42# The ugly truth

Updated: May 5, 2021



Damn that’s deep! I can’t even be mad at him. What a character...


We wanted to leave Puerto Escondido that same morning but La Chichona wasn’t ready. The suspension base was fragile despite the last fix. It could break at any time. We toured all auto-parts shops in town…in vain. Our best option was to order the part from Salina Cruz, a coastal city 250km east of Puerto Escondido.

We thanked Guy and Sandra for their hospitality. Guy was disappointed to see us go. It must have been ages since he had visitors. Marco and I were sad to leave Sandra. She was always so kind, generous, and considerate. Staying with them gave us a genuine sense of family. We left, grateful.

The road wove across mountains and rivers along the coast, halted often the by infamous and dangerous Mexican speed bumps. One speed bump too fast could break the suspension and force us to a stop. But this time we were in the middle of nowhere. I was aware of the risks and chose not to tell Marco. Anxiety spreads like cancer.

With the sunset, we decided to stop somewhere for the night. An exit sign wrote “ Barra de la Cruz”. We turned right on a narrow paved road, in search of a campground. The road went up a hill then down through a lost village. Children played, villagers looked up, and we waived. We followed the dirt road up another cliff and then stopped. There it was, a postcard view: perfect lines of waves breaking one after one in a bay… a surfer’s paradise.

We improvised a quick surf session and headed back to a campground. Besides the locals managing the property, there were only surfers. One of them was covered in tattoos…and they were all ugly! The tattoos were clumsy and unaesthetic, as if drawn by a six years-old with no promising talent whatsoever. The guy with the ugly tattoo had been chasing waves all around the world for the past two years. And, like most surfers, he also smoked weed.

When it comes to drugs, I think that past a certain point, the brain loses it. That dude was way beyond that point. At first we thought he was mute because he spoke but we could not hear. Then, he mumbled unintelligible words with great difficulty, and zoned out again. He sprouted chunks of sentences in a high pitched and trembling voice, like an old drunken lady.

Marco and I asked him questions just to hear him talk, and chuckled every time tried. We were betting on how many words he could handle before he zoned out again. He was French and I’m sure he found out about our little game, but speaking up wasn’t worth it. It was mean and cruel, and extremely amusing. The more he tried to speak, the more tired he looked. It was hilarious to see someone struggle that much, like that friend who passed out on the couch because of too much weed.


His situation brought me back to a conversation I had at a barbecue two weeks before in Puerto Escondido. While Marco was trying to make out with Sammy, I turned my attention to the barbacue. A man was cooking an Asado, those gargantuan barbecues with all sorts of meat. The cook, or Asador, was an Argentinian man named Guillermo. He was in his 70s but had a great posture, looked healthy, and like most Argentinian men, was handsome.

I had just lit up a spliff when Guillermo approached me:

- “Why do you smoke?” - Because it helps me tune down my anxiety - And what is the source of your anxiety? - The fact that I am 30 and still have no idea what to do with my life - That is a good reason to be anxious.

I cracked a nervous laugh. I respected his boldness but more, I was intrigued.

- What do you do? - I’m a doctor. - Good. And how did you decide to become a doctor? - I always knew that it is something I wanted to do and that I would be good at it. - Well, it helps when you know. But what if you didn’t? - You always do. You’re just not listening or afraid to act. - I am afraid to act indeed. - So, is that why you smoke? - YES! When I’m high, I forget about all the scary things I need to do. I just enjoy the present moment. Plus, I laugh a lot. It’s cheating in a way but it suits me well for now. I really enjoy it.

Aha I got you! What are you going to say to that old man? He took a moment to process my answer, then added in a calm tone:

- I’m not telling you this in a judgmental way, but I found from experience that drugs take a huge amount of energy out of people’s life. And that energy could be used much more effectively. - You’re right…but what if I don’t want to act? - Then it is your choice, but again you are not listening. You are in peace when your mind, your body and your heart are working toward the same goal. It is difficult but when you achieve that, happiness becomes part of your everyday life and anxiety disappears completely. Because you have faith you are doing the right thing, the thing you’re supposed to be doing. - - You are a grown man and you will do whatever you want, but if you keep using drugs you will miss out on a lot of things.



Guillermo filled out a plate with ribs and juicy sauages, handed it to me with a smile and returned to his duty behind the grill. At the time, I was triggered and speechless. Guillermo was the real-life Morpheus handing me the red and blue pills.


He was right and I knew it, that poor French stoner was the proof. We went to bed, and I thought of the Frenchman with a mix of pity and compassion. Drugs had destroyed him, yet he was so young.

There is no uglier truth than the one you’re refusing to hear.



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