A Return Trip to Timothy Leary’s Psychedelic, Day-Glo Mexico


Humanity was certainly not remade. Nor did their experiment persuade the scientific community to carry on research. The United States soon outlawed hallucinogens.

Psychedelic drugs are having a moment

But seeds were planted. After years of legal and scientific exile, hallucinogenic therapy is having a resurgence. One can find ketamine clinics in major cities, and studies of the helpful effects of MDMA, better known as the party drug Ecstasy or Molly, on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder have pushed the drugs closer to therapeutic approval. Young creatives and tech workers are also gravitating toward microdosing themselves with LSD or psilocybin mushrooms as a cure for depression or a creativity booster, although the science is still unclear.

For the last decade, an increasing number of tropical psychedelic retreats around the world have attracted travelers looking to change their minds through hallucinogenic drugs.

After the trippers were kicked out of Zihuatanejo, the town gained a certain popularity among celebrities unconnected to the Leary crowd. John Wayne liked to sail his boat down from California. The actress Lauren Hutton and later Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones vacationed there. A burst of tourism development starting in the 1980s increased the population from about 8,000 to what it is now, 126,000.

Long gone is a lifeguard tower with a room draped in Indian prints, into which one tripping member of the group rotated every 12 hours. It was called the “soul” of the IFIF community. Mr. Bergtold said his family has worked to preserve the atmosphere of an isolated tropical garden, even as villas light up the night on what used to be dark jungly mountains nearby. “Lots of people say your place has a magic,” he said. “When I wake up there, I feel like the soil is giving me life-growing energy.”

Mr. Weil, whose vitality he attributes to more than 50 years of tai chi, never lost touch with that other period of his life. After abstaining from psychedelics for decades, the pandemic lockdown provoked him to drop back in. In the past year he has occasionally taken a dose of psilocybin in his office in the mountains outside of Boulder, Colo. He said it helps him process aging and childhood trauma.

His reacquaintance with psychedelic drugs comes as a new generation of psychedelic therapy enthusiasts have been calling on him lately to share his wisdom. After 10 or 15 minutes, he said, “I don’t need a guide. It’s like riding a bike, it comes back.”