Well done you guys! Though it’s better in a bottle to be fair.
Reading this brought back memories of Zipoliti, Mejico, 1987. Sitting at Casa Teofila one night with two fishermen and Carlito, a mystic who makes jewellery from found objects on the beach and a guy who travels back and forth from the US for a reason he is reluctant to disclose. “Import – export,” is all he would say.
We had been hanging out a while when a large rumbling rumbling vehicle drives by, it transpires it’s spraying the wilting crops. It’s been three years without significant rainfall, but they are spraying, I’m told, pesticides. No one mentions this instead everyone puts his thumb in the top of his bottle of Corona and gestures to me to do the same. I’m like, “Porque, que pasa?” Then the explanation comes.
I’m thinking what the hell are we breathing in then? Attempt to ask; I don’t know the conditional tense but it’s understood in any case. “Eh, no pasa nada Anita.” Roughly this translates as, “Nothing to worry about.” Shrugs all round. So Mexican. Hate to generalise.
Perhaps so Zipoliti, where the rubbish was not collected because of an oversight by the government according to some. Instead it’s just dumped in the bushes, the place where many would have a shit, where the travellers were directed to have a shit, where the few pigs ate the shit. One time I was startled by an inquisitive pig.
Zipoliti where garlic is a cure all. Have a cut; wash with seawater and wipe with a clove. Have a fever, take garlic soup with a raw egg broken and stirred. Eat a clove a day, come what may.
Ziploliti where there was so much intrigue, love and magic. On the wall of Teofilas was a representation of the yin yang sign – two lizards each chasing the tail of the other. The mystery of the import – exporter was revealed when Teofila had to go to the bank in Puetro Angel, the next village, and white lines appeared on the table. I heard one of them say, “Que precioso, el rosa!”
Many of my questions to local people would be followed by a shrug. Followed by my childlike, “ But why?” The answer was always the same, “Asi es,” it is what it is. I found this mildly frustrating the acceptance of so much poverty, unsanitary conditions and neglect. One afternoon Carlito took me to a meal on the beach. I appeared to be the guest of honour. A pretty grand affair. Fresh fish, fresh lobster and crab and salads and of course tequila.
Small children, hard to say their ages, ran around the table but didn’t join us. I couldn’t help noticing some of them had bald patches on the head. I asked our host why. “They don’t get enough vitamins… asi es.” Suddenly I didn’t feel very hungry. All this show for the gringita, I was the only woman at the table, why? It was often hard to know who to trust, to know their motivation.
In general I found the locals hard to read. Teofila was sometimes gruff with me but as a single parent with four children and a restaurant to maintain that is not surprising. Our arrangement was washing up a few hours a day for a hammock. Travellers came and went. Some Europeans settled there were the Swiss guys who only seemed to have one interest which was to buy weed, smoke weed and sell weed. Their main man, Guru, the others told me lived on a rock for a month, they pointed it out to me. This perplexed me how do you live on a rock? How?
Of those I met only Carlito I truly trusted so one night when the moon was full, the tides were high and a storm approaching he asked me had I tried peyote, would I like to try it? Of course I said yes. As we sat on the beach he said, “Are you ready to meet the little man?” I imagined it would look like a mandrake but inside he pulled from one of his many pockets something which looked like a dried button mushroom.
In 1953 Aldous Huxley first tried mescaline under the supervision of the psychiatrist Humphry Osmond. He described the experience in The Doors of Perception published the following year. He documents it showed him “for a few timeless hours the outer and the inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with survival or to a human being obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by Mind at Large … an experience of inestimable value to everyone and especially to the intellectual.”
I had yet to read this and had no idea I was about to enter another reality, another realm I still have access to. It opened doors of perception that have never really closed, I understood asi es on a whole other level, but that is another story recorded in my poem Que Onda in the unfinished mini collection Violent Beauty.
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