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Monday, July 9, 2018

7.9.18 Nica Swan Song at Playa Colorado

The doggo and I beat feet to the beach.  He took his time sniffing stuff, getting one last inhalation of the path to the water.  I let him dally on the sand when I paddled out.

It wasn't too crowded.  I think a lot of people were lulled by the late arrival of this swell.  According to magicseaweed we were to get a pulse in the morning with constant reinforcers all day with the swell peaking today.  Yesterday was a complete bust.  I waited until the afternoon to go and it was so gutless I didn't bother to paddle out at the swell magnet that is Panga Drops.  

 There was way more energy in the water noticeable upon my first southward gaze into the Pacific.

I caught a left pretty quickly and got covered up completely, too completely.  I kicked my board in front of me to lessen the chances of trauma.

I immediately began getting attacked by the baby jellyfish, including a particularly painful string of them wrapping around my forearm.  It felt as though a low voltage charge had coursed through my extremity.  Painful, but not as bad as the Pangas "Just Get Welts" sesh a couple of months ago.

A light squall showered us and a rainbow formed.  I gazed at it while two surfers were particularly close to one another framed by the rainbow and thought what a cute gay surfers couple's pic that would make. 

I caught a right that lined up ok.  Had I not been dropping in blind from the wind and the glare I might have noticed it was going to tube.  I pumped and snapstalled but did so too high/late and as I crouched down I got pitched.

My last wave was a really late small right.  I had paralysis of analysis and ended up crabgrabbing as the wave unloaded its Napoleonic fury on my head.

The dog had been barking it up for a while and I had stuff I needed to button up so I went in.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We moved to Nicaragua because at the time of planning it checked so many of our boxes
  1. Warm water and good surf within walking distance
  2. Decent school with US accreditation nearby
  3. Established community with little kids running around
  4. Relatively cheap
  5. Safe. From October 2015 (when I started planning the move) to April 2018 it was considered the safest country in Central America by far (yes including Costa Rica, which is dealing with a terrible rise in crime and corruption) 
  6. Striking distance to US
The school thing turned out to be a bust as we got insider info while here that it wasn't up to snuff.  So even if this political strife hadn't happened Raquel had decreed we would stay here through Lucia's first grade year at the latest.

Point Five is the biggest catalyst for the move, obviously.  If we were staying now the next few months would be the time to put money down on a lot or home.  We pulled out of our lot purchase and ended up eating the deposit (though we are supposed to get half of it back...).

Everything else was pretty sweet.  The waves weren't as good as I'd hoped, meaning the close-out/too-fast-too-make situation didn't sort itself out for as much of the season I was here.

Ironically, had the political issue not ignited I'm pretty sure the crowds might have turned me off and possibly away (as they did in California). 

The biggest bummer about being here, and one of which we were aware before the move, was getting supplies.  Each trip to the grocery store was a three-hour endeavor pre-roadblocks.  Roundtrip driving alone was 100 minutes and waiting in line was twenty on a decent day.  Going to Managua for (Pricesmart, VERY similar to Costco) shopping and to get our investment property check was a seven-hour grind.  I insisted on doing both Rivas and Managua trips on my own because our youngest has a penchant for puking when in a car for more than a half-hour.  I got it down so I would only have to go to Rivas every twenty or so days and Managua every forty-ish days.

So we move on from the Nica dream to our next station in life, El Salvador.  8065 days will have elapsed since I left El Salvador as a full-time resident to return as one.  I have been back to visit nineteen times in the interim, so I have a feeling as to what to expect.

A few of the differences between El Salvador and Nicaragua:

  • In El Salvador, we will live in the San Salvador metro area (I consider Santa Tecla to be part of it because of the sprawl).  Everything will be more convenient (hospital, grocery stores, doctors, schools; hell I'll even be able to go to a full gym again) with one tiny exception:  The beach will be a little less than an hour away. 
  • This convenience comes at a price.  Where we had been living for the last eight months was in very rural Nicaragua.  We will be in very urban surroundings of San Salvador.  Nicaragua has six times the land area and fewer people total than El Salvador. 
  • When it comes to infrastructure, we will be in the lap of luxury relative to Nica.  The power and internet will go out much less often and the roads are actually asphalted and maintained there.
  • The biggest bummer we'll encounter is the muro-to-muro lifestyle.  Everyone there lives behind walls and you go from your set of walls to others'.  We can mitigate this somewhat by living in a complex with a bunch of kids so we'll see how that works out.
  • Surf-wise, there will be a lot more variety than here (point breaks galore, beach breaks, rivermouths and so on all bigger than in Nica for some reason) but with no offshore it's pretty much an early morning only situation.  The nice thing is they're doubling the capacity of the road to the beach so no more chewing on diesel exhaust on the way back up the hill.
  • We'll have blood relatives there and the can of worms that goes with that... 😆  I also have life-long friends I've known, in some cases, since preschool.
  • No more worrying about obtaining residency!  I am a full citizen with all of the benefits that entails and can stay as long as I'd like.  Here in Nica we had to leave every ninety days to get our passports stamped with new visas.  In ES, I'll have to get the girls legal but that will be a lot easier than having to get the four of us residency.
In CA, I was burned out on working but I must say I'm getting the bug to start producing hard again.  Once Chucho dies we will likely be leaving El Salvador unless we fall in love with it.

When I was living there, I couldn't wait to get out.  This was pre-internet, pre-driver's license, pre-surfing, so my entertainment options were extremely limited.  I was also in a dysfunctional situation at home which was a constant bummer and the pervading vibe was emotional instability.

Conclusion to the Opie chronicles

The van I drove down was nicknamed Opie due to its license plate having OP as the first two letters.  I bought it and drove Chucho and a fair amount of stuff down from Colorado, with the intention of giving it away (because it was too old to be imported).

I asked around on the expat groups and the first person to respond was a woman from Dallas who does a lot of charitable work in Astillero (where some people take pangas to surf up north).

Your Faithful Surf Blogger and Da Astillero Boyz in November


I received a message this morning saying how much the van has helped the community as well as a pic of Opie in action!

"I want to share with you how much this van is helping many in the community. The baseball team has been able to transport the team 2 weeks in a row! Olinyer takes care of it and the surf team has used it to feed the elderly in nursing homes etc. we are very grateful thank you and your wife for this gift."

Friday, July 6, 2018

7.6.18 Smaller at Playa Close-outs-rad-though

The wind was blustering and it made for a bad combo with the smaller waves.  Smaller waves, generally speaking, have a tighter window during which you can catch waves and getting hung up on the lip robs you of the already low percentage you have to make these poorly angled waves.

I caught three waves.

On my first, a left, I pearled on a pump.  While I didn't get hung up on the lip at takeoff I managed to put myself in that position and my nose went pearl diving.

I was in position for a juicy right.  I got hung up on the lip and airdropped.  While I was airborne, I saw a dark local grom bail and leave his board out (I presume he feared I would smash into him as it was tight).  He needn't had worried, I stomped it and for my reward I was presented with a section folding over in front of me cutting me off from the rest of the wave.  To boot, the guy who'd last given me a ride in his golf cart had gone and had reaped the best section of the wave.

Chucho was being good on the sand, only barking when people came in from the surf.

I got another left. I made it around the initial cascade of a section but what lay before me beyond that was too fat.  I managed some pumps and a half-hearted bonk but that was it.

The dog was really running around now so I went in to chill with him hoping the drop in tide would make it get better.  We messed around on the beach for about a half-hour and it got even worse.  I told myself if the crowd count got to a -3 (meaning three more surfers left the water than entered it in a specific span of time) I would paddle out again.  It peaked at a -1 and we bailed.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

7.5.18 Close-Out Kristallmorgen at Playa Colorado

I lucked into having my neighbor Barry watch the dog AND he let me ride the bike he's renting.

I pulled up to PC and there was a set detonating.  It was big and beautiful looking, but as a surfer it was ugly.  I could picture getting hung up on the lip as the wind's invisible hand denied you descent while the liquid guillotine of the toothy curtain rained terror from above.

There were about ten guys concentrated at the main peak.  I chose to be a little on the inside, to score some of the ones that might swing wide.  I'd had a bitch of a time paddling out.  My timing fairy dust from the previous paddle-out had worn off and my timing fairy dust dealer was out to collect with a vengeance.  To add to the beatings, the boardshorts my in-laws gave me, 31 in waist, were falling partway off of me thanks to my unofficial fasting which began when my lady bid me adieu. We're apart geographically, but we're still together together (I think, though I am reluctant to check my IM).

I caught two quick waves both close-outs.  I had a shot at several more with more open faces, but there was a dude in priority each time.  On one instance, I watched the guy paddle his ass off, pop up, and go over the handlebars. 

He came up, paddled towards me and said, "the wind". 

I told him, "I know.  You have to put your weight all the way on the gas and then the lip holds you up and over you go.  It's happened to me before and it will probably happen to me again, this session.".

He took me by surprise and said, "Thanks man".

Long story short, I didn't get the chance to endo.  I eventually took a close-out in as surf and crowd conditions deteriorated.

But before that happened...

A guy who went to high school not far from the condo where this very surf blog was founded is known around here as an a-hole.  I've only surfed with him twice as far as I know.  He thinks he's local and he's claimed in the past that the house in which he lives is his when his parents built it and he manages it.  He has on many occasions dropped in on people and then harassed them when they confront him, on some occasions threatening to call the cops when they ask him to go to the sand for a chat.

I knew he was out because he was shouting as a set approach; something unintelligible, I couldn't quite make it out.  Within ten minutes of my having noticed him I saw him take off on a wave with a rider (who'd had priority) already on it, then proceed to loop around him.  The guy who'd had priority understandably was spooked as he had no idea a close call had been imminent.

The aggressor in question paddled back out and words were exchanged.  The Argentinean guy (if my accent detection skills are still up to snuff) let him have it. Believe me, he couldn't have held back much more than he did considering a direction change could have put both riders' bodies in jeopardy.

The long and short of it is, from what I could gather from one party's bad Spanish, is that the aggressor accused the Argentinean of backpaddling him (if it happened, and I doubt it did because of the relative distance between the two when the Argentinean stood up).  He then said this was HIS wave.  The Argentinean said this is the ocean, which teaches us all humility and your arrogance will do you no good (it was getting harder to hear as they were paddling away).  The Argentinean reached out for a handshake to which the aggressor reluctantly obliged.

The aggressor then paddled in a ways.  I made eye contact with him about five minutes later and couldn't help but smirk (I tried not to).  Some say it is this smirk which intimidated him into paddling in for the sesh...

Overall, it was a waste of having had a dogsitter since I've caught more waves when Chucho's been on the sand.

The swell was good-sized but the conditions (an unfortunate combo of too much wind and poor swell angle for the bathymetry) conspired against us having a good session out thar.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

7.4.18 Clean and Good-Sized Playa Wyoming

Yesterday's experiments having been a bust, Chucho and I set off for the beach.  I had a grumbling in my belly after a couple of morning movements and I was all of a sudden feeling weak and hungry.  Once we got to the sand, I wasn't motivated to paddle out and I felt as though my mojo had been sapped.

I unleashed the beast, feeling optimistic about his ticking bark bomb lasting a bit longer thanks to a couple of doggos on the beach.

There were some massive ones breaking.  It looked like Pipeline on some sets.  Unmakeable Pipeline, but it resembled Pipeline nonetheless.

I snuck out in between sets and was sitting away from the ravenous pack.

I only caught three memorable waves.  The first was a left which I thought might barrel but didn't really.  I went up and did a snap on it but ate it.

The next wave I caught pretty late and I got hung up on the lip.  I stomped the airdrop down, leaned way back on my tailpad and got a short cover-up.  It let me out and I was a little off-balance.  My trailing arm hit the lip on the way out.  I turned and obliterated the oncoming section.  I celebrated by falling onto my back before my fins could reconnect.

I caught another quick left and got in the barrel.  I contorted myself as small as I could get and just couldn't squeeze in there.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

7.3.18 Passing up a Pelican Paddle-Out at PC

The cleaning ladies' schedule has been retooled and they're now coming a day earlier than usual.  Everything is upside down in the tourism biz here due to the budding revolution to which I've alluded in past posts...

I left the doggo in their care and told them to leave him in the condo with only the screen door closed.  I told them I'd be responsible for any damage.

I ran most of the way down to the beach and when I got there I realized it'd grown, just as the forecasts had predicted. It was about double-overhead on the sets.

Some waves looked perfect but when they had a rider with whom one could judge makeability, you could tell they were just teases.

There was  a massive pelican standing on the beach facing inland, with one wing semi-splayed.  It looked like something was wrong with it.  I thought it might have been a sign to paddle out there but I bailed on it for a chance at bigger waves.

I had a bit of an angle on a smaller one and this Japanese lady sized me up and decided to go about fifteen feet down the line.  I leaned way back upon seeing this and somehow managed to put my buttcheek on my fin, thankfully only gingerly.  I was literally and figuratively butthurt she did that but not worth exchanging words.

I was in position for this burly left.  I had a little bit of an edge on the corner, but it looked grisly just past that.  I went only because this older guy was staring me down and I thought he would just go on any wave on which I paddled after that.
 
The drop was an insane rush on my 5'11".  It took everything I had to bottom turn into the pit and apparently in my enthusiasm/terror I put too much weight on my front foot and I literally tail-slid longboard style as the massive lip j u s t tapped me on the back of the head.  BUMMER.  I would have had a sick view even though the thing wasn't going to let me out.

I had something I don't think I've ever had happen in my surf career.  This good-sized left came and this Brazilian dreadlocked guy on my inside was paddling.  I said, "Dale!" (most Brazilians speak a little Spanish, or so I've read).  He pulled back and I made some noise and went myself. I dropped down into the pit and got barreled but the reason I told him to go is it was a disgusting closeout and I paid the price.
The aforementioned Brazilian looked a lot like the lead singer of P.O.D.

All-in-all I saw two guys make tubes.  One was in the absolutely perfect spot and the other guy was just a barrel maestro with his pumping in the pit.

I happened to hitch a ride with a friend in his golf cart and when I got to the pool area of our complex Chucho was there with our former neighbors, who are leaving Nicaragua for their native Colombia.

7.3.18 Kooking it Up at Playa Colorado


Today was quite the entanglement for the Golf Condo Gangsta Clique.  My neighbors, Barry and Bob (not a gay couple, or at least I don't THINK they are!) are staying in my same complex were out there with me, not on purpose.

I had an epiphany yesterday.  Chucho was sleeping and I was able to sneak downstairs.  He didn't even notice I was gone, so how could he be butthurt?

I figured, what if I bailed on him and left him in the condo, but left the condo door open in case he wanted out?  If he did, he would find a friendly party and he'd have his collar on so he'd likely find his way back to me.  Worst-case scenario is he gets hit by a car and then we have the option of moving back to the States... 😇

I did so and hoofed it down to PC.  It was a solid size on the sets, about head-and-a-half.

My first wave was a close-out, but I was jamming on it so I was game.  I pumped twice, then tucked down and got barreled.  I had a sick view and then I had trouble seeing anything that wasn't water because the barrel just kept running and running



I caught a wave and I had Bob about thirty feet in front of me.  I made eye contact with him and analyzed my options.  I ended up hesitating as he was just in front of me (at about one o-clock).  I decided to do my damnedest to avoid landing on him and catapulted off my board using my hands.  When I came up I checked on him to ensure I hadn't impaled him and he was worried about me.

Barry caught a sick one and he was somewhat close to me after I paddled back out from my abortion of a wave.   I screamed at him to GO! GO! as I duckdove.  He managed one turn on a really fast wave before it reached its final phase.

I caught a screamer of my own later in the session, but it was a third the size of Barry's (wave).

I also had a wave under which I duckdove which hit me so hard I saw stars.

When I got back I was excited to see what the Chucho experiment had wrought.  I saw the condo building and thought it was good that it was still standing.  I turned the corner towards the entrance and noticed Chucho's trademark poop and thought "Uh oh".  I got to my door and it was closed.  I found out later the cleaning ladies had ushered and sequestered him back upstairs.  Luckily there was no damage, as in 2015 he tore our rental in CO up after years of having been ok being left alone.

Monday, July 2, 2018

7.2.18 Onshore and Nasty at Wyoming then Colorado

Another day without the girls in Nica means another day with Chucho patrolling the sand. 

I paddled out near Idaho so as to keep him as far from the Beach Club as possible.  There were two groms out and we took turns pulling back from close-outs. 

My number eventually came up in the rotation and I redeemed it on a racy left.  I stomped down, then quickly back up so as to give myself a 1% chance of making it.  I managed to overdo it and pearl on a pump™.

I drifted down as it sucked where we were and saw a mirage of a right cylinder off, probably too fast for me to make it, but I decided it couldn't be much worse than here and so I paddled the thirty or so strokes to await its next of kin.

I split my time between waving at Chucho to keep him from going bonkers and watching the waves.  The dog seemed to grasp it was in fact I who was waving by his posture and attention.  He still barked some.  I went in and we walked up the beach where a sick left would break every eight or so minutes.

Sure enough I lucked into a nice one and pumped a few times, then did an off-the-lip off the close-out section.  I claimed it was I made eye contact for Chucho, hoping he would appreciate the maneuver.  He looked ready for me to go in and so I did after another abridged adventure.

The following message is for EddieSurfs.com diehard trivia fans ONLY.
DO NOT ATTEMPT to read if you're just a casual.
YOU'VE BEEN WARNED...

I happened to look back and I've surfed every July 2nd of every year since the inception of this blog and not counting the massive sabbatical during which I lived in Colorado.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

7.1.18 Surfus Interruptus/Deja Vu at Playa Wyoming

It was Sunday and I didn't have anyone to watch the dog.  So we hoofed it to the beach.  I posted him just outside of Casa Colorados with no leash on, since he doesn't seem to freak that way as readily.

I paddled and perched and looked back.  His defining ears were aimed squarely at me from the wet sand, his lower legs in the water.  Within minutes he was distracted by a surfer exiting the water and went up to investigate. My theory is he thinks it's me every time he sees a guy walking out of the water.

The crowd was mellower than in recent days' past but so was the surf.

I got really barrelled on this smaller left.  I saw it about to heave so I levitated and then stomped down for a massive acceleration.  I tucked down, closer to the wall than normal, and enjoyed the view as my body became entombed in a watery grave.  It was a close-out but I will take it.

I watched and Chucho was getting dangerously close to the Beach Club, where dogs are banned.  I pictured a jack-booted guard giving him the heave-ho with a healthy kick to the ribs and made plans to exit.

I caught a right and hit it really well.  There was no wave left after that so I belly-boarded in on the whitewater.

I went and got him and tied him up.  I paddled back out and within seconds of my having perched he started barking.

I caught another, smaller barrel which also closed out.  I also caught a smaller right but it was really frothy and I had a bitch of a time controlling my board through two mediocre hits on it.

People were craning their heads to pinpoint the whereabouts of their ear rapist.  I went in on a close-out and belly-boarded towards him.  He was relieved to see me.  I think what he does when he is tied up is he sees surfers going in and walking away from him and he thinks it's me abandoning him.

As we walked back he walked purposefully and wouldn't look back.  He was actually tugging on his leash to head home but we've made up.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

6.30.18 Wading then Waiting at Wyoming

In essence this wasn't the most fun session.

I took advantage of the ladies cleaning our condo (and most importantly, watching Chucho) and got out there.

It was the abyss of the low tide.

My first wave was a left.  It looked super wedgy as I was catching it but as I was bottom turning there was nothing there so I sailor dove off of it.

I pulled back from SOOOOOO many closeouts for about an hour with the odd would-have-gone, dude-already-on-it wave sprinkled in.

Eventually I caught a right and tucked in.  I was immediately surrounded in the barrel.  I felt it pinching shut and I corrected my trajectory a little towards the wave, being careful not to touch it with my leading arm so as not to stall.  The thing was tight and I overcorrected into it and got slammed over the falls.  I instinctively bellowed gutturally and covered my head with my arms.  My top half was left unscathed but I did get a decent shinner from my board's rail.

About fifteen minutes later I caught a right.  This one I was able to pump on and get tons of speed.  As I bottom turned I got a similar feeling to that barrel wave from half a month ago and felt like I was running out of runway to make my turn.  I transferred my weight brusquely as the lip hit my board and I got hung up.  I started to descend, nose-down and nothing but air in the way of a two-foot drop into the detonating trough.  I bailed but didn't kick my board out enough.  I had a quick vision of face-butting my board but somehow I didn't even touch it.

About a half-hour later I caught another right, did a quicker bottom turn and didn't go all of the way up the wave as it surprised me by breaking sooner than expected.  I pulled out of that just fine and the wave closed out.  As I jumped off my board I made the mistake of contorting my body in such a way as to land on me nutsack.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

6.27.18 Drop in Swell Leads me to Panga Drops, Bonus SUPER SESSION 6.27.98

The ladies were cleaning the condo today so I took advantage of the opportunity to have them watch Chucho.  Unfortunately, the swell had dropped precipitously and the tide was at its apex.  This combination has but one cure and its name is Panga Drops.

I walked down there and as I got to the sand spit, noticed the sky was an explosion of varying shades of gray.  There was one dude out.  I paddled past him so we'd each have our own peak.

The swell was small but it was still overhead, which is a nice thing if you're strictly a size queen, which I am NOT!

I caught a bunch of waves.  One one of my first, I tried doing an elongated cutback just before the flat section and was bounced off my board by the chop.

A dude on a log paddled out and now there were three of us.  He gave me a "Buen Dia" and proceeded to sit deeper.  I saw him blow a lot of waves but the dude was charging.

There were zero waves on which I got to ride which made a connection with the inside/shorebreak.  It just wasn't happening today but that's common.

The guy who had been out when I paddled out was looking at a left and I told him to go.  After a too-short ride on the right, I paddled back out and he took the time and had the chutzpah to say thank you, which was really nice of him.

It started raining pretty hard as a massive cloud came overhead.  Then the sun broke through and the water was a murky turquoise color.  It was a very interesting color combo with the sun making the sea shimmer.

I eventually went in and went for an off-the-lip on a shorebreak close-out.  I was a bit slow and I half-made it/half fell off after initially having semi-stomped it.

~SUPER SESSION~
Dateline: June 27,1998

I had graduated from high school just fifteen days prior to this.  This was the first summer my mom had allowed me to spend the night at her ex-husband's rented beach house (which he used only on Sundays and holiday weeks).  This was in El Salvador at a beach called San Blas.

I'd been surfing a little over ten months and had never gotten barreled.

Pando and I woke up early and it was going off.  Barrels were rifling off in both directions at the beachbreak almost right in front of the property.  It wasn't big, M A Y B E a little overhead on the sets.  I was riding this massive board I'd received in a trade from my older cousin Ed in 1994 (he got my Game Boy and all of my games).

It was just us.  I'd never been out in waves that barreled like this.  I got three lefts in quick succession and got barreled on two of them.  My first one was especially good.  I dropped in, posted up and the thing threw over me.  Unfortunately I made no barrels on this day.  But I popped my tube cherry and that was a big hurdle to get over.  I remember on both barrels I got pitched and ended up scraping my back on the sand.

At one point the tide kicked into high gear.  Seeing as to how I was on this massive thick board, I had a bitch of a time getting out.  I probably wasted forty minutes of the session sprint-paddling and doing my damnedest to duckdive this behemoth with my 125lb high school body.

I did see Pando get barreled going in both directions but I don't remember seeing him make one.

Monday, June 25, 2018

6.25.18 Heebie-Jeebies at Playa Colorado

I had a real uneasiness set in as I paddled out.  There were some bombs coming through, but nothing outside of my wheelhouse, even on my 5'11".  I can't explain it, but I just got this feeling in the esophagal area of foreboding doom.

The swell was easily a foot bigger than I'd anticipated and there was almost no one out.  The right at Wyoming looked good but there was a pack on it so I opted for Colorado.

After a couple of spankings, I made it out and perched.  Chucho was running amok in the sand, leashless and fancy free.

A left broke down the way and I sprint-paddled to meet it.  The one nice thing about waves which break quickly is you can bullshit your way into catching them if you're really far down the line like I was.  I did so and there was a wall of pain coming for me so I hit the eject button and sailor-dove out the back.

Quick glances toward shore revealed Chucho was being coaxed north; the sight of each beaching surfer beckoning him further from me.  This, together with the queasiness from my uneasiness, made me take the next one in.

I have little shot at a decent session unless I can get someone to dogsit him.

6.24.18 Short but not So Sweet at Playa Idaho

The doggie and I trudged south to the beach.  He walked with the gait of a riding horse walking towards his saddler with a heavyset rider-to-be looking on in anticipation.

We made it to the beach and I took off his leash and hung it on a tree.  I told him to stay where he was on the sand.  I stole glances at him while paddling out and he had his gaze and antennae fixed upon me.  I made it out quickly and kept looking for him over my shoulder.  I'd see him about 80% of the time as sometimes he would be chest-deep in water and I couldn't see him.

My first wave was a right, as was my second.  It was a quickly breaking wave and I aborted through the barrel I'd entered Quasimodo-style.  I got a painful pat on the back as a penalty from the wave.

There were lots of big beautiful barrels breaking.  I didn't see anyone make one.  They were all getting either swallowed up or pinched.

My last wave had a really critical takeoff.  I got hung up on the lip ever so slightly.  I was committed and I pearled hard.  I half-jumped/was half-catapulted and comically felt my legs trying to run out of it (as one would when one blows it on a skateboard).  My non-messiah status was proven by my painful introduction into the water.

The dog had been trotting along and I heard a warning bark.  I was worried he was going to bail and run away as he did once while here in Nicaragua.  As I caught a wave in, he was about fifty yards away from me investigating this portly older man.  This was presumably because he thought it was me which made me take a long look in the mirror when we made it back to the condo.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

6.23.18 Luxuriating in the Low Tide at Wyoming

After the swampy session this morning, it was a bit of a shock seeing the bombs rolling through.

My neighbor Barry, who is down here for two months from Oceanside, of all places, volunteered to watch Chucho AND he lent me his bike.  I was living the dream not having to worry about the dog and the mosquitoes.

The crowd was less pronounced than the most recent seshes I've had.

My first wave was a meaty left which I almost didn't go on because I was so late.  I surprisingly didn't airdrop and pulled in to a barrel on which I didn't have a shot.

I had another smaller version of the above with a similar result, though I was in there for a little bit longer and got a nice albeit abridged view.

I pulled back on a right because it was basically breaking over me and I went over the falls!  That hadn't happened in close to four years and man did it humble me.

A left opened up, a little on the smaller side.  I did some longer pumps on which it felt as though the wave was going to cavitate.  I laid into a meaty cutback once I saw a chance and really laid into it.  The wave shut down and I rode out of it as it did so.

This really nice, a little over head-high left came in.  I was paddling for it, a bit on the shoulder.  This girl who was MAYBE 13 was paddling in position for it, her eyes bugging out.  I immediately stopped paddling and yelled for her to go.  She got a sick one!

The next wave was all mine.  I got up awkwardly with too much weight on my back leg.  I thought I'd blown the take-off and resigned myself to the requisite beating.  Then my front foot stomped down a bit towards my frontside rail.  I was able to recover, then I swooped down, pulled up, set my line and got a little barrel over me.  I chandeliered out of it and almost lost my balance before the thing shut down and I kicked my board out.

6.23.18 Hampered by the High Tide at Wyoming

I asked the cleaning ladies to watch Chucho while they cleaned our condo so I could surf without being anxious about his anxiety.  They agreed.

I walked down and was excited for the bump in swell.  It had easily doubled in size.  Unfortunately, my timing was coming up on the summit of the high tide.

I had a mosquito-free walk to the beach, thanks mostly to the briskness of it sans Chucho.

The high tide and the swell had locked horns and the high tide seemed to be dominating the match.

The bigger ones would barrel a little but they were few and far between.  So when they went away most migrated to the inside or they'd sit for a half-hour before another set came.

I caught a couple on which I had to shuffle up to stay in play on them.  I did an arms-behind-the-back soul-arch-almost-cheater-five on a particular fat one.

The highlight, if you can call it that, was a right.  I bottom turned nicely and hit it hard but not too hard and e k e d back onto the trough.

Friday, June 22, 2018

6.21.18 Much Smaller Low Tide Wyoming

I knew the bottom of the tide was ambitious on a low swell day like today.  I was optimistic that it would be bigger than expected. 

It wasn't.

I caught a good amount of waves.  My highlight was probably the first right I caught.  I thwacked it nicely but pussed out when I felt nothing but air under the front half of my board.

I had two similar attempts at frontside off-the-lips which I botched similarly.

I also pulled my first floater in a while.

Chucho started barking.  When I tied him to the tree in the shade I waved at him every fifty feet or so and then tried waving at him from the water.  My thinking was that maybe he would know where I was in the line-up and he wouldn't freak. 

He did.

This morning he got out of bed at about 3:45.  I happened to already be awake but pretended to be asleep so he'd leave me alone.  He licked me right in the face, a sign he had to to a) urinate b) defecate c) both of the preceding and so I took him down.

When he came up he was walking wonkily.  His cheekbone grazed the door jamb of our condo and he looked spastic five seconds later.  His legs were wobbly and were starting to give out.  I asked him if he was ok and he wagged his tail a little, but it looked like he was going through a small seizure.

I prescribed him strict bed rest today and he has been sleeping 95% of the day, twitching up a storm.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

6.20.18 Much Smaller and Mellower Playa Wyoming

I got my Merrick back!  The surf was coming off the low so I was hoping for some consistency and possibly some hollowness.  Unfortunately, the waves were so small that finding room in which to fit in a cave would be a challenge.

I got Chucho wet with ocean water to prepare him for his stay in the shade.  I told him "Stay" and waded out.  There was a long deep patch before I could continue my wade out to the line-up.

I hadn't even perched when my first wave came.  It was a right and it had more juice than I'd expected.  After an elongated bottom turn, I absolutely smashed it right on the vertical lip.  I came back around and couldn't hold on after the tiniest of air drops.

Another highlight was a left I caught on which I was able to pump to connect to the inside section.  I slapped it decisively and almost hung on.

I pumped quickly on another left and got in the tiniest of barrels for the shortest of times.

Chucho's barking took longer to start today, but not by much.  Since the tide was low, it was quieter so maybe that's the key?

The situation in Nicaragua has gotten worse and I will likely have to charter a plane to get Chucho and me out of here.  I'd like to sell the car before we leave, but if I can't, I'll have to put it in storage and come back for it...

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

6.19.18 Short High-Tide Mission on the Tomo

The girls are gone and it's just da boyz.  The power went out early this morning and Chucho and I waited for the sun to come out and we headed down.  Things started off poorly as I slid and fell down a short but steep grassy hill.  I got up laughing and after a quick surreptitious check I confirmed no one saw.

I wasn't excited about the session as Chucho, when left alone, freaks out and barks.  It's happened at the grocery store in Rivas.  I found a tree trunk to which to tie him.  When I first paddled out, he was fine.  About ten minutes later, he started barking.

 My first wave was a left. I bottom-turned a little too sharply (given the twin fin/small center fin) and that scrubbed some speed off my attempt at a top turn.  Once I got there I tapped the lazy wave and had no shot at coming back down.

I caught a right and immediately went into cutback mode.  Unfortunately I lost it in the wash.

My last wave was my best wave.  I did a nice cutty but once I reset I couldn't get anything going off the through.

Chucho's barks became more labored and shrill so I caught the next closeout in.  He languidly wagged his tail and was ready to walk back.  He is now passed out next to me sleeping off his separation trauma.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

6.17.18 Crowded and not Quite Throwing at Playa Wyoming ~ NEWS ~

Wow, the view towards Colorado was littered with bobbing heads, or maybe that was my more-sensitive-to-crowds baseline talking.

There was no one out at Playa Idaho and I saw a smaller right barreling slowly and spitting so I decided to paddle out there.  Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to even perch before I had company tailing me.  Guess I wasn't the only one who saw the spitter.



I bailed on my initial perch spot and headed southeast to Playa Wyoming to bet on its higher consistency.  I had the following song in my head and worked on rearranging the lyrics so as to make fun of my cousin.



First wave, a left:  I dropped down and saw it wanting to throw.  I took a chance and tucked in, then immediately kicked my board out.

I caught another one and I was trying to stall for a barrel that may not have been there.  It probably looked like I kept trying and failing to manual.

A lot of sick-looking ones were rolling through.  And I missed out on a couple because guys just couldn't catch them.

I caught  a left after a local couldn't catch it and he told me to go in Spanish.  I pumped once, bottom-turned harder than I normally do, and went into a half-assed layback (where half your ass goes into the water).  I managed to pull it, then I jumped off my board so I wouldn't hit one of my neighbors.  He came up smiling.

My last wave was yet another left.  I bottom turned arguably harder than I ever have and uncorked at the top, and threw a flume of spray.  I bottom turned again but my board began chattering and I lost it.

As I pulled my board toward me my fingers touched a divot and I'd somehow managed to ding my board pretty deeply on the bottom below the tail pad. My best guess is I put my heel through it when I had that incident pulling out of the barrel a few days ago and I just now saw it.  It's at ding repair and I will be on the Tomo...



~NEWS~ 

The situation in Nicaragua has gotten to the point where we don't feel we can safely stay here with our girls.  The hospital in Managua was 2.5 hours away two months ago.  But the people are trying to oust the guy in charge and are putting pressure on his government by blocking off roads.  If one of the girls suffered an accident, we would be hard-pressed to make it to care in time.  This is on top of concerns about gas and food shortages, both of which we've been through on several occasions in the past month.  

If it was us without the girls, we'd probably stick it out.  Property values have plummeted and it's a great time to buy.  There is some concern about land-grabbing, which is happening by squatters staking out on large plots of land in the northern part of the country, though I don't think it would be an issue where we are in a private development.

Because of Chucho, our next stop will be El Salvador.  Things will open up when he keels over, though we're squabbling as to our next possible station.

The girls are leaving today bound for their grandparents' house in CO and we'll reconvene in ES once I am there.

I am posting this today because today is the 22nd anniversary of the date on which I found out I was going to live in the US permanently. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

6.15.18 Hamstrung by High Tide at Playa Colorado

I had the go-ahead and access to a bike so I decided I'd surf even though I knew it wouldn't be great.

There was plenty of swell still in the water.

The paddle-out on the rising tide was brutal.  Towards the end of the barrage I considered going in after I got sea lice in the arm pit.  This would burn on every other paddle which further sapped my mojo.

Eventually I made it out.  The water was still really clear although the surface of the ocean was textured, muddying things somewhat.

I had two lefts in a row, though they were twenty minutes apart.

The first I had to wait for it to develop, like a college guy with a high school girlfriend.  Once it did, I pumped twice (which was once too many) then went in for a roundhouse cutback.  I ran out of steam on it unfortunately but my spray trail left a decisive line at least.

On the second left, I didn't have to wait for it to steepen at first. I did a mellow top turn throwing some spray.  Then it fattened up as it hit the inside deep section.  I choked up slightly on the board, then pumped and overdid it as I hit a flat spot.  I went over the handlebars and knocked some of the wind out of me when I painfully landed on my back in front of my board.

About halfway through the session I realized I should keep my eyes open underwater so I could see the tumult of the wave coming down.  It was wild seeing the underwater space darken once the wave broke and seeing these clouds of turbulence coming for me.

It took a long time before I caught my last wave.  It was a right and this guy paddled for it on my inside.  I was definitely going and his paddling/waiting to see if I would truly go caused the wave to snowball.  I had the idea to foam climb the snowball and I did successfully, despite the fins sliding out a bit on almost knocking me down.

6.15.18 Close Calls at Dropping Tide Playa Colorado

The bike I've been borrowing from a soon-departing neighbor was being used by said neighbor so i hoofed it barefoot to the beach.

Paddling out I was stricken by how glassy the water was.  The water was crystal clear, I could see individual grains of sand tumbling around in the current.

This was a session of almosts in various ways.

My first wave was a left.  I zoomed around the initial section, snapstalled and got barreled with a view. I was ALMOST in there for 1.5 seconds.

I had another left on which I tried to do what I've seen guys do on surf videos.  It happened without thinking.  I went around the section and really had to slow down.  I snowboard pumped (picture trying to get going on a snowboard from a standstill) backwards so as to let the wave catch up to me and try to get into the barrel I ALMOST fit in.

I caught a right and tucked into a pigdog. It was a late drop and I must have gotten hung up on the lip.  I dropped straight down into a decent line for the barrel but I must have been weighting too far forward and dropped down into the drink.  I instinctively put my hand up and ALMOST had the nose of my board hit me in my face hard.  I had a nice red mark to show for it.



I had a look at a really nice left.  I unfortunately set up too far away from the wall and got smooshed down into the water.  I ALMOST got really barreled and would have likely made it out.

My last wave was another pigdog attempt.  I was successful in getting in the barrel and then the thing closed down on me.  I tried to pull out the back and was ALMOST triumphant.  The wave was jacking hard in its closeout ecstasy and I went over the falls, but half in the barrel.  I was still grabbing on to my board, I think, and it flipped up and I landed awkwardly on the fins with my feet.  It hurt so bad but luckily I hadn't injured anything. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

6.14.18 Smaller Playa Colorado Sucking Out

When I rolled up, it looked nearly unsurfable.  It was smaller than I'd seen it in weeks.  Part of this was being near the depth of the low tide, and the bigger part was the receding swell.  Also in play was no sets breaking as I took in my first impression of the ocean.

There was a healthy crowd out, relatively speaking.  I briefly thought about going down to Panga Drops but I really didn't want to get back on the borrowed bike.

I got an ok-looking left and made it around the section after having pumped. I set my line and contorted myself in what resulted in a comically miscalculated spot, right along the lipline and way too far from the wall.

I took a right and pivoted into pigdog position but it wasn't throwing over so I cut down and went for a floater which I botched.

A lot of paddling, being too deep, and telling people to go, later...

A good-sized right came.  I immediately pig-dogged and was in a great spot in this massive round barrel.  I saw it going vert out of the corner of my right eye so I *think* it counts as having gotten barreled, but definitely counts as at least a cover-up.  I could feel  the air sucking me back into the pit of the tube.  I definitely wish I'd stuck my arm in more to stall though...  I got up and with ssssoooooo much speed, laid into a bottom turn and didn't turn quickly enough at the top of the wave.  I mistimed my top turn and did it too far past the top to salvage it.  Still super amped though!

A couple more forgettable waves and I did a nice smack on a really vertical section, even hitting part of the breaking lip. I ended up losing it when coming back down though.

The barrel (?) wave got me amped to get another and I stayed out for over two hours but eventually the crowd put the kibosh on my chances.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

6.12.18 Onshore and Lumpy Playa Colorado

The prevailing wind pattern is so ingrained here that when it switches the waves become a ghost town.

I paddled out and was one of three people out.  One guy was my neighbor and the other person out was a lady in her 40s.  Eventually my neighbor went in and it was the lady and me.  We gave each other plenty of space.

I was catching wave after wave.  My first wave was the best wave.  I managed a top turn and a slash on it before it fizzled on me.

Another highlight was a right I caught.  I managed to do a top turn on it but blew it on the second one.

I was then alone for the last twenty minutes of my session.

My last wave was a right and I got a little zip out of my cutback, hit the whitewash well and came back  around.  I pumped around a section but there was nothing there.

It was a lot more manageable/makeable than yesterday but there was still plenty of power out there.  I got my ass handed to me on a couple of occasions.

Monday, June 11, 2018

6.11.18 Beatings Galore at Playa Idaho

The swell was supposed to be huge today.  I was expecting to see double overhead plus. My rare no-board-in-tow surf check revealed it was about the same size as yesterday.

I waited until the tide dropped a bit as it was still a bit chunky and then the swell bared a bit more fang.

There were some beastly waves rolling through, not one of them makeable.  I saw one in the distance that was a little smaller than the sets and a dude got into the barrel and it kind of sat there spinning.  I thought for sure he was going to make it as it was almost waiting for him to exit but something went wrong.

Unfortunately for me, after a paddle out I had a session of waiting with some beatings sprinkled in.

I was just on the wrong side of a nasty closeout and the couple I had a shot at it I was too inside for.

Case in point, I paddled for a big right and the section right in front of leapt up.  There was a guy paddling for it and I told him to go, given his premium positioning compared to mind.  I then watched in horror as the massive section clamped down on him.  He floated up and for a split second caught him holding the top of his noggin as he went over the falls.  I was unsure if that was a protective hold or an ouch, that smarts hold.

I caught one left and I was in awe at the power behind it.  The thing paused, then pounced.  I looked ahead and saw the right coming towards me so I pulled through after about three seconds up and riding.

The worst beating happened late in the session.  I duckdove as a macker bore down on me.  I was immediately flipped over and shoved down so hard and so fast I was shocked at how quickly the inside of my eyelids registered no light.  I was determined to hold on to my board and come up with it but a second surge came and ripped it from my clenched fingers.  When I came up they were aching from the battle.

I got caught inside on a set and the sun was close to setting, so I went in.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

6.10.18 Healed and Hopeful at the Beachbreak

During my last session, I managed to exacerbate some skin irritation on my lower ribcage and it started looking infected.  I elected to not surf and not grind my board on it, so as not to make it worse.  Then about five days ago I was swimming in the pool with our eldest.  She was trying to catch me as I headed over to the edge of the pool.  She was almost to me and I pushed away.  I felt something yank on my toe.  I grimaced and looked back towards where I'd pushed off.  As I did so, I could feel the skin off my toe flapping around the water every time I kicked.  I'd somehow managed to get part of my toe pad wedged between the wall and the underwater light fixture.

I grabbed Lucia and limped upstairs, leaving a trail of blood as I did so.  It looked pretty grisly and at first glance it looked like I needed stitches.  I got in the shower and cleaned it up with soap, unsure if I was just adding to the pathogens by using the shower water.

Today was the first day I put it in the water after waffling yesterday.  The swell was building and tomorrow is projected to be the biggest day of the swell.  It could push double overhead and I wanted to make sure I didn't throw myself into that completely rusty.

The unrest in the country has diminished the crowd by easily 75%.  I counted thirteen of us spread out across the peaks at one point.  This number would likely have been in the fifties on this day last year.

Not many waves were ridden today.  Part of it, I imagine, is people can afford to be more choosy with less competition.  But the biggest part of it was likely how nasty these closeouts were on the building swell.

I paddled for a wave, decided to abort, then was caught inside as one of the biggest sets of the morning unloaded.  There was no question on this one.  The wave detonated and the whitewater shot up to twice the size of the wave at its peak.  My arms immediately initiated board-ditching sequence and I got hammered.

My first wave probably took me about a half-hour to catch, after the current had shuttled me to River Rights from Wyoming.  It was a decent-sized right and I stood up and immediately realized it was going to run on without me.  I watched in admiration as it threw over into a solid barrel and continued to do so at a breakneck pace.  I kicked my board out and took the next one in, then walked west past Playa Idaho.

I saw an older grom catch a left and get slotted as he pigdogged, then grimaced as he was helplessly slammed shut by a budding section.  Yep, with a camera and proper framing/timing one can make a lot of these waves look perfect.

I eventually got a look at a left.  I swooped down and it was pretty foamy.  I was a little off in my positioning but if I'd slammed my arm into the wave I might have been able to get covered up into a small one.  I didn't and kicked my board out as the wave rifled off without me.

The wave of the day wasn't all that great, but it was about head-high.  I caught, pivoted into pigdog stance, yanked hard but not hard enough on my outside rail.  The lip hit me in the head, I closed my eyes, continued in the barrel for a little over a half-second, then got obliterated.  I went into a fetal position while covering up my head and waited for trauma that thankfully never arrived.

Another big set came and I had to hustle to try to beat it.  I started smiling thinking it was going to be one of those by-the-skin-of-my-teeth escapes.  I duckdove and immediately was flipped over and destroyed.  It wasn't so hard that it left me stunned and overrode my brain's signals to my hands, but it did take the board away from me after a beat.  I got that panicky feeling after not knowing which way was up but thankfully surfaced before it got too bad.

The rest of the set had its way with me, playing the part of the pinball fans and I Jodie Foster in The Accused.  On the last one I came up a little too fast and the board happened to flip over onto my surfacing shoulder.  The result of the collision was painful but not so bad that it prevented me from paddling. 

Nothing of interest came in the twenty minutes after and in I went.

The pain has gotten worse but I should be ready to roll for tomorrow's beatings.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

6.2.18 Windy and Tricky Playa Colorado

I didn't want there to be another mosquito massacre so I began running when the first swarm attacked.

It looked like a weaker version of the previous afternoon's session, but with less water. The crowd count had about doubled but it was still  manageable.

The waves started baring their teeth as the tide dropped.  There were so many great wedges that turned into horrific look-away-from-the-grisly-car-accident closeouts.

My first two waves were at the beginning of the session and were awkward in that they were a little too fat to barrel but a little too run-ny to get around the section.

The dance went like this:
  1. Oh, look!  A wave
  2. Paddle to where it hopefully stops closing out/sectioning off
  3. See if it's worth paddling any further to see if there is a sniff of a chance of making it
  4. Check to see if there's a local who's taking a remote chance at backdooring and getting the wave of the season, to make sure you don't burn him.
  5. Check ahead of you to see if  there's a local or Brazilian who is going to go either figuring you won't make it or not caring 😂
  6. Pray you're not too early or too late and make sure your chance of making it is worth the possible collision if someone is in front of you.
  7. Eye lipline to anticipate strategy
  8. Pop up and pray you don't get hung up on the lip.
If you paddled for any first wave of the set and you either missed it or decided to pass, prepare to pay the piper!

I did have one wave on which I could have conceivably double arm-stalled and if I could have somehow fit in the tight barrel I might have doggy-doored it.  The tide was still a bit high so it would have been a tight fit.

My lone right was my last wave and I got a good smack in, got hung up on the lip, descended and ate it as the wave broke just inside my backside rail.

I didn't see anyone make any barrels though I did hear of a guy who did.

Friday, June 1, 2018

6.1.18 Syrupy Smooth but Swampy Playa Colorado

I was stuck at the condo today on daddy duty with Chucho while the girls attended festivities where dogs aren't allowed.  The pictures looked good, some barrels here and there but for the most part unmakeable unless you luck into the perfect spot at just the right time.  One guy did get a sequence and I saw 5-6 frames of him pitted where the wave just waited for him to get out. 

One day?

I was going to borrow our neighbor's bike to ride down as the mosquitoes are extremely active in the afternoon.  Unfortunately, it had flat tires from lack of use and so I hoofed it barefoot.  The rains have helped in making the trek sans shoes palatable, my guess is the river of water washing down the washboard roads takes the loose gravel off the top.

The mosquitoes were buzzing around me and at one point I felt a couple of itches on my back.  I looked back and with my bad eye I could see two perched on me.  Two quick slaps led to at least one kill as evidenced by my visual inspection on my hand.

A former neighbor was driving and we chatted as he drove slowly about the deteriorating political climate here.

I caught a left very late and I stomped down setting up for an unlikely high tide barrel.  The wave jarred me and my front foot was in the wrong spot so I went for an unplanned swim.

I was in the perfect  spot for a set wave and so I had to go even though it didn't look worth the paddle back. Sure enough, after the initial lazy wall there was nothing there.

I passed up a wave on which I could have gone and behind it was a macker.  I watched as it jacked up and threw over while thinking about how royally screwed I was.  I duckdove and panic-kicked my legs just as I got underwater and somehow blasted through.

I had two duckdives on which I wasn't as lucky and I ended up facing shore, which is pretty rare.  I also had one where I got absolutely crushed underwater and was 'wrestling the crocodile', holding on to my board with a death grip as we got blasted about.

Another crappy wave with nothing to it and I was ready to go in, dejected.  I was frustrating at having missed the window, again.  I looked towards the sea to see if I could get a ride on some whitewash but it was completely flat.  I thought about Shaun Thomson's Surfer's Code about how you should always paddle back out when you're feeling down and over it.

This led to the wave of the session and my only right.  Keep in mind that it's the wave of the session only because the other waves were so crappy.

I caught a steep right and stomped down in a diagonal angle so as to maximize efficiency.  I swooped around the first section, smashed the lip, came down and watched as it closed out.

I was dreading my walk back, closer to sundown and with more mosquitoes but luckily a neighbor in a golf cart spotted me and gave me a rid on the back.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

5.30.18 Swampy and Swollen Playa Colorado

I wanted to surf earlier today when the tide was more advantageous but I had daddy duty with Chucho.  The girls were off to the presentation for Nicaraguan Mother's Day and I was not invited.

Eventually one of the neighbors came by and she said it was good.  Off I went to see for myself and bust this slump, caused mostly by inclement weather we'd been having which had wrecked the conditions.

The water looked extremely inviting.  Its smooth come hither surface titillated me while its exotic turquoise color made my loins purr.

The tide was pretty high but the crowd count was proportionally the inverse.  When I perched, the pack became three-strong and I knew both guys.  A fourth was a bit south of us and I knew him as well.  A couple of tourists filtered out throughout the session so it seems the unrest and resulting bad press is really controlling the crowd count.

The absolute highlight was my last wave.  It was a left which I had to do my Pitufo two-part takeoff because I was a bit early.  I hustled hard and stomped down to take in the fatness that lay before me.  I had to pump, then shuffle up to keep up with the slow-as-two-day-old-diarrhea wave. I did a mellow top turn, then saw a little pocket and I did a slash on which I slid the tail out ever so slightly and ended up super compressed.  I rode away out of that then got excited as the wave started feeling bottom and steepening.  I pumped a couple of times then did a little floater off the end section.  I pulled that and jumped off my board into knee-high water.  I took advantage of the momentum and walked towards my sandals and home.

Friday, May 25, 2018

5.25.18 Paying a Shortened Tribute at Mostly Playa Idaho

The swell was on the way down and I knew the beachbreak would be marginal.  Another dip in the swell and it will be borderline unsurfable.

There was a pack on every peak and from what I could tell after paddling out and perching we were dealing with quite the foreign contingent.  I heard Portuguese and French being bandied about.

I missed out on a couple of waves by being too inside of them, as is tradition.  Within five minutes though, I caught a good-looking right.  I paddled for it and I heard yelling in some tongue I couldn't decipher.  I looked to make sure there was no one outside of me, then made quick eye contact with the bellower.  His eyes were ablaze and I had no idea what he was saying but I went.  I pumped down and appreciated the wave's contour.  I briefly thought about pulling in but the section out front was out for blood.  I pulled through and out the back.

While paddling back out I noticed how hard I was drifting south after having caught that right.

I caught a quick left.  It was really foamy.  As I did a quick direction change to possibly snap-stall my fins chattered and I lost my momentum.  The thing bared its teeth and threw over.  I was bummed, foamy barrels darken the tunnel even further for the spelunker but I'd missed out because of a weighting mistake in my enthusiasm to do something.

I paddled back out and got smacked around a bit underwater and sat.  I surprisingly heard a female voice call for me.  I whirled around and saw my girls on the sand with my eldest (Raquel) waving me in.  As I paddled in I was lucky enough to catch an insider.  I stood up on it so Lucia could see me riding a wave and maybe get excited to want to try.

I asked immediately, "Where's Chucho?", figuring in his absence he had been maimed or felled.  Raquel said in the car, and that Solani's fingers had been scrunched in a door at our condo.  So in I went and that was that.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

5.24.18 Big and Gross Playa Wyoming

I'd been under the weather for the last four days and despite still feeling some waning symptoms I decided to go for it.  The tide was increasing off the depths of the low and I hoped to snag something to make up for the last session.

The wind was onshore and the sea surface suffered some sickness.  The swell was on the way down but with a 15-second period I knew there would still be some oomph.  Sure enough, my first look from the sand showed some overhead but messy bangers.  Most of these were barreling but I didn't see one makeable one while my toes were in dry sand.

The crowd was about what I expected.  What I've heard from friends here who are property managers is there are less families coming down but the surfers are still coming.  So perhaps there is a slight dent in surfing families.

I saw a sweet left breaking and spitting with no one on it so I paddled out towards there.  Of course it had nothing in its wake and I never saw another like it.  I allowed myself to get swept south a bit as there was some action there.  A wave came and it looked great but I was JUST barely too inside of it.  I knew it as it approached so I back-paddled a little but it was to no avail.  Oh well, probably saved myself from a sand scrape.

There was a commotion and twenty yards south of me a guy was in the perfect spot for this mysto wedge that popped out of nowhere.  People half-thrilled/half-terrified grimaced/cheered as he descended and pulled in.  He got completely covered up and immediately sectioned/pinched but had a second-and-a-half of glory in the square-ish barrel.

I kept drifting until it was just me and a logger.  I saw him take off on a wave and heard him groan loudly as he got hung up on the lip; he had realized his destiny.

I caught a small left in to try my luck farther up the beach.  I went way past where I intended to catch a wave, hoping to luck into a nugget.

Long story short, I found myself floating past it, paddling for some which turned into obvious closeouts and getting slammed by their younger brethren in retaliation.  I had an interesting trip down on a duckdive.  I got under the wave and it picked me up very gently and sent me backwards and something hit me so hard in the back of the head.  I've been trying to figure out the wave action that would allow that but I can't figure it out.

Eventually I got shuttled past Colorado proper, to River Rights.  Those didn't look great today (they rarely do).  I sat there dodging closeouts and caught a big foamy left with no barrel.  I superpumped once or twice and was moving SO fast before that inevitably slammed shut on me.

There was a line at the shower at the beach club and I saw the aforementioned pinched barrel guy.  I congratulated him on the wave and described the peanut gallery's utterances.  He laughed, thanked me, and said "That's the best wave of my life up until this point".  I smiled on the outside but harder on the inside as it's rare for people to show their true stoke, especially an hour after a wave.  Surfers these days seem to be so cynical (myself included) and want to maddog everyone (myself excluded).

Saturday, May 19, 2018

5.19.18 Abortion of a Session from Onshore Playa Colorado to Panga Drops

I knew it wouldn't be great today as the wind had shifted.  I figured the crowd count would be down and, you never know, maybe I'd tuck into something good.

This time I kicked my sandals way up after seeing just how bad it was.  It was worth paddling out though, as a nice left wall presented itself to me.

I sat where not a soul was sitting.  About five minutes later, I caught a right and got hung up on the lip a bit.  My fins reconnected and I watched as the section detonated in front of me.

I dodged some relative mackers for about forty-five minutes before I gave up.

I walked all the way to Panga Drops sandspit, paddled out there and perched.  There were two dudes out but these were much more makeable, but still messy.  I watched a wave wrap around the reef and take a horseshoe shape which was really cool-looking.  I paddled over there and sat.

Ten minutes later or so, I paddled for a wave I knew I'd have to hustle for.  I missed it and a neverending set arrived.  I got beaten back about halfway to the sand and I was over it.  I paddled for a wave that had a pretty good amount of angry-looking whitewater.  It hit me so hard it made me pearl instantly despite my having my weight more on the tail.

The board slipped from my grasp, turned sideways and bonked me hard on the scrote/taint.  I was aching.  I felt around and both boys seemed to be in there.  I caught another wave in, got my sandals from my second stash spot and walked home bumming.

Friday, May 18, 2018

5.18.18 Running the Gamut from Playa Idaho to River Rights

Wishing to obey my wife's decree of me having to surfing my brains out, I paddled out after lunch.  I thought the tide would be most advantageous right around one-forty, but in hindsight I wish I'd paddled out a half-hour earlier.

I kicked my sandals off in the dry sand, then kicked them a little farther up in case the tide went higher in my absence.  I didn't dally this time.  I checked it for about thirty seconds.  The crowd was way down from this morning.  While the conditions weren't as good, the surf was more consistent.

I had two rights from the get-go.  Both were super steep.  On one in particular, I could've stalled from the pop-up and likely gotten barreled, but the prognosis didn't look good from where I was standing.  I kicked out, but mostly through the wave.

I then floated, more slowly than this morning, towards Playa Colorado proper.  Some mackers would come through but I seemed to be out of position for them.  One in particular looked glorious and another guy had priority on me.

By the time I floated past the beach club and to the river, the consistency had seized up, likely a product of the tide.

I got one right on which I had an ok snap, then pulled through due to my not wanting to be a part of its underwater demise and the correlating beating.

Not long after, I got the wave of the session.  It was another steep right, but it didn't close out!  The initial section was a little mushy, so I bottom turned and snapped.  I came back up again and did my best snap of the wave on which I threw a bunch of water off my backside rail.  I then went for a third in a really critical spot.  I got the feeling I was really pushing my luck and snapped a little early, but still up top.  I felt the wave heave and my board and I got a little bit of air and successfully touched down on the water's surface.

I caught a left and didn't like how it looked on take-off.  As I descended, it looked as though it would line up somewhat.  I tried to avert course from a standing island pull-out to a standard pull-in but was unsuccessful, though I did get a second of tube time.

I paddled for a wave and it was a questionable decision.  This wave was a little fat from the tide, a left, and I paddled really hard for it as I wanted to smash the section I was salivating over.  I came up with no speed on just tapped it, then fell back.

When I came up there was a massive wave coming for me.  I decided to try to beat it but it wasn't even close.  I shook my head and swallowed my pride and ditched my board.  I sank down and got immediately upended, then pushed way down.  Through my closed eyelids there was no semblance of light whatsoever.

Ever since my near-drowning episode in El Salvador in 1997, I've panicked after being tossed around underwater for more than ten seconds.  I've mitigated this somewhat by counting, focusing on the action rather than the tumult around me.  I remembered this about halfway into my submerged pirouettes and it seemed to work.

I came up, conscious to not bonk my head on my board.  Successful, I whipped my head toward the open ocean and, through swirling stars, saw another macker.  Down I went again and I got disoriented, but I relaxed my body until I finally hit bottom.

I pushed up, and after my second double-arm stroke felt a twinge of panic begin to crystallize, but then broke through the water's surface to the welcome sight of nothing more in the way of the horizon.

It took a while for me to catch a wave to take in, as I got caught in the rip.  Once I did so I was out of there, having spent about four hours in the water today between the two sessions.

I went sandal-hunting and was disheartened to see the tide had come up, way up onto the sand.  I thought, no way had I kicked my sandals high enough to avoid Poseidon's wrath.  I couldn't remember where I'd placed them but I walked until I thought they were gone.  I was bumming.  I thought, well maybe someone had put them up for me. 

My eyes scanned the sand some more and I figured they were gone.  I bemoaned my painful walk home during which I would be stepping on hardpacked dirt with sometimes sharp loose gravel strewn across it and then BOOM, sandals.  Some loving angel had taken the sandals I had so carelessly kicked and placed them together, waiting for me next to one of the beachfront houses. 

I looked around to see if the angel would reveal itself.  It didn't, and I walked home with a tired spring in my step.


5.18.18 Biggest Waves I've Seen on this Stretch of Sand

After an arduous 12-hour trip back from El Salvador (we did stop to eat and do a Pricesmart run), I was ready to get my trunks wet.  I've received word from m'lady that I am to surf my brains out as we will likely be leaving our new home due to the deteriorating conditions described in my previous post.

We've deliberated ad nauseam and the next stop will likely be El Salvador.  Chucho, our twelve-year-old purebred mutt, will keel over and then we will be more open to destinations, including within the US.

Today was about head-and-a-half and a touch bigger on the sets.  The swell had more west in it than I'd ever seen and the longshore current was sweeping us toward Costa Rica. 

I had zero highlights.  I got barreled on a right and didn't have a shot at making it, but I did see a guy get one of the sickest backside barrels I've ever seen in person. 

He dropped in on a right, went around the section and snapstalled way too high on the face.  He tucked down and threaded a heaving dry barrel.  As if that wasn't enough, he pumped just after exiting, then laid into a brutal snap at the top of the wave.  I saw air between the deck of his board and the wave's slope.  He descended it.  As he paddled past me smiling I gave him major props on it and he was very gracious.

The very next wave I saw another guy tuck into a pigdog stance and make a great barrel.

I also saw one guy get two nice barrels, both on rights.  After getting swept down past the barrel  sandbar, I got out and walked way north to try my luck again.  Unfortunately, I wasn't in the right spot at the right time.

One realization I had this month is, in most places, you paddle for the peak so you get as deep as possible and enjoy a much longer wall in the process.  Here, you paddle for the corner, as the initial peak will likely close out. 

5.12.18 Back to Balsamar, El Salvador, for the First Time in almost Fifteen Years

Our 90-day visas were up and it was time to get out of Nica.  We were gnarled out on the way to the airport as we're going through what very well may be the beginning of a revolution.  As a non-Nica, it is illegal for me to say anything political so I will leave it at that, no matter how infinitesimal the chances are of anyone consequential reading this.

My sister and brother-in-law are members of a club that has a nice beach club.  I'd surfed here on two occasions.   The first was with my cousin Ed in 2002.   I remember I caught a right and was struggling to make it without being left behind.  All of a sudden, the thing felt bottom and threw over.  I instinctively ducked down, got completely swallowed up in water and made what at the time was my first backside barrel.

The next time I surfed there was with my buddy Tim, who came down to El Salvador in 2003.  This time was also courtesy of Ed but I have zero memory of any waves, though I do remember it being lackluster.

I stopped at my buddy's hotel on the outskirts of El Tunco called Hotel Puesta del Sol.  My buddy Chamba (who three weeks ago moved to the US) told me he'd drop off my board at the hotel but unfortunately didn't, and so Chuleta was a real bro and went to get one from his other adopted brother, 23-year-old Tony (whom I've known since he was two).

When we first got there, the waves were simply going off with not a soul out.  We'd ordered food and I sat there taking in the surf porn in front of me.  It wasn't perfect, but it was head-high and rippable.  I wanted so badly to paddle out but didn't want to be rude to my sister and her family as they were our hosts.

The tide continued to drop as I bit into my food.  It eventually got downright crappy.  There were too many closeouts.  I'd BLOWN it!

I paddled out and on my first wave, a left, I began pumping furiously.  Nothing was happening, though.  It was as though my gas pedal had been disconnected.  The board was ancient, one of the yellowest I'd ever surfed but I couldn't figure out why it was dragging so much.

I had another wave with the same issues and eventually floated west and caught a right.  It was a little fat, surprising given the dropping tide.  I rose up and snapped.  I came down again and laid into a roundhouse cutty, pulled that, and the wave was done.

Unfortunately, nothing worthwhile came that afternoon and the morning looked even worse.

Still, seeing that magical hour was enough to make me fantasize about having a surf camp there.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

5.9.18 Small Rising Tide Playa Idaho/Wyoming with Josh from High School!

The morning started off weirdly. While Chucho's and my limbs were still intertwined in a (mostly) platonic embrace, I heard something bashing into the front door.  I peered out into the darkness and there was a feathery mass seemingly melted into the ground.  I figured the feral cats had claimed another victim (last week, a baby possum had been placed near our front door Don Corleone style).

I opened the door and couldn't tell if it was a hawk or an owl, but figured an owl due to it having been out at night. It lifelessly looked at me with its eyes shining from the porch light, its head still the whole time.

The screen door through my only exit out of the condo would swing out within a couple feet of it.  I prayed for it to be dead or gone in the next ten minutes so I could surf without fear of being clawed.

While putting on sunscreen I heard a bustling outside.  I peered out again and it was now about six feet away from the front door and sitting as though it was warming eggs.  It seemed more alert and more out of its concussed daze.

It was time for me to go, as I'd made plans to paddle out at sunrise with a guy I hadn't seen in close to twenty years.  I'd seen on Facebook that he liked one of the tour operators here and messaged him and sure enough he was coming down.

The clock was ticking so, board in hand, I jarred open the screen door.  It loudly rubbed on the ground.  The owl came to, looked at me and let out a scared shriek.  It took off flying, showing off a massive wingspan, and bumped its head along the 3rd floor hallway ceiling.  It started coming toward me so I shut the screen door.  It then turned right and out into the night.

There are quite a few feral cats in the development and I hadn't yet been able to pet one.  Today, one came up to meowing loudly and I got some nice pets in.  I wanted more and she did too but I had to go.  She meowed at me as I walked away, then hurried in front of me and put herself in my way.  I fought my urges and walked around her as my heart shuddered while she meowed her disappointment.

I saw Josh through his window at the beachfront house in which he's holed up for the next few days.  He came out, gave me a bro hug, then grabbed his gear.  We surveyed the conditions, "It's empty!" was my take on the situation; it was almost completely flat.  I waxed on about how once the tide came up the surf would follow as we walked to Panga Drops.  We did see a sick wave reeling off.  Josh's eyes probed into its cylindrical void, lusting for the low pressure it had created in its abyss.

We flipped a bitch and paddled out at Playa Idaho, where we'd seen the barreling beauty.

Josh caught a couple that closed out almost immediately.  It took me a while to catch any closeouts of my own.

The two highlights were:

I caught a small left I got a pump on, then pulled into.  I barely got covered up, then saw what fate awaited me.  I doggy-doored it but got guillotined on the way out and down I went.

Josh told me "Yeah Eddie" as a right came.  I styley'd into it in my pigdog stance.  It threw over me pretty hard and I watched helplessly as it continued to do so yards upon yards in front of me.  As the wave and I became one, I focused on keeping my board away from me and THUNK!  My head hit the bottom and I came up smartin' somewhat.

This was a session over two hours in length, my longest since possibly 2011.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

5.8.18 Quick Strike to Shitty Panga Drops Among Busyness of Brazilians

I knew it was going to suck.

I was aware of the wind, the short period swell, and on top of this had heard rumblings in hushed tones about the Breach by Brazil; one count I got was of about three dozen dudes!

For those not in the know, Brazilians, while far and away GREAT people on land, are absolute aholes in the water.  In Brazil, there isn't much in the form of surf etiquette.  My understanding (and I didn't learn this until late in my surf career) is that if someone can catch a wave, they go.

They take this practice, almost as a compass reminding them of the way home, with them when going on surf trips.   It's rare to even see them look if someone's coming!

I paddled out quickly, aided by the rip/sandspit, and caught my first wave within eight or so minutes of having perched.  It was a nice enough wave considering the conditions.  It was a really steep drop, about as steep as it gets at Panga Drops but then I immediately had to wait for the shoulder to catch up.  Once it did so, I faded a little, then began pumping.  Once I got some speed, I did a layback slash from which I wouldn't recover.

My second wave had a bit more oomph from the get-go, but a logging Brazilian caught it.  It's probably the best I've felt about having been snaked.  The guy was squatted in his action/stinkbug stance as though the thing was going to barrel over him and he was going to have to thread an imaginary freight train barrel.  He was pretty far ahead of me and I didn't feel the urge to yell or whistle. 

I went in to help ease the girls into their bedtime routine but it ended with me watching our eldest paddle my board around our condo complex's pool.

Monday, May 7, 2018

5.7.18 Marginal to Dismal in a Hurry at Playa Colorado

I was aching to paddle out as daddy duty (once because of Chucho) had prevented me from doing so the last couple of days.

I wasn't expecting much and not much is what I got.

There was an unhealthy amount of heads bobbing in the line-up, mostly towards Wyoming.  For this reason, I paddled out at Colorado proper.

I caught three waves in about an hour. 

The first was so memorable it escapes recollection. 

The second was a right which looked oh so pretty as it wedged just behind me, but then closed out hopelessly. 

My last was the best one.  I snapstalled and set up right next to the wall with muted expectations.  I enjoyed a millisecond of tunnel vision, but the lip for whatever reason hit me right in the head despite my superior positioning.

I sat for about forty-five minutes as the wind kicked up and made the waves ugly as sin.  The consistency suffered as well.  Though Wyoming was offering up more waves I had zero interest in battling that flotilla. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

5.3.18 From Just-Get-Wet to Just-Get-Welts at Panga Drops

About two weeks ago, I was messing around with my big toenail on my left foot while watching TV in the dark. It had been off-and-on ingrown and I was trying to fix it, caveman style. I felt a little bit of it stick out and I for whatever reason yanked hard on it.  It immediately bled and I spent the next couple of nights trying to fix the problem I'd worsened using tweezers.

I had a jagged semicircle of nail pushing into the side of my toe.  Walking hurt pretty bad, though I did manage to improve it somewhat after three excruciating hours of tweezing at it.

Probably the gayest thing about me, other than that one weekend in college I'd prefer not to talk about, is I go to get pedicures to cure my chronic ingrown nail issues.  I average about three times a year.

I sought professional help and walked down to the nail salon in the development.  She said she thought she could save the nail but it was going to hurt.  They gave me a bottle of rum and a cup and I took too little of it and swigged it down.  I spent an excruciating twenty minutes getting jabbed at by the half-Salvadoran, half-Nica María.  When she'd done as much as she could, she brought out what looked like a set of pliers.  That's when it really began to hurt.  I was biting into the plastic cup they'd given me for the rum and as quietly as possible wincing/writhing in pain.  My hands bit into the plush chair they had for nail work.  After a couple of breaks she told me I was good to go and to come out in a week to see how it was healing.  I asked her if I could go in the ocean and she said absolutely not, too many pathogens.  I was ordered to keep the toe clean and free of sand/dirt.

Of course, the surf began firing.  Looking at photos really tested my faith.  I was asked to go to the beach by my wife so I could help her transport the girls down there and I wore socks and my Chucks, greatly upping my kook quotient.

I walked down to Colorado after having been given a clean bill of health/all-clear from María the previous day.  It looked small and inconsistent, and there was a pack on it with THREE photogs on the sand and one in the water.  Wyoming looked similar but less crowded.  After watching it for five minutes, I trudged up to Pangas.

I saw what looked like a mysto wedge on the Colorado (to-be-named) side of Panga Drops.  It was empty so I just paddled there and perched.


 The waves were really tricky in that there was a sider coming through and perverting the waves' path.  I caught a couple of unspectacular ones there, though my second had a fun late drop.

I was unimpressed with the mysto wedge so I paddled to Panga proper.



For reasons unknown other than I'm a G, this song popped into my head as I paddled.

There were some overhead ones out but they usually had little to offer in the way of a shoulder/slope beyond the initial drop.

I started getting mauled by sea lice not long after making this decision.  First my right ankle was hit during a duckdive.  After duckdiving a couple more waves, I was hit in the right upper arm so fiercely it felt as though I'd been hit with a jolt of electricity.  Then I got hit hard in the forearm.

My right arm especially was buzzing.   The sea lice spread as it tends to do even if you don't spread it by touching it with your hands.  I made plans to go in.  I caught a wave late and kept up with it well, shuffling my feet up then back a couple of times so as to not be left behind.

On this wave, a section felt bottom and I was able to pump meekly and generate a little speed, but there was just nothing to off of which to even bonk.  The wave fizzled out completely and in I went, looking forward to showering so as to get rid of the stinging.

Before this my worst sea lice session was my last session of my first trip to Costa Rica in 2002.
Three hours later