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Monday, December 31, 2018

12.29.18 A Bit Bigger at the Beach Break

This time I was let in to Pando's development.  I longingly looked at the point but there just wasn't enough swell for it and two n***** in Paris already on it.

I walked over to the beachbreak and I was surprised at the size there.  Nothing special, but there were some shoulder-high ones out thar.  They were mostly pump and dumps, in which you could get a sick amount of speed and then go for broke on the nasty end sections.

The absolute highlights were two late lefts I caught.  On the first I rose up slightly and snapped with the lip hard, but kicked my board out when I realized I had zero shot.

On the second I altered my trajectory and was able to weight more correctly.  It was an aggressive line but this time I had a single-digit percentage shot.  The odds took it.

There were some freight trains rolling through: rights which were barreling.  Some looked makeable.  I went for one and without thinking crabgrabbed.  The lip tightened and slammed me in the head. I laughed possibly the shortest laugh of my life.  I stopped my face from hitting the deck by stopping the momentum with my hands and just managed to shoo the board away from me. My face was smashed into right where the board had been.

The wind came up a little earlier this time and there was nowhere to hide.  I walked back to Pando's and there were still two n***** in Paris on it, now with heavy texture on the water surface.

12.27.18 Back after Long Break,

I suffered through a battery of illnesses in the month in between sessions.

I initially thought I'd gotten the flu, but when two rounds of rashes (first across my back, then across my left collar area) appeared, I thought I'd contracted chikungunya.  Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne illness but it is maybe a tenth as bad as dengue (if I've diagnosed it correctly..).  Then, a cough arrived (which I still have the remnants of) and a minor cold.

I missed out on the late November swell as a result as my nausea wasn't allowing me to take advantage.

I finally had a chance to go to the beach and did so.  Pando's development wouldn't let me in so I drove and parked at a lot.

The waves were small so I didn't bother checking the point.  I paddled and perched on the inside of the shipwreck.  They were lining up pretty well there and I was all by myself, not a bobbing seafaring soul in sight.

After being neglected for so long, my floater game was on display!  I did one I bobbled and faded, and one I held for seemingly ever, outlasting the initial mini-blast and riding away and clean.

The wind kicked up a bit and the tide dropped.  The surf spigot was turned to a standstill.  I went in and walked past the beach house I'd spent many-a-weekend in years past but that was a fool's errand.
 I paddled back out and caught not much of anything and eventually went in.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

11.24.18 Quick Beachbreak Session

Two roads diverged in a beach
and I-I took the one less traveled
and that has made all the difference
(from my recollection of an 8th grade Robert Frost poster)

I took the street side as I wasn't feeling the rocks jutting out along the shore.  I wasn't sure when to go from littoral to sandbound so I guessed and was half-expecting someone to tell me not to go that way.  It was a quarter-lot's width and there was a little cocktail/bar/surf rental shack.  Sure enough, I heard a noise, looked up and it was that guy with whom I surfed a couple of sessions ago (or his brother, I can't tell them apart).

He said he'd be out soon and I said I'd probably miss him as I had a hard out.

I paddled out at the first sign of a decent wave and was surprised it didn't end in a horrendous closeout.

Long story short, I caught three waves in quick succession.  On one I might have gotten tubed but I had frontside turns on the brain after having only turned backside all day.  I did a sick superpump, on which it felt like the wave was amping to catapult me into the flats.

I managed to overturn™, which as I'm coining it, is to turn too hard for the section.  I probably could have gotten away with a cutback but with the tide being this low I didn't even consider it a possibility.

My other memorable wave was a double-up and, though I didn't realize it at take-off I did spot it while descending.  I prolonged the drop and bottom-turned hard.  Once again the wave was weirdly too weak for my off-the-lip.  I diagnosed it as a case of my being too early.

I went in and my car's clock read 802, 804 once I had changed into shorts and mounted up.  The drive back was gross thanks to the roadwork and I was stopped at one place for nearly ten minutes.  Thankfully I made it back just shy of 910 and avoided another browbeating!

11.24.18 Pointbreak Sunrise Session

My wife wasn't into me going surfing on this day.  The previous evening, she'd reminded me that our eldest's ballet recital rehearsal was today at 930. I thought, if I leave with enough time I can arrive right around first light, which is what I did.

Thanks to my wonky sleep schedule, I woke up without an alarm at 330.  I tried to go back to sleep and gave up after our youngest began wailing.  I tried to get her to come to our bed but her Mami appeared behind her and she somehow preferred her for soothing purposes.

I got in the car and left at 458 and got there at 540.  I got a little static from the guy at the front because I was there so early.  They have a rule wherein guests can't use the pool/showers/club area until 830 but I've learned that if I tell them I'm just going to the beach they're cool with it.  After a three-minute delay, I drove in.

The point looked good enough that I barely gave the beachbreak any consideration, despite how good it had been to me the last couple of sessions. 

There was one dude out but he was sitting on the shoulder on a bigger board, which is usually a sign there won't be a battle for waves.  I waded through the river towards my paddle-out path and soaked in the colors of the sunrise.  The sun's top third was visible in its orange glory.

Within five minutes I caught my best wave.  I did three turns on it and was amping.

On my second wave I did two turns, then kicked out as the wave fizzled a little close to the inside. As I splashed down and recovered, my buttocks happened to gently land on a submerged rock.  Back in my twenties this sensation would have driven me into a panic but I guess I care less overall now?

The waves vacillated between the main take-off point and the swing-wide point.  If you were in the perfect spot you could get a pump in and make it around the section, but the swing-wides seemed to have a soft shoulder.  The main take-off was great because at first turn the wall was very bowly.

I had a wave that was iffy from the main and I saw the swing-wide section off.  Normally I would just kick out but for whatever reason I went up and smashed it, throwing a good amount of spray in the process.

As the tide continued to drop along with the consistency, I longed for the sweet curves of the beachbreak.  With each subsequent wave I was more committed to staying at the point break, but then a local paddled out and where there's one dude, there tends to be a gaggle.

I caught an ok wave and rode it pretty far in.  I started surfing this wave almost twenty years ago and there was always a little beach area I could use for egress purposes.  I aimed for it (it's right in front of a big ceiba tree), while keeping my eyes glued to three jutting rocks in between the shore and me.

It was a bitch to go in and I spent five minutes doing the eggshell dance.  I vowed to never again go in that way, at least at that low a tide.  I beat feet to the club area and asked a guard the time.  He told me it was 728 so I walked briskly to the beachbreak, convinced I could buck the closeout-causing low tide and contentment-killing inconsistency and snag some more waves.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

11.20.18 Ripping? at the Beachbreak

I decided to take advantage of our eldest daughter's week off from school and thereby my week off from shuttling her there in the morning.  I left our carport at 5:41 and shut the trunk, surfboard in hand at 6:30, nineteen miles and some iffy road construction later.

The point, as it's wont to do when it's small, was underperforming.  There was one guy out who was trying and got a wave in my three minutes of checking it.  It was a waist-high one with nice shape, but just too small considering I could probably get some shoulder-high waves if I walked ten minutes to the west.

As I did so this aguacatero ran up to me; a scruffy mutt with lively muted green eyes.  I petted it and rubbed its head.  I could tell someone was caring for it as its fur was not matted or mangy.  It was loving the affection and was really leaning into it.  After about a half-minute it wanted to play and tried to snag my dangling leash in its maw.  I retracted the leash upwards in time and I ran after it.  It stopped to look at me and then ran around as I squatted and jumped toward it.  I hit the rocky area and it started barking at me (it felt as though there was a tinge of sorrow in its barks but it might just have been my imagination).

About five minutes later it ran towards me from the opposite direction! The dog had taken the road and then come to the beach to meet me, this time with two other dogs I'd seen before in tow.  The novelty must have worn off quickly for he/she/it, as I began gaining on the pack.

The tide was pretty low, which can sometimes be a good thing for beachbreaks but usually it means closeouts are on tap.  I paddled out close to my ex-stepdad's beach house to try my luck there.  There were two dudes out at the shipwreck and the waves looked ok there; a critical-ish takeoff but a too-mellow face as a payoff for having stuck the landing.

I caught a couple of close-outs and then backdoored one.  I was thankfully a bit early and was underwhelmed by my timing on a pump.  I gained some speed but not as much as I could've.  I swooped up, tucked in and was ensconced in a swirling frothy barrel for maybe a beat and a half.  I sensed doom and was able to doggy-door it was the lip j u s t tapped me on the head.  This is the first barrel I've ever made at this beach and I was amping.

The morning's sun angle was wreaking havoc on my visibility on the rights, but I did catch one about ten minutes after my barrel.  I wound up on the bottom turn and smashed the lip.  I got hung up and exhaled quickly through my mouth as I leaned back so as not to pearl.  Another, less critical, turn followed and I kicked out as the wave fattened over a deep spot.

Another right towards the end of my session led to another nice wind-up.  But this time I lost sense of where on the wave I was when I turned, as when I did so my legs fully extended as too much of the board went over the lip.  As I surfaced I admired the foam trail my spray had wrought.

The waves turned off and I went in, no sign of the dog on the way back.

11.18.18 Peaky and Fun San Blas

The waves were looking pretty small for today but it might be the last southern pulse for the year so I headed down after my buddy (with whom I went to school down here) bailed on me.

The point looked too small, and I initially was excited by the three guys that were WAY out.  I thought to myself that perhaps they were fishing but I've never been right in that thought. Until today!

I headed to the beachbreak around the corner.  There was one dude out and so I walked past him.  I inevitably was swept into him by the current.  It was a guy five years my junior whom I'd met when he was little.  He and his two brothers lived in a house a couple of blocks away from my former stepdad's old beach rental.  He now runs a surf school and on good months does pretty well for himself.  Check him out at Surf Strong El Salvador

He chatted me up somewhat about the situation here in El Salvador which he thought was grim, but not too bad all things considered.  He really talked a lot about his time in the States, mostly in CA, but some in DC and VT.

The waves looked a bit closed out but there were definite running corners on some.  You could backdoor the peak and get a really good pump in to make it.  It was tons of fun when I didn't misread the waves.

I did a few frontside hacks and pulled one, as well as a weak carve down attempt.  I botched a couple of layback snaps, though I did get semi-close on one.

After I paddled back out and perched, I felt for my car key in my boardshorts.  The reassuring irregular mass was not to be found.  I entered panic mode as I frantically patted every corner of the pocket.  I was freaking, "There's no way I'll find it, it's gone!".  Then I went into, "The pocket is still velcroed closed, where/how could it have fallen out?!" I stopped patting it thinking I had to catch the next one in when I finally felt the key, tucked into the top center of the pocket, right under the flap! PHEW!

I'm really digging the water temp/clarity from the lack of rains.  It is an absolute godsend not having to battle crowds on B waves.  I can't imagine doing the California struggle every morning with ravenous snakers and achingly cold water...

Sunday, November 18, 2018

11.11.18 Unattainable El Recodo

I saw some barrels breaking from the beach club.  I'd finally been granted access inside.  The first attempt I was forbidden entry because they said the administration hadn't passed word down that Pando (owner of a lot inside the development) had greenlit me in (he had).

The next time we tried, we got in the gate but were barred at the beach club itself because Pando was a couple of months behind in paying his dues (he wasn't).

Due to it being my first time here I got excited when I saw the barrels but then realized from the angle that these barrels were breaking over shallow cobblestones and likely not worth the risk.

A squint into the rising sun's glare down the line revealed good news: nice lines coming down the point. 

I did the river paddle-out that few seem to do for some reason and I jumped onto my board more quickly than possibly ever at that spot.  I spotted no boils and the current was threatening to drag me down the point, where slightly submerged rocks could get me.  I sprint-paddled diagonally just as a set detonated on the outside and took a few on the head.  After the carnage, I was comically way past the preferred take-off spot, even inside the wave-swung-wide-section-off take-off spot.

I spent most of the hour paddling to attempt to stay in position.  Eventually, I paddled OUT deep, then across and in.  I continued my work on the liquid treadmill and finally caught a beast of a wave.  I cut back just enough on my first maneuver, then pumped and slayed the section which had presented itself.  I got hung up on the lip some, but managed to descend and pump a couple more times which led to another rooster tail of spray on my last turn.

I kicked out amped, but crestfallen at the paddle back that lay before me. 

Ten minutes later I was almost almost in position and caught a small one.  I faded off the back on my first turn and after I surfaced I realized I was really gone.  I figured Raquel needed help with the girls at the pool so I went in and managed to scrape my knee up on a surprise big boy rock on the inside.

That one wave was worth it.  After three sets in one hour (first one blasted me, second one I blasted, third one was blasted by the locals), I figured I'd gotten what I was going to get given the circumstances.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

11.4.18 Best Waves I've Ever Surfed in El Salvador

IN NOVEMBER! 😂😄😃😊😏😐😕😒😟😡😢

As you probably surmised from my emoji game, these are the only waves I've surfed in El Salvador in November.  The last time I was in El Salvador in November was my tenth grade year in 1995 and I wasn't surfing then.

I was allowed a reprieve from daddy duty on this day so I shot down to the beach.  I was overjoyed that I was allowed entry into Pando's development (he owns a lot there).  My joy turned to pain when the security guard by the pool (which is next to the point break I wanted to surf) said that Pando was behind on his monthly payments so I had to leave.  It turned out this wasn't the case and was a clerical error...

So I drove into the neighboring beach, parked the car and walked all the way back.  It looked abysmal.  Small and fat.  I watched it a few minutes, then walked all the way back to the beachbreak and paddled out.  I surfed that for forty-five minutes. What I should say is I sat there for 44.9 minutes and caught one wave that didn't close out right away. I had to finesse my way into it and did a crappy snap on the end section from which I rode away.

I decided this sucked, walked ALL the way back to the pointbreak and watched it for about seven or eight minutes.  Nary a set broke.  I turned to walk back, intent on paddling back out at a different part of the beachbreak (it had been slow but the tide had dropped and maybe it would start working).

I decided to turn back for one more look and I saw a set!  It wasn't much but my stoke threshold had been dropped to almost nil from the morning's festivities so out thar!

Long story short, I did one pretty sick snap on a wave and that was it.  The good news is I had gotten exercise and been outside.

I guess...

Thursday, October 18, 2018

10.10.18 Aaron's swan song at El Recodo

I braved the road from town to La Libertad after it had been further battered by the monsoon-light's dousing.

Aaron was leaving today so I took advantage of school having been cancelled (and freeing me from taking Lucia) and got one last session in with him.

I borrowed a voluminous but very short board. Long story short (*snort!*)...

I caught zero waves of note.  The highlight of the session was just before paddling out I saw a dead mouse floating to and fro.

Aaron went in to pack and I mostly floated/somewhat paddled to the beachbreak.  When I used to surf El Recodo half my life ago, I assumed the waves down there were all rocks, given what lay beneath me.  It turns out it's beautiful, forgiving soft sand.

I found this last tidbit out after deciding to abort on a late takeoff.  I was worried about the rocks so I jumped off and did a shallowish dive to the side of the wave.  I gingerly put my foot down upon surfacing and it was that great spongy stuff!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

10.7.18 El Recodo with Aaron!!

I picked up Aaron from his pad in El Tunco and we drove to Mizata.  There was a house for sale there that I wanted to see, because it was suspiciously cheap.

We drove through three of the five tunnels toward Mizata, admiring the waterfalls from the deluge as well as some small landslides and fallen trees.

Eventually we reached an impasse.  A cliff had fallen and there was no way to get around it in a car.

So we flipped a bitch and headed back, stopping once so Aaron could take a look at a point break, from the road, that was kind of breaking.

I took him to San Blas, the beach at which I'd spent a lot of time as a kid.  It was semi-rideable.  Every once in a while a reeling right would break and stir our loins.

I drove him down to El Recodo, a point break at which I'd surfed a lot in my summers away from my pizza delivery gig (which is where I first met Aaron).  We didn't have a good angle on it but Aaron was amping at the potential.

We ended up surfing for just under three hours.

This was my first time surfing this spot without one of da boyz (either Pando, Chamba, or Chuleta) guiding me into the surf. 

Using the river as an ingress point has several advantages:
  1. Extra cushion of water.  If you slip, your fall will be slowed by the extra water.
  2. River push-back. The onslaught of water coming from the ocean is relatively slowed down when it meets the constant river outlet
  3. The express. Once you do start paddling (and taking advantage of the extra water cushion), you will be shuttled out to the water much faster.

On my first wave I was able to levitate onto the lip and while up there, a local, older grom was right in my path.  I grabbed my rail and leaned back, away from him, and hard.  He duckdove under me without issue though the wave was blown.

The wind was onshore and the waves were bumpy, but within forty-five minutes, the wind stopped and then flipped offshore!  These are the rewards of paddling out during a storm.  The rain would 

I caught a couple of waves on which I did some pretty sick initial turns.  I believe my record for maneuvers on a wave was three.  I could have had longer rides but I was intent on doing a roundhouse cutback.  I blew at least three of these, though I did slide the fins out on one attempt.

I also managed a turn on which I got hung up on the lip seemingly forever, slammed my hand down onto the deck and leaned forward, then somehow found a way to biff.

On the way back to the car, we had to navigate the river.  It had gained some breadth since we'd paddled out given all the extra rain.  Every time you picked a foot up, it would be moved towards the ocean.  On a left foot put-down, it slipped on a rock and I kept sliding while looking for footing.  I got about halfway to doing the splits before it found purchase in a crevasse, leaving me with a couple of cuts.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

9.30.18 First One In at El Palmarcito

The previous day's lower tide showed that El Palmarcito could bare some teeth with a little less water waterboarding it.  I was close to paddling out since there was only one dude out but the wind kept getting worse and I was over it.

When I got to the sand this morning I thought it was flat.  I kept walking because I thought I could paddle around some since I'd made the trek down.  Eventually I saw some action at the point, but it was underwhelming.

I knew if I got lucky on the timing and if a slight surge in swell showed, I could get something rideable for more than five seconds.  So I walked that way and paddled out to it.

There were two highlights. I caught a right that seemed to keep growing as I dropped down (not saying much as it was about three feet when I popped up).  I turned up, then down, quickly, then again.  I then got clotheslined by the lip I hadn't seen because of the glare.

My last wave was better and I actually completed my first turn in over a month, though the wave could have been more into me.  It didn't push back as much as I'd hoped and while I successfully completed the maneuver it wasn't as satisfying as I would have liked.

It's interesting as a surfer how a wave can break a certain way and you can get a flashback to a certain session about which you'd forgotten.  That happened to me on the way in; as the waves sloped a certain way, I was reminded of a day at the Del Mar beachbreak when I was in my early 20's.

9.29.18 First One Out at El Palmarcito

My in-laws were coming down and I booked a pad for them to stay and enjoy El Salvador's beaches.

My goal was to find a place within walking distance to surf that would have wi-fi, a pool, access to facilities, and would allow our mutt to stay there.

The above really narrowed my price range but we got into a place that was a bit dodgy-looking in the pics.  Thankfully it wasn't bad once there.

El Palmarcito is a wave about which I hadn't heard up until a few years ago.  It wasn't a mysto spot, and it's not a new discovery.  It's a very unpredictable logger wave.

I first paddled out where I'd seen some locals messing around the previous afternoon.  I had jumped into the water to bodysurf and had an EddieSurfs first: I accidentally pooped myself in the water (I'd been battling a stomach bug since Wednesday and had already murdered the McDonald's toilet prior to leaving for the beach).

I caught a disorganized left and pumped on it but couldn't get in rhythm.

I eventually drifted down towards what I'd gathered was the actual point break.  I caught a quick close-out and then I paddled up to the point a bit more.

A couple of false starts later and I caught the wave of the day.  I got a couple of backside pumps on it before it fizzled out.  I went in and had a bitch of a time doing so!  I had to do the awkward ride-a-wave-in, but-jump-over-the-shorebreak dance a couple of times and my left big toe got smashed when a cobblestone rolled onto it just as I was preparing to leap.

Monday, August 27, 2018

8.25.18 San Blas Beachbreak Sesh

Pando has purchased a lot just down the way from the my ex-stepdad's former beach house.  He said we could come and visit his development so we wouldn't be subject to the 'consumo mínimo' issues at hotels/restaurants, in which we'd have to spend a certain amount of money to warrant their allowing us to use their facilities.

Due to what I'm hereby christening as Salvapathy (the gatekeepers wouldn't call the office to confirm Pando had followed proper protocol in establishing us as his official guests, despite proof-in-hand), we were rebuffed and we sought shelter at nearby Rancho Playa Bruna, a converted beach house which is now a hostel/restaurant.  We had to consume at least $20 ($10/adult) of food and beverage so that we could post up and use their pool.

I did something I hadn't done in Lord knows how long.  I trekked to the water without first having checked the forecast/tide/wind.  It reminded me of when I first started surfing, twenty-one years ago this month, and I would drive to the beach with only what the Del Mar Lifeguards' often-erroneous forecast said, in my head (courtesy of San Diego Union-Tribune).

The waves were better than last time.  Where I first paddled out they were pretty slow despite the lowish tide.  There was a crowd of four out.  I could tell they were foreign by their pale skin but it wasn't until I drifted closer that I ascertained as to their being from Germany.

The absolute highlight of the session was an outsider that bowled over as it hit the inside sandbar.  I may have gotten covered up but I had zero faith in making it due to it being low tide.  I raced ahead of the lip and tried for a snap but I was too late and I ended up on my ass.

I had another wave on which I slid the tail out on a snap and suffered a similar fate.

My session count has been predictably decimated by our distance from the water.  Though I do look forward to more variety and am definitely enjoying the lack of crowds.

8.12.18 Solo Beachbreak Sesh Eastside MaHawaii

I hadn't surfed this, the beach on which I'd spent many weekends during my formative years, since 2005.  We pulled up to a place so the girls could eat and I could paddle out. 

The waves were as good as the breakfast!  And the breakfast was bad... 😑  My wife, who has an addiction to salt in her food, said the eggs were too salty!

Although by myself, the session was barred from being a magical one due to the close-outs.  I think I got one look at a wall, and it was too quick for a surfer of my caliber.

I went in earlier than I'd wanted, as I wanted to make sure the girls were happy; my biggest one was suffering from oversalted eggs.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

7.27.18 Back to La Bocana, El Salvador

My surf mojo was going through a crisis of consciousness.  I'd previously enjoyed lightly fettered access to a reliable and sometimes magical beachbreak.  All I'd had to do was grab my board and go.

Now I was thirty kilometers away, in a borrowed car (which I'd be parking out in the open).

Several factors had stymied my attempts to paddle out sooner.  Massive swell coupled with a brutally low tide was the first.  The swell models predicted a slow marching-down in size and I made plans to surf.

The gods had other plans for me.  That Saturday evening, I ordered a pizza and in my haste to meet the pizza guy I ran barefoot on these wet too-smooth stepping stones.  My index toe curled under the pad of my foot and was crushed into the sharp edge of the awaiting next stepping stone.  I thought for sure I'd broken it and cautiously canceled the next day's session.

On two occasions, massive thunderstorms and their accompanying rain derailed my plans.

And finally, on a very dark Friday morning, the stars aligned so I could presumably bring you this blog entry!

As previously alluded to, I was in a borrowed car.  I didn't know if the key had a chip so I couldn't risk getting it wet by taking it into the water with me.  This meant Punta Roca was out.  I realized if Chuleta was at the hotel I could surf La Bocana and it just so happened he'd spent the night there!

I was really surprised at just how many rocks I'd have to dance on to paddle out.  There was also a suspicious smell in the air as my toes hit the remarkably warm water.

I caught five waves.  I had a massive lull before I caught my last one, by far my best.   Since I hadn't caught anything in so long, I went on a questionable one as I was really late.  I got a massive amount of speed and hooted myself as I made eye contact with a local while adjusting my course so as not to hit him. I connected on the inside but I had no speed when  I tried to bonk off the oncoming section.

I took a lot of beatings out there as it was really shifty.  Unfortunately, though the waves were still big, they were mostly all drop.

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 diehard trivia fans ONLY.
DO NOT ATTEMPT to read if you're just a casual.

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.

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...


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.