Where the Land Meets the Sea

 The seventh track of The Beatles’ The White Album played as the road we’d traced since just outside Tijuana bent away from the coastline it had hugged so tightly. My head was propped against the window, the cold from the glass cut through my hair to my scalp, and I rolled my head just a little so that my forehead pressed against the cool surface. It felt good, like turning the pillow over in the middle of a hot July night. I sat with my eyes closed, paralyzed by a hangover, with the taste of tequila and vomit on the back of my tongue and I could tell it was going to be one of those mornings when I’m always just one bad thought away from throwing up. My hot breath licked the window, fogging and fading, as hints of what I drank the night before bounced off the glass and snaked their way back up my nose. The smell of my breath was horrible but not disgusting, a lot like the perverted way people don’t hate the smell of their own farts.
I pulled my eyes open, heavy from three hours of sleep on a lumpy couch, but could manage only an Eastwoodesque squint. The sun was cresting the mountain line to the east painting everything stretched out before us a tangerine hue. Putting my palms flat to the seat, I shifted my position and let out a muffled groan on the back end of a sigh. “Mornin’ rock star,” he said as he held down the hit he’d taken from the joint pinched in his right hand, still burning cherry red like a smog screened sunset. He exhaled with nonchalant control, he never rushed it, and the smoke danced playfully, flirting with the light as it flooded the cab of the truck. The road made its way back to the coast’s edge, trash fires smoldering in the early morning sun. A fog bank sat just off the coast to our right, the sun burning through it, lint gray flames standing up off the water like a wildfire tickling the belly of a crisp blue, November sky.
“So, you got weird last night,” Zak said as he continued to hot box the cab of his Tundra.  
“Yeah, that was… interesting,” I said.
“No. Interesting really isn’t the word. Reading up on new sexual positions to try out with your horny girlfriend, that’s interesting. Watching Drewbie draw weird shit when he’s high is interesting. But what you did last night, that shit was fuckin’ weird.”
I countered with an embarrassed laugh. “What are you talking about,” I asked as I rubbed the back of my head and dragged out a yawn.
“After we left the bar you took off your clothes as soon as we crossed 15th. Then you asked the girls we were with for a piggyback ride. Bro, you tried to jump on the big girl’s back.”
“The big girl?”
“The grenade.”
“Oh, right.”
“I dunno if you felt bad or what, but you starting hugging them and rubbing your junk up against them. It was pretty creepy. Then, when they got mad, you called them all sluts. They kicked out pretty quick after that,” he took another pull from the joint. “Ev, girls like you,” he exhaled, “until you open your mouth. You’re a shitty wingman.”
“Fuck you.”
“I was hopin’ you’d get arrested so I could take a video and post it on YouTube.”
Zak’s good people. I think his mom coddled him a little too much growing up, so he shies away from confrontation, but he still talks a lot of shit, probably more than he should, you know, with him being so scared to throw a punch and all. He was the kid in high school everybody liked, and no one really hated. He’s the vanilla ice cream of my friends. But I’m making it sound worse than it is. He’s one of my best friends. And he’s a great wingman because he’s a little guy who doesn’t mind a bigger girl.
In the car just ahead of us were our two other buddies, Elias and Will. Eli was 19 and a cocky, little son of a bitch, but he could charm his way out of trouble and into girls’ pants. Reminded me a lot of myself at that age, and that’s probably why we butt heads so much.
Will didn’t surf and was a mix between a Kentucky redneck and Mathew McConaughey’s character in Dazed and Confused, dirty stache and all. He talked about his “steeze” a lot and called girls “babes.” He was chockfull of wasted talent, exhausting any remnants of sense on the stoner’s version of useless Jeopardy facts like 73 different ways to roll a joint and the conspiracy theory behind Kurt Cobain’s death. He was a music Nazi, so his idea of a good night included rolling on E with a bunch of guys listening to Brian Jonestown Massacre. He was the kid in college I wanted to punch in the face every time he opened his mouth. But he did have his redeeming qualities – he played a mean guitar, could drink a tall boy and smoke a cig in under a minute, and was game to do downright stupid shit when he had a few drinks in him.
We were headed to Camalu, about seven hours south of the border. It was a Saturday morning in November. The Baja 1000 was running. Our two car caravan played follow the leader as the highway led us through sad, one road towns, over hills posing as mountains, and past the Maguey farms. By midday the air was hot and dry, I rolled the window down, dangling my feet in the warm wind, sank down and reclined in the passenger seat, and sat my hat down on the bridge of my nose as I settled in for a nap.
I was woken up by a large bump and the sound of rocks passing under the tread of the tires, it was a muffled but loud noise like ice cubes in a blender. We had pulled off the highway and turned right onto the dirt road that cut between the PEMEX station and the mercado. The road led west, taking us past a handful of patchwork shacks. Horses grazed in fields blanketed in trash, brittle bones stretching rubber skin, corralled by fence posts better suited for kindling than warding off trespassers.
The road wrapped up and around a hill and the crescent coast revealed itself to the south as we headed north to the point. Straight ahead of us was La Cuelva del Pirata Hotel. La Cuelva looked like an okay idea gone wrong. True to its name, the unfinished eyesore looked like a mix between a pirate ship and a castle you’d find on a putt-putt golf course. Even though La Cuelva had an unfinished second level, a half-built pool, and no landscaping, they were still peddling rooms -- albeit there were only five. The only other sign of life was a trailer that a family seemed to be living out of on the ridge farther out on the point.
The surf was shit, two to three foot, so we set up camp, cracked a couple of beers and waited for the swell to fill in. We waited… and waited… and waited. Nothing. The longer we waited, the drunker we got and that swell we were waiting for never showed up. Three beer runs later, with no waves and darkness closing in, there was nowhere to go and nothing to do except get weird.
I woke up to flies and ants on my face and chest and in my ears. Elias had poured Gatorade powder in one of the gallons of water, and brought it into the tent and left it uncapped and the tent unzipped. I was on the air mattress in my banana hammock, Zak was spooning me to my left, Eli was cocooned in his sleeping bag peppered by dead ants and flies, and Will was naked peeing on what was our fire still drinking beer kept cold by the night and early morning air. It was just past seven in the morning and still no surf.
We ate a quick breakfast, mulling over our options -- do we stay or go. Eli and Zak paddled out, “We didn’t come all the way down here to barbeque and drink,” they said. “We could have done that shit at Zak’s.” When they got out, after about 11 minutes, we walked up to La Cuelva, bought a phone card, and called Eli’s family friend Andy. If you’re ever in Del Mar, Andy’s the guy driving the camo green truck t
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