The Coast News Group
Leading the boards at Tepic train depot Photo by Steve Anear
Leading the boards at Tepic train depot Photo by Steve Anear

Taking their first international surf trip

This is the third in a series of articles on the Swami’s Surfing Association, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

1966 saw the Swami’s Surfing Association set out on its first international surf trip and what was probably the first organized surfing surfari into Mexico.

The destination was San Blas in the state of Nayarit and the long lined up waves of Matanchen Bay.

Club administrator Shirley Bernard pulled off the impossible, not only securing a first class train car for the initial leg of the journey but also by filling up the required quota of seats by adding three members of the Windansea surf club along with a couple of co-eds from one of the local colleges.


With the required headcount assembled, boards were loaded onto a trailer and the crew was off to Mexicali where they boarded the train.

This step was not without incident however as two train cars had to be de-coupled in order to get the boards loaded, as they were too long to maneuver up the companionways.  Once onboard a treat that didn’t escape the 17 to 20 year olds was the presence of young kids strolling the passages carrying baskets of glistening Corona beer for 25c a bottle.

It’s safe to assume that after the expedition was over this minor detail was never divulged to inquisitive parents.

It was 36 hours to the plateau town of Topek from which a winding dirt road with a sheer cliff on one side and a mountain on the other wound down to San Blas.

Boards were quickly transferred from the train to an awaiting truck and their owners clambered aboard a rickety old jitney for the drive down to sea level.

It wasn’t long before the perils of the narrow road became evident when a truck speeding up from the town below grazed the bus dislodging the driver’s side mirror.

After a collective exhale the group continued its descent finally checking into the Hotel Colon, located on the bay.

Travel clothes were quickly replaced with board shorts and the next few carefree days were filled with sunshine and uncrowded, waves as the club settled into its own abbreviated version of an endless summer.

Next week:  Trouble is brewing when the boys are invited to a party in their honor hosted by the local Bacardi Rum distributor.