Charles Portis' Gringos
And "Toxicos"
In Charles Portis' novel Gringos, I recall there was a group of American loonies planning a ceremony of some kind in the Mayan ruins of Palenque. I visited the ruins of Palenque myself, over 50 years ago, but didn't perform any ceremonies there.

In the Portis novel, I also remember learning that Mexican slang for visiting American hippies is toxicos. Seems appropriate.

I was impressed by two things about the nearby town of Palenque, back then a barely touristed backwater. One was the way that the hotel owner, who was the local jefe, conducted the town's affairs. He just sat on the hotel verandah, with a pistol in his belt, and various townspeople came to the verandah to beg this or that favor.

His flea-bitten hotel was the best one in Palenque, and also the only one in Palenque. Its principal guests were an army of curious, fearless, small mammals called tejones, who acted as if they owned the place. I suppose they were relatives of the owner. Dictionaries translate tejon as "badger," but these little varmints weren't badgers. I think they were coatimundis. Legend has it that tejones in some parts of Mexico have developed the power of speech, and have taken up real estate brokerage.

Speaking of toxicos, I've had several long telephone conversations with my last AA sponsee, Gil W. He calls me often, particularly when he is drunk. He was drunk as a skunk when he called on November 9, but it had nothing to do with the election. In fact, he didn't know there had been an election.

In the last 20 years, Gil has put together between 18 and 19 years of sobriety, but not all in a row. He stays sober for several months, sometimes close to a year, but then inevitably goes off on a fearsome bender for a few days, ending up in the detox ward of the nearest hospital. I have convinced him to will his body to the School of Medicine, for study of its remarkable powers of endurance.

--- Dr Phage
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from Gringos

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