- Dude, are you okay?
- I’ve been better, why?
- You look like shit! Don’t die on me
- I'll do my best...
I pulled over, opened the hood, and stared cluelessly. Maybe it’s the heat. If we could make it to Salina Cruz, we would be safe for the night. We waited for la Chichona to cool down and started on the straight and flat highway toward Salina Cruz. The city was ugly but familiar. And that gave it a weird, almost comforting charm.
Mazunte was four hours away. Yet, it seemed so far, an imaginary land. I was looking forward to arriving. Karleen was there. Penelope was there. And most importantly my responsibility toward Jade and Leonard would be over. In the dry heat of Salina Cruz, I dreamed of a cold beer, Oaxacan weed and Karleen by my side on the beach. Mazunte was my Shire.
We stopped by the hotel where Marco and I had stayed the year before. They had doubled their price! Jade and Leonard searched for an Airbnb while I screened the street for a mechanic. I found an old man’s garage who committed to meet me at 7 am the next morning. Jade had booked a room with AC, a must-have in that open-air oven. We picked up medication for Leonard and Jade on the way.
The room had two double beds, AC and a tiny bathroom inside the room. Leonard and Jade shared the same bed. Both were sick and I needed to be fresh for my morning appointment. As the night progressed, their condition got worse. Loud farts and explosive diarrhea ensued. I left the room while they took turns destroying the toilet, and their anus. The situation was so embarrassing that it became funny, even bonding. That night in Salina Cruz, we played our first shitty concerto.
The mechanic was on time. It turned out the power problem came from a loose tube related to the turbo. I phoned every shop in town. None had the tube. At last, we walked into the largest auto part with the tube in hand to find a similar option. The counter clerk looked down on the old mechanic because his hands were covered in grease. “Go to Mercedes in Tuxtla” he said with disdain. I wanted to slap him with the tube.
The old man cut a smaller, hard plastic tube that he slammed inside the loose one to keep it from distorting. We tried it and it worked! He said it was a temporary fix, but it would get us to Mazunte. Third-world old mechanics are highly underrated.
I picked up Leonard and Jade and we left Salina Cruz in the early afternoon. Jade’s medication worked but Leonard’s did not. We followed the coastal road, up and down and around the hills, peaking at the sea. The many curves increased his nausea. His face was white as a ghost, his long hair greasy with sweat. His head swung with every turn. He focused all his energy on not puking. The possibility of him dying on the trip seriously crossed my mind.
I exited the national road and entered a small village, asking for a health center or a nurse. We found a young and welcoming nurse that was not alarmed at all. She must have seen much worse I thought. She sat him on the small bed, checked his temperature and instructed him to be on all four, pants off. Leonard was taller than the table, and on all four he was higher than the nurse. His skinny white ass was popping like a kid about to be spanked. She gave him a shot of morphine in the ass. To save what remained of his dignity, I did not take pictures.
With extra medication, we resumed our trip. The morphine was incredibly effective. Jade and I made fun of Leonard until he got his smile back. We arrived in the early evening. Leonard found a room to rest while Jade and I explored the town. Finally, we made it.
I had told Jade the whole story of Karleen. How we met, how we connected and how we left each other. She was more excited than I was anxious. We sat by the beach, drank and watched the sunset while Karleen got out of work.
Not too far from us, a local man was smoking, alone. I invited him to join us. We shared a beer and our latest shenanigans. Then, in authentic Mexican generosity, he offered me a head of untrimmed, raw Oaxacan weed.
“Bienvenido a Mazunte, pueblo magico” he said with a wink.