Chad McCoy's Youthful Adventures - Ep.5 - Feliz Navidad

The 5th installment of the emails sent home, chronicling the time I hitchhiked, jumped freight trains, and rode with strangers down to Guatemala from my hometown of Stratford, Ontario. In the last episode I had made it to Mexico, pooped my pants in a hostel bed, aaaaaand…a bunch of other stuff happened, none as sensational as the pooping unfortunately, but most of it is interesting.

It’s been interesting for me to revisit these writings, and to have a bit of a window into a younger self. Sometimes I wonder why I am the way I am, and why I have these “strange” ideas about how things should be. Rereading these journals after some time has passed has helped me remember that I didn’t just come up with these thoughts and ideas randomly, they are based off of lived experience, and interactions with people far outside of my home bubble.

Anyways, here’s some more stories.

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Dec 24th 09

Feliz Navidad

Hola mi famila y amigos! I made it to Xela (shayla) Guatemala, after a long, strange 2 day bus ride from Guadalajara. (I didn’t pronounce Xela correctly until I got there, I was calling it Ex-ela, like a dum-dum) Crossed the border with an older German fellow who I think was running from either his wife or the law in Mexico, he spoke espanol so it made everything easier. The first thing I noticed about Guatemala was that when people try to sell you things and you say no thanks, they still smile at you. That was my first introduction to the incredibly nice people of this country. We rode a school bus painted funky colours called a chicken bus, probably because it’s likely that´s who you´ll share your seat with. Parted with the german fella at a wildly hectic bus station and continued on my own (1), helped a bunch of dudes carry sacks of potatos to the rack on top the bus (50lbs sacks, like we did on the farm, except these guys carried them on their shoulders/heads and climbed a ladder). Sat right through my stop, (probably thinking about what I had just seen at the bus station), got to the next town and got on a bus going back, made it to Xela, and all I had was an address written on my hand 3 days ago that had half sweated off and no idea where I was in relation to where I wanted to be. This was my second experience with the people of Guatemala, every person I asked for directions was friendly and at least pointed me in the direction I was to go, 2 hours later, covered in sweat, I arrived and was immediately hooked up with my host family. It´s part of the program that I stay with a family here and eat my meals with them, and I have my own room with a desk and a tin roof that makes a lot of noise when it rains. The house mothers name is Alicia and she made me dinner right away, scrambled eggs, which I stuff in tortillas and smother in salsa. The food has been great everyday, cereal and fresh fruit for breakfast, bananas, papaya, and apples, which come from Washington state (The food system is so f’ed). The tortillas are the real deal down here, small and thick, made from corn by a woman with a wood fired grill in an alley, she’ll sell you 15 of them in shopping bag for 10Q, which is about $1.30. Lots of beans, great cheese, the lettuce is grown locally but unfortunately right beside the road, so it`s subjected to terrible amounts of exhaust and pollution (funny story about that lettuce, which involves food poisoning and vomit and poop on Christmas day, but we’ll save that for another time). There is a lot of garbage lying around down here, and people driving 2 stroke engines, so the air gets thick.

 On Christmas Eve, a few hours after I originally sent this email, I went with a few classmates and the director of the school to a Woman’s prison in Xela, to spread mirth and positivity. We sang some songs and danced and it was an amazing evening, so much fun was had. The director, pictured here, had me bring my guitar to every event; at the prison, I played a duet with one of the women, who sang the old pub favourite, What’s Up, by 4 Non Blondes. What a world.

On Christmas Eve, a few hours after I originally sent this email, I went with a few classmates and the director of the school to a Woman’s prison in Xela, to spread mirth and positivity. We sang some songs and danced and it was an amazing evening, so much fun was had. The director, pictured here, had me bring my guitar to every event; at the prison, I played a duet with one of the women, who sang the old pub favourite, What’s Up, by 4 Non Blondes. What a world.

 In the prison, the director gives us the lowdown. From the schools website “Our activities are designed for you to experience the culture, traditions, lifestyles, social problems, history, Mayan worldviews and life in the rural communities of Guatemala. Through visits to indigenous villages, churches, markets, cultural conferences, films and discussions, it is possible to gain a better idea of the political, social and economic situation of Guatemala” I did learn a shit ton while I was there.

In the prison, the director gives us the lowdown. From the schools website “Our activities are designed for you to experience the culture, traditions, lifestyles, social problems, history, Mayan worldviews and life in the rural communities of Guatemala. Through visits to indigenous villages, churches, markets, cultural conferences, films and discussions, it is possible to gain a better idea of the political, social and economic situation of Guatemala” I did learn a shit ton while I was there.

The school that I´m attending has been around for 30 years or so, teaching travellers and students spanish by immersion, they do a lot of work within the community as well. So far I´ve been out in the countryside transplanting pine tree seedlings with a 60 year old indigenous woman who laughed kindheartedly at my poor spanish and pale skin for most of the morning, there were 4 of us, 3 students and her and we worked well together and got a bunch done, I was pumped to be working with dirt again, and she was pumped to tell us about the countryside. Of course I hardly understood anything, which made her explode with mirth. (This lady was super spry, jumping off ledges and skipping about, I remember how pleased she was to tell us she was 60 years old)

I´m finding it difficult to learn another language, and now realize that my english is very poor as well, basically I know very little about grammar (this is still true). It´s coming along though, and I can communicate very basic thoughts, like I´m hungry, I´m full, how much is that, stop doing that, keep doing that, etc. There are a lot of subtle differences down here, and I´ve made a few mistakes. Little things involving accents and emphasis, like papá and mamá mean father and mother, while papa and mama mean potato and breast, stuff like that. In my first week I told my teacher I was horny, my potato lives by a river, I want to have intercourse with a pig all the way to the capital and I told a woman her breasts make great dinner. It seems like a very sexual language, that or the people here all have dirty minds. Ask for a spoon in a restaurant and someone will snicker.


Dogs, everywhere. I love it. Most live on the street and have certain turfs, like the downtown dogs stay downtown, the dogs near my place don´t usually travel far, and can usually be seen sleeping in the same spots night after night. I´ve befriended a few, right now I´m working on this 3 legged chow with dreadlocks that sleeps by the soccer field, it is the funniest looking dog I´ve ever seen, I´m going to try and get a picture because I can never describe it properly. I laugh out loud every time I see this dog, and will go out of my way to walk through it´s neighbourhood. (I went to great lengths to befriend this dog, I even went and bought a box of dog biscuits, which was not easy and led me to a shady part of the market in a strange shop with a scary shopkeeper who thought I was insane buying food for street dogs. The box of dog biscuits was so old, and I never made a breakthrough with the chow, but other dogs and I became fast friends)


Went to a coffee plantation with the school and the first thing I saw was 10 guys in a field with machetes and handkerchiefs around their faces, using their giant knives to cut the glass down low, for a soccer game that was to be played there in a few hours. They turned out to be great guys and showed me around, even though we didn’t speak the same language we still shared the love of the harvest and it was easy to communicate. (This was one of the most illuminating days of this adventure. These people work and live on his coffee plantation, the owners are italian and are almost never there. They rarely leave the plantation, and buy most things from the company store. They considered this a good farm to work on due to the fact that the owners were pretty hands-off, and there was a decent amount of job security. There is nothing like hanging out with the other labourers and producers around the world. No war but the class war). Also visited a hot springs and soaked my bones. It was a great feeling. I´m glad I came.

That´s all I´m going to write today because I think the guy wants me out of his garage.

Much love

(1) I didn’t want to write this up there and destroy the weak flow that story had going for it, but I saw a guy get backed over by a bus about 5 feet in front of me at this bus station, folding him in half and crushing him. I’ll spare you the gory details, but it gave me nightmares for a long time.

Sometimes these adventures are all fun and games, and exploration and discovery. And sometimes some very real shit would happen, and you just have to find a way to understand what you just experienced, and hopefully not bury a piece of it and have it fester.

Chad McCoy's Youthful Adventures - Ep.4 - First Days in Mexico

Oh hi world! With a new E.P. in the works I figured I would revisit this blog and move the ole' journal entries forward a few notches. 

To bring you up to date thus far... I jumped a freight train to Edmonton, thinking I was going to Calgary, ended up in Kelowna where I broke my arm and cried under a tarp. Somehow found myself living in an old chicken shed in the mountains, picking potatos for cash and talking to a mouse I captured in a 5 gallon pail. Made it to Victoria, where I dressed in neon and drank way too much potato vodka, then had a bit of a sticky situation at the border, it was nothing really.  Last we heard from me I was barely avoiding getting a small shiv in the ribs from a fellow/rival busker in sunny San Diego.

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Dec 10th '09

Retired

So I made it to Mexico. A lot's happened, so I'll try and break it down.

Crossed the border in a beatup old chevy astro that didn't like to shift into 3rd gear, complete with a roof rack made of plywood and stuffed with surfboards. Tim was the driver, we met on a rideshare, he's been heading south to surf for a few years so he knew the ropes. He'd also been living in his van for a few months, so we got along great, lots in common (this might have had something to do with my own desire to live in a van, which I accomplished. Follow your dreams kids). We ate sprout and cheese sandwiches while driving through Arizona to a small border crossing, first time I'd ever seen a desert and the sunset didn't disappoint, beautiful orange like I'd never seen.
We crossed at night no problem, parked at a toll plaza and slept, I woke up to a wild dog sniffing my feet, walked to the little store nearby and tried to get something substantial for breakfast, and maybe something a little "Mexican". Between my poor Spanish and the girl at the counter's poor English I ended up walking out with a pack of powdered donuts, 2 of which I gave to the dog.

 Scruffy. After several months of travel, and a broken arm, I was finally starting to play guitar again. Maintaining consistent practice while travelling is something I've been working on (re:struggling with) most of my musical life.

Scruffy. After several months of travel, and a broken arm, I was finally starting to play guitar again. Maintaining consistent practice while travelling is something I've been working on (re:struggling with) most of my musical life.

The second day was scrub brush, random taco stands on the side of the highway, toll booths, half built buildings in farmers fields, and little shrines with the image of the Virgin Mary scattered around. Tim drove and I made sandwiches, listening to Siamese Dream, Paul's Boutique, and The Presidents of the USA. It was great. Tim introduced me to Oingo Boingo, and I showed him how a carrot makes a good snack when you are only a little hungry. That night we ate at restaurant, which means a tent with a few lawn chairs around tables and a guy cooking over half an oil drum. Slept on a lounge chair in a parking lot, and woke up just in time to see a young man with a small automatic weapon walking towards me. I was shittin. He asked me some questions I couldn't understand, then he saw my bed and laughed and walked away. One of the more intense moments of my life. (In retrospect, this was nothing compared to what came later, hah)

That day we made it to Sayulita, a small surf/tourist village about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, coastal tropics, so gorgeous. After crashing at Tim's brother's place I got dropped off in town to fend for myself, got a bed at a hostel run by a guy who had been seriously stoned for at least 8 years, I went back to the front counter 15 minutes later and he didn't remember checking me in, we got along great. Made my way to the beach, sat on a deck chair and had a margarita while the waves crashed and and the moon shone, and couldn't help but laugh out loud at how ridiculous my life has been the last few months, years even. A lot of awesome stuff has happened, and I've been able to share some great moments with people, but I wished I had someone there to share this feeling of triumph with. Travelling alone is great in that you can do whatever you want, but every now and then it's nice to have someone to share a moment with. 2 more drinks and I got over it, and made my way back to the hostel, where I met up with some people who I could communicate with, and went out for dinner and some dancing. (A thing that happened on this day that stuck with me. I was playing guitar in the zocalo/plaza, and this young mexican kid, around 12 or so, was sitting nearby and listening. He eventually left, and came back with a guitar, and we sat and played music. We couldn't communicate real well with words, but I could see that he liked a few of the things I was playing, so I showed him how to play a ripping little riff I had made up. Cut to that night, dancing to a latin-blues band, and I look over and see his pudgy face pressed up against a window, looking in at the band. Cut to the next day, as I'm leaving to catch a bus, passing through the zocalo, and I hear this kid going through the riff, and making it his own, and loving it. That series of moments replays through my mind often, and probably had something to do with me becoming a teacher) (Also, anyone who has heard the story about how I brazenly brushed my teeth with the tap water even though I was told not to then woke up several hours later pooping my pants in my hostal bed, that happened this night)

The next day I caught a bus to Guadalajara with an Austrian guy I had been sharing a dorm room with at the hostel, he went out in the morning to try surfing and came back 20 minutes later with a bloody head wound, which he was very concerned about all day. Got to Guad and called up one of the guys from the hostel and he hooked me up with a bed for the night, and drove me to the bus station the next day, where I bought a ticket to Chapala all by myself. Victory. (Seriously, those first few days were difficult, and I only really made it through as well as I did with the help of several strangers, something I always remember when I meet someone who looks new to the country/area)

 Playing on the rooftop in Ajijic, Lake Chapala. Photo by Mary-Ellen?

Playing on the rooftop in Ajijic, Lake Chapala. Photo by Mary-Ellen?

A woman I used to play gigs for back at Seneca retired down here and told me if I ever make it down this way she'll hook me up with a room and a shower. So here I am, in the village of Ajijic on Lake Chapala, staying with Linda and her husband Terry and living the retired life, drinking fresh orange juice, reading in the hammock, playing guitar on the rooftop, and eating delicious food, I had pueblano chilis stuffed with fried cheese the other day, incredible. The houses down here are great, lots of outdoor space and big courtyards. Went to a wedding for a Mexican couple Linda knows, it was in a cavernous old church and I didn't understand a thing the priest said, but it was cool, the doors were open and random people would stick their heads in, kids were running around, and there were 3 guys playing guitar on the balcony, after the couple exchanged rings they started playing a song in spanish that I kinda recognized, Linda and I looked at each other and asked, "is this Blowin in the Wind?" It was.

The lake is surrounded with mountains, so I decided to climb to the top and camp for a night. It was wilderness I've never been amongst before so I loved it, saw the sunset from 8000 ft up and ate beans and rice, then woke up and had an orange while the sun came up. 

Linda's helping out with a program that gets disabled kids working with horses as a form of therapy, they are having a christmas party this weekend and I'll play some songs there then head back to Guadalajara to take a bus to Mexico City so I can get a bus to Tapachula where I can cross the border to a little bus that will take me to Quetzaltenango, where the school is. That's all for now.

b

Thanks- Tim, for making my first few days in Mexico a little easier, and for the ride. Victoria for helping me with some spanish and for showing me how to shake my ass to strange grooves, Maria and Lukas for the ride from the bus station to Leo's, that was last minute lifesaver, Leo for hooking me up huge and for having one of the best deep chuckles I've ever heard, Joel for showing me the trailhead and sharing some knowledge about local plants, Mary-Ellen for the photo shoot, and huge thanks to Terry and Linda for letting me crash their castle, major appreciation.

Peace ya'll

 

Chad McCoy's Youthful Adventures - Ep.3 - Cabin Departure, Border Silliness, San Diego

Continuing the saga, an email I sent to a close friend in November of 2009 describing the latest parts of the adventure, plus "the f'ed up truth"....

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From: pass_the_carrots*******

To: czars13********

Subject: What's up

Date: Wed, 25 Nov 2009 01:13:28 -0500

Where are you at? I miss your presence daily.

This is the message I sent most people, plus the added truth I sent a very select few...

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And now I'm in San Diego, took a bus south for 2 days, got into downtown at 4am, palm trees, american flags, and me on about 6 hours of sleep in the last 4 days trying to figure out what the hell I'm doing. (The beginning of "Slept In A Bush" off of A Few Crumbs, 1 of 2 was recorded at the point described here)

Left the cabin around the middle of the month, just in time too, it snowed while we were driving away and didn't stop for days, Vancouver got something like 300mm of rain in 4 days, I got about 30mm of rain in my shoes.

Leaving the cabin was bittersweet, I really do like the lifestyle, lots of wandering through the wood, seeing black bears and trying to befriend little weasels and gophers. Yeah, it was lonely, but I caught a mouse and kept it in a bucket so it wouldn't poop in my dishes anymore. I wouldn't say we became friends but I think we could have, had we both been the same size and species. There's a good chance I'll go back there next fall, it's a pretty good gig for me and I did learn some stuff, got to drive a next-to-new, massive tractor, listening to the radio, wearing rubber boots all day and thinking "This is my life?" So yeah, it was a great gig.

Took my cast off about a month ago with a pair of tinsnips and a rusty saw (I am resourceful), went to the waterfall and washed my hands properly for the first time in a month and a half, what a great feeling. And the reunion with my guitar was one of the sweetest things in memory, sitting in front of the wood stove with candles giving off some mood lighting, it was love, that's the best way I can describe it, I was starting to forget why I play guitar all the time, then I remembered and it was pure love. I don't know what I would do if I didn't do this. (fast forward a few years later, when an injury made it near impossible to play guitar. That was some serious fuckery, realizing that the thing that most of my identity was based on might not be possible anymore, and that I'd have to re-invent myself. Luckily, I've been able to work myself back into some sort of shape and still share music with people, but it was a real eye-opener. Note to self, every day you can play is a good day)

Spent some time in Victoria, that was the first place I went when I graduated from high school so it was a little nostalgic, but not as much as I thought it would be. I am not the same person I was then, that's for sure. Hooked up with a tree-planting buddy and got drunk for 3 days, went ice skating at midnight, talked trees, crashed some house party, then got all decked out in neon ski clothes for an event called Neon Ski-on, it was pure silliness and I'm glad I left Canada on such a high (low) note, wearing a wig with a neon headband on overtop. Potato vodka is the devil. I'm glad I'm done with it. (It was around this time that Hamish Black told me he wanted to become an olympic speed skater, look at him now! A fucking legend! This was also around the time he left for the bar with a ziplock bag full of quarters and cake all over his face, screaming about his shoes. Also legendary)

Went to the ferry the next day, hungover from the last few days, very little sleep, remembered when I got there that I had to get through customs, and that I looked like a filthy vagrant. The Canada side was no problem, but when I got to the states it was an old man who immediately didn't like the look of me, maybe because I had a tarp wrapped around a sleeping bag strapped to my bag and was carrying a guitar. (I stuck out I suppose)

Anyways, he started trying to trap me with questions, and it was pretty easy considering my state, so he made me stand to the side and him and another guy searched all my stuff. I didn't like it at all. A little scared, and violated, and mad that he was picking on me. Finally they let me go, and I caught my bus, but it tainted the next few hours for me, I kept seeing signs about the war and "protecting our freedom" bullshit, and really obese people, and I had a bad first day in America.

But I made some friends on the bus, and the next morning we saw a beautiful sunrise come out from behind Mount Shasta, and the whole day was sunny, which I hadn't experienced since the beginning of my time in Pemberton. So yeah, I feel much better about life. San Diego's a good looking city, I'm crashing in a hostel and busked a bit down by the pier, ended up with a bunch of homeless people crowding the hill opposite me, I don't think it was good for business, but I didn't care, we had fun. (that was a strange moment in my life. I realized quick that I wasn't going to make any money with this crowd of ruffians milling about, but they were having a good time so obviously I felt the need to sing them songs and we ended up having a nice little drunken party on the pier at around 1 o'clock in the afternoon. Then a rival busker came up to me and wanted to fight me for taking his busking spot, and one of the homeless guys tried to fight him because he wanted me to keep playing. It got strange, and I left without playing an encore.)

In the next day or two I'm catching a ride with a guy that I met on a rideshare, there are 3 of us in his van and were going to head over through Arizona, then go cross the border and head south to Puerto Vallarta, I'll chill for a few days if it's nice, then head to Guadalajara to stay a day or two with a very nice woman who I used to play gigs for through Seneca. After that I make my way southeast to Guatemala, where I'll stay with a family and take spanish lessons for a month. This is me putting my retirement plan into action now, and so far it seems to be working out alright.

Take care everybody,

b

Thanks- Huge thanks go to Pola for putting up with me farting on her couch for a few days (I had gas) Melissa for the peach jam, it reminded me of home. The potato boys for the great 2 months at the farm. Jac for getting The Last Waltz and for folding my laundry again. Molly for being so damn cute and jamming with us boys. Trish, Leila, Sid and the rest at Linnea for showing me such a good time on Cortes Island, Leila for not being too upset when I punched her in the privates after too much fun was had at the bar (I'm so sorry Leila)(also, that was an amazing trip, the quest we took to see the old guy that built his own cabin and made a living creating high quality kitchen utensils out of fallen arbutus trees really influenced me. He had an old bathtub out on the top of the hill so he could have a bath and look out on the ocean, those are some straight priorities). Hamish for letting me wear his neon tights and women's swim trunks. And you folks that have messaged me back telling me what you're up to, I like getting those messages.

Peace.

 Myself and Leila, she whose privates I punched (in jest). I had cut my cast off a few days before this, so I still had a skinny chicken arm, and it was easier to have others strum while I chorded. Can't stop the jams.

Myself and Leila, she whose privates I punched (in jest). I had cut my cast off a few days before this, so I still had a skinny chicken arm, and it was easier to have others strum while I chorded. Can't stop the jams.

-An email to friends only...- (sorry Mom)

This is the fucked up truth...

so maybe you got that other message, here's the truth, I'm a fucking moron and I didn't take my pipe out of my backpack when I went through customs, and I got totally busted with it, in front of about 100 people, the customs officer was so pumped he caught me with something, he was an old guy and really didn't like the looks of me. I had to go sit in a little room while they tore all my stuff apart. I cannot express the fear and total shame, my heart was fucking racing, I figured that's it, I fucked myself hard, no mexico, no crossing the border ever again, everything I had been working for for the last 4 years gone to shit, just because I was a hungover moron and didn't recheck my bag.

They found nothing else, so they brought me in and interrogated the fuck out of me, where I was going, where I worked, how much money I had, all questions that the honest answers to are fucked by most peoples standards. I played it cool and submissive, I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking, it's so casual up north I totally forgot, etc. They took me to another room, and while we were walking there I thought "fuck it, might as well try" and did that small talk thing I do to cab drivers and cashiers (Luc Forsyth rips on me for this small talk business all the time, I can't really help it, and it comes in handy). I asked him how the winters were in Port Angeles, and he softened up for a second and said "oh they're not too bad I guess." After that I played it cool as fuck, super polite, little bits of small talk with some of the other officers about the area, how the job was, if many people get caught like this, to which one of the guys said to me, "it happens fairly often." After about 20 minutes of this I had 2 of them on my team and they ended up letting me off, just took the pipe and told me to smarten up. I toured like fuck to the bus station and caught my bus last minute. My heart didn't stop racing for hours. 

So yeah, that's the truth, I figured I tell you guys, but I'd rather we wait a few years before that story gets made public, still way too real.

Peace

b

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Really, where are you? I'm heading into Mexico in a few days and wish you were here,

I went to Commercial drive and looked in a dumpster, it was picked clean, but I grabbed an apple off of a bench.

Much love brother

 

Chad McCoy's Youthful Adventures Ep.2 - Apples, Potatos, More Mountains

The second installment of the ridiculous adventure that I embarked upon in my wild youth! So far I've hopped a freight train from Sudbury to Edmonton, hitched through the mountains and slept in ditches to get to Kelowna, and broke my arm falling off a skateboard while living under a tarp in an apple orchard. Things start getting wild around here, so read on.

Two Princes and a Queen

(somewhere around mid-late September maybe? 2009)

Hey everybody!

So on a decision made very quickly after a sleepless night, I'm heading up to Prince George to visit some family I haven't seen in 20 years (I never made it, sorry Penny and Aunt Trish!), then to Prince Rupert to take the ferry to the Queen Charlotte Islands, known as Haida Gwaii. 

I picked apples for a bit, but that went sour. My stupid cast and the poor orchard conditions left me realizing I would never make enough money, and I was having no fun. I was also not real keen on the pesticide dust and earwigs falling into my cast and crawling around. True story. 

So we left, on good terms. Two good friends, Luc and John, came and we spent a night at Steph and Natalie's in Kelowna and were joined by Steph's French exchange parents from years ago. We made dinner, had some drinks, then the guitar came out, and the pots and pans, and various other kitchen items, and we had a huge silly jam. Pierre, who didn't speak a word of english, played the cheese grater with a pen, his solos were maginifique (he ended up grating the pen down to the ink and got it all over his hands and laughed and laughed).

The next day Steph took us to a winery for some photos, then to the highway to hitch on out. The plan was to split up and head to Osoyoos, but we ended up in downtown Vancouver at a party in a tiny apartment where everyone was so wasted I couldn't understand a thing they were saying, so I slept on the roof. (anyone who has heard the "Vagina!? What the fuck is a Vagina?" story, that happened during this hitchhike) (sorry Mom)

We decided to look for jobs here, but after doing up a resume, I realized that I can do manual labour, play music, and wash dishes well, none of which I can do with a cast (I have slightly expanded my skill set since then) . Soooooooo, on a whim I decided to check out Haida Gwaii, which I hear is beeeeautiful, unlike anywhere else in Canada. This way I can take a week or 2, check out central BC, see what's up, and maybe come back to Vancouver a little more healed and positive and try again.

Thanks go to....Steph and Natalie for putting me up, or putting up with me. Pierre and Annie, for sharing a multi-language dinner with us. Jen Pola for letting me crash her couch here in Van, she made me put on a silly rubber glove and do her dishes though, evil woman (this is untrue, I offered to do the dishes, she didn't make me, sorry for lying Pola), Kiel, for letting me crash his roof. $1.50 slices of pizza here in Vancouver, a real lifesaver.
And Luc and John, for demoralizing me and smoking all my weed when I needed it most, thanks guys. Sincerely.

Alright, talk to you all soon!

 Me washing Pola's dishes. Pretty sure she took this picture, I bet we were laughing.

Me washing Pola's dishes. Pretty sure she took this picture, I bet we were laughing.

Sometime in early October, 2009
pleasantly picking potatos in Pemberton

Ok, so I'm in the Pemberton valley harvesting potatos and living in a cabin with no hydro or running water. I fill up buckets with water from the river for dishes, there's a wood stove so I have a fire every night to keep warm, a little coleman stove for cooking, good books, a bed and a chair, and I wake up every morning with the sun and pee outside with a great view of the mountains, which as of this week are covered with snow about 2/3rds of the way up. Yes, totally random, and awesome.

I was hitching out of Whistler, an old man picked me up, took me to his place for breakfast (he had some sort of Whistler travellers home stay thing going on, so there were a bunch of random people there. He was also something going on with his brain and he kept forgetting what he was doing, he drove me to Pemberton later that morning and had to ask his wife who was in the passenger seat what they were doing that day, then he'd laugh when she told him they were picking up the chainsaw carving from that guy in Mt. Currie, it was comical, and scary). A girl there gave me a phone number to get potato picking work, I called it, started the next day and things fell into place from there. It's work I can do with the cast on and I'm good at it, so the farmer offered me the cabins at the back of the farm to live in in exchange for reliable work, and it's been working out great so far. (I was able to name 3 of the 4 varieties of potato on the farm on sight, pretty sure that's what got me the job, ha)

I've been here about 2 weeks and made some good friends, the Root House Manger is a great guy and we work and play well together. I get to drive huge dump trucks full of potatos, sort potatos and dirt, do potato quality control, and package potatos for sale, which is right up my alley. Sometimes I call the potatos "bahdaydas" like my dad, like "What's wrong with the machine?" "A bahdayda got stuck up in there, gotta unjam it with a screwdriver" You know, stuff like that. 

The farm is an old family farm, right in the middle of Pemberton Valley, also known as Spud Valley, which has some of the best alluvial soils in Canada, prime for growing potatos, which they've been doing for many years. About 7 years ago they went organic, which is nice to know that I'm not inhaling pesticide dust everyday. All of our culls (bad potatos) get shipped to a vodka distillery that started up in the area a few months ago. It's called Schramm Vodka, small batch organic potato vodka, delicious. 

A little japanese guy came to work on the farm for a few days, he spoke very little english and played guitar, mostly he sang american folk songs on his out of tune guitar in an equally out of tune voice, the affect was strangely haunting and enjoyable. I had him over for dinner and we didn't speak much, but passed the guitar back and forth sitting in front of the fire. I made beans for dinner, he enjoyed them, so I was pumped. I love beans. (I still love beans)

The wilderness near the cabins is amazing, mountains, waterfalls, species of birds and plants I've never seen, huge trees, rivers, etc. I send a lot of my time trudging through the bush and collecting firewood, and wild mushrooms. A friend showed me which are edible and there are tons out there, so I've been foraging, this weekend we're going hiking for pine mushrooms, yum! (did we find and eat magic mushrooms? I'll leave that up to you to decide!) (sorry Mom)

So things are great, I'm making friends and money, and learning more about farming and life without electricity, which I like. I might stay until the end of the month, or maybe two, we'll see. (the cabin life was a real influence on my life direction, currently working hard and saving up to build my own little cabin. When I get hired out to rock parties, most of the money I charge goes towards that dream)

Tonight were going to the Pemho (Pemberton Hotel) to see a local band called Baked Potato. I'm not making any of this up.

Ok, that's all I can think of, a lot more has happened, but I can't recall everything right now.

Thank yous- Andrew and Lia for feeding me and letting me do laundry, and feeding me moosemeat. Jaqueline for folding my laundry and letting me play her guitar. Tessa the dog for making me realize I'm not as fast on my feet as I thought I was. Harriet the Irish girl for the countless potato jokes. And Ed for picking me up on the side of the road in Whistler even though I looked like a scruffy weirdo and setting this whole series of events into motion. 

Bm

Chad McCoy's Youthful Adventures Ep.1 -Trains, Mountains, Broken Limbs

Hello people!

In the lead-up to the release of my debut E.P. I'm going to re-release the emails I was sending back home whilst questing in lands far away. Figure since these adventures were the main driver of the lyrical content in A Few Crumbs I might as well lay out some context, yah? 

I've fixed the spelling mistakes, of which there were many. I've also added some additional thinkings and clarifications, these will be in (italics). Some pictures are included and credited where I could. Dates are as close as I could get them. Much upgraded, yes. 

They were originally written as emails and facebook messages to let family and friends back home know what I was up to and that I was alright. I was 25, fresh off my first season of treeplanting, and had just paid off my student loans by busking the subways of Toronto and hustling hard at odd jobs.

The plan was to get to Guatemala by land, I really didn't put much more thought into it, so I went into the whole thing pretty open-minded/ragingly naive. I had a few adventures under my belt at this point, but nothing like this. 

Anyways, here you go.

 Photo by a young  Luc Forsyth . Not sure why I had a chin-strap, but there it is. The adventures chronicled here start on Hobo Road.

Photo by a young Luc Forsyth. Not sure why I had a chin-strap, but there it is. The adventures chronicled here start on Hobo Road.

update #1

September 2, 2009, at 12:07am

Oh hello there.
Some of you got a version of this over email, this one's a little more (less?) detailed...

Hey ya'll,

This is what I've been up to the last month for all of youse who want to know...
The month started off great with a huge drunken jam at my dads trailer-park-boys styled trailer park, a perfect starting to any journey. A ride through Algonquin park, seeing the biggest white pine in Canada, riding on a GT sno-racer tied to the back of a van doing 60 on a gravel road near Levack while my little cousins laughed hysterically. 

Slept beside the train tracks in Capreol and woke up covered in slugs (this really happened, it was gnarly, their snaily slime trails stayed on my backpack for several months), then hopped a freight train and rode it with a mixture of fear, excitement, boredom and introspectiveness for 44 hours to Edmonton, which seemed like a bit of a butthole town at 4am on a Wednesday (anyone who has heard the story of me pooping in a small bag on the back of a train and then almost taking the soiled toilet paper in the face after it escaped my grasp and got caught in a vortex of wind, that was during this train ride). 

Stayed in Calgary with Slotz and Russ and Jeremy, great hosts, I ate a lot of Slotz's grampa's honey, mmmmmm. Made a homosexual positive joke at an open mic, the room went silent, except for a drunken lady who giggled into her hands. Went to a ghost town in the foothills, home of the largest single sheet curling rink in the world, satisfied our urge to destroy and sneak around creepy abandoned basements, jumped off a cliff into the glacier fed Bow River. Went to Drumheller and saw some hoodoos, I climbed a large hill and got to the top exhausted and there was a rainbow, which made me feel awesome about life. 

 Photo cred - Either Nathan, Andrew, or Heather Klooster, I don't remember, we we're on the sauce most of this camping trip. Look at how much shit I had, such a newbie.

Photo cred - Either Nathan, Andrew, or Heather Klooster, I don't remember, we we're on the sauce most of this camping trip. Look at how much shit I had, such a newbie.


Camped on an island on river near Golden, BC, kept our beers cold in the river and had a blast trying to beat the current. Went downhill mountain biking and almost lost my life, but it was probably one of the best days in recent memory.

The next day I hitched to Kelowna with a 44 year old art teacher whom I fell in love with, she volunteered at music festivals and rode her bike a lot. Got a ride from a guy who wanted to go to Prince George and pan for gold like an old-school pioneer, I told him to follow his dreams, but I doubt his car would make it. Then got picked up by two beautiful Austrian exchange students, yeeeah! (I don't know why I wrote yeeeah, I sat in the back by myself and probably smelt too bad for kissing, but it was a nice way to enter the Okanagan Valley, we shared fresh peaches I got from a vendor on the side of the road)

I made it to Kelowna and stayed with a friend of Nate Klooster's who put me up and fed me beer and pizza my first night. Thank you Steph. (Steph was amazing, a fantastic human being and a life saver, I will never forget driving around in her black Pontiac Sunfire cranking the Black Eyed Peas within moments of arriving in Kelowna, pretty sure it was this song. I hated the Black Eyed Peas before that, but now I have a sweet spot for that album, hah)

Now I'm living in an apple orchard under a tarp, pruning apple trees and making some cash before the next leg. Apples fall around me all night and today I took one right in the nose, it made me mad, at an apple. Later I felt silly.
More later...
Bm

Oct 3rd 2009

breaking news!

Soooooooooooooooo..... I broke my arm 2 days ago. My right arm, the dominate one. It probably has something to do with having just had the time of my life mountain biking (also, I was a bit drunk after being peer pressured into having whiskey for breakfast by my new apple picking "friends"), I thought I'd take the skateboard that was offered to me and rip down a hill. I made it 15 feet, fell, rolled, and came up a little bloody and broken.

The doctor at the walk-in clinic wrapped my swollen wrist in a tensor bandage, and I did a sad, slow walk back to the orchard. When I got there I laid down on my bed, which is a couch cushion on a small tarp, and thought about how stupid I was, to break my hand a few days before the season starts.

Just then it started to rain, so using my good hand I slowly pulled the tarp over me and my broken wrist. Then it started to rain a lot harder, and I had to hold the tarp down. I was getting wetter, and sadder, by the second. Then it started to full-on hail. It was one of the lowest moments of my life, in an apple orchard, wet, stuck under a small tarp, with a broken arm, and all my stuff getting soaked. At least with the rain no one could see me cry.

But it did stop eventually, and the sun came up, and with it one of the brightest, most defined double rainbows I've ever seen, and I realized that this will pass, my stuff will dry, and my arm will heal. Until then I'll just pick slowly with my left arm, maybe I'll get a week in at the end with 2 arms, I'll be able to rip then (I did not "rip then"). So it's not so bad.

Bm