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Friday, April 14, 2017

TALK STORY: The Infamous Cabo Trip, August 2007

My buddy Tim is a German national and had to leave and re-enter the country so as to renew his visa.  He invited me to go to Cabo with him.  I wasn't too excited about Cabo, so I suggested we go to Puerto Escondido, in Oaxaca, which is about 5/6ths of the way to El Salvador.

He mulled it over and decided he didn't want to "shit his pants while getting slammed by closeouts".  He also said, "My buddy just got back from there and he said it was the best surf trip of his life".  I looked at the SurfLie forecast for Cabo and it said it would be between 2-4' and 3-5' with fair to good conditions.  I booked my ticket, a little bummed we weren't going to Puerto.

On the way to our hotel, we spotted the famous Costa Azul Surf Shop, which you may be familiar with if you're an avid reader of bumper stickers like me.  We went in there and rented boards.  I spoke Spanish to the girl who worked there and tried to charm her into a lower price but it didn't work.  She said I was the first person from El Salvador to visit the surf shop, at least that she knew of.  That's really not an interesting factoid considering Cabo is not really a surf destination and El Salvador's waves are WAY better.

We checked into the hotel and made plans to scour the area for waves the next day.  We passed by a spot that reminded me of a zippier version of El Recodo in El Salvador, but the sets were maybe 2'.  After getting lost and having to ask for directions multiple times, we found our way to Shipwrecks, a fickle but great-when-it's-working point break after over an hour on washboard roads.  It was about as flat as could be.

We came ALL the way back around the cape and surfed El Tule, the aforementioned El Recodo-ish wave.  It was more fun than expected, but our hopes were so low that it was still a C- session.  The best part was that we had surfed it to ourselves.

Upon returning I logged on to check what the conditions were at Puerto Escondido, just to torture myself.  The surf report revealed my worst fears.  Puerto Escondido: 8-10' EPIC.  I had never seen Surfline assign this adjective to any day before and I have yet to see it again.  I showed it to Tim with a pissed off look on my face and he was really sweet about it.  He said, "Whatever dude, like you would've charged it".  I assured him I absolutely would have.

The next day we drove up the other side of the coast, on the Pacific side to a spot called Los Cerritos.  There were waves there, probably chest-high on the sets.  It was crowded, but we were getting waves.  The water was FREEZING and we were out in boardshorts.  We lasted as long as we could and went in to enjoy lunch.  Lunch wasn't great thanks to a squadron of flies that dogged us and our burgers throughout our meal.

We kept driving up the coast and exploring with very little sense of the surf.  We drove down several washboard roads that seemed to lead to the ocean.  On one of these, the angle of our approach was such that we were rocked violently from side to side very quickly, leading us to laugh our asses off.

We kept driving towards Cabo and saw a dilapidated sign that read "San Pedro RV Park".  We pulled off and went to explore what remained of someone's dream.  It was like visiting the rotting corpse of a business.  The windows had been smashed and the building while still standing, would not be for long. 
While there, inspiration struck because I leapt into a Madonna lyric "Last night I dreamt of San Pedro (RV Park)...".  There was a great set-up out front for waves and we could see fading murals of the wave in its day, doing its thing.  No waves on this day, though.

Our last Friday of the trip, we rolled up to Monuments, just outside of Cabo San Lucas.  I'd salivated over its pics as it was a meaty left point, but both times we'd checked it had sucked; tiny and/or unsurfable. Well, our final check revealed racetrack lefts coming down the short point and only spongers on it! 

We headed back to the car and our boards and then back out to the point.  We paddled out and I noticed there weren't enough waves for all of us.  There were maybe two spongers now and they were sitting deeper than us.  As one caught a wave, I decided to go deeper than his remaining counterpart.

I was almost immediately rewarded with the undisputed best wave of the trip.  I gingerly drew lines up and down the face with a very side-to-side approach, careful not to ruin the first great wave I'd had all trip.

I buzzed upon kick-out.  My lust for more seemed to increase with each paddle stroke.  I set up outside both spongers this time and within five minutes another set wave came.  I had to pull back on this one as it seemed to section off right where I was.  I paddled in a little more so I would be inside the sectioning bit but still outside the remaining sponger. 

A nice-sized wave came and I was all over it.  I had great positioning on it, maybe even a little early.  I paddled my ass off, slid up and descended straight.  I was about to start shifting my weight towards my toes when I went FLYING over the nose of my board. 

Instincts kicked in and I threw my arms out to protect me from whatever impact there may be.  I hit only water, thankfully, but my board was ominously laying two misaligned fins up. NOOOOOOOOO!  Mere seconds before, it had been a three-fin thruster.

I paddled the maimed board out of the danger zone and went in.  Tim had already gone in and asked me what happened.  I mentioned there had been an incident and flipped the board over.  Most of the tail had been delaminated revealing fresh white foam.  One side fin was torn off completely, its escape route etched into the board by the missing foam.

The center fin was poking through the deck of the board, about a fifth of it was showing through.  The third fin was undisturbed.  As I finished my mental assessment of the damage, Tim was in full cackle. He gleefully shrieked, "You're so fucked, dude! You're paying for that board.".  I, at my most optimistic (and unrealistic, I thought, as I uttered the following spoken thought), said "Nah , it'll probably be, maybe, eighty bucks".

We went back to Costa Azul and my first of many prayers was answered when the girl who'd rented our boards was behind the counter.  I came in, board and hat in hand, and flipped it over in front of her after saying there had been an incident.  She gasped, "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee! (English Onomatopoeic approximation)".

I chose my words carefully, saying it would obviously need two new fins and a pretty major patch job in the tail's rail and deck.  I admitted I would obviously have to pay a fair amount for the repairs.  She said, "You're going to have to pay for this board, $250".  I grimaced mournfully, respectfully disagreed, and went for another round about how the repairs would have to go.  She did another lap on my having to pay for the board, this time at half-effort, and I did my puppy-dog eyes routine and told her that the board wasn't totaled and was easily salvageable.

She started laughing and told me she was messing with me.  She surveyed the damage up close and after a flurry of Matt-Damon-at-the-chalkboard-in-Good-Will-Hunting type calculations, she showed me a handwritten receipt on which the final damage was $80.  I signed the credit card receipt, returned the board and ecstatically power-walked to the car where Tim was waiting.  I shoved the receipt practically in his face and screamed, "EIGHTY BUCKS, MOTHERFUCKER!".

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