I had some friends who went to Mexico every year during the 1960s and -70s (i lost track, so i don't know how long they continued the custom). They were mostly members of an informal biker "gang," who all had in common November birthdays. You didn't have to be a biker, or fit any other criterion to fit in, as long as you got along with some of them. I went a couple of times with some of them i knew.
One year (1976?), we drove to Houston, picked up a woman i knew for years and years, and then drove to Monterrey. We partied all night, and then took in turns to drive through the desert (beautiful at night) to Zacatecas. From there, we went to Guadalajara, where we spent a week in a pension. Years before, some of them had met a high school girl, and treated her respectfully (as apparently one could not rely on older tourists to do), and she introduced them to her family, including her father, an army officer. They had by then gotten lots of advice and introductions, so we made contact again, enjoyed their sophisticated, old world hospitality, and headed for the Pacific coast.
We ended up in Bara de Navidad, a resort town frequented by Mexicans (at least at that time), which meant it was super cheap by our standards. We rented a house for a ridiculously low sum. It was unfurnished, but it had a fridge and a range, and these were bikers--we had been driving for literally thousands of miles and roughing it, so it was pure luxury to have a roof over our heads and access to a hot shower.
Our neighbors were Canadians. They acted strangely, in our collective opinion, and we tended not to party with them or spend time with them. They kept bugging us to give a ride in our van up into the mountains. We would just blow them off with "maybe tomorrow," or "yeah, after we can get an oil change." After we had been there about a week, we went down the coast (up the coast?) to Mazatlan, and we were partying in a disco with this ranchero type, with the white levis and the tooled leather boots, and after a comment by our waiter, we asked him it it were true that he was a federale
. He admitted it without demure, and then suggested that that explained why he had such good reefer. Eventually, one of us mentioned the Canadians, and he just laughed. He said to stay away from them, that it was a set-up. His comment was that the Canadians seemed more naive than the Americans, and would buy reefer from just about the first person who offered it to them. Either they got ripped off, or they were busted by someone like him. Then they'd set them up to entrap Americans, who he claimed were, in his experience, more cautious, only making contact through other Americans, or through Mexicans they had introductions to, or had gotten to know on their own. He said that his advice was to stay away from the Canadians. Even if it was a set-up, he said they were bad news, and would attract trouble, because they were such stumble bums, and were so obvious.
We had pretty well decided by that point that we didn't trust that bunch of Canadians, anyway. The federale
treated us to lots of Sauza, and we smoked some prime joints with him, and he gave us some pointers on dealing with the federales
and the army. The last thing he told us was that if we saw him in the daytime, he would be on duty, he wouldn't know us, and when he was on duty, he didn't have any gringo friends. We took that to heart.
The second time i went there, we went with some people who wanted to do the tourist thing, stayed in hotels, wanted to see all the sights--it was a drag. The first trip, though, was a gas. The exchange rate was 12 and half pesos to the dollar, and going where the Mexicans went, and avoiding the gringo tourist traps, we lived like kings. We avoided the Canadians.