10.30 PM. 28th July 2004. Ibiza.
It isn’t too long after sunset that the island’s lights come into view. By this time the excitement is tangible. People smile wider than when they’d boarded and even those who’d been sleeping appear bright-eyed. Or is it just me? Leaning over the rail, Dennis points out our host, Richard Wolfe, who’s wearing orange shorts that are so cool I make a mental note to get a pair just like them.
However, before I’m going to be able to hit the island, I still have to retrieve the car on my own, while Dennis and Joey are free to disembark with all the happy trippers via the passenger exit. Somewhat apprehensive about descending into the hell-soaked depths of the ferry to retrieve the car, I’m not reassured by the scenario, or the smell in the garage. Flattened against the metal bulkhead, I switch to combat mode but still can’t figure out where my car is parked. Inches from my face, a twenty-six wheeler revs its massive engine, the torque making its cab tilt ominously to the side. Instinctively, I make a convulsive dash past snarling machinery to where I think my car is parked.
More by luck than judgment, I narrowly avoid being crushed by an assortment of malevolent vehicles, all bent on getting off the ferry first. There’s literally no room for error, which is unfortunate because the car isn’t where I’d thought so I have to continue ‘hanging out’ with the demonic, revving traffic, while fighting off being overcome by the sewerage and monoxide mix. Switching to night-vision, I negotiate with the toxic environment, occasionally dodging other confused and gassed drivers who’ve also lost their vehicles. By the time I make it to the car, all that’s standing between me and asphyxia is the airconditioner. Taking a couple of deep breaths, I try to envisage a video game I’d once played then engage forward gear.
With stage one behind me; the ferry’s garage is just a bad dream. Ibiza is beneath the tires and my adrenaline output spikes. Thus it doesn’t take too long to find my crew. After a quick intro to Richard, we split up into two cars. Joey stays with me while Dennis goes with Richard. Joey straps in and says; “This is better than the real thing”
Hola! It’s nearly midnight. We’re at a restaurant with our host Richard, who sponsored Terence Mckenna’s AllChemicals Conference on Hawaii back in October 1999. This was Terence’s last major public appearance. I was privileged to have been there, but that’s another story. Back in the present, Joey is fascinated by Richard’s glowing state of good health. Richard, a few years older than Joey, who is a ‘few years older’ than me, lays it down on Joey. I smile politely but feel hysterical because this is way cool. Joey is taking it. Dennis is happy. Richard is happy. It’s all good.
By the time we return to our host’s villa, it’s only 2.30 AM, but Dennis persuades us to have an early night so that we can be fresh for our expedition to the temple of Tanit on the morrow. Though I’m still revved up, I reluctantly let myself be persuaded not to run amock on Ibiza on night one. At the time I remember thinking that this was a mistake.
On reflection, it was definitely a mistake. It would have been better to have gone out and had an all-nighter than swap snores with Joey, but this wasn’t clear until I’d already thrown a pillow at him wishing it was a brick. By this time it’s already 10.30 AM. With Dennis already up and making a pipe of Captain Black, I grit my teeth and make it to the coffee before Joey does, then beat him to the shower, washing away the feeling of wanting to torture and murder him – slowly.
Fortunately, this feeling doesn’t persist because we’re awake on Ibiza and about to seek out Tanit, Goddess of Fertility and Sacred Prostitution. Joey makes some desultory comments about 'a bad night’, but I laugh him off by telling him he’s lucky enough to be alive, then hand over some of the synthetic mescaline we’d picked up the night before. Sufficiently confused, Joey swallows, then nervously licks his lips in anticipation.
Dennis disappears to collect his email downstairs, while Richard comes upstairs and beams me the holographic coordinates of the general direction we’re supposed to be headed in. There’s only one thing wrong. Richard doesn’t know the ‘exact’ place. I just keep nodding, like I know exactly what he’s talking about, but the only thing I really comprehend is that once we hit the road it will all change. Experience works like that.
It doesn’t take too much longer to get the boys into the car because we’re veterans and we’re keen to meet Tanit. Heading towards where I think Richard has pointed us, it doesn’t matter that I can’t see the road signs, because Dennis has assumed the role of astronavigator and is guiding me seamlessly to a small town on the coast where we’re supposed to ask someone where the ancient Temple of Tanit is.
Parking on the island is not easily available, so we’re granted good fortune by getting a spot near the beach. Around us are palm trees and some restaurants; plus lot’s of people wearing very little. As usual, we head towards the nearest restaurant. From here, there is a commanding view of the beach and surrounding area. Joey has the camera. He starts off by asking Dennis if he believes in G-d. I hang back and question the waiter on where to find Tanit, while ordering a large jug of Sangria, which, I hope, will slow Joey down.
The sangria arrives, complete with meter-long luminous day-glow straws but this doesn’t slow Joey down. He just keeps filming while Dennis rants about humanity’s lost opportunity in freeing mankind from the gravity-well during the Kennedy era. We all agree that space exploration needs more than a five year plan, because humanity can’t benefit from short term political agendas. Eventually, Joey hands over the cam, but my arm gets tired before Dennis can stop talking so I balance the cam on the table and sip the sangria while filming Dennis through the long yellow straw at the same time. I know this sounds surreal, but I have footage to prove it.
Lunch takes some time, but when we’re done with the Sangria and the pizzas we stagger back towards the car armed with, what we hope are, the correct coordinates for Tanit’s cave. According to legend, the Goddess Tanit was worshipped only three clicks from the restaurant. Previously, my internet research on Tanit revealed that the Carthaginians brought the cult of Tanit to the island in 654 BC, when they discovered it. Before that, the worship of Tanit was linked with the Baal religion, which apparently featured child sacrifice, at around the 5th Century BC in Carthage.
Thus, it’s not without trepidation that we head towards the oldest site of Tanit worship on the island. I put on a CD of Terence. Joey is now filming constantly while Terence rants about nanotech on the car’s CD player. Dennis can’t suppress a laugh at some of Terence’s more outré statements. Sacred madness is with us. It’s all good. It’s all surreal.
The turnoff to the cave is as advertised. The road heads up into a forest and gets bad enough to start walking. After a while a sign announces a date of 697 AD. Humping two cameras, plus extra film, batteries, tripod and various other stuff, we hike up the steep gravel road, passing a spliff as we head on up through the forest. Reaching a clearing at the top of the hill, we follow the sign which points us to a rough footpath down the rock face towards where the Tanit cave is located. Two Spanish girls are following us. I can’t help wondering if the Goddess has sent them to keep an eye on us because it’s a steep climb down the rocks, but we eventually end up at the rock sanctuary of Tanit.
Heading for a shady spot, we drop the equipment and catch our breath while taking in the spectacular view of the bay and the nearby island. The forest covers the mountain above and below us. Crickets are chirping.
It’s been said that; ‘time is always in the present’, but it’s only later that we begin to comprehend that what seemed like a relatively short time had really been hours. Of course it had been late when we’d arrived, but by the time we notice that the sun is dropping it’s already too late to worry because living in the present is so fast. With Dennis’s ayahuasca hallucination safely captured on video in 16:9, and a name for the movie, we reluctantly depart the site, hiking back up the rock face in fading light, then trudging in the dark down a click of gravel to where our car is parked.
After hiking and filming in the hot sun for most of the day, exhaustion should have been close, but no one seemed to notice. Instead of heading back to Richard’s villa, we unanimously decide to go down to a beach somewhere for a drink before going home, even though we’re not exactly sure where ‘home’ is anymore. The general feeling is that we know roughly which direction we should be heading in, no more. When Terence isn’t playing on the car’s CD player it’s mostly Talking Heads crooning, “Once in a Lifetime”.
“This is not my car, this is not my beautiful house, this is not my beautiful wife, this is not my life”.
Earlier in the trip, I had given all my CDs to Roy’s wife Sue for her dinner party. Thus did we approach madness by listening to a single CD for the entire trip, or trips. This did simplify things because we either listened to a compilation of Terence’s rantings digitized from Rustlers Valley back in ’96, or ‘the medley’ I’d hastily burned 10 minutes before we’d left the villa on the mainland in the distant past, and nowhere near the edge of reality where we now found ourselves. In hindsight, things were even stranger than they appeared to us at the time because the cultural views, personal likes and dislikes and so forth, of the three musketeers were all very different and this lent itself to a kind of cultural osmosis that was amusing in itself.
Good cheer reigns and night has fallen. There’s a full moon over Ibiza tonight. We’re sitting on the beach attended to by several waiters under palm trees. There is seafood and paella, fresh bread and good wine. Richard has led us to this place on the beach. I have no idea where we are, even though Joey and I followed Richard’s car to the restaurant. Dennis, who had gone along for the ride with Richard, is now attended by two dream dancers, Laura and Louise, who have just got in from Los Angeles. Their baggage has gone missing and they’re suffering from jetlag. Weirder still, Laura, not only embodies the Goddess, but I remember her dancing at the AllChemicals Conference on Hawaii in ’99. You can’t help but notice when Laura dances because she’s always unfolding. It’s much easier to watch her dance than explain, OK?
Sitting under the palm trees on Ibiza surrounded by psychedelic brothers and sisters, I can’t help but thrill to the synchronicity of it all. In a background window, Richard and Joey are enmeshed in a perpetual discussion of how to live as long and healthy life as is possible. Because Richard outranks everyone, including Joey, who is usually the oldest person around, the social dynamics are really hilarious. For once Joey has to sit and take it. My hilarity must be obvious and may even have cheered up the jetlagged Goddesses for some short while, but after a few hours of core-dumping the dinner table folds back into two cars. Richard, Dennis and the girls are in one car, Joey and I are in the other.
Joey looks at me. We both start laughing. It’s 2.00 AM. We’re on Ibiza. The night is still young!
To be continued: