Most people who realise they can write songs have that rock star dream from an early age. Travel the world with money to burn, meet famous people, play huge concert venues – you know the gig. But not me. My journey is rather different to say the least. In my younger days there was no way I could write a song or play guitar fluently, let alone play harmonica or even sing anything. Especially on stage and in front of people. I found it difficult to speak in front of more than 3 people without turning crimson.
As far as dreams went, I didn’t actually have any dream. I literally could not dream. It sounds a bit sad now, but back then I didn’t see that as a huge problem.
Because what I did have was a huge desire to see the world. After finishing my studies and working for a few years I was able to buy an around the world ticket. I didn’t have heaps of dollars but hey, I’d work overseas somehow, somewhere. I was ready to hit the adventure trail with a vengeance. Woohoo! Adventure time had arrived.
Skiing in Austria and Colorado, surfing in England, France, Portugal, Morocco, the USA and then…the fabulous Mexico. Well, fabulous in many ways but not so fabulous in others. Because if there is one thing that travelling taught me was that “it ain’t all a bed of roses”. It seems to me that when travelling for an extended period you have the very high “highs” and the very low “lows”. And when you think about it, that seems like the effect of some type of drug.
Rule of the Universe No 5: There’s always the hangover after the big night out.
Mexico was perhaps the “wildest” place that I’d travelled to at that stage. Towns on the south west coast of Mexico that had little or no electricity, dirt streets, drunk cowboys on horses that would dance up the street then put their heads through the glass-less windows of the bar, drunk hombres drinking tequila and then shooting their pistols at chickens in the streets as the sun went down, nights slept in a palapa – a kind of banana leaf hut where you’d hit the walls and scorpions would fall out. But there was excellent, cheap and healthy food, fantastic surf as if it had been dreamt up by the gods, cheap beer and of course that ever present smell of Acapulco gold.
Which leads me to some of the more interesting people in this adventure. There was Mike. He was a carpenter from Redondo beach who’d paid for his house through the smuggling of the odd kilo or three of cocaine from Central America when it “wasn’t as risky” – according to Mike! Joe and Kathy who had 4 or 5 kids under 7 in a small campervan. Good luck to them! No wonder they seemed like they were on something like acid by late afternoon – sleepless nights I presume. They worked hard in bars around San Diego for 6 months of the year then lived cheap and surfed in Mexico for the remainder. There was Craig who was a Canadian salmon fisherman. He was learning to surf whilst chasing various girlfriends around the world. Lovely guy. He seemed to have heaps of money and probably did. And then there was Jay. He was a rather large guy for a surfer with a large personality to match, longish blonde hair and quite the extrovert. He was from Housten, Texas and was travelling in a VW Kombi with two Texan friends. Their names elude me. I suppose anyone travelling with Jay would always appear as a shadow to his excesses. Jay talked loud, ate big and lived on the edge….which I didn’t quite realise how far on the edge when we headed south in his Kombi across State borders to a surf place called La Ticla. For surfing…or at least that’s what I thought was the main plan for the day.
After we finished surfing Jay and his friends mysteriously walked off somewhere. So Craig and I took a few snaps of the local flora, visited the local café, watched the wandering pigs clean up the human faeces that had washed out of the open sewer (note to self: never eat pork in Mexico) and then wiled away some more time in the café. It was getting towards dusk when the others re-appeared. We piled into the Kombi. The afternoon joint was lit and then came the revelation that some huge amount of weed had been packed into every inner space possible throughout the Kombi. These lads had not just been meditating. The best dope in Mexico had been stuffed into coke cans with screw-top bottoms, then stuffed into “secret” compartments. Then we arrived at the state border of Michoacan. Kombi smelling like some Cheech and Chong replica with surfboards atop. As night approached, misty rain beginning to fall, two young Mexican border guards waved their sub-machine guns to stop the van and poke them through the windows. Mike whispers “just stay cool” in his Californian accent. How could I have been anything else with the amount of sweat that was dripping from my forehead? Visions of trying to survive a Mexican goal for the next 20 years or so flashed into my head. “Midnight Express” – here I come.
Rule of the Universe No 6: “Adventure is the recollection of adversity.” (Edmond Hillary).
Mike spoke fluent Spanish and I’ve always wondered what he said but he had the guards laughing within a few minutes. He had a way with people. He was always calm, understated, quick witted and confident. He seemed like a guy who was “within himself“. I didn’t know what that meant then. Hopefully I do now.
We returned to Rio Nexpa campground. Had a surf the next morning and chilled in the hammock like the other afternoons. But the Kombi trip had got me thinking about what Kim Imber wanted from life. Hammocks are good for that. I recalled the song “Into White” by Cat Stevens. One thing for sure is that I wanted a house “with acres of sky”. I didn’t know what that meant then. Hopefully I do now.
About 5 or so months after this I returned to Tasmania, flat broke but with my “hammock vision” held firmly in mind. Within 4 years I’d bought and paid for a small white house, all legally by the way, overlooking my favourite surf break.
Rule of the Universe No 7: “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we create the world.” (Buddha).
And then I began working on being able to dream. Really dream. Vivid and colourful, exciting, dynamic and scary dreams.
Rule of the Universe No 9: If your dreams aren’t scary then they’re not big enough.
There’s a bit more to come to get to the point where I actually write my first poem and soon afterwards, my first song. But I’ll save the telling of that for another day.
Once again, thank you for listening.
If you’d like to hear the most recent milestone of my journey, click here to listen to my latest album “Just A Moment’s Sanity”
By the way, I left the camp the next day with Craig. Things had gotten a little too “Breaking Bad”. We headed for Acapulco never to see that crew again. I did hear though that Mike had broken his femur surfing in Puerto Escondido…..and Jay and his friends had been turned into the police by some local prostitutes they’d met. Apparently they ended up bribing the local judge 20 grand for an exit visa.
Rule of The Universe No.9:The bigger the party, the bigger the hangover.”