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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