Episode 58 : Meet Cory Belyea, Teacher, Author and Adventurer

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on print
Share on pinterest

Listen to the episode here

Episode Summary

In this episode, meet Cory Belyea, Author, Teacher and Adventurer who shares part of his epic journey from San Diego to the Southern most tip of South America to honour his best mate, Mike, who tragically passed away.   Cory, wanted to pay hommage to his memory the best he could, and took Mike’s ashes with him on an epic quest of the perfect wave. Winging it completely, he sold his boat, packed up his old Nissan Pathfinder, and went on a 10-month surf trip South in search of the perfect spot to disperse his friend.  Find out how surfing, adventure and friendship changed Cory’s life trajectory completely and helped Cory find himself in the process.

Episode Notes

What would you do if your best friend’s parents gave you their son’s remains and invested you with a quest? Would you take a leap into the unknown and go on a 10 month road trip through Latin America in search of the perfect wave? This is what my guest, Cory Belyea, did to honour his friend Mike.
In the process, Cory had some incredible adventures in his hand-me-down Nissan Pathfinder, with Mike’s benevolent spirit shining on him at all times.  In this episode, Cory tells us all about his adventure, the kind of person Mike was and the outcome : dozens of priceless friendships, setting up a language school in Panama, and a wonderful surf story that he published after his travels: The Pathfinder Diaries, Tales Sculpted by the Sea.
This is an episode about friendship, taking risks and embracing the unknown.  I’m sure you will be fascinated by Cory’s story and inspired to pick up a copy of his book, The Pathfinders Diaries: Tales Sculpted by The Sea.
There’s a great deal of humanity in this episode, and at this time, the world needs more adventurous surf stories like his.

Episode Highlights

  • 03:35 Surfing All-Year Round
  • 07:47 Meet the Next-Level Weird Guy
  • 15:09 The Unplanned Adventure Begins 
  • 26:55 Terrifying Stories and Taking Risks 
  • 31:20 The Pathfinder
  • 38:39 Finding A Heart to Give Back
  • 46:46 Seeing the Magic
  • 52:22 We Have SO Much to Learn 
  • 01:02:11 Finding Our Voices, Telling Our Stories 
  • 01:07:59 Claim the Waves!

Hi, Oceanriders!  Today, I’m very excited to be behind the mic after almost a year’s absence. I really thank you for your patience and for downloading this “Renaissance episode”. According to podcasting gurus, consistency is key and I have failed miserably in churning out episodes every week. The more I waited, the worst I felt but at the same time, I have a feeling that as the episodes dropped quality just wasn’t up to what I had imagined for you. Making an episode is not an easy task. And I didn’t want to compromise quality over quantity. So here I am almost a year later behind the mic with a bunch of really exciting episodes in store after having spent the past year on a massive e-commerce project. I’m talking to you from the French Alps where I’m supervising no less than a building project. Talk about Jack of All Trades, Master of None. Anyway, the fact that I’ve been landlocked for the past couple of months has emphasized how much I miss the ocean and gliding on the waves, and how much I’ve missed producing episodes for you. 

“The essence of surfing and traveling, boils down to talking story.”

Cory Belyea [excerpt from The Pathfinder Diaries] Tweet

Now to today’s guest, Cory Belyea. Cory is an author, a teacher and adventurer, and of course surfer. His personal journey is something really special. And it was a treat to talk to Cory and talk about his book, The Pathfinder Diaries. The Pathfinder Diaries is a reference to Cory’s car, a Nissan Pathfinder, that he drove from California down to Ushuaia at the tip of South America. The book is a compilation of exciting and touching stories of the adventures that he had on his improvised journey to South America. The reason his journey was improvised was the passing of his best friend Mike, who was also a surfer, and he was on a quest to disperse Mike’s ashes in the best surf spots of the continent to pay a final tribute to his friend. Personally, I went from laughter to tears reading Cory’s book, but it’s not all sad, so please bear with me. Anyway, Cory’s got some amazing stories to tell and I’m really glad he gets to share them with you, Oceanriders today. The world needs more adventurous surf stories like his. 


I hope you enjoy this episode.


Take care, have fun, and enjoy the waves.




Connect with Cory Belyea

Resources Links



"I sold everything, loaded up the pathfinder, had a little going away party so started the trip hungover not really knowing where I was going"

"I was looking at Mike’s ashes and, like, "what the hell?" and then all of a sudden, something changed and the sun came out and these amazing waves, and it was just a sign that hit me right in the heart, like, wow there’s a lot of reasons to live and I need to keep going with this and I just felt it, and "I’m going to take this as far as I can go" and I’m going to look for that perfect wave and I can’t do anything but do that."

"I was on a spiritual journey and that his spirit was with me and helping me along and I just needed to keep going with it, and don’t leave him in the car!"

"You’re going from a land of haves tothe have-nots, and you already have a car and you’re a gringo and they think you have all this money"

"There were definitely times when my heart was racing"

"it was a 2002 Pathfinder : that car started with my cousin Brian, then my sister got that car, then she gave me a good deal and then I drove it to San Diego"

"it was a 2002 Pathfinder : that car started with my cousin Brian, then my sister got that car, then she gave me a good deal and then I drove it to San Diego. By the time I got to Mexico it had a title « la Camioneta »"

"I was just following my heart and at the end of the journey I knew I had to become a writer to tell the story"

"There are so many of them... they have different nicknames for potholes"

"Never drive at night"

"The roads tell the story of the country so the poorest countries had some of the worst roads"

"the heart an soul of Latin America is the Signora"

"The most important thing we have as surfers is the Surf Bank"

"As my friend Delio put it, The Surf Bank never depreciates in value, you can only make withdrawls from it and only gets better "

Related Episodes


The Oceanriders Podcast is a passion project and, if you like it, you can support it in a number of ways:

Number 1: Share your love for this podcast on iTunes by giving it a few stars, or a review. Better still, subscribe. Anything in this direction increases my ranking and lets more people hear about my fascinating guests and how they are busting the surfing stereotype

Number 2: Comment, and join the conversation on social media. You will find links to my social media accounts on theoceanriderspodcast.com 

Alternatively, you can connect with me on:

Number 3: Join me for an episode or sponsor my podcast! Just send an email to hello@theoceanriderspodcast.com  with a quick bio and I’ll take care of the rest.

Number 4:  I have created an online merch shop, called the Oceanriders sShop.  It has a collection of t-shirts, sweatshirts, greetings cards, and wall art for all types of budgets, so be sure to check them out on theoceanridersshop.com.

Use Discount Code: BETHECHANGE20 and get 20% discount on your Oceanriders merch


Episode Transcript

Imi Barneaud: That was Corey Belyea, and this is The Oceanriders Podcast. The Oceanriders Podcast, conversations with creatives, entrepreneurs, thinkers and dreamers who also happened to be surfers. My name is Imi, and I am your host. Hi, Oceanriders, today, I’m very excited to be behind the mic after almost a year’s absence. I really thank you for your patience and for downloading this. How could you say, renaissance episode? According to podcasting gurus, consistency is key, and I have failed miserably in churning out episodes every week. The more I waited, the worse I felt. But at the same time, I have a feeling that as the episodes dropped, the quality just wasn’t up to what I had imagined for you. Making an episode is not an easy task, and I didn’t want to compromise quality over quantity. 

So here I am, almost a year later behind the mic with a bunch of really exciting episodes in store. After having spent the past year on a massive ecommerce project, I’m talking to you from the French Alps, where I’m supervising no less than a building project. Talk about Jack of all trades, master of none. Anyway, the fact that I’ve been landlocked for the past couple of months has emphasized how much I missed the ocean and gliding on the waves, and how much I’ve missed producing episodes for you. 

Now, to today’s guest, Corey Belyea. Cory is an author, a teacher, an adventurer, and of course surfer. His personal journey is something really special, and it was a treat to talk to Cory and talk about his book, The Pathfinder Diaries. The Pathfinder Diaries is a reference to Cory’s car, a Nissan Pathfinder that he drove from California down to Russia at the tip of South America. The book is a compilation of exciting and touching stories of his adventures that he had on his improvised journey to South America and his community. The reason his journey was improvised was the passing of his best friend Mike who was also a surfer, and he was on a quest to disperse Mike in the best surf spots of the continent to pay a final tribute to his friend. Personally, I went from laughter to tears reading Cory’s book, but it’s not all sad, so please bear with me. 

Anyway, Cory’s got some amazing stories to tell, and I’m really glad he gets to share them with you, ocean riders today. The world needs more adventurous stories like his. 

So without further ado, please welcome, Cory Belyea.

Hello, Cory, and welcome to The Oceanriders Podcast. How are you today?

Cory Belyea: A key. In Panama, it’s a great thing that they say a key. And so a key means HERE. And what better place than here right now with you.

Imi Barneaud: That’s so sweet, thank you very much. I guess perhaps you could introduce yourself to the listeners and let us know how you consider yourself an ocean rider.

Cory Belyea: My name is Cory Belyea. I’m an author and a lover of the ocean. I do everything pretty much aquatic that I can. Right now, I’m in New Jersey. And like where you’re at in France, a lot of times, we don’t have waves to surf. So what can we do? We can go sailing, we can go diving, we can go fishing. So as long as I’m around the sea, I’m a happy camper. And I’m happy right now.

Imi Barneaud: That’s fantastic. Where are you from originally?

Cory Belyea: Yeah. I’m originally from New Jersey, and I grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey. And it was two hours from the ocean. But every year, the family would go down to the Jersey shore, and we’d spend two months, summer months, June and July at the beach. And then we go back, and then I’d be stuck in a desk thinking about the ocean. And growing up, I always thought that surfing was just something that you did in the summer. And it really took me going to the University of North Carolina when I was 18 to go to college that I realized that you could actually surf year round. And how much better is it to be by the water year round?

Imi Barneaud: Absolutely. And so who actually surf, or how were you introduced to surfing in the first place?

Cory Belyea: Okay. I love this because I was listening to people talk about these beautiful vivid visuals of them surfing, catching their first wave, going right and left. Oh, my god, that’s so amazing. My story is not like that. My very first wave, I’ll never forget it. I got a board for $100 at a garage sale and I went out there to surf tech, a sixth one. And the very first wave I caught, I nosedived, and I sliced my red Umbro shorts. So I sliced my leg, I started bleeding, I was crying. I was about 10 years old and kind of like your surfing accident, I said, screw this. I’m gonna go back to boogie boarding. So then I went back and started being a boogie boarder for a while for about three years. And then all of a sudden, this transition that I started standing on a boogie board and then I was like, you know what? I think that we need to get back to surfing. I went back, it had been about three year and I started surfing again. And then we had a really fun little rat pack here, a little grom, and we kind of pushed each other to catch waves that were probably like two or three feet. But that was everything for us. 

There’s a legendary guy down the street named Dr. Daniels, and we all had nicknames. He called him the Birdman. He was in his 40’s, maybe even 50. And he just had his aura about him. He’d go down the street every morning. He just had a huge smile on his face, a coffee cup in his hand, and he pitched these waves on his longboard, and he did those switch stances. We’re just like, oh, my God, he’s a legend. Well, unfortunately, when I was about 13 or 14, he went to Colorado on a snowboarding trip, and he had a heart attack and died. He had just surfed that day, and he died in Colorado. And so he had a wet wetsuit in his car, and it was just his big thing. It was all moldy and nasty, and it was just devastating. And his wife was also an avid surfer, and she was devastated. And then it just kind of unraveled. But I’ll never forget the experience of seeing him surf and how stoked he was. And I included him in the book too.

Imi Barneaud: Oh, wow. That’s a really, really sad story to think that it’s terrible. And I guess this sort of brings me to because, well, I guess we’re talking about somebody dying who’s a surfer, and somebody that you admire. I guess we could talk about the main character or one of the main characters of your book, who’s your friend, Mike, Mike Brandt. Do you think you could tell us about Mike?

Cory Belyea: Yeah. Okay. So like I said, I came from the upper middle class suburbia where we would play lacrosse and organized sports. There was always this image that we’re going to go to college, and then we’re going to get these corporate jobs. And so when I went down to North Carolina, my sophomore year, I met Mike, and I wrote about him in the book, and I was just shocked. I didn’t really know how to process Mike. I’ve never met anyone like him. He didn’t give a shit. He wasn’t afraid to put himself out there. Some people were kind of creeped out or maybe offended. And at the beginning, I didn’t really know if I should be hanging out with someone like that. Then I thought about it, and then I just felt his energy. I was like, you know what? Life is better if we go for it and just be who we really are. And so all of us were super inspired by Mike. We’re never going to be normal human beings, thanks to Mike. Because whatever we thought was weird and unusual, Mike always took it to the next level. And he didn’t know how to surf when I first met him. He was coming from a town, Wake Forest, which is a couple hours from Wilmington, North Carolina. He had maybe tried surfing once or twice, but I decided this guy has this amazing energy. Let’s see what he can do in the water. And so I just started taking him down to Carolina Beach, and we surfed for a couple months, these little crappy waves and he was just so excited. There was never an opportunity or situation that he said no to. And then that comes to one of the opening stories, his beige and baptism. He had been surfing for a couple months, just really crappy waves. We get to Barbados, and I don’t know, have you ever been to Soup Bowls?

Imi Barneaud: No, no, I haven’t.

Cory Belyea: You should check out some other videos of Alan Slater surfing that wave, or some of those big swells. It’s a really powerful wave. And at the time was far beyond our level of comprehension, and Mike didn’t even think about that. He just said hold the camera, I’m going out. Okay. I knew enough that the ocean had already at that point taught me several tumbling lessons, so I knew that it was probably out of bounds for me, but I just watched him. Okay, I’ll take some photos of you. And I really love telling that story of just a huge set coming. He had this amazing new board from our friend, The Big Kahuna, he’s also another legend, and Mike had never caught away with that board. And he got smoked, and boards snapped in half, and then it turned into him, he was swimming for his life. That whole experience when he came washing up to the beach and he just, first, he was gassed, and he looked like he had seen a ghost. He was just pale in the face, and then he finally passed some air into his lungs. He just started laughing and smiling, and I think that’s starting to tap into the essence of surfing where it’s like, we’re all gonna take a heavy wipeout on life in general. It’s not going to always pan out exactly how you plan. But if you can take it, absorb it, learn from it and laugh about it, that’s when you’re tapping into something really special. And so Mike after that point was just really hooked on surfing, and we took several other trips around. And unfortunately, when he was 31, he passed away in Panama. I don’t know if you want me to build into the story of how he got to Panama.

Imi Barneaud: Yeah, sure. Of course.

Cory Belyea: So Mike, after we graduated from university, one of my best friends, Matt months, and I, we, we decided that we should go to San Diego, because everyone says, okay, East Coast is one thing. But if you really want to see like power in the next level, you need to tap into the Pacific Ocean. And so we decided that we’re going to go across country, and Mike, he stayed behind in Wilmington, and it’s a small town, Wrightsville Beach. And unfortunately, around that particular time, that’s when pills started getting introduced to the scene oxycontins And luckily, Monza and I went to California, and we’re just trying to survive in the Pacific. But you know, Mike didn’t have that pushing him on the, you know, back in North Carolina. So he got, he got really into the pills, and we’re hoping to come to California he did on a visit and we got epic waves. But then he went back to North Carolina and just started hearing reports that he was not doing well. He was engaged. A girl cheated on him. And then he just started this kind of downward spiral and it didn’t really sound like he was in a good place. So one of our best friends was managing a hostel in focus, Del Toro, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of that place. But it’s world famous. And you know, it’s that Surfers Paradise. 

Okay, Mike was landlocked, he was a couple hours from the sea in North Carolina. bad breakup bad habits, maybe it’s best that you try to change the scenery, get back into surfing. And so he went down there. And you know, he was not right. He was not right. And he went down to this supposed paradise. And four months later, we’re getting calls that you know, he’s hospitalized. And it was just, Okay, well, okay, he’s learning his lesson. We’re going to get him back to the states and then he’s gonna clean up and, and recover. He’s recovered from so many gnarly things in the ocean. Of course, he handled that. And then, you know, a couple days later, we get the report from Shane that he passed away. Yeah, so it was it was really devastating. And I was at the time in California, I was living on a sailboat 27 foot sloop I bought called the Manyana. And also on a side note, I didn’t know anything about sailing. But I figured the best way to learn is to get one and start putting it around. 

So we start, I got a boat up in Oceanside. And, you know, I just started trying to find people who told me they knew what they were doing. I said, Let’s go, you know, and there’s little by little we start kinda start getting a feel for it, you know, various things happen, but we learned and recovered. And next thing I know, I’m going out to the Channel Islands, spending days there. And then the next level was to move down to Ensenada and try to go out to Todos Santos and dive and fish and surf there. And so I was doing that, and I was on a high. And then we got this news from about Mike. And so, you know, it was devastating to say the least. And so we decided that we’re going to cremate him and move his ashes back to North Carolina Wrightsville Beach. And so I don’t know if have you ever been to a paddle out?

Imi Barneaud: No, I haven’t. No.

Cory Belyea: It’s really surreal. And it was not long after a couple years after Andy Irons had passed away. I had never seen anything like that. I remember watching the videos of them like dumping flowers, and there’s a big circle, and people throwing water and stuff, but I’d never experienced it. And then it was really like a surreal moment until we were going out into the water. I took that first like duck dive, like holy shit, we’re about to do a paddle out to one of my best friends. And it seemed like it happened like that. It didn’t feel, and it gives me chills right now just thinking about that. We paddled out there, and his dad’s in the middle with his brother on a boat. The energy was all over the map, then there was people on land, there was weirdos on land, which they didn’t want anything to do with the water. But that was the person who Mike was. He made people be confident to be a human being. He wasn’t just all sent on a surfer and cooler than everyone else. He was like, okay, see that guy on the corner of the bar that no one’s talking to, let’s buy him a beer. Maybe he’s got a story. And it’s so true. His friend Tara said that he made you confident to be a human being. And I wouldn’t have done any of this stuff. If it weren’t for Mike’s encouragement, he made me feel like I was some sort of superhuman. So then I started taking all these risks. I was like, I can get away with it. Why not keep going with it? 

So yeah, we had that paddle out. I just talked a little bit about our early days of chasing. I was honest, I didn’t have anything prepared. We talked about chasing waves and limit around. And most of the time, we get crappy waves or rejected. We just had the time of our lives. It wasn’t like we put ourselves in situations where we couldn’t lose. We had this amazing celebration for him and all these loving words, and touched so many lives. And then I’m getting ready to go back to my life with my boat in Mexico, and his brother Jason said, and I was with my other buddy, Vic. He said: “Hold on boys.” And he went in and came back out with a couple of vials of Mike’s remains, and he said that Mike would have wanted this. I didn’t know what to feel. I was just beyond touched by it. And on that flight back when I had some time to process all the emotions, I just dug into my heart. I looked and I just thought about the essence of Mike and how to honor him. I didn’t see him, like putting him up on some mantle. And like grandpa or Uncle Mike, he was a wild restless soul that loves surfing. So how do you honor that? And then I just went back to like, you know what? 

I talked about, like, we’d always just what are we going to do today, and like get barreled Mike, and like always talking about, like know how to get him in the tube. And a lot of times, he was so enthusiastic, had like the perfect stance, but maybe not the right positioning, and he’d wear the lip on the show. We had so much fun. He just, yeah, he’s just a legend. And so it didn’t take long really to just like, you know what? Screw it. I’m gonna sell this boat at the time to, even though I had done this amazing mission, I caught my life in this great transition as well where my father was diagnosed with cancer. And I had fallen in love with this girl, but then it didn’t work out. And so I was devastated there. And then the last thing that happened with Mike was just, that was just it. So I was like, you know what? I need to change this around like they say the bad things happen in three. Okay, there’s three things. What’s going to happen now? I kind of, at that point, in the initial stages of that trip, I felt like I wasn’t afraid of anything, or I wasn’t afraid to die at that first moment. And then I cry, I sold everything, loaded up to Pathfinder. I had a little going away party so I started the trip off like hungover not knowing really where I was going. I’d spent years going to Baja. I knew some Spanish by then, but I was just kind of drove down there. And I write about that in the preface that it was all foggy, it kind of was a mirror to how I was feeling. Like, what am I doing? What’s my purpose? And then I was looking at Mike’s ashes and just like, what the hell? 

And then all of a sudden, it just something changed. The sun came out and it just stick these amazing waves. It was just a sign and just hit me right in the heart like, wow, there’s a lot of reason to live, and I need to keep going with this. And I just felt it. I was like, I’m gonna take this as far as it can go, and I’m going to look for that perfect wave. I can’t do anything, but do that. It was just one of those things that goes beyond words. I mean, I tried to write about it, but it was just a special moment. And there were so many little idiosyncrasies and like little messages from the spirit of Mike on that journey. And when I was going through some of the roadblocks, if you’ve ever been to Baja, they have the checkpoints, you have the federal highways or the military checkpoints, and they get you out of the car, and they’ll do a search, it’s intimidating. They got guns, and especially you don’t speak Spanish, they start moving things around. And there’s maybe a part inside of you like, are they going to plant something? 

And I’ve had friends who have been extorted. There’s all sorts of horror stories in Southern California about Baja. And now, I’m by myself, and then I started looking around. And the next thing, they come across Mike, and then they start talking, and there’s all this chatter. I’m just like, alright, here we go. It’s like, what is this? That’s my friend, Mike. Mike loves camouflage. So it was fitting that the little urn or vial, there was in a little camo beer koozie. So they would pull it out of the camo koozie and look at it. And then I’d say that, and then I did look around. And oftentimes, it was happened more than once. Like, where’s the rest of them? And then I was like, well, am I gonna tell him all these surf stories about Mike? And it’s like, wow, it’s just cutting short. Like, he passed away as a surfer, and his parents and family gave me his ashes, and I given them a final send off. And usually right after that, they’re like, those are those kind of moments where I felt like he was looking out for me. And then there was a time in Mexico and Salina Cruz, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of that area.

Imi Barneaud: Yeah, it’s good to be tough, and everything.

Cory Belyea: It’s not far from Puerto Escondido, and it’s gonna be the hidden port. And so I had been through Puerto Escondido, and it was in November, so it wasn’t there. Like proper Porto, but it was good enough for me. Probably double overhead, pretty, really heavy. And one of the local guys gave me a nod on a wave. I thought he was gone, and he gave me a nod. And it just was one of those really incredible waves, just pulsing with energy. Oh, my god, I finally got one. And I just wanted to like give that guy a hug, and this and that, and we had this connection. I told him how I’ve been spearfishing in the air, and he was interested, and I actually had like a small little railgun, single band gun and I just hooked the guy up. And then he was like, okay, well, you’re my friend. So come out. And we went out. And sure enough, I ended up meeting people from Salina Cruz, and that’s where I wanted to travel to. I was like, I’m probably going to go to Santa Cruz next day. And then sure enough, oh, you’re certified from Salina Cruz. Like, oh, boom, here we go. Thank you. 

And so next thing I know, I just kind of went with that and we started hanging out. And it was in November so that was the offseason. Salina Cruz gets really busy with those big surf packages that they offer. I had never heard about that before, that you have to have a surf guide. What the hell is that? What if I’m by myself, and there’s no bucket out in this, like perfect, like desert point. Can I just sneak out and get a few? And this guy Oliver is like, Gringo, I don’t think that’s a good idea. You just feel it, you feel the luck and it’s like the intuition tells you, okay. So then, luckily, it was the offseason so we started going together. I was driving them, they would just pile in, I drive the locals so they’re my guy, or my friends, or whatever. So we got all these waves and point brakes to ourselves,. And one day kind of sucked and I decided that I was going to go spearfishing, and I ended up getting like a nice sized volley. And it was one guy Oliver, it was his girlfriend lady’s birthday. I got this fish, it was so surprising that I spear it. And this guy Oliver was so excited, and I held up the fish like, comida. And they all started going nuts on the bluff. And then I saw all running around like, what is he doing? I even wrote about this like, he was like searching around like a dog looking for a place to poop and ends up finding like a piece of a net. And he just runs and jumps like five meter cliff into the water to help me get this fishing. And I was like, oh, my God, He must be really in love with this girl ladies. And we end up getting corral and the fish, and they invite me to a party. And in that party is where I’m with the Senora making scallop potatoes, and she’s doing the rice, and beans, and fish. And it’s just like this really amazing time. 

And then all sudden, they say something about Mike. And he’s like, well, where is he? And I’m like, oh, he’s in the car. And she’s like, what? You left him in the car? And I’m just like, what? Someone’s gonna steal my friend’s ashes? And she’s like, no, no, you go get it. And so then I walk out there and he’s kind of scratching my head. And then I brought him back. It was just like the whole party laid up. And we start talking about his stories and how weird he was, and the different things that he did. Everyone was laughing. It really drove the point home that you know that I was on a spiritual journey, and that his spirit was with me and helping me along. I just needed to keep going with it. And also, be a little bit more careful. Take him closer, don’t leave him in the car. So then when I go to like a hostel or camp, I would take them in.

Imi Barneaud: That’s so cool. I mean, just before you got to Puerto Escondido, you just gone through La Paz with people that were being beheaded in the streets. I mean, that was pretty gnarly. Mexico that you’re going through. Was there any moment that when you were traveling through any part of actually Latin America, where you were really afraid for your life?

Cory Belyea: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well, there the beheadings in La pAz. When we were going in there, I linked up with this Canadian girl who was heading down to Los Cabos to do some whale watching and research. And she was as cool, cool girl, and she had some contacts in La Paz. She said that there were some whale sharks. And as this like, oh, my God, super cool. Well, just so happens that there was also some stories that there are some beheadings in there. And going on in El Centro I’m just like, it was one of those moments like I was terrified. And then I kind of reminded myself that I’m not involved in the drug trade, let’s just break this down. I’m here to honor my friend. I’m doing this thing. And if they want to kill me for that, I’m here running a risk. Anyway, I think when I crossed that border, I kind of knew, you always knew, we always felt that in Mexico where you’re taking this big risk. You’re going from a land of haves to the have nots, and you already have a car. And you’re a gringo so they think you have all this money. So I was not afraid to lose my car and all of my possessions on that trip. 

And I think when I lost that fear of like, oh, this is mine. I heard so many other stories of people being robbed when we got to Panama and we were going to ferry to Colombia. Like half the fleet there, that was like 10 cars, like five or six of them had been robbed. But like expensive cameras, like those things where you have these things you’re afraid to lose, you’re thinking about that fear. And then guess what happens with that fear if you’re obsess about it, it can manifest. That was really scary with the La Paz thing, but it ended up being that. It was a war within the drug cartels. There was rumors that President Yeto was supporting one of the cartels and trying to wipe out the other. So we went in there, set up an opportunity to go look at the whale sharks, that was an incredible experience. And then the idea was get the hell out of there. And as I kept journeying throughout Mexico, we started to hear more and more about clashes happening with the cartels. And then there were 43 students that were protesting, university students that were protesting about the involvement of the government with the cartels. I believe they were from the Mexico City area. And one day when they were coming back from the university, they were pulled over by the police, Federalist, and they were never seen again.

Imi Barneaud: Yeah. And the lady says that they were fed to the earth, or something like that.

Cory Belyea: That was in Colombia. This is actually really serious stuff. But it was one of those things, the 43 students, just after hearing that, the whole country exploded. So if anyone goes to Mexico, they have those. You’ll see the quota where you have to pay, and oftentimes, it’s expensive. Well, that’s government subsidize, and the Oxxo is as well. So that’s exactly where the population went. They started just smashing the quotas, and the burning Oxxo’s, the convenience stores. It’s like our 711. It was really intense, but I just kept reminding myself that I’m not in politics. I’m not working for this conglomerate, like Monsanto, or exploiting these people. I’m just a surfer trying to sneak his way through and honor my friend. That being said, there’s definitely times where my heart was racing. In the book, I tried to let the reader know when I was uncomfortable.

Imi Barneaud: But you definitely sort of sense it when reading through the stories. It’s kind of pretty hair raising. I was just wondering, because the title of your book is The Pathfinder Diaries, do you think you could describe what your Pathfinder looks like?

Cory Belyea: Yeah, it’s very interesting. If you get to the Columbia section, I talked about, it was a 2002 Pathfinder. I talked about how the Pathfinder had kind of this great metamorphosis throughout the journey. That car started with my cousin, Brian, who is working for the family business in eastern Pennsylvania. He got a new car, my sister got that car throughout my journaling in ESL. Also my sister was in line to get another car. She gave me a good deal on the Pathfinder, and pretty much gifted it to me. And then I drove the thing out to San Diego. Just your standard four wheel drive Pathfinder. And then, by the time I got to Mexico, that was when I met the guys from Salina Cruz, and the guy was like, oh, camionetta, that’s what they were calling it. So then it had a title. It wasn’t just a pathfinder, it was camionetta. And then from there, we got to a place in Colombia and I’m trying to try to find waves there, and I met this family. And there’s this Senora who was very, very, very religious. She told me that it was not just the comm unit that it was that camioneta del dios. And I was like, wow, this thing has come a long way from the eastern suburbs to, I even talk about it and you can appreciate that. Slugging it out in my metal coffin on family five coming from point break. So the camionetta, it’s a God’s chariot. Has a nice ring to it. 

Actually, there’s also something interesting about the cover. It was kind of a joke between my friend Vic and I about, one of these stories, I tell him a couple of stories from the journey when I was just in Mexico.We both have read some of Ernesto Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries. So then we just kind of came up with a joke that this is going to be The Pathfinder Diaries. And this particular photo, I had just driven through a hurricane in Baja in route that was from the story back to life. And I’m going through all these mud pits, I just had diarrhea, so I was really [inaudible]. I got to this spot that I can’t mention, but the car was completely covered in mud. And I thought it would be funny to just trace out The Pathfinder Diaries and send it. In the beginning, I didn’t think that this would ever become a book. I was just following my heart. And then at the end of the story, I knew that I needed to kind of become a writer to tell this story.

Imi Barneaud: That’s lovely. It’s a lovely way that you came kind of full circle, and also your story with Mike as well. I don’t want to spoil the end of it, but it’s a lovely way of actually sort of paying homage to him, and also to find yourself and to find your true calling. So that was wonderful. I was just wondering, how long did the journey last exactly?

Cory Belyea: Yeah. It was 10 months. So I left around the end of September, October, and then I was finished in July. So it was about 10 months. And it was, again, completely unplanned. And anyone that’s been down to South America, in particular Chile or Argentina, July, depending on what you’re looking for and depending on how far south you go, but July is oftentimes not really the ideal place, especially to be at the end of the world. Hurricane force winds and sub zero temperatures down there. So I talk about the straits of Magellan and I try to pepper in a little bit of history. And then certainly, those guys wouldn’t be dumb enough to be down there in July. It’s got to be real with myself. And some of it, fun. I beat myself up. I make mistakes, because obviously, I was winging it. And no, I’m only human.

Imi Barneaud: That’s amazing. So which countries did you cross to actually get to Russia?

Cory Belyea: Okay. I had to cut a lot of stories out. Initially, this book had 70 stories.

Imi Barneaud: Wow.

Cory Belyea: I had stories from every country that I drove through. And after what I experienced in Mexico, just seeing all these injustices and knowing what our consumption and how the system is set up that we’re a part of it is not just the corrupt government, it’s also the corrupt government that’s controlled by our corporations that we consumers support and endorse. So anyway, after doing the whole journey, I started kind of a little bit of politics, and it had 70 stories, and then I sent it out. I think it was a little overwhelming. So I had to scale that back. But to answer your question, I went from Mexico, went through Guatemala, El Salvador. You have to cross through Honduras just a little bit, which is also really dangerous place. It’s the largest, I think it’s got the highest murder capital in the world.

Imi Barneaud: Wow.

Cory Belyea: But it also has some of the lowest wages. I don’t know how politically get here. But if you spend time in Central America, you will hear legends of the United Fruit Company.

Imi Barneaud: Yes.

Cory Belyea: And the Banana Republic, and then now, it’s taken on a new name, Chiquita Banana. So there’s a clear link between, okay, if you’re going to offer slave wages in a country, there’s going to be a positive correlation with violence. If a child grows up seeing his father working like a slave and not supporting his family, then he sees these drug dealers or whoever, whatever they’re doing to make their money, selling arms or whatever, with all these toys, it’s easy to say, oh, don’t do drugs, don’t do this, they’re bad people. But think about, we’re not understanding what it’s like to grow up in those places. But unfortunately, I had to cut that story out of Honduras, and then Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama. And in Panama, I visited the site where Mike passed away, Pastor David, and focused on El Toro. That’s a whole nother story. And then I moved on to Colombia, from Colombia, Ecuador. Ecuador, Peru. Peru, Chile. Chile, Argentina. Chile again and then–

Imi Barneaud: Wow. That’s an incredible journey. It’s mind boggling to sort of imagine that the, because the roads there apart from the sort of main motorways or whatever get from time to time most of the roads, those roads there as the dirt roads with potholes and–

Cory Belyea: Oh, yeah. There are so many hazards. One of the biggest rules most people who spend time driving around Latin America is you never drive at night. Now, that’s when the bad boys come out at night. But also, with all the potholes, they actually have like different nicknames for potholes such a part of the culture. And so then it will turn into some of the worst roads were in Honduras, and even the Pan American, Paramount, and you’re weaving around, trying to avoid these potholes. But then you also have cattle and you have cars. And unfortunately, you got children on the side of the road that are saying that they filled in a ditch and they’re asking for money, and that’s really sad to see. But yeah, the roads tell the story of the country. So the poorest countries had some of the worst roads. And for me, Mexico, you have the libre and you have the quota. And so libre means free, but you get what you pay for.

Imi Barneaud: Yeah.

Cory Belyea: The camionetta got hammered. We were on route to Puerto Escondido and I had in my mind that I was gonna make it there like Halloween. Then my birthday was just coming up. I’m going to get to Puerto Escondido, I saw like a swell and it just like, surfers can relate when you have that little carrot. I’m going to run through a wall to get there. And I was going around, and Mexico has a lot of these topis like the speed bumps, and some are on like a blind turn, and which we’re on the libre. And so the camionetta was getting hammered. And on one of them, it just FOSS it up, blew up the muffler. And so the mufflers dragging behind me and I’m in my obsessive mind, like I’m getting to Puerto and I put like on it and like, okay, this is good enough. This is my engineering and the little hanger is right on the axle perfect. And then sure enough, I was getting really close to Puerto, I was only like, another hour out in the dark. And going down the hill, there’s just sparks flying. 

I passed by a rodeo and that I was gonna sneak in there and get some culture, and everybody stopped and just looked at me like, where the hell are you coming from gringo? And I was like, alright, there’s not going to be any authentic interaction. I’m going to head on to Puerto Escondido. And that story is like, that’s how I understand, why it’s called Puerto Escondido, like the hidden port, because it was such a radical road to get through the mountains, and all the speed bumps, and you get up on top of the hill. And it was one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. And the town is hidden below the mountains and clouds. It was a beautiful moment. But yeah, the roads are tough, and the Pathfinder was seriously turned into a character. It was like my travel companion, and it was so reliable. There’s a couple flat tires that blew out the muffler, but overall, what we were able to get through and pull off was pretty amazing. It made it painful at the end to–

Imi Barneaud: To leave it behind?

Cory Belyea: To leave it behind.

Imi Barneaud: That’s so sad. Yeah, yeah, coz you left it to a guy in Chile.

Cory Belyea: Yeah. A guy down at the bottom in Ushuaia in Argentina. And initially, I thought about gifting the truck because you do a trip like that, you put yourself out there, and I needed a lot of help along the way. The families of Latin America would consistently, I’m a stranger in need of a place to stay, stay here, here are some food. You look around and they’re just in a little cement block.

Imi Barneaud: Wow.

Cory Belyea: And the love that they gave me along the way, I was just like, wow, that pushes me to this day to keep giving back. But at the end, I thought how fitting would that be to gift it to an organization or to a special family. And one of my friends, [inaudible], hopefully you get a chance to look at that story. He’s from Northern Peru, absolute legend, and his dad had done some traveling through Latin America in the 80’s via bus. And his dad is such a legend. He’s a dentist, which is such an interesting combination. So you have like my buddy [inaudible], I would say that he’s like the Jeff Clark of–

Imi Barneaud: Wow.

Cory Belyea: –to Northern Peru. Like he was one of the first surfers. He pioneered all these spots, absolute charger. And then you have like his dad as a dentist, and his dad wanted him to be a dentist. And so I thought that that was just the most incredible story. And I title it, Hijo Del Dentista, the son of the dentist. And that’s a knockoff of Patagonia did something on Ramon Navarro. This amazing film about Ramon Navarro charging and saving land and stuff, and I just thought, oh, that’d be funny to be, okay, son of a dentist. And so at the end of our time together, we had this incredible swell, like the biggest flow they had seen in 5, 10 years, and we’re all at this high. [inaudible] trying to squat on some land and develop, and his dad was just like, what is he doing out there? He’s wasting his time. And I was like, you know what? We should go visit him. And so I took his dad in the camionetta and we went out to visit them out in this remote desert spot. And it was really an incredible experience.We got out of the truck and we just went for a swim. His dad is almost 90 years old, and he just has this look about me just in awe of life and we just went for a swim. He was just so happy, and I was just, I’m in love with those guys. I was just like, you know what? If you guys can make it, by the time I got to Peru, I was like, I got to go all the way. So if you guys can come find a way to get a bus ride or getting some money together to get to the end of the world, this truck is yours.

Imi Barneaud: Wow.

Cory Belyea: I said that to them. And seeing the look on his dad’s eyes just like, ah. Just imagining the adventures and experiencing it with his son, it was a real surreal moment. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it into the book, but I’ll never forget it. And unfortunately, it’s so true about so many people in America that they have all these dreams, but they don’t have the financial means. So one of the objectives of this story was to try to highlight some people like the guy in Salina Cruz that they’ve done everything for surfing and haven’t received a cent from it, as well as [inaudible], that maybe people might be inspired. Maybe they go and visit them. [inaudible] has a surf house, and people are like, how do I visit [inaudible]? Go to this town. Like, what’s his GPS or coordinate? Like, go to the town and ask for [inaudible]. In our western world or whatever, we can understand that. But that’s the wild wild west. That’s how it works. Everybody knows that guy, and everybody loves him.

Imi Barneaud: What’s incredible in your journey and your odyssey was just to, I’m sure that you are attracted to the right people as well with your open heart and your open mind. And you made the most amazing encounters with the most amazing people and characters. And you couldn’t even imagine it, if you wanted to imagine the book or the writer’s story that they’re in there. And I was just wondering if that’s a symbol of the Latin American people is that they’re very open minded people.

Cory Belyea: Yeah. If you go down to Latin America, preferably alone, a little bit of the language, you’re going to see magic. The things that they do on an everyday basis to survive and get through the day is absolutely incredible. And so one of the things is, what is the saying? Necessity is at the root of all invention or the heart of invention. And so what the mechanics, how they get over things is, one, is hilarious. Like the camionetta, I blew out the muffler. So then I went to a mechanic in Puerto Escondido, I don’t want to buy a new muffler, what’s the cheapest fix you can do? And so he put side pipes going out the passenger door. My dad’s like, yeah, we used to have those in the Camaro. Like one of those. And it was really funny about that is as we got along, we got into like Chile is those side that it had this real guttural or, and people would hear me comment. And we go down these streets like in Chile, and the communists is setting off car loans as we’re cruising along. And the other thing about Latin America too is, like I said, the hospitality. So I had traveled to Latin America before. But my first trip, real trip was in 2007 where I went to Peru to teach English. This is the first time I went by myself, gave up California life and all that and said, I’m going to go, I want to do something. And I went down there, and I thought I knew a little bit of Spanish, and it turns out that Spanish involves more than Cory, [inaudible]. So I learned, and right away, I was at a position where it was difficult. I felt like a baby because I couldn’t communicate. And I’m also trying to learn the ropes of teaching English that I’ve never done before either. 

I’m working at this language school, it’s like a chain language school. They give me like 100 pages like manuscripts of pedagogy and like theories, and I’m just like, oh, my god. How am I going to do all that? And I’m getting observed in my night class at like 9:00 o’clock at night. And then they’re having me work on weekends. It was kind of a lot, and then I got sick. And then I got sick again, and I started losing weight. I lost about eight kilos. I was really sick, and this senora that I didn’t even really know, all of a sudden, she just saw me and invited me over. And she was just like, you eat with me. Her name was [inaudible], and maybe that makes me feel so good. My life changed in that moment when she invited me and introduced me to their whole family who happened to all be surfers. They’re like a surf dynasty throughout Peru, like everywhere. I wanted to go like, oh, my uncle lives there. You stay with him because they’re always, once you get in with the Latinos, they’re protective of you. Because they know like, okay, gringo, something bad could happen to this gringo. And then he might say, don’t come to this place because they understand like, gringos at times can represent hope, tourism and those kinds of things, opportunities. And so she nursed me back to health, and that inspired me to keep going. I kept teaching, and then that went from teaching in [inaudible], which is by the way of papa smile, which is an incredible left hander too. I moved up to Telara where I met [inaudible]. I taught in Galapagos, I taught in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. 

And then I got a job in San Diego where I really learned like, oh, my god, you can make a career out of teaching English as a second language. And I started hearing some of my colleagues talk and I was like, oh, my god, so you guys don’t all just wing it? And that inspired me to get my Master’s in the field and UCSD extension, I’ll forever be indebted to them and their support of me, and I still teach creative writing through them. But going back to the purpose of the heart and soul of Latin America is the senora. The amount of love we can all learn from that in the small film, the amount of love the senora gives to her kids, and oftentimes, a stranger is beyond words. And unfortunately, Senora just just passed away. I put her in the acknowledgement, and I wouldn’t be here telling this story. There’s so many people I wouldn’t be here telling this story if it weren’t for them. But definitely, always the reason that I stayed in Peru. I kept working through it, and I learned what good food was.

Imi Barneaud: Yeah. So today, actually, he founded  Escuela Sin Fronteras. Is that how you say it? Could you tell us about your language school?

Cory Belyea: Yeah. Last year, I went down to Panama. I had been doing creative writing with UCSD again, and I moved down to Panama with the objective that I want to give back. So I had this adventure with The Pathfinder Diaries, the stories like, and all these people that have done so much for me to make it, to ensure that I made it to the end of the world. You never forget that. 

After that trip, I went and tried to work a few years for the family business with my dad, my uncle, my brother, my cousins, everyone, in an office a couple hours away from the ocean,where you’re like in a cubicle working 50 hours a week. You leave at 4:30. Gotta stay on one of those TGIF. It was just like killing my soul so I knew that that wasn’t my path. I knew that my father’s dream and my dream could not coexist. I also had started these stories. And so every weekend, I’d work like 50 hours, and then I was teaching at a community college, and then I tried to tell a few of these stories. It was just like ripping off a band aid. I knew I needed to do more so I quit all that and put some time into the stories, and then moved to Panama to set up Escuela Sin Fronteras. And the goal there is to bridge the gap, the cultural gap, which I experienced. Oftentimes, Latinos and gringos, we all want the same thing. We want to have our families healthy and safe. And for surfers, we want to spend time in the water. And so oftentimes, there’s just a gap in communication and cultural awareness. So that was really my objective going down there. I wanted to teach Spanish to gringos to give them the opportunities to have these life changing experiences with the locals. And then I decided that I was going to teach English to the locals as a free service. 

And it was really interesting that when I got down there, I had all these ideas, okay, free English, they’re gonna love it. I have a master’s in English. I taught English for close to 10 years at that time. And everyone’s like ke bueno, ke bueno. My child’s gonna go this or that. And then the day comes, and it’s in this little open, it was actually an old church, but it’s completely open. It’s just got four pillars. This pink building is a really small town, remote town that I’m at. And it shows up to the time 6:00 o’clock, and I look around and I’m thinking, I had this whole speech. It was going to talk to the whole town and how we’re going to rewrite the whole script. And I looked around, and I had more chickens in the classroom than human beings. So that was a gut check. And we have so much to learn from them right off the bat. It’s like, you’re gonna come in with a certain objective and this is how it’s gonna go. Little by little start chipping away and just getting involved in their projects. That was the first thing I wanted to do before I go. And not that I had the money to buy property, but I first wanted to go and rewrite the script because so many gringos go down there and they buy a piece of property, and then they build up their business. And then they have Latino employees, but they don’t really have that authentic interaction. So I said right off the bat, let’s just get involved and see where I can help out. 

So I just gravitated to this one area. I happen to have a cantina, cold beer, good food, that the dad is a fisherman. I love to fish. The mom is just wonderful, and she happens to have two kids that are some of the best surfers in Panama. So I was just like, right away, okay, give me some food and I’ll work with your kid. I helped him with some English. And this guy, he’s such a good kid. I started working with him, and then I got involved with another guy. And next thing we know, we’re putting together a portfolio for him to get an ISA Scholarship, which he ended up getting. And then the COVID thing happened and things got moved around. But some big names, one that like Carlos Munoz from Costa Rica, this is a stepping stone for bigger and better things. It was really cool to be involved in that. And then throughout the season, their high season goes from late November through, about April or May, that’s their dry season. So last year was my first true season, and it was really incredible. What we did was a thing called Spanish Sundays. So we just moved around, and I charged, it was more about for the local, the expats that were living there like, okay, I’m a gringo. I’m not even from here. You’ve been here for 10 years. And in a couple days, I already know these people better than like, I’m not saying you have to, but let me just offer the service. It’s whoever wants it can come, and so I started doing it. 

We just go to different venues each Sunday and it was like, okay, well, how can I find Panamanian on a Sunday? Obviously, they’re somewhere at home or maybe some at a church, but a lot of them go to cantinas. So that’s where I went. I was a gringo with his whiteboard, and I would put a collared shirt on and start teaching gringos Spanish around a cantina. So you could imagine being a Panamanian looking at this Gringo, teaching your language, are you going to be a little curious? So that was the idea, they would get curious. I engage them in Spanish. And if I was doing it correctly, they would finish with the marker because they are some of the best teachers I have ever known in Latin America. We have so much to learn from these farmers, how to cultivate, live off the land, how to respect each other, treat each other as human beings, family, strangers, we’re all family. And so to see them do their thing was incredible. I would say I had varying attendance. One day we had 15 or 14 students go into a waterfall, and that was really incredible. And we did a little vocabulary, and then we went up to the waterfall and we thought that it was a couple hour hike, it ended up being three hours each way. That’s the classic Latino concept of time. 

And it was not just like, we were on a trail, we’re doing zigzags, cross rivers. And some of the girls didn’t even bring shoes because they saw the local guy without shoes. Then this girl Mimi is just like, oh, my god, Mimi and the French guy Bruno, he takes off his shoes, gives the shoes to Mimi and he’s going barefoot. And then also get to this amazing, like the base of this waterfall, and the guy goes up and like a monkey. He does all these like switchback rope systems and stuff, and it’s like 40, 50 feet up in the air. It’s pretty critical. And some of the girls, and even an older gentleman as well, like he was just like, we’re not going up there. And we’re like, ah, but you got it. It’s incredible. No, no, we’re not going up there. So he goes around and grabs his machete, falls a small little tree cuts notches in it, and he makes them a ladder. And someone was like, oh, that’s incredible. How do you plan that? I’m like, I didn’t plan. I have ultimate faith in Latin America to teach all of us. 

So I have some really incredible humans down there that I learned through this high season of who my guys are like. We did everything from the waterfall to this girl, she did salsa dancing. She’s from Venezuela, and that was really cool to do that before the Coronavirus, quarantines and stuff. And there was one student who kept consistently showing up this guy from Maine. He said he was going to stay in our area for one day, and then he was going to focus. Well, five months later, he’s flying back to the States with me. He would show up to every class, it really inspired me. And actually, this high season, I put together a packet that I’m going to try to offer at the hotels and stuff so that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It’s like 115 pages, and just everything from introduction to Music, to slang, to grammar. And then when I teach these classes, I gotta have it all right there.

Imi Barneaud: Fantastic. This is such such a great story. So once the next season of–

Cory Belyea: We’re going down there the first week of December.

Imi Barneaud: Wow. Okay, that’s very soon.

Cory Belyea: Yeah. I’m really excited. Right now, I’ve been back up here to get this out there. That’s one of the things down there in Panama, especially the rainy season, you might get bigger swells, but you get blackouts and dumping rain. And so if you have to get things done, it is very difficult. It was also really great to come back here to visit my parents, because you never know, never take anyone’s relationship or anyone’s company for granted. That’s one thing I’ve learned several times. I feel fortunate to be here having this conversation. I took a lot of risks, and it could have gone the other way. I’m happy to help my parents out. My dad just had a hip surgery so I’ve been helping him with the hard work and stuff. And then doing the online classes has been really incredible too. So not only am I really fortunate to get this book off the ground, but I teach creative writing through UCSD extension. There’s a class that I developed to finding our voices, telling our stories. The class is called Finding our Voices, Telling our Stories. It’s a nine week class through, again, UCSD extension. We’ll include the links there, but the goal is to get the students to dig into, what is the story? Why are they here? Everyone has a story to tell, and I was very fortunate. 

One of my biggest mentors is a guy named John Perkins. He wrote the book that kind of confirmed everything that I experienced through Latin America. It’s called Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. And he talks about going around the world, especially Latin America, with the World Bank and other organizations, and giving these huge loans to these countries for their infrastructure. What happens is the country can’t pay those loans. So what they have to do is they have to open up their natural resources to these big corporations. And so what it does is really just polarizes the wealth, and it just perpetuates the poverty of Latin America. So I’ve read that book, and it was just so powerful to see that. And then he also has great ties with shamanism in the Amazon. I’m just in awe of everything that he does. And so his book was a New York Times Bestseller, and I heard he was doing a writing workshop, so I jumped on board. 

At the time, I was working in an office, and I was just desperate for inspiration. I was falling on Liz Clark all the time, like oh, my god, she’s doing it. I saw the writing workshop and I jumped on it. And at the end of one workshop, he does what’s called a vision quest. And so he starts with the rattle, and he starts just kind of engaging, kind of diving into your psyche or subconscious mind to figure out, what are the roots of your story? Where does it all begin? And that’s that preface that I wrote for this book was, it happened that very first night. He says, the purpose of the preface is twofold. It’s obviously to hook the reader to read your story, but then also to hook you, the writer, to finish it. Because so many writers out there, they start something, and they never finish it. Oh, I have this work in progress. So my goal is digging into the students, obviously, inspiring them. But cultivating that vision of, what is the message that they want to deliver to the world? Think of three changes you want to see in this world. Who are the people that do it? How can you guide it that way? 

So it’s super rewarding to see the students just opening up. And right now, teaching two classes, one’s got 12 students, the other one’s got, a character’s class has 19, which is really overwhelming. And I’m excited. I’m really excited for them, but I’m also excited to finish grading that class. I still haven’t posted this yet, like, family, like this is available. Will be organic though. First is to send the hard copies to people who have impacted the stories. And yeah, yes, surfers that have no connection with the, I mean, obviously, the ocean, we’re all connected by the ocean, but with the characters.

Imi Barneaud: Yeah, yeah. Oh, that’s fantastic. Well, I’m really honored to have been able to read it. And it was a fantastic read. We’ll definitely put all the details in the show notes of this episode. I just love the way at one point in your book, you say that the essence of surfing and traveling boils down to talking story. And I guess this is what it is. Yeah.

Cory Belyea: And if I could just say one thing about that, and I don’t know if this guy is still alive. His name is John, this older guy that I went sailing with. He was another guy, a huge influence on my life who just taught me just to go for it. We nicknamed him [inaudible]. He said, I don’t fuck around. That’s not my [inaudible]. But he would just show up and we’d go to these places on the boat. He referred to it as a surf bank. He said, the most important thing we have as surfers is the surf bank. The surf bank never depreciates in value, you can only make withdrawals from it and it only gets better.

Imi Barneaud: That’s so true. That’s fantastic.

Cory Belyea: I think that that’s what we’re trying to do. And I think one of the things with storytelling is it educates you on the past, but it also prepares you for the future. Maybe this book, not maybe, the hope for one of the messages or takeaways from this book is to inspire someone to go down to Latin America, take a risk, learn the language and build on that surfing.

Imi Barneaud: Yeah, absolutely. Well, it’s a lovely way to actually wrap up this wonderful conversation. It was an absolute pleasure to have this discussion to hear your stories, and I’m sure that Mike’s looking down right now. I’m thinking, wow, if he’s made any impact, it’s definitely on your life and on all the people you’ve met, and it’s great. It’s great to be able to share this information at this moment with you.

Cory Belyea: I’m very grateful. And I will say this, before this podcast, I went and checked the surf. Oceanriders Podcast, let me check the surf. Well, it is a gray day, it’s cold, and it’s blown out. Oh, what did I do?

Imi Barneaud: You went to surf.

Cory Belyea: I’m gonna get one. I’m gonna get one on go straight. I put on my hoodie. The water, it’s like 57. I put on my hoodie, went through the wind. Like, I’m gonna go straight, and I’m gonna claim it. It was like, hi. And I was like, this was for Mike because I wouldn’t be here having this conversation if it weren’t for Mike.

Imi Barneaud: Well, thank you, Mike. And thank you Cory for being my guest today. I guess that we made it.

I hope you enjoyed this conversation. I just love the stories Cory had to tell. You must absolutely pick up a copy of Cory’s book and read it. The Pathfinder Diaries tells sculpted by the sea. It’s such a wonderful story and a great Christmas present. You can get hold of it on Amazon and all good book shops. All the references to where you can get the book and how to get in touch with Cory are in the show notes on your phone or the app you’re using to listen to the podcast. Join Cory on Instagram at Escuela Sin Fronteras. So Escuela as in school, E-S-C-U-E-L-A_, Sin, S-I-N_ , Fronteras, F-R-O-N-T-E-R-A-S, and check out the awesome work OF Cory’s doing in Panama too. 

The Oceanriders Podcast is a homemade venture, and I can do with all the support I can actually get. There are a few simple ways you can support the show and the content by craft every week. Number one, subscribe and review. Please make sure to review, share, comment and subscribe to The Oceanriders Podcast on Apple podcasts, on Spotify. This helps tremendously number to spread the word, help grow The Oceanriders Podcasts reach by sharing your enthusiasm for the podcast and all your favorite episodes by posting about it on social media. Number three, join me on social media. Let’s continue the conversation on Instagram at The Oceanriders Podcast. On Facebook at The Oceanriders Podcast. Or on our Facebook group, The Oceanriders Community. I’ve also got a Twitter account at Imi Podcast. I’m not very good at using it. I don’t do this alone. I would like to thank Leng Inque for editing the episode and putting together the content for my website. The intro music is created by me. Anyway, join me on theoceanriderspodcast.com where you can find all the episodes prior since day one and see the progress, and you can see some of the epic guests that I’ve had to share conversations with. 

Anyway, take care, have fun and enjoy the waves. See you next time. 




Enjoy listening to my podcast? Consider making a donation!

Donations will be used to pay for equipment, podcast editor and promotion of the podcast on social networks.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to top