Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Grom and The Slayer

I surfed Linda Mar for about five hours on Sunday.  For about eighty percent of the time, the waves were clean, the water was glassy and the wind was next to none.  I surfed with the usual suspects, but they ended up leaving to O.B. for a second sesh and I decided to hang out and enjoy good ol' Linda on one of those five days a year when she actually has some decent waves.  

I surfed North of the pump house.  I caught a great head high right, a pretty good left and a bunch of dumping closeouts.  That swell that everybody is talking about was definitely previewing itself.  On one of the waves, I paddled for a left hander with this grom on a boogie board.  I had the wave but pulled out and watched this grom roll down it, smiling ear to ear with his braces shining in the sun.  The grom paddled back to where I was sitting.  I looked at him and gave him props for a great ride.  He had this pretty stoked look on his face.  I gave him a proud look and paddled off to the north.  

As I was paddling, I noticed the grom was following me.  I stopped and asked the kid what his name was, he replied Isaac.  Isaac looked like he was around twelve, husky and filled with stoke.  We ended up hanging out for three hours, trading waves, laughing at the usual weekend Linda Mar circus, laughing at each other's wipeouts and just having a blast.  At one point, I asked him if his mother taught him not to talk to a stranger.  He replied back "Your not a stranger, your the B.D.!"  LOL!

A good size set went off around thirty yards to the north of us.  The set had a great looking wave that crashed perfeclty and offered an unridden curtain call to the right.  Isaac looked over at me and said "Dude, that looked like a wave on that show 'Hawaii 5-0'!"  The things kids say.

Isaac ended up leaving after a few hours.  We both debated whether to leave or not, me needing to rest for work on Monday and him having tons of homework.  I ended up telling him to go home before his mother gets worried.  He agreed, smiled with his shining braces, caught a wave and boogie boarded to the shore.  Great kid.  

I ended up surfing a few more hours and met up with a friend of a friend who introduced me to a fella who was surfing in El Salvador the same time as me, but six hours south of El Tunco at a beach called Las Flores.  Let's call him "The Slayer".  We agreed that the waves were huge, thick and fast.  He said he caught some rides of his life, raising his hands in barrels, touching the ceiling and witnessing walls the size of apartment buildings stretch into the horizon as he rode them into the sunset. 

The Slayer said at first, it was pretty intimidating.  He described broken boards and superstar groms from the States having "the fear" in their eyes.  I told him I was pretty much on red alert the whole time too, skipping out on much of the swell.  But then he said that he started getting used to the size and it ended up being really fun for him.  I saw him in the lot after our session and asked him how he "got used to" surfing such huge waves.  He said he had been surfing since he was three and regularly surfed bigger waves in the winter.  Then he gave me this advice: "If you really want to get comfortable in bigger waves, you have to go out on the biggest days and just get worked and then after a while you'll just start thinking 'this ain't that bad!'."

The Slayer showed me a picture similar to this where he was basically slaying a monster.

So back to the present.  The forecast says that we are suppose to have some pretty decent swell for the next week.  I'm thinking I'm gonna take The Slayers advice, man up and get a piece of this monster. I've been working pretty hard on my fitness over the summer and now I feel physically confident that I can take on this endeavor.  My heads back in place and I feel pretty confident with my balance and my ability to make the steeper drops.  But it comes down to that "moment" when you paddle into a monster.  You look down and you see that steep wall and either you go or you back off.  But then again, there is no backing off, no hesitation when that moment comes.  I learned that in El Sal when I caught the ride of my life. Since then, I've been telling myself "I did it once and I can do it again."  When it all comes down to it, it's all about embodying the stoke of Isaac and the confidence of The Slayer. Let's do this.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Preoccupations and Expectations...

I've been pretty preoccupied lately.  Because of this, I have felt a bit of a regression in my surfing.  Not making the drop, not popping up as quickly as usual, losing my balance in situations where I'm usually pretty solid and being nervous and uncomfortable in situations where I'm usually pretty confident.   

This preoccupation has not been something forced (as in the grind) but an occupation of what we find as we journey through life.  A lot of good things have filled my life and I'm pretty lucky for them.  But at times it has taken away from my surfing, the one thing I really cherish and love in this universe.  Lately, I have been reminiscing the grom days.  Days when I had no idea what a surf forecast was and would hit the beach "just because".  "Just because" I love the ocean and how it feels, from the gentle wave to the 60 second hold down.  I miss not being able to sleep due to the excitement of going "surfing" the next day.  I miss the excitement of driving down to the beach, getting out of my car and smelling that cold, moist, salty ocean at five in the morning, running out to the cliff and either being stoked that it was firing or disappointed because it was flat.

I miss not having any expectations.  Yes, I guess that's what this whole entire written process/ ramble is all about.  Not having one - fucking - expectation of what's out there.  Just being. Being whatever on a whatever day on our beautiful planet in front of our beloved Pacific.  When did that feeling of just being - being a surfer - leave?  I have no idea when...  I remember last year when I paddled out with my cousin at Lani's on the North Shore, it being over head to double over head and not even giving a damn about my "skill level".  Did I realize that the surf on that day was way beyond it?  No, I just paddled out and went for it.  On that day, I caught my first legit tube.  A year later, in a similar situation in El Salvador, the same waves were beyond my skill level.  On that day, all I felt was nervousness and fear. What was the difference between both days?  Me?  The waves?  The company?  My head? I have no idea.  Is it suppose to make sense? No tiende...

I took that concept of having no expectations with me on Saturday to Ocean Beach.  I met up with Johnny in front of the restaurant not knowing that hundred's of people were taking care of Mrs. O.B. and working to make her spiffy clean.  It was a great thing to see (and join), and even better when it was unexpected.  The surf looked small, but we insta-suited up, ran out to the salt water and jumped in.  The surf wasn't great, but then again, it was great just because.  After paddeling around for a bit, I nodded at Johnny towards Kelly's.  Johnny took a look and we both said to each other "Why not?"

We caught one to the shore, walked over to Kelly's and low and behold, a couple of clean wedges were forming up for some chest high fun.  The crowd was plenty, but I didn't expect much, so it really didn't matter.  I watched a couple of the old school O.B. regulars rip one wave after another, throwing buckets and tossing air.  Felt like I was young again by just being a spectator.  Did I catch a few?  I caught a handful of decent waves that had me smiling ear to ear.  Did I take a couple spills?  Yeah, here and there, but I accepted it because I was taking a couple risky waves because I just wanted to "go for it" again.  We ended up staying at Kelly's for a good two hours, leaving the water only when our arms could no longer paddle.

Time, age and experience bring a lot of wisdom and character. But at the same time, I think they also hold us back.  When I'm with younger folks, I see them taking risks just because they don't know any better.  And I guess that's what I want to get back into, not knowing any better and just going for it.

This has been deep thoughts by yours truly.

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Monday, September 3, 2012


The crew @ El Paz, the "inside wave" in La Libertad, El Salvador.
The word "Love" gets tossed around a lot now days.  I over hear the word love being used to describe "I love this day", "I love it when you buy me chocolate" or when my wife tells me "I would love for you to wash the dishes and toss the trash." I really love when she throws that order out.

But I like the way John Mayer put it in his new album, "Love ain't a thing, Love is a verb".  Love in action is why we all took this trip to El Salvador.  Our Love for the Pacific and the waves she shares with us day in and day out.  But most importantly, Love that was triumphant, crossing thousands of miles, crossing borders and nationalities and bureaucracy and the bullshit that life throws at us.  We came to be part of the union between not one of, but the best man I know, and one of my dearest friends, Manav and his beautiful wife, Ruth's wedding.  When you witness love come together like we did, you know it exists and it is out there for every one of us.

All teary eyed and heart felt, lets get back to surfing!

The town of El Tunco in El Salvador.  Town is epic, go there!
We stayed in this small town called El Tunco.  This place is what's Central America surfing is all about.  Beach bum locals, stray dogs, warm water, black sand beaches, cheap food, Fanta, cheap beer  and epic surf.  By the end of the fourth day I knew a handful locals.  Tono, who I will referring to a lot, even called me B.D. on my last day in good ol' El Tunco.  

Ton-G and Bird Dogger Furry chillin' at our lounge in Qi-x.
We stayed at Qi-x surf camp, a five minute walk from the point break "La Bocana" and a lovely ten minute walk from Sanzul, a famous El Salvador right.  $10 a night, simple and earthy, Qi-x was perfect for us surfers.

We mostly surfed Sanzul.  It is a pretty fun wave that breaks about 200 yards from shore.  The first few days, it topped out at around 6 feet.  On the last few days it topped out at around 15 feet.  I would like to to say that I surfed it when it got to be "apartment building" size, but I didn't.  I know my limits and this was way beyond it.  I actually surfed it during the first morning (on a second attempt of paddling out) and caught some rides of my life!  This was all motivated by my boy Kush telling me "We gotta go out there and earn our breakfast".  Food is always a good motivation for the B.D.  Panama Red was also bugging me all morning to go out, and he was pretty convincing.  It was about 6'-10'.  But on the following evening and day, I didn't surf.  As good ol' local Tono said "I Love to surf, but I Love my life!" 

Ton-G, Johnny and The "Japanese Charger" heading out to the epic surf @ La Paz in La Libertad that I chose to sit out on.  Via Con Dios brothers...
On Saturday before the wedding we headed out to La Libertad, the home of the epic El Salvadorian point break, Punta Roca.  Shit was big, really big. Furry got out the cab with a worried face and said "Shit dude, I don't know if I can do this".  Furry, Kush and I tried to paddle out at La Paz, but we couldn't even make past the beach break (the inside wave in La Libertad which was suppose to be "fun" but was more like "deadly").  Ton-G, Johnny, the Japanese Charger, Crazy E and Dee paddled out and charged, much respect to those fellas!  On both days, whenever an apartment size wave sped towards my head, I thought of my wife.  That motivated me to live, which I am proud to say I did.

My weapon of choice, 6' x 19 flyer.
Good story:  On the first morning of the epic swell, Kush and I were on the outside at Sanzul waiting for waves.  Kush is pretty new to surfing and I was teaching him how to paddle hard to the right to make the huge sets coming in.  We made it past a few humongous sets, but during an extra large set I yelled at Kush "Paddle hard man, paddle as hard as you can!"  But as the waves approached I yelled "Kush!"  Kush looked back at me and I said sadly before I held my breath, "We're fucked :("  and we both got tossed for our lives.  Good times.  Happy ending.  We survived.

Little hermit crab hiding away like me from the big waves.

Kush and Furry chilling with me watching the power of the Pacific.
I really connected with this local named Toro in La Libertad.  Dude is a homeless surfer who lives for waves.  He told me a great story of how he was in jail in Las Vegas and an ASP event at Punta Roca came on T.V.  He told me he almost had to kick some peoples asses to keep them from changing the channel.  He said he yelled "Viva El Salvador" every time a local killed it on his home break. 

Some dude charging Punta Roca.

I walked over with the Japanese Charger to Punta Roca, the most famous wave in El Salvador.  We saw locals just charging triple over head, barreling waves.  I could feel the ground rumble as sets came through.  It was pretty awesome.  Pictures say a thousand words.  Check it!

Punta Roca - September 1, 2012. from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

Charging like a mutha!

Here is a video I made from this trip, full of great memories:

Tunco Es Liso from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

I've been to other destination weddings, but this trip was hands down, one of the best trips I have ever been on and the BEST wedding that I have ever been part of.  But it wasn't just the country, the town or the surf.  It was the people that I shared it with.  All the folks that made the trip are the most warmest, good hearted people that I have ever met.  And the the folks that I do know (Furry, Panama Red, Crazy E, Ton-G and Manav = A.K.A Kiwi Hippies) have already been spoken for and are Ohana for life.  But being the friends of Manav, we are just a reflection of his goodness and love.  And that's what it's all about.  Love.

Now back to texting with Furry.  We keep trying to relive the last five days of Epicness.

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Facebook @ Kookingitup

Sneak Preview: El Salvador

Warm water, nice waves (and then too huge to surf waves, at least for me), good friends, fresh food and finally epic love. That's what this trip was all about. Here is a preview of whats to come...

Coming Soon... from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

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Mahalo and keep surfing like it's your last wave!