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44# The value of friendship

Updated: May 11, 2021

-We made it. Finally!

-Yeah! My brain is still shaking.

-Look, a fire! Let's grab some beers and say hi.

Salina Cruz was noisy, hot, and ugly. We spent our days chasing car parts in the heat, one the most stressful times of the trip. We ordered the part on Friday afternoon and fled the city. Anywhere without cars would do. Anywhere without smoke or noise. We followed the coastal road in search of beach to unwind and surf while the parts arrived.

The first beach we tried was a deserted bay. We entered the water and the clear waters became troubled. Around us, a dozen large rays lifted from the surface. They were fascinating, graceful as a ballet dancer gliding underwater. As beautiful as they were, they also stung. We froze in our steps until they left the bay, and hurried quickly to the van. A local surfer told us we could surf at Playa San Diego, a secluded beach further down the coast.

Playa San Diego started on a never-ending dirtroad. La Chichona’s suspension was still broken so we drove as slow as we could. We passed a mango farm, a coconut plantation, a mangrove lagoon, until the road came to an end. We arrived at dusk.There were no lights besides the glimmer of flames dancing through the bushes.

Four people were sitting around the fire, three Europeans and a local. They greeted us with open arms and offered us rum in coconuts. The Europeans had scars on their arms, shins and ankles. They had been there for over a month, surviving on fruits and the seafood they caught. A simple life in an ephemeral paradise. They seemed happy.

Playa San Diego had no reception nor any sign of civilization. But our biggest concern was the mosquitoes. Abundant and voracious, they ruled the place and seemed to feed off foreigners only. A tacit transaction to stay in paradise. We paid with our blood. Marco slept in the van. I slept in a tent by the beach, away from the beasts.

I woke up at dawn. The sun was already beating on my tent. A clean wave broke on glassy waters. It was a slow right pointbreak that unfolded on a bay. And the best part was that there was no one. I picked up the surfboard and dashed to the water. It was epic. I surfed on an empty stomach for over three hours, fueled by adrenaline. One last wave, one last wave…

I caught the longest ride and walked out to the van, stoked. Marco was grumpy and had a swollen eye. He stepped out of the van ranting in his underwear. The mosquitoes feasted on him. His whole body was covered with stings. They even bit him on the eyelid…twice! I laughed more than I should have.

I felt a bit dizzy after the surf. I laid my head on the pillow when an excruciating migraine crushed my skull. The slightest move felt like an invisible hammer pounding on my temples. The kind of headache you have after a night of heavy drinking when you are past thirty. I couldn’t move. KO.

For the rest of the day, I was a corpse. The migraine and fatigue were draining me. I was feeling my soul slipping away. I had experienced that before and feared what was coming. In the next two days, I slept over 40 hours, lost 3 kg, and shat things that would disgust both Alien and Predator. I crawled back to bed after each diarrhea run. Shaking, sweaty and weak, I focused on staying alive.

Marco was staying by my side, making sure I was still breathing. He force fed me, brought me water, and rolled joint after joint to relieve the pain. The Europeans told him that locals come to the beach on Sunday. Indeed, a lovely old woman made me a herbal drink that brought some life back in me. With Marco and the old lady’s nursing, I gathered enough energy to sit on my own.

On Monday morning, Marco drove away on that long dirt road again. At the first bar of reception, I emailed my boss that I was sick. His eye was still swollen and he had scratches everywhere but on his teeth. We both needed medication and rest, sheltered from the sun, away from the mosquitoes. Playa San Diego’s price was too high. We could not afford paradise.

The friendships we form when we are scared and vulnerable are the ones that tend to stick. Because we cling on to each other for support. If it wasn’t for Marco, I would have ended up in an emergency room, or worse.

Thank you my friend, you have my eternal gratitude.


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