Friday, May 02, 2008
Mexican Board Breaking Party
Hola from Baja Sur! We're two days into our first vacation to Mexico as a family: seven days at an all-inclusive resort in San Jose del Cabo. The accommodations are a bit cheesy, but the food is decent and the beers are cold and there's a punchy beachbreak right outside the hotel that has been very good since we arrived.
Above are some pictures I took yesterday morning, before the wind came up. A handful of local surfers charge this spot with almost suicidal enthusiasm. The beach is steep, which causes a pretty dramatic shorepound that has the potential to take its toll on body and board. Here's a story:
Yesterday while I was taking pictures, I met to a local guy who had been body surfing. He explained that he normally rides a surfboard, but that he'd snapped his and was waiting to get it fixed. He proceeded to point out that the left to the north was better for tubes, and that he surfed a "new style" that wasn't about doing too many tricks, but just flowing with the wave. Size wasn't important to him, shape was everything. "No cords," he said. No leashes. You can see the little left in my second photo. By the time I returned my camera to the hotel, fed the baby, taped up a ding (thanks to airline baggage) and waxed my board with warm water Zog's, the wind came up and blew the surf out. I caught a few, but it wasn't great.
This morning I was determined to do better, so I woke up early and headed up the beach. The south swell bump that was predicted (6 ft at 18 seconds) had finally hit and it looked more like 10-12 foot faces that held up in threatening walls until they finally exploded in the shallows. There were three guys charging on step-ups and I watched them with my trusty 5'8 under my arm. They were riding all the way inside and pulling out at the last second before things got hairy. I'll admit that I was a little gunshy, especially after one of the guys snapped the nose off his board on a somewhat benign cover-up.
Then, trotting down the beach in a black t-shirt with a skateboard under one arm, a sepia-toned, crusty old Rusty under the other, and a joint hanging out of his mouth was the guy I met yesterday. He was hooting and pointing up the beach at the same left he had been so enthusiastic about before. It didn't look that great to me, but every once in a while the wave would peel perfectly in a teardrop-shaped shoulder high barrel toward us. The guy asked me for wax and I asked him where he got the board. He said he got it for $30 bucks. Looking at the yellowed foam and patchwork of ding repairs, I thought he may have gotten ripped off, but I handed him my wax and watched him quickly lay it on the old deck. We stood there a minute longer and he re-lit his mota, asking, "You wanna try?" I said I was good, to which he said, "No, try the waves!" I said I'd watch a few more minutes and then join him. Next thing I knew he was running down the sandy slope to the waterline and yelling as he launched past the first wall of whitewater, no leash to tangle his feet.
It took him about five seconds to get his first wave and he did it with complete fluidity. Backlit by the sun, he carved a few turns, the trailing wake from his tail curling up behind him into the throwing lip, but kept things pretty compact and in the pocket until he got nearly to the dry sand, where he hopped of and grabbed the board in ankle-deep water. As he paddled back out, I watched the other three surfers who were still attacking the bigger bombs to the south. One attempted a 360 bunny hop on the open face and landed it. I turned back to watch my new friend and he had already latched himself into another picturesque left, doing graceful turns off the top, inside, the wave hit some backwash and it doubled up, causing the lip to throw out higher and farther than expected. The guy pulled in really deep with tons of speed but the lip came down ahead of him. I could see his dark figure sliding along behind the curtain for a few seconds before it turned into a big foamball. When he popped up, he was in waist-deep water and he made a funny gesture at me, pulling his two hands apart. I looked for his board and instantly knew what he was telling me: it was broken in half. That was two boards in about 10 minutes. I ran south to grab the fin side and he chased the nose. When we met back up, he was smiling. He looked at my shiny board and joked: "Maybe we should use yours now!" His name was Jose.
I did paddle out about 20 minutes later, after things settled down a little, and caught three really solid waves. They were exactly where Jose had been telling me to go the whole time. Then the cleanup sets came and washed me up the beach, dangerously close to the inside section (pictured in the last photo). I decided to call it a day. The wind was coming up anyway.