The Story of the Hippie Path


This previous summer season, because the US navy exited Afghanistan, and the nation has fallen again right into a transitional section. Afghanistan first grew to become a nation simply over 100 years in the past in 1919, however one factor that has at all times transcended the nation’s rocky political historical past is its legendary hash scene. Regardless of the Mujahideen, Taliban or communists, Afghanistan’s hash business has transcended the individuals and insurance policies which have made life for Afghan hash producers troublesome over the previous 50 years. The flood of hash that when hit Europe and America following the primary main hash haul in 1967 has lengthy since been pressured out of form, however the tales of this prime time of hauling hash throughout a number of nation’s borders stay fascinating tales of a special time. Excessive Occasions obtained an unique interview with Ray, who recounted his journeys via Europe and Asia and the challenges he and his companions encountered on their journey.

The primary hash haul is claimed to have occurred one 12 months earlier than issues actually hit the fuel on the “Hippie Path,” the place 1000’s of westerners traveled east via Afghanistan on their solution to discover enlightenment in India. However for a lot of, their trek would make a cease in Kabul, the capital metropolis of Afghanistan. There they might begin their quest to top off on as a lot hash as potential earlier than heading again west to wherever they known as dwelling; be it Germany, Amsterdam or southern California.

A lot of what we all know concerning the smuggling features of the path come straight from one of many first teams to make it occur—The Brotherhood of Everlasting Love, which included members from southern California. Brotherhood member Ron Bevan is taken into account to be the primary to run an operation out of Kabul in 1967, though there have been many teams doing it on the time.

Amongst these different teams, there was a younger man named Ray. Excessive Occasions sat down with Ray to speak about his previous hash smuggling experiences, as we mentioned the fallout from the US exit from Afghanistan, questioning what it may imply for a hash scene that has already been devastated for many years.

Hop In—We’re Going Smuggling

The times earlier than Ray’s first journey to Afghanistan had been stuffed with correct hippie enterprise. “We went to southern Oregon within the late ’60s and for no matter motive out of pure synchronicity a bunch of us from northern California and southern California all ended up on this one home in southern Oregon,” Ray informed Excessive Occasions.

The group determined to take issues to the subsequent stage and regarded to begin a commune. They spent a while looking for a property, however after some hiccups with the search, they regrouped in California in 1968. A variety of the people who initially tossed that concept round stay mates to this present day after initially discovering one another all these years in the past.

A part of that group included some mates who had already been smuggling hash from Afghanistan a 12 months or two earlier than that, and so they had simply introduced again a load. In these days, Ray and his mates had been staying within the Excessive Sierras—the right place to unload some hash.

Most individuals affiliate the “Hippie Path” with the picture of a traditional Volkswagen bus and a Hanomag Camper that rolled as much as their spot in the identical hills that was additionally very talked-about with different hash smugglers, corresponding to Darrell. “He got here, we unloaded it there, and it took some time. And after he received what he thought was the load quantity he goes, ‘Okay, you guys can have the remainder.’ And so we picked away at it as a result of it was within the framework,” Ray mentioned, “We had to make use of every kind of instruments we implement to dig all of it out however I believe ultimately we received like one other 10 kilos.”

This might be the primary time Ray talked about the person that he ultimately partnered with to make the journey east. “So you understand we’re fairly thrilled to make a reference to him. That is Lengthy Seashore, brother, I can provide you his identify as a result of he’s now not with us. Nicely, he had many names, however we knew him as Darrell,” Ray famous with fun.

Earlier than connecting with Ray, Darrell had already made two or three journeys. He was at all times a driver, and for good motive. On this important function, he was the principle one that drove from Holland to Kabul and again, via each border. He didn’t even want a map when he was on his runs.

Finally Darrell shared his subsequent plan with Ray: “Right here’s what I wish to do subsequent time as a result of I’m gonna have one other Honomag, but in addition I’m going to purchase a very nice motorhome,” Darrell informed Ray on the time.

The motorhome was known as a Revcon. It was the top-of-the-line in 1968 when it was designed. It had an aerodynamic aluminum physique, and the 26 rails that ran the size of its body had been a hash smuggler’s dream.

“Very cool, very trendy, entrance wheel drive. And he goes ‘I’m gonna purchase this and we’re gonna, that is the automobile we’re gonna make particular rails that go contained in the rails and we’ll have little hooks to tug it out,”’ Ray mentioned of Darrell’s unique plan.

Ray and Darrell had some mates that had been engineers who helped them with constructing the rails. Finally they might drive the Revcon throughout the nation from California to New York, delivery it on to Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Darrell requested Ray to tag alongside for the total run to Afghanistan. “I am going, ‘Certain, I’ll go slide and sit shotgun,”’ Ray replied. “It was like the good journey I ever took. However we had been vegetarian on the time, so we had been doing a variety of soups, avocados and carrot juice. We had all of it decked out with the Norwalk Press, which is an actual good juicing machine. We completely stored our consuming habits intact.” Their consuming habits would ultimately earn them the nickname “The Carrot Juice Boys.”

The group prepped for his or her journey from Rotterdam after selecting up the Revcon. They might make their manner via Germany and Austria, then journey via Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Iran earlier than lastly reaching the Afghan Border.

That first journey would find yourself taking a couple of months, after Ray and Darrell received caught up in jap Turkey. The Revcon’s entrance wheel drive engine featured torsion bars within the entrance, which didn’t pair properly with the site visitors or potholes they encountered on their journey. They misplaced management of the Revcon for a second, however had been in a position to come to a cease within the heart median. “Japanese Turkey is unquestionably the sticks, very remoted and really desolate,” Ray mentioned of the breakdown.

If you break down on the market, it’s frequent to encompass your automobile with rocks. They did so earlier than hitchhiking to the closest city. They introduced mechanics again to the Revcon, realizing they wouldn’t be capable to exchange the bar, however may rig one thing to get the Revcon again to civilization.

They hobbled into Tehran, Iran and messaged dwelling for the half they wanted. It wasn’t a quick course of. “So we had been in Tehran for a couple of good month, repairing the automobile, however every little thing received straightened down,” Ray mentioned, “So we rolled into Afghanistan, in all probability in late summer season of 1970.”

Of Science and Borders

The mission was to acquire a pair hundred kilos of hash and 5 gallons of hash oil. Whereas different teams had introduced hash hundreds again for about three years earlier than this journey, to one of the best of The Carrot Juice Boys’ information, they had been the primary individuals ever to convey a flash evaporator to Afghanistan. A lot of the Revcon was loaded with Everclear for his or her grand chemistry challenge.

If the thought of driving throughout the center east with a chemistry set appeared bizarre, the opulence of the Revcon stole everybody’s consideration at every border crossing, simplifying getting its contents throughout numerous borders in each instructions. “I imply, they’ve seen the ‘Hippie Path’ within the VW Vans, the Honomags, however they’ve by no means seen something of this magnitude on this superb actually cool motorhome,” Ray famous on the border crossings. “And naturally as soon as we received into Persia we decked it out with Persian carpets and runners and it was trying actually cool.”

They had been very a lot enjoying the a part of wealthy Californians, however they might nonetheless be pulled from the road at each border. “The pinnacle customized man would come out and simply wished to go inside and take a look at it and say ‘oh very good,”’ Ray mentioned, “It’s simply superb.”

One time, a border agent pulled out their chemistry set and pulled out a beaker. He requested Darrell and the pair what it was. “Glass,” they replied. The border guard checked out it once more, nodded in settlement with their take, and put it again within the field.

Iran had a few of the hardest border restrictions, however when you entered the nation, the group discovered that it was amongst essentially the most welcoming as they tried to Westernize earlier than the Shah fell in 1979. Ray emphasised that it was one of many nicest locations he’s ever been to, as they spent the month ready for automobile elements. “They only wish to ensure you’re [not] smuggling weapons or something, doing nefarious stuff, however all of the individuals there have been so good,” Ray famous of Tehran. “They only had been so hospitable and helped us [with] no matter. If we’d go in search of the embassy, [residents] would take us of their automobile, take us to their dwelling, feed us after which take us to the embassy.”

However with a repaired Revcon, issues received a bit rougher as they approached the Afghanistan border. Each resort featured indicators that warned a jail sentence of 10 years in jail for a gram of hash, and life in jail for a kilo. “They try to put the worry in you, however we received some good hash in Turkey,” Ray mentioned with fun.

After entering into Afghanistan, the group headed straight for Kabul. They stayed in a elaborate neighborhood becoming of wealthy Californians. From there, they might head to The Solan Lodge, a hotspot for hash lovers and normal vacationers heading in each instructions on the path.

Certainly one of Ray’s favourite issues about The Solan Lodge was an area connected to the courtyard the place you possibly can park your van and camp close to a little bit park connected to the resort. There was at all times an ongoing rotation of Europeans and some People, and it was at all times a superb time.

The locals did their finest to maintain the hippies and smugglers pleased, too. “Afghanis simply liked us as a result of we had cash and we had been very cautious about faith,” Ray mentioned. “We had been very conscious of how they’re and the way to not trespass or do something [that] goes counter to them. There’s just a few issues so that you don’t mess with. You don’t eat throughout the day throughout Ramadan and stroll round chewing meals.”

However Ray argued that in addition to that type of factor, the faith of Islam was primarily based in hospitality. Over the course of three journeys that, in whole, took a couple of 12 months to finish, Ray picked up some language expertise. One of many issues he observed instantly was how caring and private every little thing was. He famous that a variety of the dialog centered on how the opposite individual was feeling.

Again of their Kabul neighborhood, they rented out a two-story mansion and arrange the hash lab. They might do a variety of the extraction work offsite after which convey the crude materials again to the flash evaporator within the rest room to get all of the alcohol out. It could take them a few months to get the 5 gallons of hash oil they had been taking pictures for.


Unloading the Items

Excessive Occasions requested Ray how a lot hash they wanted to make the 5 gallons. Ray estimated that about 200 kilos had been concentrated into the oil. He additionally famous the unpressed hash made for a lot better oil, then they hid the remainder to stuff within the specialised frames of the Revcon. “The remainder we had pressed up and put into the containers, the sq. tubes, it really ended up making the hash seem like a Hershey bar. We offered most of that in Amsterdam and I’m certain to this present day, there are lots of people there who name it ‘screw gap hash,’” Ray mentioned.

The hash acquired this identify after they put 5 to seven of the bars collectively and put a screw via the stack, simply to tighten it up earlier than they tossed it down the tube designed to suit into the Revcon’s inside storage system. “It was a exact measurement that we had all of the patties pressed,” Ray famous on the precision used to fill every tube with as a lot product as potential.

As for the oil, that got here out fairly nice, too. The flash evaporator stored the oil at an affordable temperature because it sweat off the Everclear utilized in manufacturing. “I imply, it was a black oil. However due to the flash evaporator we didn’t should warmth it in a excessive temperature, it was in a vacuum, so you bought the actual essence of actually, actually good hash,” Ray mentioned. “I don’t know in case you’ve had actually, actually good hash nevertheless it’s very floral and really candy.”

Similar to as we speak, as a way to make one of the best oil potential, they needed to get their fingers on one of the best materials potential. Ray described the method that took them across the nation from their upscale Kabul hash lab and base camp. The primary connection they ever made was in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

“We used to go to Kandahar, however that was a troublesome place to be,” Ray famous on the journey. “Kandahar was like going again 1,000 years. I used to be like ‘Oh my God. That was an historical city.’ And also you couldn’t assist however get dysentery simply hanging on the market for any period of time. However Kabul was extra trendy.” Along with the extra trendy vibe in Kabul, you possibly can principally get no matter you wanted. And in actuality, it wasn’t that aggressive with different smugglers on the town as a result of there was simply a lot hash to go round.

When it was time to return, the Revcon would go away Afghanistan with out Ray. They employed a German lady to play the function of a elaborate girl with a elaborate motorhome. “We paid her like $10,000 or one thing. And he or she was nice! She had like a fur coat. I imply, she’d look the a part of being rich,” Ray mentioned. She was the right accent for a driver who had already accomplished this journey 5 occasions earlier than. The important thing was the steadiness of trying like a daily individual. Not being an asshole, but in addition not being too good, within the hopes of getting waved via borders easily.

Ray and Darrell made it to Holland with no issues. The Revcon labored like a appeal earlier than being unloaded on a small farm exterior Amsterdam. Many of the load can be offered domestically.

“However right here’s a baggage story for you,” Ray laughed. Whereas the hash moved in Europe, they determined to convey a bunch of the oil again to America. On the time, Ray estimated that the oil was promoting for about $10 a milliliter, so a complete liter was value roughly $10,000 bucks. “We went to a liquor retailer in Amsterdam and purchased Kahlua. Then we’d soften the little seal and stretch it and pull it over the bottle, undo the cap and pour out all of the Kahlua after which poured within the hash oil. Then we heated the seal again up and you understand again the cap and so it regarded sealed, and we’d take two bottles,” Ray mentioned. “So, we go to the airport and we’d go to the obligation free and purchase one other bottle of Kahlua and we traded out the bottle we purchased at duty-free. So, we simply carried it proper throughout check-in.”

Ray emphasised to not neglect the alternate charge. That $10,000 bottle in 1970 can be value over $70,000 as we speak. He can’t recall what number of bottles made it again, the entire 5 gallons can be value $1.2 million as we speak.

Adapting the Expertise

On Ray’s two journeys to Afghanistan, he already had the lay of the land. He flew into Kabul and would purchase the hash forward of time to restrict the time spent within the nation in comparison with the marathon highway journey and hash oil manufacturing of his inaugural journey.

Ray’s first journey lasted so lengthy he really overstayed his visa. When he returned for the second run the customs individuals on the airport observed it on his passport and gave him a shorter period of time. After studying his lesson, he received a brand new passport for the third run. It did the trick, and it was clear crusing at customs. “So, I’d go forward of time and get there and order up and ensure every little thing’s prepared,” Ray mentioned, “So when the automobile got here via it wasn’t simply there, it was prefer it was going throughout. It wasn’t there longer than per week or two, which is concerning the common vacationer time anyone would possibly spend there.”

The later runs wouldn’t characteristic the Revcon. The group moved on to four-wheel drive Suburbans with particular compartments within the fuel tank that might maintain over 100 kilos of fuel. The one downside with it was you needed to cease much more to gasoline up, however the vehicles did loads higher on the roads than a motorhome.

“Nevertheless it was fairly secure as a result of to get to it you’d should take out the entire fuel tank and reduce into it,” Ray mentioned, “And that was the final time that we did it. We really employed an expert race driver, who was an expensive good friend, and he did a superb job.”

The gang had a mission of wider psychedelic enlightenment between journeys. As they made the runs via the early Seventies, a variety of the sources went into furthering that mission. The liberty Ray and his friends had been in the hunt for got here with the smuggling and so they wished to verify to pay it ahead. What would begin as private tasks for the group would ultimately find yourself within the fingers of nonprofits down the road within the type of an unfinished boat. “So the vast majority of the cash that we ever made went on that boat, ultimately when the Russians began coming in and put within the puppet authorities and every little thing we mentioned, ‘okay, that’s performed. We’re not going again there once more,”’ Ray mentioned.

Increasing Lore of the First Smuggler

Three years previous to Ray’s first run, Ronnie Bevan of the Brotherhood of Everlasting Love would make the primary main smuggling run out of Afghanistan. He launched the primary autobiography of a hash smuggler entitled Brotherhood Cannabis: The Story of Ronnie Bevan in 2018.

Many individuals communicate of the “Hippie Path” as intertwined tales of the various vacationers that handed via and a handful of preeminent smugglers like him. Excessive Occasions requested Bevan to weigh in on that concept. “One factor was there was extra than simply the 2,” Bevan rapidly rebutted. “You might get on a bus in London and find yourself in Kathmandu and there are images of these individuals moving into 1967 or 1968. The ladies have bouffant hairdos and so they’re in tight skirts. And then you definitely see him a 12 months later in Kathmandu, and we’re within the hippie garments and their hair is all down.”

Bevan discovered that was actually the fundamental motivation of the of the European vacationers. 1000’s of Europeans made that journey, however only a few People did, due to the abroad side. “We didn’t have the buses. There simply weren’t that many. I do know, the entire guys that had been in Afghanistan smuggling as a result of I used to be there via a number of years, and there simply weren’t that many,” Bevan mentioned.

Bevan defined that lots of people in London, or wherever they went from, by the point they received to Nepal rapidly they had been into the metaphysical facet of every little thing and taking psychedelics. However not everybody. Some individuals had been there for the alternative of self-help. “There additionally was one other giant group of people who simply did medication,” Bevan defined, “You might purchase heroin, cocaine, you possibly can purchase both from the pharmacy in Afghanistan. And consequently, we noticed a variety of druggie kind individuals simply hanging out. In order that’s simply one other dimension to what you’re speaking about.”

Technically, many date the “Hippie Path” to starting in 1968, one 12 months after Bevan’s first run. Bevan went on to elucidate how these elevated crowds impacted enterprise. “Within the early days no one received busted for something, it wasn’t till 1971 that anyone busted [in] one of many vans,” Bevan mentioned.

By 1973, Bevan and his mates had a warrant poster, and he was on the run. That very same 12 months Afghanistan’s King Zahir Shah made hash unlawful following a $47 million greenback cost from the US authorities. “Our individuals needed to transfer into Pakistan to do their work, and it was just about destroyed after that. After which it faltered after which lots of people received busted and particularly in these Volkswagens. I take into consideration eight of them, and from that time on, none of them made it they received each one in all them however when the Russians got here [in] 1979 it was over for certain. That it’s, been over since then.”

A latest article within the South China Morning Publish spoke with a hashish farmer and hash producer exterior of Kandahar named Ghulam Ali. Ali famous he hasn’t had any issues since the latest transition of energy, regardless of issues that the Taliban would crack down much more than the coalition-backed authorities that fell final summer season. “We don’t hear loads over there. However I believe the Taliban is just about leaving every little thing alone,” Bevan replied after studying Ali’s story. “I believe what they’re doing is that they’re attempting to get in there economically.”

It’s additionally vital to do not forget that hash and Afghanistan have a for much longer historical past than the Taliban does with the nation. “And I believe the Taliban in all probability see that and understand that the persons are going to be a lot happier and far simpler to take care of in the event that they allow them to have their tradition,” Bevan argued.

This text seems within the January 2022 issue of Excessive Occasions. Subscribe here.

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