Sebastiano was a good guy to travel with. Around me he didn’t display that crazy, manic side we saw so often back at the Plaza de Santa Ana. He knew I liked him for who he was and he didn’t have to be anything else. Lots of times people in restaurants would think we were father and son even though genetically we were very different. He would say with force, “No, somos companeros!” For a young man out on his own for the first time it was a nice, protected feeling being with him, like having a father who was also a buddy or a strong big brother. With my command of the language and his intimidating fearlessness we managed very well together.
The boat to Morocco sailed from Algeciras across the straits of Gibraltar to Ceuta, which is a little postage-stamp piece of territory in Africa belonging to Spain. The sun blazed. Objects cast impenetrable black shadows as in De Chirico’s paintings. On the boat we could feel the heat coming out of Africa and the Mediterranean sparkled its special cerulean blue light. A breeze softened the heat. Every variegated shape of fair-weather cumulus cloud moved across the blue sky. A group of foreign legionnaires smoked on deck and talked together, rough, virile men, their shirts open to give their chest hair freedom and all of them looking like they were ready to kill.
Our plan was to go to Tetuan and buy kief, which is what they call pot there, and then go to Tangiers and take the boat back to Algeciras from there. The reason for not going straight back was that we had heard that the pot sellers turn around and inform on you. That way they get their pot back or some kind of kickback. This kind of information made me aware that we didn’t exactly know what we were doing.
Marijuana was hardly known in those days except to a small group of beatniks, musicians and actors. I knew enough not to be afraid of it because, back home in Pelham, Felix said it was good medicine. Felix later made a lot of money and a lot of good music with a group called “The Rascals.” He had gotten some pot from the jazz master of the organ, Jimmy Smith. But the rest of us couldn’t get any. And now I was going to find out about it in the most exotic place possible.