Sunday, November 24, 2013

Four Days In Los Cerritos (Part II)

Adventure in Baja is only a thumbs up away.  Here's what I mean:  I was a bit stranded in Pescadero after having a cup a joe at Baja Beans (B.D. recommended).  After an hour of too much Twitter and Facebook checking/updating, and no ride home, I decided to hitch hike back to Los Cerritos.  The surf was good and I knew I had to get back to get some more of that warm, pumping, wetness.  After 10 minutes of holding my thumb out, I was picked up by a Salsipuede from Connecticut and his buddy, a true local.  Nice guys, they even invited me over for a barbecue, but I couldn't oblige, I had surf to tend to.  They dropped me off at the dirt road just off the autopista that leads to Los Cerritos.  After taking ten steps down the road, a white rental car with two Si Se Puedes' offered me a ride to the beach.  How lucky can a bro get!  These two fellas were sweethearts.  We talked about good beer, bird dogging, and life.  After a few brewskys  at the bar, they recommended that I take visit over to  "Art & Beer".

That's Alfredo above, who runs Art and Beer with his partner, Lourdes.  He kept me, Steve and Andreas hostage.  Yes, literally, not figuratively.  While Alfredo made our drinks we took a walk around his back yard.  We walked on his homemade promenade, which is about five feet off the ground.  His back yard was full of exotic plants, cactus and funky art.  Now and then we would run into corners where there would be shade, a table and a couple of chairs.  On the walls that held up the small roofs, Polaroids of Alfredo with either a celebrity or a beautiful woman would appear.

Art and Beer's promenade. 
Within twenty minutes we heard our name and grabbed our Margaritas.  Huge tall glasses were filled to the rim.  The alcohol content was more than half of whatever fruit was mixed in.  Within ten minutes of sipping and eating some of the tasters that Alfredo brought out, we were buzzing.  But the time was about 3pm, and I needed to get ready to surf.  I wasn't going to S.U.I., or Surf Under the Influence, that's not my thing.  So I left my drink half full.  I asked for the bill and Alfredo said "No, no puede pagar hasta que termine su bebida!"  (You cannot leave until you finish your drink!) I explained my situation and he replied "¿Qué? No se puede terminar una bebida chica? ¿Eres una niña?" (What?  You can't finish that little girl drink?  Are you a little girl or something?)  'Hell no! I'm not a little girl' is what I thought.  So I took that Mango Margarita and downed it like a champ.  "There you go bro, where's my check!"  Alfredo looked at me with a sinister little smile and picked up what was left in the blender and continued to pour it into my glass, filling it half full.  If I was at the club and had Jennifer Lawrence posted up next to me, I'd be good with what Alfredo just pulled.  But I wanted to surf sober, and for good surf, I'd even leave Jennifer Lawrence hanging.   With an eager and challenging tone in his voice, Alfredo said "Termine eso, niña!"  (Finish that, you little girl!)

It looks tasty, but it creeps up on you and bam!  Your S.U.I.'ing.
With the world watching, I slowly drank the 80% tequila'd "girl" drink.  After I was done, and totally buzzed, I looked Alfredo in the eyes and said "Finito!"  Another sinister smile appeared on Alfredo's face as he slowly turned around and went to his refrigerator.  He grabbed three Red Stripes for the three of us, popped the tops off with his hands, and in English said "Pay after you finish".  Yeah, I ended up S.U.I.'ing that day. 

We stayed in the "Cerrtios Surf Colony", which is directly on the beach.  The place is pretty awesome, two stories, two and a half bathrooms, full kitchen and living room.  But the upstair rooms were filled with this green dust.  The managers explained that it was non toxic and caused by a bug eating the thatched roofs.  To say the least, I didn't sleep much and by the third day I got tired of cleaning green stuff of my luggage.  I actually hid my stuff in the closet from the green dust.  MC tried to get us another room, but we were stuck.  They did send somebody to clean everyday, a very nice gal that I would greet "Hola Guapa" to every morning after returning from the surf.  But the green stuff just kept falling.  Would I recommend this place?   That's tough to say, the green stuff made it unbearable at times.  But really, who gives a shit when your there less than a quarter of the time and just steps from the beach.  I just filed the annoyance under "first world problems" as anybody, including the friends I made down that way would have loved to have stayed there.

Juan the life Guard
I met Juan in the water the second day I was out.  I had my GoPro stuck in my mouth and he would paddle by, with a big 'ol smile throwing up a shaka sign.  I figured out on the third day that he was the lifeguard of the beach during the weekends, which started Thursday and ended on Sunday.  Lifeguards in surfing are our patrons, from Eddie Aikau to Brian KeaulanaThey know their breaks the best, they are the locals above all locals and the surf historians of the past and present in their designated communities.  And Juan is exactly that.  Juan really welcomed me into his community and within three days, I felt as if I was family.  No other place, other than the Big Island, have I felt so much warmth and connection with a community, and it was all thanks to Juan.  And not only is he the patron of Los Cerritos, but he is probably on of the two best surfers on that beach.  The best surfer on the beach is his younger brother, Carlos.   

Carlos finished 12th at the Mexican Surf Nationals in Rosarito in 2013
Simply, Carlos rips.  He has a blend of speed and raw power when he surfs.  He also has that "latin flow".  I see that a lot in the Latin surfing community, this certain fluidity, as if the surfer is moving to music, dancing with the wave, loose and unrobotic, as if they are going for it all, but with grace.  I've witnessed this type of "flow"in grown men down in El Salvador to groms in Punta Mida.  Carlos has that.  In addition, his air game is unbelievable.  I saw him almost pull off a full rodeo.  In other times, I saw him pull of a backside three sixty and other aerial moves effortlessly.  One day, while I had the camera on, Juan sat there with me rooting on his brother on each wave, predicting his next moves.  Juan appeared more than a big brother that day.  He resembled a proud coach and in some cases, a proud father.  Juan is a great surfer and likely coached Carlos, and Carlos appears to have transcended all the things Juan taught him.  But Juan is first and foremost a big brother, and non transparently, always watching out for Carlos, making sure that he has it better then him in every way, giving up his surfing dreams and putting all his hopes for the future in Carlos.   

"O.K. Boys!  See that wave....  That wave is ming!!!"
Your probably wondering who that guy is with the beer. Well, that's Lukan.  I met him while in the water, as he claimed each wave by announcing "That wave is ming!"  We started trading waves after our first session together, he would take the lefts and I would go right, but the lefts were way funner, so he eventually had to shares those too.  Back in the day, Lukan was a professional BMX rider, sponsored and all.  He toured the States, participated in exhibitions, and even became a regular performer during Laker and Clipper half time shows.  He lived in San Diego for a decade after he got tired of crossing the San Ysidro over and over again for work.  And than at age 16, he learned how to surf at Imperial Beach. But as he grew older, he got tired of the cold water and June gloom and decided to move to Baja Sur for warmer weather and warmer waves.  He eventually bought a home there and now surfs (proudly) four hours each day.

Besides surfing, Lukan owns a Baja surf map company and is opening up his own Torta Shop that will serve a special El Pastor, a family recipe handed down to him.  He also became one of my best buds.  From crashing weddings to drinking down some Modelos, Lukan became a homey for life.  We even had our code words like "Gaviotan" which means Seagull.  Seagulls love to pick up left overs, as do surfers that cut others off and blatantly snake.  So if he caught you snaking a regular, you were the "Gaviotan" for the day, and you didn't want to be that guy.  We even acted as a team in the water, staying close and splitting a-framers, Lukan having the priority on the lefts and me on the rights.  But what I appreciate the most about Lukan is how he watched out for me and others in the lineup.  He is the big brother, the "O.G." of the lineup.  He's seen, lived and survived it all and everybody respects that about him.  But he also has this sinister but hilarious sense of humor that is contagious.  If every lineup in the world had a Lukan, the world would be a better place.

Everywhere I've ever gone, I have always learned lessons from the people that I met, even before surfing.  And the lesson that I learned from my friends in Los Cerritos was "opportunity" and where it can lead.  Lukan told me the story about how he became a Pro BMX rider.  A promoter came to his hometown and asked for volunteers for an exhibition which was going to be far from his home.  There were better riders than him, some older and some younger, but the thought of leaving their home petrified them.   Lukan, being a scroungy grom at the time, was the only one to raise his hand, jumping at the opportunity for a better life.  A lot of the guys that I met out that way have done the same, jumping at opportunities without a clear path, and most of the times with blind faith.  And a lot of the times, it didn't work out, and in some cases, still trying to work itself out.  But they did it, alone, and now, they have each other.  Opportunity brought them all together.  And that is more than one could ever ask for.

Community.  Family. The two things I think we all search for.

But all good things must come to a close and before we knew it, we were on our way to La Paz to jump on the Baja Ferry to Mazatlan.  I didn't get to formerly say goodbye to two guys that made my experience in Los Cerritos worthwhile, Lukan and Carlos.  I remember Lukan telling me that he likes to have a beer after his sessions in front of a store in Pescadero.  We drove to the store, and there sitting on the stoop was Lukan.  Lukan and I said our goodbyes, and like the O.G./ big brother he is, told us unequivocally "DO NOT DRIVE AT NIGHT OVER THERE!"  That's Lukan, always looking out.  I gave Lukan a note I had written on the back of a Harry's Diner sticker for Carlos, as I was unable to find him at Los Cerritos.  And then we were off, driving east to La Paz.  And as I left this part of Baja, so did I leave a piece of myself that can only be retrieved with a return.  Which will be soon.

Next Blog:  The Ferry

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