Every full moon in August I meet up with an old friend south of Ensenada to camp at the edge of the ocean. Mick Hamilton has settled down during his middle years, but was a total madman when we went to school together in the late sixties. One psychology professor, who was full of himself, got Mick’s Irish blood boiling. During a particularly inflated and boring lecture Mick stood on top of his chair and screamed, “Accept all that is human and respect nothing !… There is nowhere to rest at the end anyway.” He then danced an Irish jig and sang a few raunchy songs in Gaelic on his way out. It was the obscene gesture he directed at the honourable professor; however, that got him thrown out of school. After floundering for six months, he landed and found out he had a knack for making money. Within a few years he amassed a fortune in the stock market. The god of greed got hold of him and whispered in his ear that he could make even more money quicker at the poker table. He was also partying a lot in those days and frequently quoted St. Augustine in public, “Oh Lord, give me chastity… but not yet.” After a while he got as inflated as the psychology professor he disdained and, like Icharus, crashed. After he lost two-thirds of his fortune on the gambling tables, he got so disgusted with himself he gave the other third away except for $20,000 with which he bought a cantina. It is probably the only one in Mexico with a partial Irish menu. He settled down with his love, Olivia, and raised six kids.
A couple of times a year he lets off steam, which he calls ‘ritualized madness’ – one of these times is our annual reunion. After we set-up camp by the ocean, Mick starts roasting corn, potatoes and a chicken over the fire. When the full moon comes out we start working on the cervezas and listen to Eliades Ochoa, Los Tigres del Norte, Ramon Ayala and the norteno music we both love. Usually we stay up til sunrise and catch up. A considerable time is spent in silence watching that awesome August moon cross over the Pacific.
This year he brought his 24-year-old son, an artist who complements Mick’s hilarious and often outrageous extroversion with gentle quietness. His full name is Che Gabriel Marques-Hamilton and he moves through the world with a gracefulness that would allow him to be equally at home with the peasants of Chiapas and Sherwood Forest, or the courts of King Arthur and the Aztecs for that matter. When I look at him I’m always reminded of Marshall McLuhan when he told us over 40 years ago that all of us live in a ‘global village’. We’re one planet, unity in diversity is our only hope.
When in Ensenada, Mick always makes a pilgrimage to an 86-year-old Mexican Indian shaman by the name of Chia. Even though invited in the past, I never accepted as I sensed this visit was a deeply personal and intimate event for him. When Che told me he was going, I also accepted. Next afternoon the three of us walked through a barrio of wooden huts on the outskirts of Ensenada carrying presents Mick had bought. Chia’s hut was close to the top of the hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, beautiful flowers surrounding it. She came out and embraced Mick. Chia had braided silver hair, dark skin and wore a flowing green peasant dress. Then she walked over to me. When I looked into her eyes, which were brown like the earth and deep like a river, I immediately fell into them. I might have been gone for two seconds or two minutes; I don’t know. That only happened one time before when I looked into the eyes of Mother Meera. When I came to, the three of them were laughing. Mick grabbed my arm and we walked to the garden in the back.
Even though I had lived in Mexico for almost a year, I’m ashamed to say my Spanish is very weak. Che would translate on occasion, but most of the afternoon I spent in that sweet space of timelessness while they talked. At one time Che translated Chia, “Viruses, bacteria, poor diet and lack of exercise don’t primarily kill us – it is lack of joy. Real joy comes only through shared pleasure.” Polynesian Ka’ikena Pearsall also believes that.
When it was time to leave, Chia came up to me, looked into my eyes, and with Mick translating, said, “Pedro, in life whenever I’ve had a choice between one, trying to understand, two being totally honest and three, being kind, I’ve always practiced kindness.” Then she gave me a soft kiss on my forehead, “Don’t forget when you go back home… be kind, Pedro.” It was the most gentle admonition ever sent my way.
Next morning I dropped Che and Mick off at the Tijuana airport. When we hugged, Che whispered, “Dios grande, Pedro.” I whispered back, “Dios grande, Che.” Then father and son walked arm-in-arm up the plank to board the airplane – it was a beautiful sight to see. Shortly before entering the cabin Mick turned around, raised his right fist straight up and screamed, “Power to the people !” I yelled back, “You bet your ass, Mick… even if we don’t know what to do with it.”
One for all and all for one. Love to Mother Meera
Peter Milhado © 2009