"In the beginning, they'd let you sell switchblades, guns, whatever. Not any more. Like selling pot or hemp or anything else, the early boomtown days are always the best."
This spring, Christie Bohling would make what would prove to be her last trip to Mexico. Diagnosed with lung cancer just six months earlier (she'd been plagued with respiratory problems for 10 years but preferred to ignore them), she traveled to a Tijuana doctor who specialized in controversial treatments -- chelation drip and live-cell injections among others -- either unavailable or unaffordable in the United States. (Like others now battling for legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, Bohling found the herb useful in battling the side-effects of the disease, a use she could not possibly have imagined decades ago while merrily toking up under a black light.)
While Bohling initially responded favorably to the Mexican therapy, the natural stimulants in the medicine made it impossible for her to sleep. Desperately needing rest, Bohling reluctantly gave up on the treatments and returned with Lange to the rural Chandler Heights home where they had lived for the past 15 years.
"Christie loved this place the minute she set eyes on it," says Lange of their home, a 1920s-era hacienda on an acre of land near the San Tan Mountains. "She always said that this was the place where she was going to die."
Although that wish did not come true (she died at Mesa's Valley Lutheran Hospital), Christie Bohling couldn't have hoped for a better ending than the surprise going-away party Patrick Lange had planned for her: After her cremated remains were returned to him, Lange parceled out her ashes in little envelopes. Globe-trotting friends, he explained, agreed to "smuggle" Christie all over the globe, sprinkling her ashes everywhere from Castle Hot Springs in Arizona to Nashville, Chicago and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
"I thought a very appropriate place for some of her ashes would be in the Irish Republican Army cemetery," says Shami Maxwell, a friend who handled the Ireland leg of Christie's final journey. "Christie was always a good rebel."