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Sunday, July 1, 2012

6.30.12 Las Flores Evening Glass-Off Session w/ Chamba and Pando

Pando invited us along on his honeymoon, but he would not let us sleep in his room (I asked).  Chamba and I trekked to the far east of the country.   I am happy to report I have completely switched over into my Salvadoran driving habits.  I now pass cars with reckless abandon, pushing my rented Kia Spectra to its limits.  We threaded through downtown Usulutan traffic and remarked at all of the funny names for stores and restaurants, all presumably named after the families' daughters or matriarchs.

After two and a half hours, we finally reached our destination.  Las Flores is a sleepy town whose economy is based almost completely on surf tourism.  There are multiple hotels.  Pando paid  $~200 for his room.  We split a $20 windowless concrete brick bunker with a shared bathroom.

Here's some footy of the camp.  The first building you see, next to where Chamba is swinging on the hammock, is our room (well, one-fifth of it is).

We each ate a whole fried fish and watched the crappy surf get slightly less crappy.  It looked about one foot out there and we were pessimistic over the potential for tonight's session.

Pando came down from his gilded room up on the cliff to meet us in our favela.  We paddled out about halfway up the point, where a couple were coming through.  About five minutes later, I'd caught two crappy waves I had a hard time staying on.  We saw the outside start to show some pulses.  An older American guy who looked like he could be someone's grandpa was absolutely killing it.   He is definitely the oldest ripper I've ever come across.

We decided to try our luck out there after a second set rolled through, proving it wasn't a freak set the old guy tore apart.  The setup reminded me a lot of Ollie's Point in Costa Rica.  It too is a right point at which you have to sit very close to the rocks if you want to catch a wave from the first sign of steepness.

My first wave at the point took me a while to catch.  We were dealing with over twenty heads in the water.  Normally, a point break can accommodate a crowd. Because it was so small, this wasn't the case.  There were only two real takeoff zones and the inside one was alternating between chunky and racy, depending on which direction that particular wave's swell came from.

Finally, an unspoken-for wave came and I popped up.  I descended diagonally, the corners of my eyes scanning  for those sharp rocks on the inside.  I bottom turned with my upper body turning towards my target just outside the lip of the wave.  I smacked it, but got hung up on the lip and faded out the back.  It was a bummer, but at least I'd caught one.

I asked Chamba if you could see Nicaragua from here and he said you could on a clear day.  I'm still a little skeptical as you have to look across the sizable Golfo de Fonseca.  I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

I caught another wave within fifteen minutes, this time I turned more critically and vertically, but I had a very similar result.  I let out a grunt of frustration.

I decided I had to be the one who was farthest out and sat oh so close to the indicator rocks.  I only had one hairy instance during which I got a little too close.

My third wave was a doozy, a nice shoulder-high set wave.  I threw my arms and upper body towards my target, stomped on my back foot, then rotated hard, slamming my weight on to my front foot.  A lot of spray came off my rail, so I imagine even more came off my tail.  I turned again a bit more meekly, I didn't have the angle I liked and did a lip bash.  I stomped that and kicked out. NICE.

My fourth wave sectioned off.  I pumped hard and made it around the section.  I did a quick floater, but that's all that wave had in store for me.  I hung out about two-thirds of the way out, not sure if it was worth the continued paddling.  Chamba sat at the very outside for a half-hour before a set came that he was able to snag.  I asked him if the wait was worth it and he said, "Apenas". Just barely.

The crowd had thinned slightly.  From the high of 25 littered along the point we were down to about eighteen.  I paddled all the way out again and sat with a guy in a red longsleeve rash guard.  Chamba had warned me that the guy is a renowned wave thief.  He struck up a conversation in Spanish with me and told me he was from Miami.  We chatted for about twenty minutes with absolutely nothing coming through.  He caught a sweet one, but he ended having to pump seemingly forever and got one maneuver in before he fell.

Another tweny-five minutes passed.  I told Miami I was going to pack it in.  Just as I said that the wave I'd been waiting for arrived.  I pumped and smacked it hard, my best turn of the day.  I did a slight cutty so the wave would catch up.  I turned a little too sharply on my second turn and buried my rail with no speed, leading to a horizontal fade.  It was pretty dark out, so I bailed.

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