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.


Cholula

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.

 

 

 


 

Chapter 14 Canadian Cruise

 

 

Chapter 14

“Canadian Cruise”

 

The plane started its’ decent into Toronto over the Great Lakes. Looking out at the vast bodies of water below I couldn’t help but wonder about the depths I’ll soon be plunging into. I had never (in the Biblical sense anyway) lived with anyone before. I would be in unfamiliar territory. Oh shit, oh shit! What am I doing? I’m casting my lot in with a girl who I really didn’t think I would ever see again. I barely knew her except for the brief but exquisite sexual encounter in Morocco. Wading through a thick mixture of optimistic anticipation and terror, I felt paralyzed from the neck up. I was walking blind folded off the end of a diving board trusting there would be water in the pool; a perfect moment for a panic attack. Before I knew it the plane was landing.

Canadian customs proved to be the most grueling I had ever been through. I again assumed that my appearance had something to do with it! I was singled out and taken to a private room for an exhaustive interrogation. My name was crunched by some kind of data system to see if I was a fugitive from the law and on the lam or had a drug conviction. Further background checks proved that I was neither a deserter nor a draft dodger. The Nixon administration considered these two offences as tantamount to treason and applied extreme pressure on the Canadian government to thwart the exodus of future fodder for the Vietnam debacle. After an intense grilling about possible affiliations with terrorist organizations or other anti-American groups such as the Weathermen they had no incriminating evidence to deny passage into Canada. I was set free! Riding up in the elevator to the waiting area I felt my heart pounding like a Taiko drum. Oh Hell, this is it, the door opened up and there she was, the Danish Goddess was waiting for me like a beacon of light and love. Our embrace was crushing and convincing. God, it was heavenly to have her in my arms. Yes, all seemed right in the universe.

She pulled me out of the airport, shoved me into a car, whisked us away to our destiny and on the way, Varandi informed me that we would be staying with her parents until we found a place of our own. What? Living with the “Parents”! I could only envision a heap full of awkwardness in this scenario. I’ve always felt uncomfortable around parents because I knew that they knew what my intentions were towards their daughters but this situation was way beyond my sphere of experiences. As I was mentally crunching the possibilities, we pulled into a driveway of a modest upper middle class brick house in the suburbs of Toronto. Gulp! This is it! The dreaded moment has come, time to meet the parents! As we entered the front door her mother and father were standing in the foyer waiting to meet the new attraction in their daughter’s life. It was a perfect “Kodak moment”. I immediately I felt empathy for Sidney Poitier’s character in the movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”. Her parents were formally pleasant and courteous but I could see the shock and horror in their eyes. I didn’t know how thorough Vrandi was in debriefing her parents about me. They were most likely thinking, “Just what the hell has our precious princess brought home with her”? The first eon of awkward silence mercifully passed their shock wore off. After a hand shake and a cautious hug they invited us in to sit and chat. The conservation inevitably came around to the ultimate question, “Well, what do you do for a living”? What could I tell them, the truth? “Yes, I am an unemployed earth wanderer and I am here because your daughter and I had an extraordinary sexual encounter in Morocco and I love her”. Vrandi’s mother zoomed in from the kitchen and interrupted the line of questioning, “Dinner is ready” she sang out. Holy shit! I walked into another awkward moment. The dinner table was lavishly laid out as a feast for an honored guest. The elephant on the table was the massive amount of artfully arranged meat dishes. It broke my heart to confess that I was a vegetarian. From the subtle glances passing across the table I could hear them thinking, “Really, just what the hell did our precious princess bring home this time”! I wasn’t chalking up many good points so far. I tried to become invisible as I ate my plate full of slightly over cooked carrots. The dinner mercifully came to an end. We retired to the living room and watched an episode of “All in the Family” on TV. Being without a television for several years I had not previously seen the show. I immediately related to the “Meathead” and his tenuous relationship with Archie Bunker. And then came the last awkward moment of the day, “Bed Time”! As I suspected her parents were from the old school of proper conduct. Until we were legally married in the eyes of the law and God, sleeping together under their roof was forbidden. Vrandi led me to the guest room, gave me a quick peck on the cheek and followed her parents upstairs to their rooms. Fuck!! I couldn’t sleep knowing that the blond goddess was in bed just a few feet above me. So physically close yet held at bay by subjective standards of morality.

The next morning I opened my eyes from a restless sleep and saw Vrandi standing in the doorway with a look of passion in her eyes. She quickly slipped out of her robe and leaped on me. I was more than ready for her. The father was at work and her mother had to shop and run errands. With few precious moments to be alone we had to forgo foreplay and swing for the home run. We quickly established a harmonious albeit slightly rushed rhythm. Oh my God, were on course for another spectacular climax when a car pulled up in the driveway. With a single bound Vrandi leaped off me and zipped upstairs before her mother opened the front door. Suffering from a gran coitus interruptus I was left writhing in a state of wanting. During breakfast Vrandi’s mother gave us a sly knowing glance that a little hanky-panky may have taken place in her absence. After clearing the dishes, Vrandi pulled me aside and whispered, “We have to get a place of our own, today”! I whole heartedly agreed. She scoured a newspaper for rentals and found a few that were available. We borrowed her mother’s car and sped off to find an apartment. Not wanting to waste time searching and not relishing the prospect of spending another night in separate rooms we rented the first place on our list. It was in an older neighborhood a couple of blocks from High Park. We would be sharing a bathroom with another tenant in the second floor flat. The first floor was occupied by the owners of the building, three generations of Ukrainians, a grouchy old grandfather, his son and wife and a young daughter. Vrandi enlisted her sister’s boyfriend and his van to move a mattress into our new pad. A mattress was all we really needed for our first night together since Morocco. All I can say is that we properly christened that mattress.

Over the next few weeks we transformed the apartment into a hippy chik love nest and played house like two terribly happy and horny newlyweds. We would awaken at our leisure after a night filled with raucous romping. Each day we would walk hand in hand in a blind bliss around the neighborhood and in nearby Hide Park or see the sights and sounds of Toronto. Vrandi even took me on a romantic day excursion to Niagara Falls. Ah, life seemed too good to be true. Alas, the honeymoon train ran out of tracks, after a couple of months we were burning through Vrandi’s savings and at the end of the line was the dreaded prospect of having to work. “Work”! Just the thought of it made me double up in mental anguish.

Vrandi quickly found a job but I had to apply for a Canadian work permit. Vrandi came with me as my sponsor to the permit department. After reviewing my application which included a required account of my past work history which was almost blank, I was denied a permit to work. The Canadian government was looking for immigrants who could contribute to society and I didn’t measure up. But I had the option to apply again in three months. Vrandi broke out in tears I on the other hand feigned deep disappointment but was internally rejoicing at the last minute reprieve.

The near miss with work came at a most opportune time. S. David Feinstein a friend from Stockton’s Monroe St. gang of hippies stopped by on his way to Europe for his coming of age walk about. He had recently been busted crossing into the US from Canada at Bonners Ferry, Idaho. At that time he was sporting a massive head of hair that was festooned into long tightly coiled ringlets. If that wasn’t enough to raise flags he was driving a VW bus with California plates! US custom agents made an intensive search and found his pot stash hidden in the bottom of a dog food bag. He was immediately thrown into the town clink and his bus impounded. His girlfriend and her dog were released on their own recognizance. He was eventually released on bail and had to pay an exaggerated fine to keep from going to his own private Idaho prison. Anyway he stayed with us for a few weeks before going on his hippy trek to Europe. Since I couldn’t work the days were free to play with. We would start the days with a long puff on some hash that I purchased from a pirate clad hippy playing soft ball in High Park. The irony didn’t escape me! We would then enjoy the benefits of being members of the idle class. One day we mustered up enough ambition to attempt a hitch hiking adventure to Montreal. After four or five hours of waiting by the road side our thumbs were numb. Discouraged and tired we were ready to throw in the towel when out of nowhere Ginger a young, ultra-cute flaming red head strolled up and joined us. She was a most welcomed addition to our hitching team. But even her radiant presence didn’t advance our cause. We abandoned our attempts to visit Montreal and returned home only to surprise Vrandi with our new friend Ginger. She in turn surprised me with a new friend of her own. It appeared to me that Vrandi rescued a wild and kind of crazy girl off the streets. A benevolent gesture for sure but also rather naïve, I mean was there any vetting done on this person who called herself “Cat Girl”? Again, I see the irony here, Steve and I just brought a stranger off the street with us. Perspective! Anyway, the five of us sat around, drank some wine and smoked a lot of hash eventually passing out on the floor. In the middle of the night I woke to the feeling of a hand gently caressing my dick. I was not about to stop this amorous moment. I then felt warm kisses on my breast which made me quickly rise to the occasion. I had no idea that Vrandi was so progressively bold. I put my hand on her head to guide the kisses in a southernly direction. Wait a minute! Holy fuckin shit!! This was not Vrandi! I opened my eyes to see Cat Girl on the verge of engorging my erection. I panicked and let out a little yelp like a frightened puppy. That woke Vrandi up. “Are you alright”, she asked? “Yes” I croaked, “Just a crazy dream”. Regardless of Cat Girl’s crazy antics, I had to admire her brand of craziness!

Just before Steve was to embark on his journey Vrandi’s parents invited the three of us over for an evening of repast. The shock of meeting me for the first time had worn off but they were not prepared for the second shock of Steve and me together. His hair was a massive snarl of tight black coils springing from his head like a giant “Jewish Afro”. Entering their house was like being in the sequel, “Guess Who Else Is Coming to Dinner”. As anticipated her parents were pleasantly shocked. We worked our way through several awkwardly silent moments and had a wonderful evening. The next day Steve caught a flight and crossed the big pond.

The realization that we were drifting into financial instability hit us in midstream. Not being able to work I couldn’t contribute to our coffer. Vrandi hated her job which didn’t pay enough to keep us above water; we were adrift in a quandary. One day just as our little life boat began to show signs of sinking a manila envelope forwarded by my mother arrived. I opened it up and shrieked with excitement. It was a letter of acceptance from the University of the Americas located in Cholula, Mexico. While languishing in Stockton for several months I requested an application to the University, received one, filled it out and sent it back. I learned of this school while staying with friends in Barcelona. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Being a veteran I could subsidize my student status with the generosity of the US government through the GI Bill. I liked the concept. Anyway, with the move to Canada I totally forgot about the application. Oh my God, I was holding in my hands a document that would change our lives forever.

Vrandi came home from work in a particularly grouchy mood. Besides working for no money her boss made some unwanted advances. I gave her a warm sympathetic hug and gently pulled away at arms-length. Looking into her deep blue eyes I asked, “What would you think about us living in Mexico”? I could see her eyes rolling back as she tried to contain the thought. After explaining my vision of our future; we could live comfortably in Mexico on my GI bill and not have to work. Her eyes suddenly filled with an explosion of understanding. She smiled and in a mini-second blurted, “Let’s go”! I asked her if she didn’t want to think about it a tad longer. “I thought about it and my answer is let’s go”. We hugged in a big sigh of relief; we were getting out of here. She unbuckled, unzipped and pulled my pants down in one swift motion. She then proceeded to give me one of the most sensual and heart felt fellatio jobs I have ever had. At the point of no return she stopped, looked me in the eyes and with a slight coyness in her approach said, “Let’s get married” as she brought me to an unbelievable orgasm. I heard myself hissing, “Yes, oh yes”. She sprang up and began to clap and do what looked like a victory dance. I was then showered with kisses. “We are going to have so much fun together”, she pronounced. Wait a minute! “What happened here”, I asked myself, “Did I just agree to marry Vrandi”? Oh my God, I guess I’ll be heading to Mexico with a wife!!!

 

 

 




 

Chapter 13 “California or Bust”

 

 

Chapter 13

“California or Bust”

 

We made our escape from New York City and were now floating down the highway in a boat sized Oldsmobile “88″. With enough cash for gas and enough reefer to put a pleasant mellow on the long cross country drive, we felt like “Kings of the Road”. Indeed, life was good! We decided to make an all-out nonstop run to LA; it was in the middle of winter and we wanted to get to sunny California ASAP. The plan for this ambitious endeavor was to rotate our positions so one of us would always be behind the wheel while the person riding shot gun would be the spiritual navigator and the third person had the luxury of spreading out in the back seat and in the “88″ it was like sleeping in a queen sized bed.

We had to steer through a winter storm from Pennsylvania to the Mid-West. I swear we hydroplaned across three states. We slid into a shopping center somewhere in Missouri to stretch our legs and buy some staples. We were spotted by a gaggle of teenage girls who immediately descended upon us. Completely surrounded we were pounded with questions. One girl asked, “Where are you guys going”? When we replied, “California”, they squealed with delight and pleaded, “Please take us with you”! Before we could respond to their cry for help shocked and horrified mothers rushed in and snatched their precious princesses from the wicked lure of long haired devils. Entering the super market looking like weathered road warriors we quickly became the objects of unabashed stares from startled shoppers. I think their bewildered gazes were mostly of a curious nature rather than malicious, regardless, it was unnerving. We quickly gathered our groceries tried to make a stealthy exit and scurried back to the sanctuary of the “88″, put the pedal to the metal and never looked back.

As we were cruising down the highway just outside of Tulsa, a car full of teenagers pulled up alongside in the fast lane. The driver started honking hysterically while the rest of the passengers yelled and waved in a like manor. We initially tried to ignore them fearing they were probable local homeboys looking for a little down home fun with some of those damn hippies. We finally made eye contact with them. Holy shit, it was a car full of young wannabe hippies flashing us the peace sign. They were still infants in that evolutionary process. The boys all had early Beatles mop tops; one had the courage and conviction to sport sideburns! A chorus of shrill giggling came from the back seat which was stuffed with coquettish long haired hippy girls in waiting. We rolled down our windows and engaged in a sixty miles an-hour conservation down the highway. A lad looking a lot like Ringo Starr shouted, “Where are you guys going”? “San Francisco” we yelled back. Their car erupted into cheers and more peace signs. The girls shrieked, “Take us with you”! What’s this, another plea for help in escaping from Oklahoma? We could smuggle them out and set them free in California. A novel notion but summarily dismissed as a bad idea no matter how noble our intentions would have been. We had to decline their request but as a consolation prize I rolled up a joint, reached and handed it to a girl leaning half way out of her window, a delicate maneuver as we sped down the highway. Again, their car exploded into shouts and squeals of joy and even more emphatic peace signs. We pulled away from them and continued on down the road.

Road weary and atrophied we pulled into a rest stop in Arizona. The three of us had to stretch out on a stationary flat surface and get a proper sleep. Picnic tables would do just fine. We rolled out our sleeping bags and settled in for the night. I was awakened by a feeling of something light and cold falling on my face. Damn, it was snowing! We bolted out of our bags and packed ourselves into the car. Well, nothing to do now except torch up our last joint and drive on. After a heavy dusting of fresh snow the desert looked like a moon scape. The cacti became moon men sprouting up and reaching for the sky. Some looked as if they were waving at us. As the sun peeked over the horizon we crossed into California. Just a few more hours and we would be in LA, two days ahead of our deadline. We delivered the “88″ to the designated location, received our bonus and scattered in different directions. Both Dutch and Ben were anxious to get back to the Bay Area. I was tired of moving and stayed with my cousin Mike for a few days to reset my sense of balance. I lost touch with Dutch for years until a chance meeting in Lake Tahoe casino that rekindling our friendship; material for a future chapter.

Not wanting to rely on hitching I hopped aboard a bus to Stockton. I found my friends Bush Baby and the lovely Bim cohabitating in the old duplex that I had vacated. The duplex was a notorious refuge for a crazy cast of characters. This is where I had an ever so brief encounter with my current wife of thirty five years. Anyway, I cleared out a little nook in the junk filled basement for my hidden headquarters. My presence was kept a secret especially from the landlord who would have evicted me. Except for occasional visits from special girlfriends I was living like a fugitive hiding from the real world, a self-imposed exile. After a month or so I realized this was a dead end existence. I didn’t know what to do or where to go from here. One day I visited my parents to see if they needed anything or help around the house, my father was getting a tad old and wasn’t as agile anymore. My mother handed me a letter postmarked from Canada. I tore into it wondering who this could be from. I let out a scream that scared my mother. Oh my God, the letter was from Vrandi! She was now in Toronto and wanted me to come live with her! After a flurry of selling and borrowing I was on the next available flight to Toronto.

 

 

 


 

Chapter 12 “Burrowing in Brooklyn”

 

Chapter 12

“Burrowing in Brooklyn”

 

As the ship passed the Statue I looked behind me at the bridge and was quite amused at the sight of panicked passengers tossing all kinds of contraband over board. I had a momentary panic attack; Holy Shit, did I get rid of all my prohibited substances? I ran back to my cabin and thoroughly searched my bag for any traces of questionable products. Whew, I was clean and ready for inspection. We were hustled off the ship and ushered into a large warehouse to begin the entry process. The waiting custom agents were not very amused to see so many suspicious characters waiting in line; they would now have to work and thoroughly search every one that fit their profile of likely suspects. I could understand their concerns after all we had just arrived from Tangier a major drug capitol. Furthermore, Dutch and I looked like the poster boys for the menace that was now tearing apart the moral fabric of a civil and God fearing society, therefore we received special scrutiny. As expected, every article in my backpack was scrutinized but when my gruff agent pulled out a plastic bag from the bottom of my pack his demeanor changed to a gleeful anticipation of perhaps finding the Mother Lode of a drug smuggling operation, I felt a tiny nudge of apprehension. As the agent unraveled the last of six tightly wrapped plastic bags my deepest fears were realized. A God awful odor burst out of the bag and filled the immediate area with a putrid aroma of rotting fish. I had packed away a fish vertebra that I found in the Canary Islands with the good intentions of drying the bones out and making a groovy necklace but the opportunity never presented itself. The gagging agent yelled at me to get myself and my shit out of the warehouse. On my way out I deposited the reeking bag of bones into the nearest garbage can.

Dutch, Ben our buddy from Marrakesh and I reconvened outside of the customs warehouse. Well, here we were three clueless hippies stranded in the notoriously rough waterfront with no ideas, directions and no place to stay. Appearing out of nowhere a “Bro” with a fabulous “fro” boogied on up checked us out and asked, “You dudes want to a buy some righteous weed”? We answered politely, “Love to but can’t afford it”. What little we had was needed to get us back to San Francisco. “San Francisco, that’s cool dudes”. He then pulled out a joint hidden in his fro, lit it up and passed it to us. While we stood there in plain sight of customs getting stoned with a street hustler who looked like Sly Stone, he paused and asked, “Where you dudes coming from”? “Africa”, we chimed in. “No shit”! “Man I envy you dudes, that is where I really want to go some day”. Black power and pride were in vogue and setting foot on African soil was the ultimate goal to fulfil the “Black Experience” and realize their legacy. It was like making a holy pilgrimage to the “Mother Land” where humanity began its’ journey. He was very impressed and moved by our hippy safari to Africa. He then reached into his pocket, pulled a small packet of pot, handed it to us and said, “This one is on me dudes”. He shook our hands and boogied on down the street. We looked at each other and nodded in unison, yes, this was a good omen to begin our California quest.

Dutch Boy suddenly became alert and animated while frantically looking through his wallet. He found a piece of paper with a telephone number that proved to be our salvation. We befriended a three pack of New York Jewish Princesses in Marrakesh. Dutch bedded down with one of them and made such a good impression on her that she gave him contact information on a safe house in New York City. We rushed to the nearest phone booth and dialed the number, what the hell, we had nothing to lose. A man by the name of Carl answered and Dutch launched into presenting our credentials, who we were and who gave us the number. Dutch retrieved a pen and paper out of his pack and wildly scratched down information. It seemed that Carl and his girlfriend Rachael had been expecting us. Alright! We had a place to crash and a stash to boot. We followed Carl’s directions and jumped out of the subway at our designated stop but balked at the sight before us. It was getting dark and the streets of this blighted neighborhood of Brooklyn were nearly deserted except for pockets of hard looking characters checking us out. Fuck, we stood out like three sore hippy thumbs. Our exaggerated gate quickly turned into a gallop as we ran down the seven or eight blocks to the safe house. Finding the address we rang the bell and Carl, our host, opened the door and quickly hustled us in as if he didn’t want the neighbors seeing who he was harboring. We were led up stairs into a typical hippy pad with an old broken down couch swaddled in madras bed spreads and a day glow painted table and matching chairs served as the room’s center piece. We instantly felt at home. Rachael invited us to make ourselves comfortable and offered beers. We accepted and countered her offer with one of our own. “Would you like to help us smoke a joint”? Their eyes lit up with joy and excitement. Due to New York State draconian drug laws marijuana was very expensive and hard to come by. Pot was a coveted commodity. They were impressed that we actually had some and even more impressed by the way it came to us. They hadn’t smoked grass in months and were beyond eager to get high. They had papers we had pot; it was a perfect match. The Bro was right, this was “righteous weed”; just one joint got the five of us totally buzzed and of course the inevitable marijuana munchies struck with a vengeance. Our hosts had a paltry pantry which prompted us to volunteer for the fabled late night munchies run. Carl and Rachael tried to dissuade us from venturing out into their dangerous hood at night. Stoned and starving to death we were undaunted and without a clue stumbled out into the mean streets of Brooklyn which now looked even more bleak and foreboding. I don’t know if it was due to pot paranoia or what but it felt like we were being watched by shifting silhouettes silently lurking within shadows. I’ll have to admit, I was kind of spooked and would have turned back but the need for nourishment ruled. We found an all-night deli just a few blocks away. The caged in night clerk was surprised to see the likes of us strolling into his store. He was probably thinking, “What are these three hippy rubes doing out at this time of night”? “They are either crazy or stoned”! Well, he was right on both counts. Upon our return Carl almost broke into tears because we made it back unscathed and with bags full of snacks. We all laughed hysterically for hours and gorged ourselves into a junk food coma. Sweet sleep came ever so swiftly and a hardwood floor never felt so comfortable.

The next morning Ben woke Dutch and me with a burst of excitement. “Get up you guys, we have a ride to Los Angeles, we have to leave now”! He just got off the phone with an agent from Auto Drive-away a company that provided a vehicle delivery service for people who wanted their car hand delivered without having the tedious task of driving it themselves. Dutch and I sprang out of our bags, dressed in seconds and ate a few hands full of potato chips for breakfast. I rolled a joint for our gracious host who were barely awake and staggering out of their bedroom. We thanked them for sharing their burrow with us and exchanged hugs and fond farewells. I think they were actually kind of sad to see us leave so quickly. We piled into the public transportation and arrived at the Auto Drive-away office which was just a few blocks from the Empire State Bldg. What a mad house! Everyone was in overdrive moving by in a frantic blur except for one character approaching me in slow wobbly motion. He had a wad of money clenched in one hand and his other hand was making a clumsy attempt to zip up his jacket. He stopped in front of me and in a drunken slur asked, “Can you zip me up”? In spite of how odd this might look I zipped him up proper. He pulled a twenty dollar bill from his wad, gave it to me and teetered on down the street. Oh man, a twenty for a quick zip! This would be a nice contribution to the gas kitty. The way the operation worked was a vehicle owner contracted with the company to deliver their car to a specific location. The company would in turn subcontract the actual driving responsibility to anyone over twenty one with a valid driver’s license and pass a physical administered by a MD. There was a doctor’s office conveniently located just a few doors down the hall. For a fee of twenty five dollars apiece and after a very cursory exam we were given a clean bill of health certificate. What a great little racket the company and the doctor had going. We filled out the paper work and then were taken down to the basement parking lot. We were handed the keys to a new Oldsmobile Delta 88 a monster of a vehicle. The company started us off with a full tank; from that point on we had to supply the fuel ourselves but gas was only thirty six cents a gallon in 1971 so we were comfortable with our cash on hand. If we delivered the car on time and in one piece a bonus would be paid by the customer. We had five days to reach Los Angeles. We sped out of New York in a cloud of exhaust and plotted a course to the West Coast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Chapter 11

“High Seas”


Above is a picture of the Yugoslavian freighter that transported us from Tangier to New York City. Because of falling three weeks behind on their schedule the ship’s captain abandoned safety protocols; we passengers were herded aboard while cargo containers were dangling over our heads. Curt but courteous crew members escorted us to our assigned cabins which were small but with a Communistic flair for utilitarianism. Painted in a drab gray the room had a bunk bed a sink and a porthole to peek out of. I met my new cabin mate who was as straight as a finely honed arrow, a man of very few words and mysteriously elusive. His buttoned down attitude gave me the impression he could have been some kind of covert operative perhaps a narc or spy. Whatever, he gave me pause.

I tossed my backpack on the lower bunk to reserve it and then joined Dutch and the twenty five or thirty passengers on the main deck to watch the freighter disembark and steam away into the Atlantic. We kept our vigil until the Rock of Gibraltar and then the lights of Tangier faded from view. Dutch and I lingered behind to smoke a bowl of hash that we smuggled aboard. A clanging bell alerted everyone that dinner was being served. We followed other hungry passengers to the dining room/observation deck. Two young deck hands bounced out of the galley to take our orders. Now, this is where the fun began. They only spoke Yugoslavian; a majority of the passengers spoke English with a scattering of Spanish and German so much was lost in translation. To make matters even more complicated the passengers were divided into four culinary camps; the meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans, and a macrobiotic bunch of little old ladies. They were horrified at what was being served and became quite belligerent with the poor waiters and especially the cook who in his defense I don’t think fully understood the concept of a meatless menu. He tried his best to please everyone but was totally intimidated and terrorized by the macro mob. After a few fear filled days the cook finally pieced together a menu that had something for everyone. He received a hardy round of applause which brought a big smile and a slight blush to his face.

A gothic girl from somewhere in Pennsylvania took a fancy to Dutch, swooped in, sank her talons into the hapless lad and sequestered him for the remainder of the crossing. I saw very little of him and when I did he appeared pale and lacking vigor. What unspeakable things was she doing to my friend? He never did elaborate about the inordinate amount of time they spent together and I was afraid to ask. The passengers fragmented and naturally gravitated towards their own kind. Dutch and I enlisted with a lively group of heady hedonist. A young hip couple from New York City managed to book the “Honeymoon Suite” which was much bigger than our cramped quarters. It had the luxury of a queen size bed, a set of drawers, a desk, a table with chairs, an old but comfortable couch and best of all a private a bathroom. This room became the headquarters for our nightly gatherings of conservation, music and indulgences. Everyone who came contributed to the stockpile of drugs that were accumulating on the table. Kief, hash, hash candy, opium and a new delight made with hash, dates, marjoram and other spices were all in abundance and available for the taking. At first only a handful of hard core hedonist participated in the after hour gatherings but word about the “Honeymoon Room” spread and attendance grew. Even a few brave crew- members would sneak out of their quarters to join in on the festivities. I say brave because they were risking severe punishment if they had been caught fraternizing with Western imperialist not to mention drug addled hippies. If caught they could very well have been relocated to a Siberian gulag. In spite of the possible consequences the rogue crew members seemed to nervously enjoy themselves.  After a few tokes on the hash pipe they would get excited and try to sing along when our host put on a tape of the “Stones or Hendrix”.

One night after smoking a combination a hash and opium I retired early to my bunk and fell into a deep dream. I was awakened by a shift in the ship’s motion. The gentle roll had become much more pronounced. The word at breakfast was that an unexpected winter storm had developed in the middle of the Atlantic and was heading towards the ship. The storm was too big to by-pass and the only course was to plow straight through it.  Looking out of the observation windows one could see the swells starting to grow in size. I got an instant inspiration; this was the perfect and maybe the only opportunity to ride out a storm at sea under the influence of psychedelics. Great idea right? I ran down to the party room and rummaged through the pile of drugs. Ah, here was the item that I hadn’t tried yet, the hash-date mixture. After the hash candy episode in Marrakesh I was a little intimidated about the proper amount I should be ingesting. Our host sliced off a sticky slab, handed it to me and said, “This should do the trick”. Without questioning his authority I ate the sweet and spicy glob. I then got another great idea; I’ll go out and view the storm from the bow of the ship, a stroke of genius! I returned to my room and bundled up; it was going to be cold out on the deck. I cautiously navigated my way to the bow because the ship was beginning to rock and roll. Just as I reached the bow the hash/date concoction came on like the oncoming storm, swiftly and strong.  All I could see before me was a very angry sea being whipped up by winds that eventually reached hurricane strength. The bow would be lifted high out of the water as a swell broke under the ship and then drop deep into the trough of the next swell. I was riding on a sea going roller coaster. The wind began to howl sounding like a deafening choir of a billion banshees. The horizon was a deep purplish black punctuated by brilliant fingers of lightening dancing in a fully charged chorus line. And from this beautiful but hellish seascape came a stampede of swells looking like snow capped liquid mountains desperately trying to escape the hell behind them. Despite being in a state of terrified joy I realized the precarious position I was in but couldn’t move; I was frozen to the bow in extreme reverence for the breathtaking beauty of Mother Nature unleashing her power and fury. I held on to the railing with a white knuckled grip determined to maintain my watch at the bow. Because of the now wild motion of the ship plus the sickly sweet hash cocktail I started to feel nauseated. I leaned over the edge of the bow preparing to evacuate the contents of my stomach. But in doing so I took my eyes off an oncoming wave that broke over the bow, lifted me up and slammed me into a nearby on board cargo container. Even in a psychedelic state of mind survival mode automatically kicked in. I made a hasty retreat and crawled on my hands and knees towards the bridge. Another wave broke over the bow and chased me up the deck. I jumped into the first available door slammed it behind me and while standing dripping wet in a puddle of sea water I exclaimed out loud, “Oh my God! That was just the ultimate in awesomeness”!  Leaving a wet trail I found my way to the observation deck. With my mouth and mind agape I watched as rolling mountains of water that were now crashing over the bow; I could feel the ship shuddered in agony under the severe stress. As the waves hit the deck they would burst into a full spectrum of color rich foam that rushed up the deck painting everything with strokes of vibrant fuchsia and pink. A particularly large wave broke over the bow completely submerging half of the ship. The wave slammed against the observation deck creating a display of living art on the windows. The wave hit the windows with exploding paint bombs leaving long translucent trails. As before, time evaporated, I had no idea how long I had been standing in a trance watching the storm’s valiant attempts to sink the ship. A fellow passenger pulled up next to me and asked why I was sopping wet. She listened in a curious disbelief and then suggested I get into dry clothes and take my wet ones to the ship’s laundry room. For a few dollars they would gladly wash and dry my wet and salty laundry. I thanked her for the advice. I shuffled to my cabin, pealed my soggy attire off and walked naked to the shower room. Fortunately I didn’t encounter anyone and didn’t have to explain. Taking a shower proved to be challenge with the ship lurching about like a toy boat in a tub. The hot water felt like tepid lava flowing down my body warming me to the core. I would have stayed in the shower forever except for a hard roll of the ship that threw me to the floor. I momentarily came to my senses, tiptoed naked back to my room, put on dry duds, gathered the wet ones and rushed out to find the laundry room. Just a few steps from my room a second surge of the date/hash elixir hit me like the wave that dethroned me from the bow. The corridor began to telescope into a smaller and narrower passageway that stretched into infinity. It was an exhausting effort just to stay upright as the ship heaved and rolled but now my wet pile of clothes began to come alive like some slimy sea creatures desperately trying to escape. Besides being terribly lost in a maze of endless tunnels I somehow stumbled upon the laundry room and dumped my squirming laundry on a table.  A young man zoomed in on me and before he could say anything I pulled a five dollar bill out of my wallet and pointed to my still squirming pile which now looked like sea creatures engaging in a sexual ritual. The young lad immediately understood, smiled and said, “Tomorrow ready, yes”. “Yes!” I bellowed. Nearing the door I took a quick glance back to assure myself the pile of laundry was behaving. I now had to maneuver through corridors lined with tangled pipes writhing together like snakes. God, will I ever be straight again? I finally located the dining/observation room which had a scattering of passengers looking shell shocked and slightly green. I suppose the rest of the passengers were either too sea sick to eat or huddled in their rooms with life preservers on praying for deliverance. The mere thought of eating made my stomach do a back flip. I returned to my viewing station at the observation windows. It was now dark which put everything in a different perspective. With the ship’s deck lights on the scene became a black and white a film noir movie. As the night wore on the effects of the hash/date concoction started to wear off. I was relieved to reenter into a static state of consciousness. I abandoned my post and wandered down to the party suite for a quick nightcap. Opened the door a cloud of hash and opium smoke billowed out into the hallway. Yes, I was in the right room. I played it safe and just smoked from the opium pipe. With heavy eyes I retired for the evening. The freighter was still being ravaged and struggling to stay afloat. Tucked tightly in my bunk I could hear the ship moaning and groaning as its’ girders were being twisted by the relentless pounding. My last thought before falling into an opium dream was, “I really hope tomorrow comes”. The next morning came! The ship made it through the storm and was now on an even keel. Big sigh of joy!

We were now only two days away from New York and we still had a considerable stockpile of drugs to be consumed before reaching the States. The last night soiree turned into a standing room only event. Passengers that hadn’t previously participated squeezed in. I noticed a few more delinquent crew members also celebrating a last night of freedom. After a toke or two on the hash/opium blend all I wanted to do was fall out in my bunk and sleep. I woke up just before sunrise, bundled up and marched to the bow again. This time weather was clear but very cold and the sea had calmed down to a slight chop. I was surprised that nobody else joined me on the bow which offered an uncompromising view as we approached New York. The translucent brilliance of the city lights made it look like a mythical crystal garden. The best was yet to come. There she was! The sun rising above the Atlantic cast an orange glow on the green goddess of liberty. I was moved to tears at the sight. I tried to imagine myself as an immigrant coming to America and seeing the Statue of Liberty welcoming me to fulfill the dreams of a better life. I, myself, felt like a stranger returning home.

 

 

 

 

 


Chapterette 10-O “Tangier Trilogy”

 

 

Chapterette 10 – O

“Tangier Trilogy”

 

The first order of business was to check out of the Hustler Hotel and move to less intimidating accommodations. Our new hotel was just a few blocks away but a world of difference. What it lacked in professional con men lurking about the colorful cast of characters staying there provided nonstop entertainment. Travelers from all over the world were coming and going, everyone seemed to be involved in some aspect of self-preservation. Some were on the lam and hiding from their past others were seeking a feasible path to the future. Everyone had a secret story and living on the edge of survival. For example, a young American girl would burst into our room and frantically ask us to hide mysterious bundles and packets for her. The items were tightly wrapped so we didn’t know the content and she didn’t bother to tell us. Fatima, the little old Moroccan lady who was employed as the maid, saw and knew everything that went down in her hotel. She warned us not to trust the “American” girl. Fatima would scold us, “She bad person”. This “bad” American girl also warned us not to trust anyone! It was like living in a house filled with scamps and scoundrels. So, one morning the American girl swooped into our room, hastily gathered up her hidden treasures and vanished. No one ever saw her again! As I was implying the hotel was occupied by the full spectrum of humanity lending to a unique ambiance where “Beat” meets the new wave of counter culture revolutionaries the “Hippy”. I had this pervasive feeling that at any time I could very well bump into the likes of William S. Burroughs in the foyer.

We dedicated the next couple of days to exploring this mysterious and wonderfully wacky city. We wandered through the narrow streets eventually winding up on a hill overlooking the sprawl of a densely packed city. We had a panoramic view from our vantage point. To the west lay the expanse of the royal blue Atlantic Ocean. Looking north across the Straights, Spain and the looming Rock of Gibraltar seemed like a stones’ throw away. And to the East the silver shimmer of the Mediterranean Sea sparkled in the sun light. This was one of our favorite spots to smoke the last of our hash. Paralyzed by the view, we sat and gazed for hours. On our last night in Tangier before the ship was to arrive, we decided to celebrate and splurge on a whim. We heard about a restaurant and nightclub that featured “Bellydancing”. Intrigued by the notion we found the place in an obscure alleyway and entered into a dark smoke filled and kind of seedy room with candle lit tables. Spliced into a corner a small stage draped with old tapestries sat empty. We claimed an empty table near the stage and ordered a vegetarian couscous dish. While we were sipping on mint tea a handful of musicians started to filter on to the stage. I noticed a rather roguish looking man sitting at an adjacent table keeping a watchful eye on us. I gave him a nod and a smile. He reciprocated by reaching into his man bag, filled a pipe with kief torched it and handed it to me. I did the prudent thing and accepted his hospitality. I smoked the whole bowl and handed it back to him empty. This gesture pleased him into a wide grin. In Morocco it is considered proper etiquette to return a pipe empty otherwise you risk offending the one who offered the pipe in good faith. Returning a less than empty pipe meant you didn’t like the kief, an insufferable insult. He then refilled the pipe and handed it to Dutch who also handed it back empty. He shook our hands and said something in Arabic that we didn’t understand but it seemed to be cordial in nature. Ah, our dinner arrived we were starving especially after a bowl of kief. Our new friend had a whole chicken with all the fixins set before him. He devoured the meal in a matter of minutes kind of like a hungry honey badger. The chicken carcass was then thrown to the floor. A cat darted out from a dark recess, grabbed the chicken remains and whisked it back to its’ lair. I then noticed other cats leaping out from dark corners and doing the same thing at other tables. What a simple but effective way to recycle and dispose of waste. The cats had a dual purpose; they served as the garbage collectors and their very presence kept the rats at bay. How organic.

The musicians began to play and the sound of finger cymbals rang out from behind the stage curtain. Oh boy, Dutch and I were almost breathless in anticipation. A slender willowy figure appeared from the stage curtain dancing in a sensual but not provocative manor. The men in the audience gave a rousing round of approving applause. We got caught up in the excitement and enthusiastically joined in with the revelry. I became mesmerized by the dancer’s confident undulations so soft and smooth but with a subtle hint of masculinity. Upon closer inspection, to my jaw dropping surprise, the lithe dancer was a young boy maybe fourteen or fifteen years of age. Females were forbidden to dance in public, for that matter women had few freedoms. But, young males could impersonate their female counterpart. There is some irony in this custom. Anyway, I so enjoyed a little slice of the Tangier nightclub scene. I was especially grateful for the introduction to Arabic music and dancing which would in the future become an integral part of my life.

The nest morning we received some discouraging news; the freighter which was due to arrive later that day was expected to be delayed for up to a week. Fucking Hell!! We just exhausted our slush fund on a frivolous outing and now found our selves in a pickled predicament; a scarcity of money for another week of hotel rent. Sleeping on the streets in Tangier was not a viable option. The time had come to shift down into survival mode and try my hand at street hustling. I had an extra pair of Levi’s that still had a faint odor leftover from the Black Flag incident in Barcelona. I snatched them up and ran down to a busy intersection where I stood on a doorstep, held the jeans up high and began to yell, “Hot pants, get your hot pants here”! A crowd quickly developed and a bidding war broke out. Western clothing of any kind was expensive and hard to come by. American blue jeans and especially Levi’s were coveted by the young. They indeed were a hot item to be cool. While the bidding grew heated I noticed a new white Mercedes with all the windows blacked out pull up to the curb. The back window rolled down just enough to view the scene I was causing. I returned my attention to the bidding which had run its’ course. I sold my pants to the highest bidder a teenage boy who was over joyed with his purchase. I collected my money and was ready to leave when a burly looking man dressed in a black suit and tie jumped out of the Mercedes and approached me. What the fuck! My first instinct was to run but where to? He handed me some money and pointing to the Mercedes said, “For you from him”. I could only see a pair of eyes staring out of the slightly lowered window. I gave a grateful wave and received a peace sign in return. The window rolled up, the driver got back in and sped off with my unknown benefactor. Holy shit! I had just been handed about ten dollars from whoever was in that car, royalty perhaps? Anyway, that act of charity coupled with the proceeds from the sale of my Levi’s, I could contribute my share of the rent and have enough left over to eat well.

With my windfall tucked away I eagerly headed back to tell Dutch about the small fortune I just inherited. A young boy no more than twelve years old strolled up and joined in with my brisk pace. He introduced himself and started talking with me in surprisingly good English. “You want to buy some hash, it is very good shit”, he boasted. I explained that I couldn’t afford to buy hash, which was the truth because the cash in my pocket was earmarked for rent and food. Besides, we still had enough opium to tide us over. The boy grabbed my arm and ordered, “Here, come with me”. He led me through a restaurant to a secluded private room. “Sit, sit” he instructed. He reached into his pouch and produced a huge slab of dark hash. The boy then slammed the slab down on the table and asked, “What can you pay for this shit”? I again told him I couldn’t afford to buy at this time. “Ok, ok, we make trade, ok”, he countered. “Give me your belt” he demanded. I gave him the belt. He then asked for my leather pouch including all the paraphernalia in it. Done! “Ok, good trade”, he confirmed and pushed the slab of hash to me. He shook my hand and escorted me out of the restaurant. He parted with, “I see you later, ok”. I almost skipped to the hotel. I not only had enough money for rent and food but I was also in possession of a chunk of hash that would sustain us well into the near future.

Finally the ship arrived in Tangier only about three weeks behind schedule. No matter, we were reluctantly ready to return to the United States. There was no way one could have foreseen the incredibly unbelievable voyage we were about to embark upon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Chaperette 10 – N “Hotel Hustler”

 

Chapterette 10 – N

“Hotel Hustler”

 

The way to Tangier was difficult at best, rides were far and few between. At the time Morocco was a desperately poor country. The disparity between the wealthy ruling class and the common folks as was in most countries staggering. Only the privileged few could afford cars usually Mercedes for the flaunt factor. The remaining ninety nine percent had to rely on vintage busses, donkeys or on foot. The narrow road to Essouraria was littered with the walking poor who couldn’t afford bus fare and donkey carts overflowing with cargo or people or both. I swear the bus driver for his own amusement intentionally swerved to scatter poor pedestrians off the road. Anyway, back to the point; hitching became a liability. On several occasions we had to pitch a camp alongside the road for the night. As I lay in my sleeping bag my thoughts drifted back to Vrandi and our day in the dunes which now seemed like a dream. Running behind on our time line we had to quickly pass through Casablanca without stopping. Just as well though, the city had a strange vibe; a little too modern and cold. By the time Dutch and I got to Rabat we were running frighteningly far behind on our allotted time. The Yugoslavian freighter was scheduled to depart Tangier in two days. Crucial time had been wasted trying to hitch rides; we could not afford to miss the ship. Being broke and stranded in Morocco with no way to get back home was an unforgiving prospect. We had no alternative but to bus it the rest of the way.

We arrived in Tangier just as it was getting dark and checked into one of our favorite kinds of hotel “CHEAP” but it was also very near the waterfront where the freighter would dock. We paid the rent for two nights, climbed up a rickety staircase and entered a severely simple room with two single beds a window and a wobbling ceiling fan trying to propel itself from its’ loose attachment. We had slept in worse conditions. After unloading our belongings on the beds we went down stairs to the lobby which also served as a restaurant. Dutch and I sat at an empty table and after ordering a bite to eat and tea expelled a giant sigh of relief. We were here on time and could relax. The lobby’s perimeter was lined with chairs filled with questionable characters all glancing our way. We were warned about Tangier and its’ population of professional hustlers and con artist but we were not prepared for their prowess. We were like two hapless rubes in the middle of a web surrounded by spiders ready to pounce. As our food was dropped on our table a man dressed in western clothing approached us. “You Americans”, he asked. We nodded. “Good, I like Americans”, he responded. He then sat down and conducted a disconnected conservation. He finally came to the point and asked us if we wanted to buy hash. We both said no, but that didn’t discourage him. “I can get you best hash at best price, ok” he pitched. I became a little wary of his persistence and started to get up from the table. “Where you go”? he asked. “To our room”, I answered. “No, don’t go to room, stay here”, he demanded. My suspicions surged; shit, this a ruse to keep us here while accomplices were now rifling through our room looking for anything of value like our passports and not to mention our stash of black Bombay opium that we got in Marrakesh. I quickly left the table and ran upstairs expecting to find our room’s sanctity violated. All seemed to be in order. I doubled checked to make sure; passports here, opium here, we were good. Alright, where is Dutch? I was expecting him to come charging through the door any second. My concern grew after more than a few minutes. I had better go downstairs and see what happened to him. Just as I reached the door he entered the room looking quite dour. Dutch had been flim-flamed and fleeced of all the money on his person. The scam went like this; the cordial con-artist skillfully cajoled Dutch into revealing his small stash of hash. Dutch was thinking this gesture would show that he didn’t need to buy hash and the shyster would go away. At that moment another man approached and spotted the hash. “That is hash, it is illegal, I’m calling the police”, he exclaimed. The man sitting with Dutch began to cry and pleaded with him not to call the police and offered to relinquish all of his money as a bribe. He turned to Dutch and begged, “Please, we must give him money or he will call the police and we will go to prison”. This put the fear of God into Dutch; we heard stories about the inhumane conditions in Moroccan prisons. He panicked and quickly gave up all the cash on him. With a fist full of money he retreated and disappeared into the street. The swindler at the table still with tears in his eyes took Dutch’s hand and kissed it. “Thank you my friend, you saved both of our lives”. With that being said he too vanished into the street most assuredly to connect with his co-conspirator in this confidence game and divide the spoils of a well-executed con. Needless to say, Dutch was distraught; a little puff of opium was in order to aid in rounding off the edges and with sleep. I fell in to dreams of Vrandi. The first thing we did in the morning was to find the dock where the freighter would be tied up. We were informed that the ship was stuck in some Mediterranean port with minor mechanical problems and its’ arrival would be delayed for a few days. Fine, we could relax and explore Tangier. We ran into our roommate from Marrakesh. He was genuinely happy to see us. He asked, “Where are you guys staying”? When we told him his eyes got really big and his mouth dropped open. “Oh man, you two are staying at the most notorious hotel in Tangier”, he went on to say, “It’s known as the “Hustler Hotel” and is a hangout for con-artist, criminals and gangsters”. Dutch and I gave each other a knowing glance; yes we had just been schooled in the “Hustler Hotel” and graduated with a BA degree in gullibility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Chaperette 10 – M Sex on the Sahare

 

 

Chapterette 10 – M

“Sex on the Sahara”

 

 


Dave was left in the dust as I raced to the Hippy Café. Who is this mysterious girl reportedly looking for me? I flew through the door and came to a frozen halt. Oh my God, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Sitting at a table was Vrandi the blond goddess from Marrakesh who made my lurid prayers come true. Our eye met, we both launched into each other and fused together in an everlasting embrace. I didn’t think I would ever see her again. My heart was pounding. We finally released our hold on each other and while catching my breath I ask, “What are you doing here”? She asserted, “I came here to be with you”. She abandoned her boyfriend to be with me!? Once again I was beside myself bubbling over with joy and a light dusting of disbelief. What did I ever do to deserve such good fortune? Sitting at a table we held hands and just looked at each other; neither of us knew what to say. She was the first to bridge the impasse, “I rented a room would you like to stay with me”? It took me all of a micro-second to respond. Her room was definitely upscale from the hovels I had grown accustomed to. It even had a bathroom with a shower! Life just seems to be getting better and better! Not surprisingly, we were both exhausted from the day’s events; she was tired from the grueling bus ride from Marrakesh and I was exhausted from a full day of a hash candy walkabout. We slept solidly wrapped up in each other. Over breakfast at the “Café” I told Varandi about yesterday’s outing and the watchtower episode. She squalled with delight and suggested we do the same thing and have a picnic on the tower. We packed a light lunch, broke off a small chunk of hash candy and skipped hand in hand down the beach towards the watchtower. What a perfectly beautiful January day on the Moroccan coast to be strolling along with this beautiful creature. I’m thinking, “Things just can’t any better”, but they did!

About half way to the watchtower we veered slightly off course into the sand dunes. Like children we chased each other up and down and around the dunes. We scaled to the top of the tallest dune around and surveyed our surroundings; an endless and beautifully barren landscape of sand dunes that faded into the horizon. With no visible signs of life we felt like the last two people on earth. The dune that we were perched on was like a miniature volcano with a crater big enough to accommodate two people. We looked at each other, smiled and slid down into the crater. Perfect, we were totally hidden from view in our own private dune. We laid out a light beach blanket that Varandi wisely packed. We looked at each other and immediately started to undress. Varandi was wearing a bikini under her kaftan. While she seductively removed her top I clumsily shed the rest of my clothing. I found myself in total awe at the sight of her two exquisite champagne glass size breast. I quickly moved in to claim the honor and privilege of slowly pulling down her bikini bottom. This was the first time I had seen her naked in the totally revealing light of day. Oh my God! I was not prepared for the sight before me. She was beyond blond! Besides having a head full of long flowing blond hair she was elegantly equipped with a meticulously manicured mound of fine sun spun silk. I swiftly but tenderly assaulted her golden pudenda with my lips and tongue. It was like tasting Danish pastry fresh out of the oven, warm and sweet. I could have munched on her muffin for hours but a gentle tug on my shoulders signaled that it was time to move on up and complete the ultimate act of coitus. I slowly but deliberately entered into her warm liquid velvet vagina and began a motion inspired by the rhythmic sound of waves gently pounding on the nearby beach. We writhed together like two delirious snakes tangled in a sexual ritual. Looking into Varandi’s fathomless sky blue eyes was the last thing I remembered before taking a swan dive and plunging into a vortex of pleasure and passion. I found myself suspended in time and swirling weightlessly around in a kind of euphoric ether. Holy Mother, I think this state of being is the closest a human can be to Nirvana without physically leaving this plane. Oh Lord, I so wanted to remain here forever! A slight sensation of tremors started to pull me out of the void. I opened my eyes and was shocked at what I saw below me. Varandi was trembling from head to toe. Her once sky blue eyes were now white and glazed over. Her eyelids were fluttering as fast as a humming bird’s wings. Oh Holy Hell, is she having a stroke a seizure or what? She suddenly yelled out, “My whole body just went completely numb”! Oh Holy Hell, she is having some kind of seizure! What should I do? We are in the middle of nowhere, I can’t really leave her alone in the desert while trying to find help and I surely couldn’t carry her all the way back to town. Just as I was entertaining the prospect of having a panic attack, Varandi opened her familiar sky blue eyes and proclaimed, “Oh MY GOD”! “I never had an orgasm like that before”! She then pulled me down to her and held on to me with a fervent conviction. Whew! She was having an orgasm and not a seizure, although there is a fine line separating the two conditions. With a sigh of relief, I agreed with her assessment of the sex we just had and confided to her, “That was also the most outstanding orgasm I had ever experienced”. We remained coupled together basking in the bliss of the moment. I finally propped myself up on my arms and gazed down on this Danish delight, this sister of “Thor”, this daughter of “Odin”. Oh Baby Jesus, help me! I think I’m falling in love with this sultry siren! As I pondered the concept of love and all of the sometimes frightening ramifications I heard a muffled giggle coming from above us. I looked up and spotted two young Moroccan boys about nine or ten years old peeking over the rim of the dune. They were desperately trying to contain their excitement and enthusiasm about what they were witnessing. Realizing their cover had been blown, they quickly disappeared behind the rim. I could hear them laughing hysterically as they ran off into the desert. That’s OK my little voyeurs, run like little desert rabbits back to your village. They probably became instant celebrities among their peers as they told their story of spying on a couple of hippies engaging in sex in a Saharan sand dune.

Varandi and I lay together unwilling to move and disturb the moment. A cool ocean mist floated over the dune, yes it was time to get dressed and return to town. Holding hands, Varandi and I walked back up the beach and with the sun setting behind us we watched our shadows grow longer until dusk faded our silhouettes into the sand. We didn’t speak to each other all the way back to Essouaira. We really didn’t have to say anything because we both knew something magical happened to us in that desert sand dune. The event had a radical impact on us, enough to alter and change the directions of our lives.

That night we were contented to just sleep in each other’s arms. At this point any attempt to try and surpass or even equal the sex we had in the dune would be anticlimactic at best. The next morning we hooked up with Dutch at the Hippy Café. He made it clear that it was imperative we leave now. We couldn’t afford to miss our passage back to the States. I was very reluctant to go but understood the logic of his argument. Varandi and I embraced in another crushing hug. I finally broke away from her and started to grudgingly walk away. I stopped to get a last glimpse of her. She was still standing in the middle of the street and I could tell by the way her shoulders were shaking she was crying. Fuck me, this is more than likely the last time I will ever see her again. I felt a lump the size of a grapefruit developing in my throat. With a heavy heart and a tear I turned and swiftly caught up with Dutch. We stuck out our thumbs and began hitching for a ride to Tangier.