- “Those fucking Muslims. They should all be burnt alive. Women, children, all of them”
- “It’s that crazy old fuck. Just ignore him”.
- . . .
The sun pounded hard in El Tunco. The sea breeze didn’t reach our hostel; mosquitoes were happy. The air was humid and stifling. Activities like walking to the grocery stores became a mission. We had grown soft. We needed to find a place with shade and breeze. A place to hide from the sun. A place to worry about nothing.
We had been hustling with the robbery for a week. Dealing with the Police was exhausting. I still had to fix the broken door lock and Marco needed new clothes. We wanted to wrap up all the chores and finally chill. With a bit of luck, we might even find some weed.
Another day of hassle. First, the mechanic. We parked at 8am in the garage. It was already hot. The mechanic worked while we crouched in the tiny spots of shade, scratching fresh mosquito bites like infected monkeys. Fixing the door was more difficult than expected, I needed spare parts.
We headed to San Salvador, the capital, for parts. The GPS led us to a shady auto shop in the industrial neighbourhood. The place was no larger than an ice-cream stand. Yet, there was a security guard holding a shotgun in front. Nobody walked the streets. The area did not seem like a place to leave a car unattended. The vibe stank. We drove away.
On the way to the mall we reached a busy intersection. Two cops rushed cars through the red light. Behind them was another squad circling a perimeter with yellow tape. They looked like ninjas with automatic rifles. As we passed them, we saw blood stains and white body shapes drawn on the ground. It was a shooting. A shooting in the capital, on a main intersection, at 2 fucking pm on a Tuesday!
Priorities changed. We left San Salvador in a hurry, tense but relieved to return to our little town, our robbery-only town, Playa El Tunco. Scared and exhausted, we reached our limit. Weed would bring us peace, we thought. And so we went on a quest for peace.
Marco was approached by a Jesus-looking hippie in a bar. A couple of beers later, we were smoking his pipe on the corner. Jesus generously offered to sell us some…at an outrageous price. I ignored him but Marco couldn’t. The guy behind his friendly look and generous sample was a phony scammer, and Marco destested fake people above everything. All those days he kept his cool. That hippie was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Marco was furious. He flipped shit, called him names and provoked him for a fight. The stoic, cold-blooded Marco had lost it.
Our search for peace led us to La Guitarra, the only hotel big enough to fit la Chichona. From the street, it looked like a large parking lot. The inside though was Ali Baba’s cave. A vast lobby with a bar and a pool table had framed legends on brick walls, from John Lennon to Che Guevara. There was a long dining area, a large kitchen, an office space, and even a Netflix room!
Outside, coconut trees surrounded the swimming pool. A main walkway cruised through the bungalows, all the way to the beach. Stars named after music legends decorated the path. The rooms were clean and refined. Almond trees sheltered the way and fed the squirrels. The trees formed a green tunnel, creating a draught, chasing mosquitoes and isolating outside noises. It was cool, pretty, and quiet. We found peace.
No murders or robberies here, we could finally chill. We parked la Chichona and booked a room. By the afternoon, we were swinging in the hammocks when we heard a slammed door. A man was getting louder. He spoke with passion, like a preacher in a trance, almost yelling. Everyone was able to hear him. He was ranting a hate speech; a speech about ethnic cleansing, a speech that would have made Hitler blush.
That shit had to stop. I walked to his bungalow and saw an old man, let’s call him Dick, spitting his venom to two youngsters with passion. I stood in front of him, fists and teeth clenched. He paused, and looked up. I gathered all my courage, took a deep breadth and said,”I hope that one day you’ll be loved.” Silence. The poisoning stopped. I walked away.
A bit later, Dick came to my bungalow and asked if I was Muslim. I confirmed. He mumbled an apology and said he didn’t know . . . as if it mattered! Hate is hate. I thought of educating him but was too shaken to talk. Marco gave me the not-worth-it glance. Dick was old, ignorant, hateful, and probably lonely. I didn’t find the compassion to forgive, change, or even pity him. Our peace got soiled.
Everything in our trip turned sour since we entered El Salvador. Every day was a hassle. Even Marco had to let off steam. We got hit by a combo of bad luck. The peace we found was short-lived and our patience was running out. Walking through La Guitarra’s lobby, the words of John Lennon shone from their frame.
“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”