring back at me. My head looked swollen and lopsided. Shit! This pathetic disguise wasn’t going to fool anyone. It would have to do though. We jumped back in the Mach 1 and peeled out of the City and fishtailed into Stockton for a brief stay long enough to introduce my new bride to family and friends. We then piled into the car and sped on down to Los Angeles. The grateful owner of the Mustang gave us a handsome tip and a ride to the Greyhound station where we boarded a bus to Calexico a dusty California border town. Before we made the walk to the border crossing into Mexico I made a quick dash into the men’s bathroom and again struggled to shove my hair into the short wig. Exiting the bathroom I saw the look of horror on Vrandi’s face. She just shook her head and shooed me back into the bathroom to fix the sham sitting on my head. I did the best I could. Adding a pair of black horned rim glasses to the disguise made my look even more bizarre. With trepidation we slowly walked up to the Mexican Customs office. Fortunately for me the customs agent’s attention turned towards Vrandi. Distracted by her presence they just gave me a disapproving once over probably thinking, “What is this pretty young blond babe doing with this demented dork”? They eventually stamped our visas and let us pass. Leaving a trail of relief we jumped into a cab and dumped out at the train station. We purchased third class tickets and boarded a wooded relic that should have been in a railroad museum. We claimed an empty bench and watch in amazement as the car filled up with an array of solders carrying rifles and campacinos with an assortment of livestock, mostly chickens but the squeals of piglets could be heard. Another group that made up a third of the passengers was the colorful indigenous Indians carrying baskets of fruit and vegetables. They had a distinctively old world look that differentiated them from the Mestizo population. Just relying on my poor High School Spanish I could tell they were speaking a language that was unrecognizable. Children were already running up and down the aisles laughing and making a game out of chasing down escaping chickens. Oh man, I thought I knew the proclivities of third-class, but this was the best ever. And of course we were the only gringos in the car and attracted many curious glances.

The train finally pulled away from the station just a few hours late. It was dark and the passengers were settling in for the evening. We did the same. I took first shift as the sitting pillow. Curling up into a tight ball Vrandi nestled into my lap and passed out from the rigors of a very long day. I was astonished she could sleep on the hard wood bench not to mention the erratic bouncing and swaying of the car. It was like being in the last seat of the old roller-coaster in Santa Cruz; a rough but thrilling ride. Sometime in the middle of the night we switched positions. I couldn’t curl up enough to fit so I laid on my back and propped my feet on the arm rest. It was actually quite comfortable. I quickly faded into a fatigued sleep. I was awakened by a series of tugs on me feet. I peeked out of half opened eyes to see a small goat nibbling on my shoes! My God, this just gets better and better. I sat up petted the goat and gently shooed him on down the aisle. The little old women who were watching gave me a smile of approval. Wham! I was suddenly hit with a piercing headache. The pain was like a blinding flash of white light; my head was ready to explode. Feeling my forehead I realized what the problem was. Because of all my hair stuffed into the confines of the wig, it was actually serving as a tourniquet cutting off the blood supply to my brain. I could feel my brain cells starving to death. I jumped up and ran to the bathroom muttering, “Got to save the brain”. I pushed the door open, locked it behind me and immediately tore the wig off. Oh my God the relief was instantaneous. I began rubbing to get the circulation going and let out a silent scream; a crease running across my forehead felt like a miniature Grand Canyon! No wonder I was in such pain, I was slowly being decapitated. Whew, ok then while I was occupying the bathroom I might as well relieve my bladder. Now the bathroom was the size of an old country outhouse and looked like one. An unsanitary toilet seat was loosely attached to wood planks placed over a hole that emptied directly on to the train tracks. So there I was desperately trying to keep my balance with one hand holding the wig and the other gripping my penis when the car violently lurched like it was derailing. I had to release the wig and my penis to brace myself against the walls to keep from falling into the hole of no return. I watched in helpless horror as the wig did a few flips in the air and quickly disappeared into the toilet. Someone was knocking on the door. Shit, shit, shit! Well there was nothing I could do but zip up and vacate the bathroom and hope no one would noticed my transformation from a short hair bearded geek into a long hair hippy who looked like he just performed a botched lobotomy on himself. My appearance raised a few eyebrows with looks of confused concern. I sat next to the window and tried not to make eye contact with anyone.

The train bored into a tunnel leaving everyone stranded in the dark for a few long minutes. Only the sounds of chickens and children screaming with delight broke through the silence. The train shot out of the black hole and stopped at a mountain village. With my mouth agape I stared in bewilderment at the scene before me. It was another “Twilight Zone” moment. The train while in the tunnel must have been transported to another place and time and from the looks of it I would have guessed Africa a couple of centuries ago. Rudimentary earthen huts with thatched roofs sprouted along the tracks. I didn’t see any signs of electricity or roads; the train was probably their main link with the outside world. Everyone got off the train blended in with the villagers. Not so with Vrandi and me! Stepping off the train and into the open we became the targets of curiosity and were immediately surrounded mostly by children who stared at us like we had just landed from outer space. Where did this hairy cave man and blond beauty come from? The children were fascinated with our hair. They touched Vrandi’s hair as if it were golden silk. I bought some sweet pastry from a young girl. I was intimidated by the looks of other food being sold, a lot of meat preparations. The train’s whistle warned of its’ departure. We boarded and waived back at our new flock of fans. It was pleasantly disconcerting to be the focus of unbridled attention; I believe we just had a mini fifteen minutes of fame moment.

On the very outskirts of Mexico City we passed through a vast area of abject poverty. While in Morocco I thought I had seen the worse conditions that the very poor could endure but I was shocked and dismayed to see unthinkable poverty in such a massive concentration. As far as the eye could see were hundreds of old discarded box cars that were converted into condominiums housing a community of desperation and hopelessness. Small naked children waved from their boxcars, older children would run alongside the slow moving train with their palms open hoping someone would toss something of value preferably food. Fuck! I choked up and stoically suppressed tears of hopeless sympathy. We threw the rest of what was left of our rations to the eager hands below our window.

After three days of an enlightening train ride we finally arrived in Mexico City. Wading through the madness of the city we found the main bus terminal. I left Vrandi for a few minutes to purchase tickets to Cholula. A young man ran up to me, tugged at my arm and yelled, “Come quickly”! I followed him to a big circle of people. He shoved his way through the crowd paving a narrow passage for me. Holy Shit!! Vrandi was passed out on the floor shaking from head to toe. The only other time I had ever seen her in this condition was during our orgasmic moment in Morocco and this was a totally different scenario. Cradling her head in my lap I gently wiped her face with a moist cloth given to me by someone in the crowd. Thankfully she came to, fluttered her eyes and asked, “What happened”? Whew, that could have ended badly. I had to practically carry her on to the bus. We had to jump on a local bus from Puebla for the last leg to Cholula. We found the hotel that the University had made arrangements for newly arriving students as temporary lodging. It was late afternoon, we both trudged into our room and flopped on the bed. We didn’t wake up until the next morning. After a complimentary breakfast we set out to find a suitable place to live. Fate once again intervened. The first American looking lad I ran into was a bro from California. As it turned out he was a friend of a friend of my friend in Barcelona who gave me the heads up about the University here. He hooked us up with a local store and property owner that had a newly built house available to rent. We followed him to a large metal door that opened up into a long drive way and standing at the end stood a two story house with a balcony. Vrandi and I became very excited but our expectations were curbed when we were shown the house that ran the length of the driveway. It was a long drab cinder block dwelling with pale green rooms. It looked more like a clinic but what it lacked in ambiance the rent made up for its’ shortcommings. For forty dollars a month we could live with the drabness. We met and were immediately made to feel welcomed by our next door neighbors a widow and her three daughters. The eldest a twenty four year old was engaged, the second a twenty two year old cutie sought our help in learning English. Now it was the youngest daughter a nineteen year old Mayan Princess that caused considerable consternations. “Dios Mio”! I fell in love with her the moment our eyes met. I know, I know, my fledgling marriage wasn’t yet into its’ second week and here I was coveting my neighbor’s daughter. The shame and guilt! But I couldn’t help it! She was tall and graceful with a coco almond skin tone. Her hair was thick, long and jet black not to mention her big brown eyes. I couldn’t ignore my pounding heart whenever she was near. To make matters worse, she would intuitively know whenever Vrandi was gone and sneak over. She would then send erotic shock waves through my body by slowly running her long delicate fingers through my hair and braiding it. I was putty in her hands. Resistance was futile; I didn’t have the will power or desire to at least make a feeble attempt to dissuade her from the unauthorized attention she was administering to me. Just as I was ready to blow a gasket the family packed up and moved to Atlixco a town about thirty miles away. I was ultimately relieved by her departure yet saddened to see her go. Fortunately though, that would not be my last encounter with her.

Vrandi and I moved into their vacated house. We were now alone and without distractions. We settled in and began practicing being a husband and wife. The future seemed to be filled with rainbows and unicorns. We were too blissfully blind to see the dark storm clouds developing on the horizon.


Well, that basically concludes the first year in the Decade of Dr. Zorro. I have nine more years to account and atone for. There will be more adventures and misadventures, hijinks and epiphanies, close calls, brushes with the law the devil and death, drugs and sexual escapades, loves and heartbreaks; in other words just more of the usual debauchery.