A jaunt into the wilds of Mexico with lensman Tom Pearsall, here's how it went down. Words by Tom.
It’s 30 hours or so since we left winter behind in Margaret River, Western Australia. The cabin doors open. Summer is upon us, sudden and thick and hot – Indo hot, though less humid, and hotter. We thought we were prepared for the heat but it chokes us.
First priority, remove track pants and socks. A quick sweaty change and we’re dragging our coffins across burning asphalt, instantaneous sweat beads, immediate body odor.
Chuck the boards on the roof- instant singlet tan, threatening to become a singlet burn. Excitement shifts to fatigue in the second hour of our drive. We're surrounded by jungle, desert jungle – if there is such a thing. Mexico we are in you… but if only we had somewhere to stay. Indecision and a mounting sleep debt strike all too hard. Too many options to choose from and the sweaty ‘hombre’ behind our taxi wheel is getting pissed off.
We attempt to pay the man and set him free but nowhere exchanges our strange Aussie currency. Rookies. Finally, an ATM comes into view, like an oasis mirage to a dying man it gives and removes hope as it takes money from my account but gives me none.
It’s Sunday –banks are closed. We are fucking rookies. We comb the streets for another ATM with a fuming driver, pockets a little lighter. It’s midday and it is hot – too hot. 5 hours have passed with nothing to show for it and the driver is late for his next gig. Finally, a miraculous ATM discovery in the middle of nowhere. We pay him and he ditches us in the street in the Mexican midday sun. Two Australians, close to 100kg of gear, no SIM card, no money, and no foresight. Cooking, we book into one hotel, scab the wifi, and bail to a better one. Dump the regrettably heavy baggage, wax the board. Surf is better than a shower to wash off the travels. Night falls. ‘Extracurricular’ activities (use your imagination). Day one down.
Quickly we lose what day of the week it is as we settle into the routine. Wake up, and search and search and search. Screaming onshores, incessant onshores. Non-stop.
Maddening sound doesn’t stop, like hurricane force winds through a sailboats rigging. Our marbles are getting jangled. Up-side; a silver lining… scored an extremely offshore beachy. Left barrels in the land of right points. Still, not what we came here for and we need to leave this place. Leave a part of our soul with it.
Next day, on the bus. Six hours to Puerto Escondido. It’s small and crowded as it gets. Locals call anything half decent. Home court advantage. I’m not one to argue. Night life is good… a little too good. We need to leave this place. Our marbles are getting jangled. Where did the marbles go?
A few hazy weeks slide by, drifting between Salina Cruz and Playa Zicatela. Huey is playing games with us as we strike occasional gold but frustrated by uncooperative winds. Meet a guy on the street. Looks friendly enough. Where’s good to eat? We ask Points us in the direction of the local back alley Taco joint. Must be good. Smells good. Salivating. Devour. Actually… not very good, we all agree. Little did we know. REALLY not good. We all find out around midday next day, and the 48hrs after. Mex Belly. Stricken.
In the midst of a sweaty night spraying a firehose though a key hole I hear screaming from the bathroom. Luke is in trouble. I gather myself and peer into the bleak light of our basic WC. Travel compadre has a scorpion the size of a dinner plate cornered; tail rearing and pincers clicking like the teeth of a rabid dog.
I look closer through the blear of sleep and it’s back is covered. Like out of an alien movie, thousands of tiny scorpions are shedding off its back in hordes, dispersing everywhere through our room, boardbags and beds. In a paternal panic the scorpion scales the walls, shedding tiny replicants as it goes, and disappears out our uncovered window. We sleep with both eyes open.
Sometimes everything goes right on a trip. Sometimes nothing does. That’s travel, right? It’s all part of the experience and memories made. Sometimes the things you remember clearest looking back are the challenges and situations you found yourself in, I’m sure you have a few that instantly come to mind.
And, in between those times, you were having the time of your life. Of course the frustrations above made the good days that much sweeter. Skimming along a glassy pointbreak, water pink with the reflection of another dazzling sunset, the scent of the boys on the beach enjoying a post surf joint drifting on the light offshores.
The quintessential “where would you rather be” moments of popping the cap of a corona while your mates are scoring a perfect shoulder high beachie to themselves; arms unable to turn over for even one more ride. No one around to bother you; food poisoning, scorpions and airport nightmares far from the mind… Wouldn’t change it for the world.