I got off the bus in Tepic, Nayarit. I called my contact and asked where to meet him, I took a taxi to the cathedral, and by the fountain I found a white man of about 65 years, on crutches. It took me a moment to realise that he only had one leg - the other had apparently been amputated around the knee many years before. Brown Scorpion, he calls himself. He introduces me to his wife, Fernanda, a Wixárika (or “Huichol”) lady of similar age, a grandmother. After gathering some supplies, we leave Tepic in Scorpion’s red pickup.
We arrive at the ranch, which holds the name of a certain deceased Latin American president. Scorpion says it’s fitting that he would end up here, and perhaps it was fate. He helped train the Argentine fighters who killed that very president. Pretty soon I realise that Scorpion is a full-time conspiracy theorist, the type that educational videos might have warned you about. He was a fan of a journalist named Jan Irvin, a man whose work was primarily focused around determining which members of the 60s-70s counterculture movement were really undercover agents - Jerry Garcia, Jim Morrison, Timothy Leary, and definitely Terence McKenna.
Scorpion told me that he himself was responsible for distributing more than half a million acid tabs in 1973, working for the CIA. His father had worked at Area 51. He had been injected with experimental chemicals under the guise of vaccination. It occurred to me that while some of the things he was saying were probably true (and some were even complicit with research I had conducted), but with years of sun, peyote and InfoWars, I wondered if he had mixed a few things up.
He’d quit the US more or less permanently, decades before, when he was struggling with cancer and the government issued a court order to give him chemotherapy. He said he’d seen most of his old military buddies die the same way from that “medicine”. After the court order, he became resolute - he would find a way to live, or die in his own way, but in any case, he would not live in fear. He moved to Mexico, started living with the native Huichol people, and cured five types of cancer his own way, presumably with salves and tinctures, extracts of cannabis oil suspended in alcohol, and many cartons of cigarettes.
By the door of the house, there was a sign saying, in Spanish “This home has a firm floor,” a notice of a government program to upgrade Huichol homes from dirt floors to concrete floors. The home was humble, with only four rooms in total, cigarette butts swept into cracks, a bucket to manually flush the toilet, and no shower. However, it did have electricity, and later when the truck filled the tank, there would be precious, though limited, running water. To bathe, I had the option of walking 30 minutes to the river, or dumping a bucket of water over my head - both of which sounded quite agreeable based on the weather. The accommodation was nothing fancy, to be sure, but it doesn’t help anyone to be precious about these sorts of things. I was grateful to have a bed.
-That’s a lot of sugar.- I said, as I watched Scorpion load 5 heaped teaspoons of sugar into his coffee.
“I’m hypoglycemic. Sugar doesn’t cause diabetes, by the way.”
It was unusual to see this very skinny man, who would probably weigh less than 50kg if he still had both legs, take a load of sugar that many overweight people would be ashamed of.
-What does then?- I asked, as he added 5 teaspoons of non-dairy creamer.
“Sugar substitutes. Aspartame breaks down into formaldehyde and poisons the liver and kidneys. People try to avoid diabetes with that stuff but it just makes it worse.”
I sipped my coffee with one sugar and no creamer. Interesting.
Over the next few days I learnt more about Scorpion, his connection to the Huichol people, and to peyote.
To be continued... Part 2