The Adventure. A Story of a few kids first trip deep into Baja California.
The Six Amigos: A Southern Baja Excursion Mexico, the land of tacos, cervezas, endless points, and a reputation that will terrorize your dreams. Stories that will make you wet the bed and blame it on your cat; this is the definition of intimidation. Once a close and convenient trip for the fortunate Southern Californian has now been crossed off the list for many. Do you blame them? I donâ€™t. Have you ever seen Gangland? Because I have. Just a few episodes of that will change your surf trip with the boys to a weekend stay at your grandmas. With two shakes of a lambâ€™s tail and a few phone calls later, the trip was set and everyone was ready to roll. On board we had Kaenon team manager and Chuck Liddell look alike, Chris Wyman, photographer Nathaniel Harrington, Huntington Beach pretty boy Brian Daigneault, and Kaenon team riders: Porter Hogan, Blake Burns, and myself, Sean Igor Herman. This was an interesting group with each individual bringing something unique and strange to the table. I brought the coffee and toast, while everyone else brought nothing.
The voyage started out with a quick trip to Trader Joes for some last minute groceries, hot coffee, and a few burgers from In n’ Out. After the trucks were geared up and I was placed in the backseat, we made the trek to the border with every intention of fearing for our lives. I’ll be honest and confess that I felt a bit uneasy about what laid ahead of us. The news has a great way of scaring me and with endless amounts of horror stories, I suggested a trip change to Newport Beach; I was laughed at and denied. My fear of being kidnapped was quickly forgotten as soon as Blake decided to educate me on “the best music ever.” I contemplated suicide until I fell asleep during a daydream. We powered south through the notorious Tijuana, then Ensenada where Wyms told story’s of happy days and nights past. This was Wyms 20th year of coming to Baja, and a side from the viscous drug war, still is one of his favorite places on earth. He has a weird fetish with fear with a creepy laugh that will haunt your dreams. Laguna Beach’s toughest Morman, Porter Hogan, was petrified of Wyman right from the start.
Eight painful hours into the drive we decided to pull over and camp for the night on a desolate rocky beach; a warming, picturesque scenery worth documenting, where miles of empty desert willingly fell into the ocean. At the same time, it possessed kind of a “Vegas” atmosphere where things can get weird and that night I dreamt of sharks with legs. I then woke up in a pool of sweat to Wyman with his arm around me. For dinner we celebrated with some red wine, a few beers, and the always-healthy turkey hot dogs. The next morning we awoke to a rather rather large snake slithering around our tent but we weren’t fazed because we are strong men (actually we all ran away like little school girls). After our near death experience with the non-poisonous snake, we surfed a sketchy head high wave on a rocky beach that was littered with animal bones and skulls. No signs of human skeletons filled me with a weird sense of comfort. Due to the less than anticipated surf, we decided to drive four
more hours south to our final destination a few days earlier then planned.
I wasn’t scared. -NH
We woke up that first morning in Baja to discover we were in a totally different land than any of us had ever seen before. It was wild out there. Although there were many strange structures man had left behind, at the absence of man nature rules Baja, and we are just visitors. -NH
For the last four hours of the ride Blake and I argued about music while Wyman tried to mediate the conflict, but failed. If watching Gangland taught me anything, it was to not back down to any “haters showing me no love;” I was becoming a regular “Cholo” by the second. Besides a few roadside gravesites and the occasional military check point, endless amounts of rock piles and Cacti filled the lonely desert. It seemed so abandoned yet so beautiful at the same time and a sense of liberation overcame my mind. I was enlightened. We arrived to our secret destination in the late afternoon and I immediately wanted Tacos. What I got was not tacos, but the most delicious, roadside hot dog I had ever tasted; consisting of mayonnaise, mystery meat, and probably Montezuma’s revenge. I was hesitant about the meal and restricted myself to only six hotdogs. I was brutally punished for this decision eight days later. It was during this meal where I met my first local in town and his family. I had made a new friend and was lucky enough to wave to him nine more times following our introduction. He was a great friend, but Porter was getting jealous. Wyman happened to be as much of a legendary figure as a bald intimidating gringo can be in the town, and the locals all treated us with great hospitality. We were fortunate enough to have a local woman cook for us three times a day and even though we surfed eight hours every day, I gained ten pounds on this trip. I could not understand why. All we had was chicken wrapped in butter tortillas with tortillas on the side for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Who knows, maybe it was just ten pounds of pure muscle, but my girlfriend did not seem impressed when I returned home.
After falling in love with the town I fell in love with two stray dogs that I named CafĂŠ and Tortilla. I pondered the thought of bringing them back with me but customs these days are just down right impossible. The dogs truly loved me and would not leave me alone. All I could picture was CafĂŠ, Tortilla and myself, one big happy family enjoying days at the dog park together running and laughing. My heart was crushed when Nate explained to me that they only liked me because I fed them chicken. I think he was just jealous of my newfound friendship and saw them as competition. We spent the days surfing perfect head high plus waves all to ourselves, and the nights eating tortillas. We surfed breaks ranging from wave wrapping points to heavy beach breaks pits in front of animal cemeteries; we surfed it all. Some waves superior to others, and due to my New Jersey childhood, I preferred the hollow beach breaks. Porter preferred one spot in particular that had the sketchiest wave I had ever seen while Blake and Brian preferred the long point break. Wyman impressed us all with huge hacks while Nate shot everything with a foreground. Even though everyday was filled with great food, great company, humor, and rippable waves, I still waited for something horrific to occur. I anticipated that one terrible encounter with something or someone threatening, but it did not happen until the last day. Wyms decided to take us to the slaughterhouse that had rusted old hanging meat hooks and bones. The building happened to be an abandoned lighthouse 5 miles away from any water, filled with snakes and bad vibes. I guess after several more ship wreaks, they decided to set up a new light down by the water, leaving this one to rot. Surprisingly it was not the skeletons, blood or meat hooks that scared us, it was the forcefulness of Wyms making us climb the three story, crumbling tower for photos.
I had traveled to Mexico with the premeditated image of guns, drugs, and kidnappings, but we didn’t encounter any of this. All we experienced were smiles and open arms. It was during this trip that i realized how strong the media’s grasp is on our society. No matter where you go, you’ll run into problems, but most of the time it’s due to the situations you put yourself in. You can travel to any place in the world and find yourself in trouble, but for the most part if you walk the streets with a waving hand and a big smile, you’ll be alright. Mexico is not all threatening as long as you understand where you’re going and what your doing. Plan ahead and you’ll probably score some of the best surf of your life, I know we did. sean herman xx
First time south of the border. One week of surfing in Baja, Mexico. A trip to remember. A special thanks to Chris Wyman at Kaenon Polorized. Thanks for the trip and the good times.