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Juan Emiliano Ortiz-Guerrero classed himself a thoughtful man. But that was mainly image. What Ortiz meant was, he spent much of his slow-paced days ruminating, fantasying, fancying, wondering, remembering, daydreaming.
It was, as we said, image. Ortiz had a wife, Maria Feliz, and two growing sons, and he realized a responsibility to impart upon them, especially upon Richie and Sammy, an ideal family image, including an ideal father image, which Ortiz viewed as part of their deserved heritage. But he did not expect his boys to live a life similar to his own. For them he hoped Doctor Ortiz or even President Ortiz. His was a simple life.
It was not that Ortiz undervalued himself. Rather, Ortiz knew his life work was better understood from within. Viewed from without, even to a great extent by his kids Ortiz felt, there must be misunderstanding.
For Juan Ortiz was from a family of marijuana farmers in the coastal mountains just north and east of Zihuatenejo, a smallish town at the end of a rutted road, often just a dirt trail through pastures, that winds north from the thriving tourist trade of Acapulco. Beyond Zihuatenejo is wilderness mountains, semi-tropical rain forests, anarchistic farmer-bandits who speak little Spanish and have never met a Federale they didn't try to kill without excuse. The information highway never made a stop this far away from civilization.
Ortiz grew up near the edge of this wilderness on a 30-acre plot of hilly cropland that had been his father's and grandfather's before him. For at least three generations, marijuana had grown on the land, and probably for more than 300 unrecorded generations before that. In the beginning of cultivation, of course, corn had been the main crop. Marijuana was valuable for making hemp-woven clothes.
It was Juan's grandfather who made the conversion from corn to marijuana as the main plant many decades ago, when the old man foresaw in a glimpse the direction of the new generation. That was around 1950, when crowds of Norteamericanos, mainly students and street people on the GI Bill living around Mexico City, would arrive in Acapulco for weekends to sunbathe, orgy and score high grade pot unavailable in Mexico City. Juan's grandfather was dealing weed in Acapulco and saw the light of the future. He became a modern Mexican farmer.
His father had made a passable living, and he hoped to send his son to the university, but the land was in Ortiz’s blood. Dad had killed two Federales since his father's death in 1962, Juan’s grandfather had only killed one since converting in 1950, though several more during the revolutionary 1920s. Ortiz’s grandfather had contoured the land to assure superb irrigation from a nearby stream. Sunny weather and plentiful rain in its season both added their glory. There was little work to be done on the farm except during two plantings and harvests.
So Ortiz, like his father spent quiet, pleasant hours in his fishnet hammock, gently rocking, staring out the doorway across his fields to the mountains, thinking. On a table beside his hammock was a bottle of clear but oily pulche, specs of dirt and bugs suspended and preserved therein, a drinking glass, a pile of marijuana in a cigar box, and an old and torn copy of Nevedades, a Mexico City daily newspaper. He rolled his marijuana, in joints the size of his scarred brown thumb or better, in pieces of paper torn from that newspaper. His only tech, a zippo lighter handed down three generations from the first world war.
Today, at least the day on which we focus, it began to cloud up in the morning and thunder about noon He had eaten a snack fixed by Maria, and was rocking in his hammock. His sons were in school. Then the lightning flashed in from the Pacific just over the next mountain westward, and the rain began to blow.
Juan listened to its rustle on the thatch roof, watched the fog turn the mountains to the southeast a glowing purple, the self same phenomenon which gave Zihuatenejo Purple marijuana strain, its name. The climate, sun and daylight the spirit of the plant. His grandfather believed there was a spirit that manifested in each plant separately but was a single entity withal. The grand marijuana, more or less. He had never heard of the Goddess' reality but the notion vibrated harmoniously with the spirit of his Indian blood. He knows that time is catching up to him, and that his children would head off to university at some point, and he will be the last Zihuatenejo Purple marijuana strain farmer in his family line. His legacy soon left to myths and stories told by his lineage on Facebook and Ancestor.com.
He believed in the Goddess because he crooned to her as his father did. He planted his crop in the rolling fields, caressed her as he cut the plants for drying and market or cleaned and crushed the leaves before he rolled them in newspaper joints, kissed her with every toke that plunged deep into his lungs, loved her every time he bespoke her merits to a passerby or sold a kilo sack to some bearded gringo lover of the Goddess.
Ortiz wished for the Goddess visit. He had heard the legend sung by Sufi poets throughout the Middle East: the legend of how the Goddess Marijuana each year chooses one of her faithful and personally visits his land, there by the light of the full moon sprinkling all his plants with her own magic pollen. And how in that growing season, that particular plot of land becomes the cradle of Earth's most delicious, highest marijuana plants, whether for leaves or resin pure.
With harvest, Juan felt an awesome responsibility, the need to distribute the crop so it benefited the greatest number. He saw his crop, even when still waving in the sunlight, as sacrament. His desire came to pass. There were more than a thousand kilos to be sent forth into the commercial world, but when all his stash – a larger stash than usual, we might add – had been marketed, he could feel that he had been successful in discharging what he had fathomed had been his responsibility to the Goddess.
Ortiz would have felt less troubled had he known more of that same Sufi legend of the Goddess Marijuana. For the song continues that every year after the Goddess' magic crop is in, by her further magic she sees that the crop is distributed to her faithful around the world – smokers as well as farmers.
It was preordained that wide distribution should occur, part and parcel with the myth of the Goddess Marijuana.
If there is a Goddess, there is also a distribution system that is infallible. Such are the mechanics of the myth.
Even unknowing then, Juan helped fulfill that myth in this near final season of family yields, 100-kilo sacks became kilo bags, which became pounds and ounces and joints spreading itself ever thinner as it worked its way around the world and into the minds of the favored faithful. Each of them receiving his or her individual blessing from the Goddess Marijuana in that particular season. Synchronicity working its magic to assure that each of that season's anointed would be at the right place at the right time to receive his or her due.
And somewhere in Berkeley or the Haight or Brooklyn one night that autumn, someone would drop by, perhaps just returned from Los Angeles or Madrid or London – and over a joint would tell his hosts and other friends a peculiar happening of maybe three nights before. How he and six others shared a skinny joint at this chick's apartment, and how it wiped them so out he hallucinated for four hours and couldn't move until the following afternoon.
And the listeners will have heard similar tales before, tales brought back from far places. "Yeah, but did you get some" "No, man, she only had a little under a quarter. But it sure was a mind-fuck!" The same old answer. And to the unblessed, the unannointed, at least of that season, only another unbelievable story told by another unbelievable pothead.
"Shit, where'd the chick say it came from?"
"I don't know, some place north of Acapulco, she said. A friend of hers brought back a kilo. He just left a small bit with her. I was thinking of going down next month . . . "
The Goddess visits Mexico for the purest of farms. For those who have given their lives to its cultivation. In the environs of Zihuatenejo, such was her magic that a single season's crop from there found its way around the world, into the bodies and minds of almost a quarter-million of the faithful and put Richie and Sammy through UCLA. Both work in the entertainment industry today. Zihuatenejo Purple has a worldwide reputation of highness, while in truth the climate there is hardly better for the cultivation of marijuana than, say, Acapulco. But that is the essence of the magic of Zihuatenejo Purple marijuana strain.