CHEMO CHAIR STORIES 3. LOST IN MEXICO (PERDIDO EN MEXICO)
Little chemo update. It’s going in. Yuck. Last week I was cramping badly for 4 days in the lead up to my next cycle. Turns out I had colitis, inflammation in my bowel. We did more scans to make sure and I got a week off the hard drugs. I felt amazing this week and got a lot of work done and played with the kids heaps. Back in the chair now, surrounded by old, bald, rough looking chemo patients. Round 3, getting it done.
In 2011 I did a vintage in the Okanagan Valley in Canada. It was one of the most memorable for me and it was the vintage that made me decide that winemaking was the career for me. Before I started work a mate and I went on a 3 week surf trip. We hired a car in Huntington Beach, California. She was a red Rav4 type thing and we named her ‘Surfia Rosarita’. We ignored the rules around car insurance and drove over the border and down the Baja Peninsula in search of waves. If we crashed, our plan was to hire a tow truck back to Cali, get dumped on the side of the road, spread some glass around and pretend we crashed it there. Genius.
I was travelling with one of my all time best mates Vaughan, who I call ‘Corgs’ for some reason. I have to give you a snap shot of what this dude is like before I go on. Vaughan got straight High Distinctions with any study he did, even though he didn’t really study that hard. He just punched out 2 days of solid work before exams and nailed them all. His car broke down once so he read a book about it and learnt how to take it apart and fix it all himself. He is a rock climber. He had a rock climbing wall in his bedroom and now has one in his garage where he lives in Port Lincoln. He travelled the world for two years straight out of school and climbed some of the most challenging walls you can. Half Dome and El Capitan in Yosemite being two of them. He is a big wave surfer. His best mate Monkey was attacked by a 16 foot great white in Lincoln. Monkey and Corgs were cutting trees down to make a giant tepee when Corgs went straight through a bee hive with the chainsaw. The bees stung him over 30 times on the face. He was in and out of consciousness on his way to hospital and survived by 10 minutes. He was studying Engineering and Finance double degree at Uni and quit after a year because he was bored, despite the straight HD’s. He went to Tassie to get his diving license and got a job as a ‘Tuna cowboy’ on the west coast. He worked his way up from there and became the engineer on one of the biggest pilchard boats in Lincoln, despite never finishing the degree.
We got circled by a bronzy while surfing on KI one time and I yelled to Corgs ‘There’s a shark!’, he replied “how big is it’, I said “6 to 8 foot”. He paddled after it and said ‘If you grab it by the pectoral fins you can steer it like a horse’. I could tell a million stories about him. He is one of the nicest guys going round and always so amped and positive. Great energy and up for anything. He has brought a massive amount of entertainment to my life and I’m very lucky to be able to call him a best mate.
Anyway, we set off into Mexico. I remember seeing a pigmy hippo in the back of a trailer in Ensenada and thinking ‘what the fuck is this joint?’. We were pretty tight then and we just slept on our board bags for the whole time, bar a few nights. It was bloody cold for the first few nights (and surfs) until we got a certain distance down the peninsula where it got hot and the water warm. We lucked out with surf. I suppose we surfed 10 or so spots all up but the best was Scorpion Bay (iSan Juanico). Normally it’s a long boarder’s wave with 8 points to choose from. But 4-5 times a year a big enough swell hits and all points link up. We heard it was going be on and made sure we were there. We surfed it for four days straight. It was like corrugated iron to the horizon and there we heaps of ‘Gringos’ (white people who travel down from Cali) in the water. There was a buzz in the water because the surf was ridiculous and there were waves for everyone despite the large crowd.
It felt like a party in the water. Some of the waves went for 2 and a half minutes and you had to get out and walk for 20 mins to get back to the car because you travelled so far on the wave.
Scorpion Bay was a stop on our way back up the coast. On the way down we sort of accidentally took a road that looked like a huge shortcut but we had been advised not to take it by a rando who said ‘be careful, there are banditos out there’. We only had a map, no phones, and, being a couple of Aussie legends, we decided to push on. The road was good for a while but it slowly started to fade and was like it didn’t exist eventually and we were just following tyres tracks. We eventually got to something that looked more like a road. It was all dirt and desert and sand, and there were trees and bushes that we started driving through. We drove through a dried-up creek bed at one point and down the way a bit there were 4 Mexican blokes with a heap of cattle around them. We waved and decided we would drive on for 15 mins but if it wasn’t looking good we planned to turn back and ask for help. The track got really shit and we drove over a bush and got some solid thorns though the front right tyre. I went to pull them out but Corgs rightly told me off and to leave them in for now.
We went back and tried to speak to our mates. They spoke zero English and our Spanish was shithouse. We had a little Spanish dictionary and brokenly told we were lost. They drew a map in the dirt and told us to follow it. We followed the directions and ended up at their ‘rancho’. It was about 4-5 colourful and very Mexican looking buildings that they had definitely built themselves. The women greeted us and we tried again to explain to them what was going on. They told us we can stay with them. We started setting up our board bags and mossie nets but they stopped us and showed us a spare room with two beds. The floors were slate and a bit dusty, there were cattle figurines everywhere, I suppose they worshipped them because they were their livelihood. There were also posters of Jesus all over the walls and they had built a church too. I didn’t tell them I was actually my own God.
After about an hour the men arrived home. They came in and laughed so loud at us. They thought it was classic. They showed us on the map where we actually were and we were WAY off track. We were in the middle of fucken nowhere and we had no idea how we got there. The women prepared a feast for us and then left all the men to it. Pretty old-school but we weren’t going to say anything. We ate, drank beer and tequila, and tried to communicate with each other. There were definitely some awkward silences but no one cared….I think. I remember the Senior’s wife coming in and kind of yelling at him before walking out and I indicated to him by doing a whip cracking action that we really know who wears the pants in this relationship. He laughed and didn’t shoot me so it was a pretty good outcome.
We went to bed and Corgs and I, with the help of our trusty dictionary, wrote a thank you note using grammatically incorrect Spanish for the goodbye in the morning. We left them equivalent of $40 dollars Aussie to thank them for not killing us. They read the note in the morning, showed us how to get back on track and we all hugged. Adios Amigos. We didn’t get their address or anything, I doubt the postie would make it there alive. We got an incredible experience out of it though.
My mum was not happy when I told her we were going to Mexico. Some Aussie travellers had been killed there not long before. You never hear the good stories though. It’s not the way the bullshit media industry works. Fuck those guys, I hate the media. No one wants to see some beautiful, rich, famous person donating heaps of money to charity. They want to see them on the beach when they’ve slightly let themselves go in between block busters and had an argument with their partner or abused some paparazzi. It’s such a shame but for some reason that negativity makes a lot of people feel better about their own shit lives. No one would read ‘Corgs and Duggie tour the Baja, score perfect waves and saw humanity at its best’…..boring. But we did and I hope you enjoyed this story. Life is good and there are far far more good people in the world than there are bad. Trust until given a reason not too and fight with niceness before reaching for a weapon. That’s my motto.
A la familia que nos cuidó - muchísimas gracias! Fueron en gran parte de nuestro aventura mexicana y la pasemos genial con ustedes.