Both Pando and Tom said they'd cruise down to surf with me. Unfortunately, neither showed. Not a big deal, as it was a bit off thanks to the onshores.
I was Skyping with my wife when I sensed a pressure drop. Sure enough, the wind was howling offshore! I did my best Randy Marsh impression ("B'Ya!") grabbed my board and paddled out.
The very inside edge of La Bocana looked most appetizing. I paddled out on the inside of where that was breaking but was shocked at how quickly I got shuttled west. I ended up in the middle of La Bocana and La Bocanita.
The surf was big enough that there was a new spot created. I hadn't seen it break during my trip, but man was it looking fun! The waves were 6-8' and T H I C K. I saw one of the pros from the contest paddle into a nice one, get covered up, zoom out, then get covered up again for longer. I wasn't able to see if he made it though.
My first two waves were very similar. Two big lefts that I descended and dove through the lips onto safety.
I caught a solid right which had a hairy drop. I landed it, smacked it, then compressed into a roundhouse cutty. While compressing, I saw a set and aborted out the back.
I spent a lot of time alternating between paddling toward peaks and paddling, and mostly pulling back from, waves.
My fourth wave was a dooz and actually had a line to it. I bottom-turned while eyeing my target, pulled my weight up toward the nose and snapped. I fell back a bit while I did this, and my trailing arm instinctively shot up to counterbalance. I leaned hard and was able to bring my board back under me. YEOH! This is the best frontside turn I've pulled since 2003.
Basking in the glory that was that turn, I paddled back out. A macker of a set unloaded. The first one I duckdived without a problem, thanks to a timely air pocket. The second one was a monster. I duckdived any way about five yards inside of ground zero. I initially thought I may be in the clear and then BAM! The force of the wave punching through the water turned my trajectory toward the devil himself. I held on to my board and about four seconds later I felt the nose of my board smack into the bottom, followed very closely by my left shoulder. I was thrilled that I'd missed rocks and hit only sand. I thought about my board on the way back up and when I surfaced, I saw that the nose had broken almost completely off, about five inches down. It was hanging there by a sliver of the stringer.
I caught a wave in and made the mistake of standing on it. When I jumped up, the nose was gone. NOOO!
I went in and kept my eyes peeled. I gazed toward the ocean to see if perhaps I could spot it. Within a minute, something caught the corner of my eye, bouncing in the rocks at about a fifty degree angle from my line of sight. I snapped it up and breathed a sigh of relief.
I ran up to the hotel, dropped my board on the grass inside the grounds, bounded up the stairs, and placed the nose in a spot that can't be seen from the general area. I shot back down the stairs and paddled out. I figured I had one more session left after tonight and the board is already wet, so why not surf? The nose is the least vital part of a surfboard. It only comes in handy when you're in danger of pearling.
I paddled back out on my now 5'9". My first wave was a left and I took it easy to see how the board responded. It was definitely overhead and I punched through the lip. The board rode like a finned skimboard with a wide tail. SICK!
I caught a right and snapped on it, being conscious of not doing it too toward the top of the wave. I kicked out.
My qualms about my Franken-board now subsided, I felt it was time to charge into some. I took a left and got into my back foot barrel stance. The lip hit me on top of the head and drove me down into the board. I popped back up without issue.
I drifted towards the El Tunco rock structure that juts out of the ocean. I ambitiously paddled for a wave on the outside that didn't appear to me it would break. I put my head down and hustled hard for it. I popped up and WHOOSH! I descended this beast, about eight feet of it, and pumped. I should have gone for the hit right away, but I must say I was mired in survival mode. I punched through the back of that one, my left ankle really feeling the wave pulling the board away. I got pulled back really hard and when the board finally bungee'd back to me, it almost hit me.
The board lost a bit of its glass towards the nose, revealing white foam with a diagonal crease across half of it.
A couple more forgettable waves were caught and it got dark. I started paddling in and I caught an inside foamer that had some speed to it. I popped up and immediately pumped, then pumped again. I could see the section approaching in the lights of the beachfront bars, ramping up for another night of debauchery. Speaking of ramps, I found one and launched off of it. It was the most air I've gotten this millenium, but I didn't land it. I had no idea where in the air I was, I just knew that I was in the air and impact was imminent.
I went in and decided to eat pupusas. I grabbed some money from my stash spot and headed down the driveway. I encountered a black dog which had given birth to puppies late last week and had been caring for them seemingly non-stop. I made a noise with my mouth and she walked up to me and put her head against my knee. I petted her and told her what a good mamma she was and how she spends all day spoiling the pups but nobody spoils her. My hunger pangs announced their disappointment in my choice and I disengaged. She walked with me about five steps and then put her head against my knee again. I gave her some more love for maybe a minute, then tried to escape. She didn't protest.
I turned left outside the gate then left again at the T, where the road is made of hard-packed sand. I heard a guy exhaling loudly through his mouth, as though he was busting out heavy reps at the gym. He did it every couple of steps. I looked back at him and he was about six inches shorter than me, but weighed about the same as me. I briefly thought he may try to rob me, but as he passed me, I saw he was wearing a Polo cap. Chances are this guy was going to be the one getting robbed.
As he gained about three steps on me. I heard him announce -Voy a pelar a este hijuepueta- I'm going to peel this son of a whore (though mofo may work better contextually translation-wise). As he said it, he reached under his shirt and brandished a sizable pistol. I ducked into the nearest open door behind him. I peered out and watched as he continued what could very well be his death march.
A family scurried away from where Polo Pistol was headed. He arrived at his destination, the beachside bar closest to the mangrove river and gestured wildly with his hands. Right then, the coffee girl (I'd ducked into a coffee shop) came towards the door. I gave her a brief explanation of what I'd heard and seen and we both peered out around the corner. She asked me a question when I heard "POP POP!". Two shots rang out, less than a second apart. The little roadside eatery's (across from me) patrons began to scatter. A young woman put her hand to her mouth as she ducked for cover behind the propane tortilla griddle. I wasn't sure who had fired the shots, he could've easily gotten shot by a security guard, although I had my doubts as they usually carry shotties.
He began to walk toward us. I told coffee girl he was coming back, she had ducked back inside when the shots rang out. She told me we should get in the back, on the deck that faces the river because, her words, he may shoot us just for looking at him.
I watched him walk past the coffee shop and into the night. I briefly thought of tackling him, but:
1. This guy was probably drunk or worse and would be unpredictable.
2. There was no guarantee of help from people.
3. I had no dog in this fight.
4. It was one of those instances where no good could come of it. It isn't farfetched to think I may get assaulted by someone thinking I'm the bad guy.
I bid Coffee Girl adieu and walked toward the Erika's Restaurant, adjacent to the scene of the crime. I asked the waiter if anyone had been hit. He told me no. I asked him if they had pupusas tonight and he gave me the same answer.
No pupusas?!? I walked back toward my hotel where there were definitely pupusas. On the way there, I heard people chatterring that he was the guy who'd gotten smacked in the face by someone and he had exclaimed -Nadie me toca la cara!- No one touches my face.
It's funny how I'd been telling everyone how this is the safest I've ever felt in El Salvador. Then a freak thing like this occurs! The last time I'd been that close to gunshots fired in anger was in January of 1996.
The cops came through a few times in their pick-up but I didn't see Polo Pistol in it with them.
It would have been interesting to see how things would have played out differently had I not stopped to pet the dog. I would've had a much better vantage point but I probably would've been in ricochet danger.