"Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."
Resentment clung to my mind like a flea on a stray dog. It haunted my nights and poisoned my thoughts. To escape its grasp, I looked for company. Every morning, I packed my laptop and walked, hollow like Zipolite's wave, on the long and narrow beach to town. I was fishing for support, a look, a smile, anything to brighten my mood. Company brings perspective. Perspective cures resentment.
On a sunset walk, I saw a guy and two girls in the water. The girls were yelling playfully when a wave behind them forced them down on all four. The guy grabbed them by the shoulder and pulled them out, safe from the sneaky current. He was bold and barrel-chested, with strong arms covered in tattoos. They walked to a hostel on the beach, dragging their feet in the soft humid sand. The guy looked around, our eyes met. He waived to me, all smiles and cheers. I waived back and carried on.
At night, I heard music coming from the hostel on the beach and walked in. A wooden rest area table sat between the gate and the bar. I ordered a large beer, an extra glass, and joined the people at the table. The tattooed guy from the beach was with them, he had a baby face. He introduced himself as Nube, and greeted me with a smile. I poured him a glass.
- Thank you amigo. You surf right?
- I used to see you pass with your board every morning, but not anymore.
- Yeah... I got injured. That wave is brutal man.
- Jajaja I know, the current is treacherous. It lures you in like a beautiful woman...
He put his palm up in a shy invitation... then slammed his hand on the table.
- Bam! And it smashes you in the face!
- Hahah that's exactly how it happened...
- Jajaja you know it.
Nube asked to see my phone. He placed it on the table, screen facing up. I was arranging my bag under the table and when I looked back, a line of white powder was glittering against the black screen. Nube offered me a hit. I declined and thanked him. They all snorted. This wasn't my vibe. I finished my beer, cleaned up my phone and left. As I exited the hostel, Nube came running through the gate, yelling my name.
- You forgot your bag!!!
- Oh shit! Thanks a lot, you’re a life saver!
- No worries. We’re doing an open mic on Friday. Come it’ll be fun!
- Oh cool! Do you play?
- I rap.
- Nice. I’ll call you before, what’s your number?
- I don’t have one. Just come by in the evening. It starts at 9. See you on Friday!
Over twenty people crowded the hostel on Friday night. The staff planted plastic chairs in the sand around a small improvised stage, with a DJ in the corner. Nube was the host, making jokes between artists. He invited the two girls I saw with him on the beach. They sang three sweet country songs accompanied by the ukulele, and took a break.
The girls came back on stage, giggling. They forgot the lyrics, the public and themselves, it was embarassing. Nube walked them off and closed the act with a rap song. The DJ played a lounge beat and left his corner to join the crowd. Nube invited me backstage. He was smoking weed with the two girls. I took a few hits and floated to bed. I didn’t dream of Karleen fucking two strangers that night. It was a good night.
Since then I hung out at the hostel almost every night. They taught me the origins of Zipolite. The nudist, gay-friendly, and drug-super-friendly village was created by wealthy hippies in the 80s. They wanted a beach to get high naked, and with the right connections and enough bribery, they made it happen. Zipolite was unique for that in Mexico.
One evening we were playing chess when Nube said he was going to buy weed. I gave him the 50 pesos I had left over from the beer. He came back two games later and summoned us one by one to the kitchen. My turn came. Nube had a scale on the table. He filled a bag the size of my hand.
- Is this for me!?
- You gave me 50 pesos right?
- That’s 10 grams.
- Euuuh okaaay. Thank you very much!
25 cents a gram.. viva Mexico! The weed rocked me to bed and sucked my nightmares away. No more panic attacks or waking up shivering in cold sweat. I was grateful and wanted to show my appreciation. The next day I saw Nube sitting alone in a taco shop. He waived a hand, super excited.
- You have a new phone?
- Yes, Adam gave it to me. You remember him? The guy from London.
- Congratulations! So… you have a number now?
- No, still no number. But you know where to find me jajaja
I ordered an extra round of tacos and beers. Nube was showing me pictures on his new phone.
- What’s that?
- That’s my gun
- Why do you have a gun?
- For protection
I pulled a funny face.
- Oh! I never told you
He pointed to a tattoo on his neck.
- I was a member of the Veracruz cartel
- Yeah... I had to fee. The new cartel killed everyone when they took over
- They came after you too?
- They shot me three times
My eyes popped out of their sockets.
- What!!! Euuuu!!! How, how? Euuh... How did you survive?
- “Mala hierba nunca muere” jajajaja (weeds are not killed by the frost)
- Hahaha... but seriously, how did you survive?
- My vest took two hits… and God saved me from the third.
Nube ended up in Zipolite because he had no choice, he was a fugitive gangster. He shared with me his story from his first drug deal to his escape. Behind his baby face and cheerful smile, Nube soaked in pain. The pain of being persecuted. The pain of not seeing his mother. The pain of hearing his friends' last words.
Despite everything he'd been through, his attitude was admirable. He was grateful, grateful to wake up, grateful to be alive.
Tragedies are unique and incomparable. Yet, some are worse than others.