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.


Dec 10th '09


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.


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 new 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