Tony was passionate about many things.
The beach was just 500 metres from the Johnson’s house and he started surfing from a young age. Doug was a lifesaver and made sure his boys were strong swimmers. In winter, he skied the highest slopes in New Zealand and did stunts that few dared to do. His dream was to ski in the Winter Olympics. Rugby was big for Tony and Ben. They played for their school as well as for the local rugby club. Doug had his own import tea company and wanted Tony to work with him. That worked for a while but as soon as he learnt the ropes, Tony started his own tea business. Wheeling and dealing was part of his life wherever he went.
His first trip off the little island of 3 million people was to the States, Canada and Mexico. He was 20. When he got there he bought cheap cars, used them, sold them and moved on. One night, driving along the Mexican coast, he was stoned and lost. He ended up on a dusty, dark road in the middle of nowhere. He fell asleep and woke up to the sound of a hovering helicopter, spotlights shining in his face and a loud hailer telling him to get out of the car with his hands in the air. He was searched for drugs and Mexicans. Strangely enough he didn’t have either on him at the time. He played the dumb foreigner and was pointed in the right direction.
He worked in restaurants and spent his free time skiing and surfing. The American drug scene pulled him in and his use of hard drugs increased. He was becoming more dependent.
When he got back to New Zealand he got into farming. He became the proud owner of his own little marijuana plantation in Piha, on the West Coast. It was in a creative hippy commune he was living in that he heard stories of India. One of the couples had travelled all over Asia and had written a book about it. He started getting his dollars together to travel again.
This time he set off with his surfboard to India via Indonesia and South East Asia. He travelled around from beach to beach in search of the perfect break. Getting from one island to the other was a challenge. One of the ferries was packed to capacity, with people everywhere. It smelled of urine and vomit. The only place he could get any sleep was up on the deck, on his board.
By the time he arrived in India, Tony was already on a heavy drug diet and he knew he had just landed in drug “paradise.”