21# An iconic ignorance

Updated: Apr 18


DAY - West of Faro, Portugal - EXT

Johann smiled at the sight of his friend.

  • Johann: It’s good to see you, you look sharp!

  • Eugene: Thanks man, I try haha.

  • Johann: How was your trip?

  • Eugene: Good! Ryanair is okay for short distances. Are we the first?

  • Johann: Yeah, Manu and Rick land in the afternoon. 5 and 6 pm, I think.

  • Eugene: Cool. What’s the plan?

  • Johann: We have 3 missions: camping gear, groceries, and drugs.

  • Eugene: What about the car?

  • Johann: I took care of that already. Seat Leon.

  • Eugene: Sweet.

  • Johann: The boys land in 3 hours, let’s get groceries.

They walked to the parking lot. The car smelled nice and new. Johann entered LIDL in google maps and drove off. Meanwhile, Eugene listed down the ingredients for snacks, dinner, munchies, and breakfast. Effective and focused, they were in and out of LIDL in half an hour. After the groceries, they drove to Faro and found a parking spot on the main square. Still two hours before Manu and Rick landed.


The four friends have not seen each other since their trip to Morocco the year before. Manu and Rick settled in Canada. Johann returned to Germany and Eugene to France. They were looking forward to this trip, a short escape from the dreadful routine.


It was a grey afternoon in Faro. The town, with its paved roads and old chapels, seemed depressed. Johann’s drug strategy was direct and simple: to ask young people. The difficulty was to find them. Most people sitting on benches and cafés were seniors. Pedestrians were seniors. The town square looked like a fancy retirement home.

Johann and Eugene walked around but saw almost nobody under forty. The few people they asked gave them no clue and they did not dare to ask the elders. Johann was losing patience. He approached a man who answered, “For real? You just asked me ten minutes ago!”.

Time was running out. Johann and Eugene had to return to the airport, buy camping gear, and find a spot for the night. On their way to the car, Eugene stopped by a shoe store. The salesclerk was a youngster; the first one they saw in town! He pulled him apart and asked him where to find drugs. Then, they repeated the same tactic with every young person working in a shop. From ice-cream to lingerie to sunglasses, they asked them all, and found nothing.

Defeated, Johann and Eugene headed to their car when they heard a whistle. A young man in a white shirt was standing at the door of a store, whistling and waving. They waved back, and he came running to them.

  • Young man: Hey!

  • Eugene: Hello

  • Young man: My friend told me you’re looking for something.

  • Johann: Yes, we are.

  • Young man: How much do you need?

  • Johann: As much as you have!

  • Young man: Hahahaha

  • Eugene: Do you have hash or weed?

  • Young man: Yes, but not with me. How much?

  • Johann: 200€? 100 each.

  • Young man: I can only get you 100€. I’ll meet you at 8:30, in front of that ATM over there. I can’t wait. You must be here at 8:30. Understood?

  • Johann: Yes. We’ll be on time. Make it 50 each then. Why 8:30?

  • Young man: Benfica is playing Galatasaray at 8:45 and I cannot miss it. So, 8:30 sharp. Deal?

  • Johann: Deal!

The salesclerk resumed his shift and the two friends went to the airport. Rick was waiting in the terminal. Johann and Eugene greeted and caught him up to speed with recent events. The three friends sat at a café and prepared the list of gear for camping. Manu landed half an hour later. Reunited, the four friends postponed their celebration. They had a car, food, and a solid lead. The adventure was about to begin.

They rushed to Decathlon for camping gear. They got tents, mats, sleeping bags, cooking gear, flashlights, charcoal, and even marshmallow sticks. Out of time, they shoved everything in the car and hurried to the rendezvous. Johann pulled over at the ATM on the main square at 8:27 pm. There was no parking spot available. He stepped out of the car and Eugene took over the wheel.

The guy from the shop showed up exactly at 8:30pm. He saluted Johann like an old friend, chatted for a bit, and left. Johann returned to the car with a smile, both hands tucked in his hoodie.

  • Manu: So?

  • Johann: Mission accomplished.

  • Manu: Show me

  • Johann: Later.

  • Eugene: Where are we going?

  • Johann: Praia Ançao. He said we could camp there.

  • Rick: Is it a camping ground?

  • Johann: No, it’s a forest. It’s illegal to wild camp.

  • Rick: Obviously!

  • Manu: Haha, I missed you guys.

They left Faro and followed a narrow sinuous road along the coast. At a fork, they passed a fenced gate and turned left to enter the forest. The grey sky and tall pines gave it a spooky vibe. They started on a dirt road, zigzagging through the trees, and kept on until a small clearing. Eugene stopped the car and turned off the engine. Twilight came quickly. The sky was moonless. The night, black and quiet.

The boys hurried to set camp before it got too dark. Eugene prepped the food, Rick started a fire, and Manu set up the tents. Johann took out a bag from his hoodie, inhaled in, and passed it around smiling. The young man had given them a Ziplock bag full of weed buds, and a tablet of hash. It was more than they expected, and good quality too. Johann finished rolling just as Eugene put the meat on the grill. A delicious aroma of grilled beef coated the camp. They lit up the joint and celebrated their reunion.

The cloud of smoke turned white. Johann threw his joint in the fire and whispered in an alarming voice, “RICK! THROW THE DRUGS AWAY! QUICK!!!”. Rick seized the bag and flung it over his shoulder. A car approached them with full beams on. The boys waited in silence.

The lights blinded them. The car moved closer. At about 3 meters from them, it stopped. Still like gargoyles, the boys quieted down and waited. The car did not turn off its beams. They did not speak. Manu, terrorized, wanted to move but Johann shushed him down. The tension was unbearable.

They waited five minutes in total silence, with the beams full on them. Then, as slowly as it approached, the car reversed. It was the police. Manu, in shock, exhaled and fell back on the ground. The police drew away and Johann whispered, in a more alarming voice, “RICK! THE DRUGS, GET THE DRUGS!!!”.


They turned on their flashlights and searched for the precious bag. An hour later, they found it among the dead leaves, intact. The four friends feasted that night. They celebrated their reunion again and cheered to their incredible luck.


Little did they know, drugs were legal in Portugal.

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