Waterman's Journal

Apr 07, 2010

Capt. Josh Temple Unleashed: Semana Santa & The HOA

It's no easy commute from Tofino to Puerto Vallarta. Four to five hours of backcountry road travel, two and a half hours aboard the ferry, another hour or so on the road and then the overnight in Vancouver. Then an extremely early departure from YVR aboard my favorite Alaskan airline, a stop in San Fran or LA, and finally, late afternoon arrival in PV - three countries, planes, truck, ferries, and a whole different universe away. After well over a decade of nearly non-stop travel I keep fooling myself into thinking that trips like these should come off with ease. But there's always inevitably trouble, some yet unforeseen travel demon who's never easy to appease. The ATM eats my bank card, I leave my laptop charger under the table at Starbucks, I'm tired and cranky at customs, the TSA knuckle draggers are overly mean. I fall into the trap of self pity. Poor me.

Then it hits me. HEY JACKASS - QUIT COMPLAINING!!! You're headed for Mexico to captain the Maximo and chase tunas and marlin wherever they be.

The cold, hard reality of inclement North coastal weather was hard on my heels a few weeks ago up here on Vancouver Island. The somewhat enjoyable days of moderate sunshine and long-sleeve fishing weather we were temporarily enjoying in mid-March gave way to south-easterly gales and stinging, slushy rain within the week. Don't get too used to the promise of spring sunshine in this country, and never keep an umbrella or reliable set of rain gear more than slightly out of reach. There's an old saying that if you don't like the weather just wait five minutes, gospel truths we're some years oft to speak.

With another few weeks in Puerto Vallarta looming I made for Vancouver International Airport and the promise of warmer weather beyond the Alaskan Airlines check-in counter. I endured a rather nasty trip across Vancouver Island from Tofino, where hairpin switchback mountain roads are made more treacherous by relentless, torrential rain. This country is unanimously wild and unforgiving, a place where truck heaters fog up windows and windshield wipers work feverishly, squealing in protest as they sweep. Yet there's still an inherent charm to this kind of wilderness travel. Tuning in a good blues station with Jimmy Rogers crooning "Fishing In My Pond" on the radio, the ancient old growth Western Red Cedars along the highway dancing in rhythm to the sad whine of an old guitar and the temper of the wind . If your imagination wanders as easily as mine does, it's not a far stretch to entertain yourself during long lonesome drives such as this. The rain may be pouring, but i'm happily on my way.

The trip south was not what i'd call uneventful, but i did make it safely to PV in one piece. And boy was i glad to start tearing my clothes off when i hit the tarmac. After two solid weeks in long pants and boots it wasn't pretty, but pale Canadian skin or not i all but leapt into my shorts and flip flops. Customs was a nightmare but the rest of the cattle and i eventually made it through. From there it wasn't long before i made the cab driver pull into the Corona building for the first of many cold Modelos on the way to the marina and a hearty welcome from the rest of the crew. I'd flown in a few days before the boss and his entourage of twenty two people were due to arrive, just enough time to get drunk, catch up with the boys, and make sure all final preparations were in order before they arrived.

It took us a few days to really get good at drinking, and then another few days to worry about sobering up. But true to form we managed to have everything in top condition and ready to go when the hammer dropped.

The first few days with everyone in town were literally crazy. So many people coming and going it was tough to keep track. We spun ourselves dizzy running between the boats, the marina, the boss' mansion, the mountains, the bars, Costco, Mega, and everywhere in between. The boss asked Oren to purchase an entire new inventory of dirt bikes and four wheelers before he arrived so there were more than a few opportunities to tear ass off into the mountains with all manner of contraption from 250 dirt bike to dune buggy churning dirt and spitting gravel along the trail. Oren is a true master of all things dangerous and arguably illegal, so with him as our fearless leader we suited up in the body armour, made the sign of the cross, and put the new equipment to one hell of a test. I'm not sure what the security guards or other property owners out at the 4-Seasons thought of our X-Games shenanigans during the last two weeks, but i'm guessing we sent the Home Owners Association scrambling for their lawyers real quick. And i'd be lying if i told you we didn't leave one security guard or another cursing in disgust. Not that it really matters. The boss is the president of the association, and i'm fairly sure they had trouble reaching him as he chewed trail, grinning like a madman and spitting dust as he went. "See you at the next HOA meeting" he was probably thinking. VROOOOOOOOM VROOOOOOM VROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!! Hahahahahahaha.....

To top things off, and perhaps as a catalyst to the madness, it was Easter Week in Mexico, or "Semana Santa" as our brothers to the south more aptly call it. Loosely translated that means the "week every person in Guadalajara comes to Punta de Mita, gets HAMMERED DRUNK, runs around naked, and passes out". I cannot express to you what it's like to witness this spectacle first hand, or the level of pure barbarian savagery that goes down during the ten most incredible days of insanity in Mexico's year. After a decade of living south of the border i can assure you Mexico is as lawless and wild as the best of them, but things are taken to a new level during Semana Santa. Nobody is safe from the psychedelic shock of events that are bound to unfold. Even the cops are nervous and refuse to intervene except during the most critical of emergencies. It's a veritable tequila fuelled free for all, and we were ground zero in the midst of it. God bless a country that has the nerve to freak out on a national level like that, it makes motor-crossing through the sand traps inside the 4-Seasons golf course seem timid after all. (That was not an admission of guilt)

Eventually, we managed to go fishing. Never once did we leave before the crack of high-noon. Never once did we stay out even remotely near dark. It was mostly a week of partying, rule breaking, feasting like kings, and sometimes, when we felt like it, a little fishing mixed in.

Not that the fishing was tough out there. No, quite the contrary. It was incredible. Literally thirty miles of tunas from south of El Banco and all the way to the first island. Fat, hungry tunas from 125 - 170 pounds that ate live bait with abandon on light leaders and gave us more than one jaw dropping show. I had a few bites on the popper where fish literally flew through the air to eat my frantically skipping popper below the swim step. One fish that erupted on the popper and launched it over 15 feet in the air in it's haste to demolish it, missed the hooks, and then everyone on board watched as the popper fell back towards the water and another 100 plus pound tuna rocketed skyward, grabbing the falling popper in mid-air. "HOLYCHITDIDJEWJUSTSEETHAT?!?!??!" i screamed. Judging by the whoops of admiration from the crowd, they certainly did.

Day after day we'd wake up late, slightly hung-over, fire up the boat, tear ass to the point, pick up the boss and crew, head offshore on flat afternoon seas, and proceed to kick ass out there in a formidable way. On the way home, having dropped everyone back off at the point, i'd kick back, open a Modelo, and admire the chaos on the beach as i roared along the coast towards the marina. People filled every inch of beach from Punta de Mita to Sayulita and everywhere in between. I'd fire up the binoculars and survey the scene. It was as though both people and tunas had gathered in Puerto Vallarta to celebrate the coming of spring, the energy of life, and the gods that make tequila, and cold beer, and loud music, and bikinis, and g-string bikinis, and all of the blessed moments and gifts that we hold so dear.

I have to admit it was a considerably crazy week.

Now i'm safely back in Canada, hiding inside and working on the computer while it rains. I've got a week and a half to soak up the weather, then it's back on the road once again. This time to Panama for two weeks, then Socorro, then back to PV with Ron and Mike and the boys from Pelagic. No rest for the wicked amigos, and certainly no time for sleep.

For more information on fishing with Captain Josh Temple, go to Primetimeadv.com or click below...