Saturday, February 28, 2009
sometimes souped up with custom paint jobs and sound systems, but often hanging together by threads, mototaxis are an integral part of peru's public transportation system. in small towns, they can be the only way to get around, and save you lots of hassles walking along dusty roads. but they are dangerous in big cities and highways, where some drivers insist on driving them. in surf towns like mancora, they are often the fastest way to motate.
Friday, February 27, 2009
ceviche was invented in peru, and is an ancient dish that is quick, cheap and easy to make. fisherman that row into the bay of lima in rickety wooden boats often carry along a couple of red onions, a sweet potato, some lime and an aji pepper. if they get hungry, they grab a fish from their catch and whip up a dish while bobbing in the ocean. in the tiny port of chorrillos, a bunch of old women make ceviche on the spot as the fish come out of the water. and it's not a revived, overpriced, manufactured bit of roots cooking that you might find in the U.S. in some phony place called 'ye old foode market.' it's the real deal, with zero packaging. for surfing, it's especially healthy, and cleans out your sinuses.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
what's the surf connection here? i met this dog on a northern peruvian beach called organos, near mancora. it's a peruvian hairless dog, but is considered especially rare because its skin is mottled, white and black, and the skin is bumpy, going up and down where it has pigment and where it doesn't. a hauntingly beautiful dog, in my opinion, with the personality of a scavenger who survived for centuries on the treeless dunes of the dry peruvian coast by eating whatever fish carcass washed ashore. nowadays, some people say they were well treated by the incas, but i don't believe it. i think they lived near human settlements on the coast, but doubt they received hugs and kisses. that's a 21st century thing.
no surfy surf today for mr. walking wounded, limp-a-long charlie. after some clown's board assaulted me yesterday, i got to thinking about water safety and first aid. i took an extensive first aid course last year, but it didn't have a water component. it was heavy duty on how to respond to big, nasty wounds caused by bullets, explosions, and burns. punctured lungs, arterial wounds, that sort of thing. i think, though, that it'd be wise to take a water safety course, mainly so i could help other people out around me if they get into trouble. haven't found a course in peru yet, but here's one in CA. that way i could be more considerate than the guy who didn't offer me any real help. i think it's 10 stitches in the photo above, and that's excluding 3 that the doc put underneath the skin to the left of the cut to reattach a piece of facial muscle so it wouldn't flap around with a mind of its own, as i understand it.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
today i surfed caballeros. only two people in the water for the first hour, plenty of waves and some rides that were extraordinary. on one, i was trying to decide between dropping down and cutting over or just holding the edge way up high in the wave. i decided to stay up high and when the wave started to close out i made it through the transition to the other side of the face. amazing, and very lucky. i'm a goofy footer, and the wave is a right. for a goofy footer on a right, i think the easiest thing you have to do is turn left to get back into the crux of the wave after you've done a bottom turn down the line. i think it's because you can see exactly how far you need to cutback. call me crazy, but i sometimes find rights easier than lefts. and on lefts, i always struggle to guage how far to cut back. same for when i skateboarded. my backside grinds were always better than my frontside ones. anyway, an hour into the surfing, i noticed an older guy on a big, thick 8' foot board dropping in straight. he made the drop but then didn't bother to turn and got held up in a bunch of whitewhater. ride over. weird, i thought. it's a fast wave, he's dropping in late, at the tip of the peak, and his board is huge for such a hollow wave. isn't he old enough to know what's up? no. the guy is clueless. sure enough, 15 minutes later, i'm paddling out, on the side of the peak that you can't surf but fairly close to the take off zone, and the guy goes over the falls next to me, he wipes out and, because he wasn't bothering to turn right, his board flies to the left. i duck dive when i see his arms and legs flailing like a spastic, then i come back up to get air and, boing!, he yanks on his leash. his board pops out of the water and a fin smacks me in the forehead. blood spurts. shit! i tap my head with my hand to feel the cut, remember what i learned in first aid class, tell myself it only looks bad and isn't dangerous, gather my thoughts and paddle after him. he turns around in horror, my face awash in blood, and says "hey, you are hurt, you should really leave the water." i know, i say, i'm planning to leave the water, but first i wanted to let you know that your fin hit me in the head, and that you need to apologize. "i'm very sorry, it wasn't intentional. you saw what happened. i had to do what i had to do." did you really? or are you just pathetic and let your board go flying? the guy was hopelessly unaware on several levels, but tried to be nice once he realized he'd screwed up. he pointed out his house in front of the beach, and told me to come by after i get stitches, and paddled in with me part of the way. thanks man, very considerate! i'll come over for a drink some day and we'll reminisce! i'm not sure he totally realized it was his fault. i thought about smacking him with my fist so he understood but figured it was risky, not knowing what it would be like to engage in fisticuffs in the water. i suppose if i had duck dived deeper, and came up with my hands over my head then i wouldnt've been hit, but who yanks on their leash when someone is right next to them? i drove back to lima, went to urgent care and they called a surgeon because the cut was vertical and slashed the covering of the bone in my forehead, the muscle and the skin. i feel fine, but i can't surf for at least a week or two. and next time i'm going to duck dive even deeper.
Monday, February 23, 2009
i surfed senoritas this morning, one of the breaks at punta hermosa south of lima, where the waves were 7 feet high. it is challenging and rocky, but i paddled out because it was less crowded than caballeros, which is easier and sits just 100 yards to the north. there were only four people at senoritas, so plenty of time and space to focus. the first wave i caught as a taster inside and it fattened out quickly. for the second wave, i paddled out to the take off zone, but was too late and got tossed around in the white water. then i saw a brazilian guy drop in and turn so hard to the left that he squatted down and grabbed his board with his right hand to help hold the edge in as he was getting into the wave. watching that up close made me realize how fast the break is. it kicks up into a vertical position on a bunch of submerged rocks, breaks quickly and then peels left for at least a hundred yards. all of this happens in seconds. fine, i thought, next time, just throw the board parallel to the wave, paddle hard, and hope for the best. most importantly, don't misjudge it and get caught on the wrong side of the peak, i told myself. luckily, i dialed the next take off, and it was the fastest wave of my life. breathtakingly fast. like skipping across the water the way rocks do when you throw them because the surf board is moving so fast. so fast that you have to lean way, way back when you are turning. so fast that you can do big sweeping turns, nearly stall out on the lip and then, SWOOSH, find yourself flying again as you drop back in. i've never felt anything like it. pure exhilaration. better than riding a borrowed BMW 1200 motorcycle around a closed track at 180 km/h. better than bombing a hill on your skateboard. better than jumping into a river from a rope swing. miles better. now i understand what my friend meant on sunday when he was talking about the speed of the waves south of lima, and how they are more fun than ones that break in the city. combine this speed with the unique characteristic of surfing - which is that the playing field (the wave) changes every millisecond, prompting you to respond continusouly in a dynamic feedback loop - and you have the best sport out there. certainly the only ethereal one.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
i heard the word desordenado a lot this weekend. i went out early saturday, paddled for two hours straight and caught a few decent waves but rides were short because it was breaking all over the place, closing out, and swirling around like a whirlpool. part of the problem was that swells were arriving from the north and south, getting mixed up, running into each other, and just breaking too frequently to grab a nice, long wave. things were cleaner later in the day, and i watched some amazing rides down south at a beach called arica. big and fast with only two guys in the water. this morning it was, again, desordenado, or messy. i even went out to herradura, a fast left that i've never surfed, but it was barely working and the swell was already dropping. so that leaves early monday, when i hope to hit a beach south of lima. a friend told me over the weekend the waves are faster south of town. it was a satori moment, when i realized i've been in a comfort zone in lima for a few too many weeks now and need to drive myself down to some more challenging breaks, even if that means waking up before 5 a.m.
Friday, February 20, 2009
heavy fog blanketing lima today. the fog formed 12 hours after gusty winds blew in the bay below the city of kings. wind, like rain, is rare in the desert along peru's coast. and now i realize that the wind and fog are related: a huge swell is landing early saturday, with waves of 7 feet, rising to 10 feet in the afternoon. the fog forms as hot equatorial sun interacts with cold water, and the water temperature, i think, is falling as strong winds pull up deep, cold water from chile. i plan to surf in the morning, but i may go out again in the afternoon to check out el triangulo, a mercurial break next to the tiny port of small-time fishermen in chorrillos, at the southern end of the bay. i've only seen it break once, and it was sublime to see surfers gliding by colorful wooden fishing boats bobbing on their anchors.
here's chorrillos on a clearer day...
here's chorrillos on a clearer day...
Thursday, February 19, 2009
surf session this afternoon, with jeff the photographer from totus360 was fun but the waves were a bit small and, out of nowhere, strong winds blew in and made the water choppy. so we'll have to try again to get good surf pix in the city of kings. stay tuned. i'm still amazed by the nintendo board/google earth mashup below and these insane photos, which the blog at quality peoples (on blogroll at right) pointed out yesterday, calling them "the photo post of the year." i concur. i concur. and remember, the shooter is 18.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
hat tip to my dad, who found this interactive mash up of a nintendo board and google earth. it lets you surf through the swiss alps or anywhere else you want. the corporate sprocket soundtrack is intergalactic, i might add.
over at proyecto neptuno, you can check out photos of jay adams, an innovative master who revolutionized skateboarding and brought his surfing childhood to bear on the urethane world. old school and new school pix. he's well into his 40s and still charging pools. he was part of the original dogtown crew, and i'm proud to say i ride a z-flex jay adams model, which was reintroduced a couple of years ago.
i surfed redondo this morning, which was nearly empty and breaking with 6 foot waves. very tricky, with the point shifting widely from left to right across a space of 40 yards, and the waves so high frequency that you had to be very selective or else paddle for a wave only to feel it turn into mushy slosh. i felt like i was playing a game of cat and mouse as the point shifted, and at least twice i got caught inside when big sets rolled in. but the waves i did catch were especially fun and peeled nicely down the line. and the water was cool, refreshing and energizing after a long day yesterday in the sticky summertime heat of downtown lima. and all my thoughts about errands i had to run and stuff i had to take care of disappeared in the lull of the water. i took photos this morning of the rocky bluffs of lima, which appear to be old pieces of exposed seafloor that crumble in earthquakes. the rocks then make their way over to the beach and limenos think of them as sand. the geology here is fascinating, and i imagine that the rocks originally washed down to the coast from the mountains in rivers before solidifying in big heaps.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
looks like i'll be surfing this afternoon, instead of this morning, so in the meantime i'm circling back to the tim winton interview. here's my favorite paragraph from australia's finest novelist: "For me surfing is about beauty and connectedness. Riding a wave to shore is a lovely, meditative thing to be able to do. You’re walking on water, tapping the sea’s energy without extracting anything from it. You’re meeting the sea, not ripping anything out of it. Few other water pursuits have this non-exploitative element. As a boater, fisherman, shell-collector or whatever, I’m always taking something away from the sea, having an impact on it. But as a surfer I’m riding energy that the sea is expending of its own accord, the way a dolphin or seal or sea-lion does. The actual physical sensation of sliding down a wall of water, feeling really awake and alive and in the moment, is hard to describe to the non-surfer. It looks beautiful and it feels beautiful. Knowing that you’re not doing any damage just makes the feeling better. For some men in particular, whose lives require a kind of utilitarian mindset that can be pretty unfulfilling, this is one of the few activities they undertake in which they can do something pointlessly beautiful. There’s no material result, nothing they can show themselves or the boss. There’s just a bit of a rush, an elevated heart rate, a buzz that lasts all the rest of the day."
the photo above is from my friend jeff at totus360.
Monday, February 16, 2009
over at the magazine trip, a great brazilian publication started years ago by surfing fanatics, you can check out a profile of antonio brito, 54, a surfer and drummer who was the first guy to surf some of brazil's biggest breaks. he has traveled mostly non-stop for the last few decades. here's the best quote: “as pessoas, inconscientemente, te cobram por você querer abandonar a doutrina básica que o sistema impõe. elas querem que você se sinta culpado por buscar a sua própria liberdade. e' mais egoísmo as pessoas quererem te castrar, te segurar, do que você viajar." in english, that'd be: "unconsciously, people criticize you for wanting to abandon the basic doctrine that the system imposes. they want to make you feel guilty for trying to enjoy your own liberty. it's more egocentric of people to want to control you and hold you back than it is for you to travel and grow." it's also a magazine with a long tradition of excellent photography.
only two souls in the water at barranquito today, which had decent small waves that peeled nicely to the left and required you to pump your legs for speed to stay in the wave. very interactive. i had quite a few short rides as many of the waves flattened out seconds after standing up. but two long ones took me all the way to the shore. i saw a bunch of rubbish leftover by the weekend beachgoers as i was going into the water, and wondered if the new chapter of the Surfrider Foundation here will be able to get Lima's beaches cleaned up. after i was done, geese, pelicans and smaller birds moved in for breakfast. they didn't seem to care about the plastic bags on the beach, and chowed down together on what i think were a bunch of crabs crawling around in the shallow water.
above is a photo by a friend of mine, jeff, a photographer who specializes in aerial shots. check out his site for some amazing shots of surfing in florida.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
only a handful of people at pampilla this morning, as most people were either in bed or down at the beaches south of lima. lots of waves, though mostly slow ones with a mushy feel. still, i had quite a few good runs. my arms were awfully sore after 7 straight days surfing and i lacked explosiveness while paddling to catch waves. so my thoughts circled back to eating right to speed up recovery times. the photo today is what limenos call the o'neill store, even though the owner sells other brands. he's a nice and helpful guy, hawking mainly equipment and clothes, but no boards. one time when i was there, two kids stormed in, cut in line and started barking at the owner. he sighed, looked up and said: "first of all you need to wait until i finish taking care of these gentlemen and second of all i won't respond to you unless you greet me with buenas tardes." i thought that rocked. the store is located at Av. Santa Cruz 851, half a block from the ovalo gutierrez and is one of the few places where you can always find surf wax. our thought for the day, from the groovy janitor in the movie step into liquid: "surfing is the ultimate spontaneous involvement in a natural medium" -- true dat!
Saturday, February 14, 2009
check out these carbon fiber tails by a highly talented australian shaper, that you can see here. the shaper clearly loves what he's doing. i saw them on a blog i read periodically, written by a spaniard.
redondo was empty early saturday, so i jumped in there instead of waiting in the line up at the other breaks nearby. i was one of two people in the water. it was tempermental for the first hour, but worked almost perfectly from 8 to 9. tons of waves and easy to catch. i flailed around for the last bit, exhausted from 2.5 hours in the water, and i got worked a couple of times when i was low on gas, being too tired to paddle quickly or judge the breaks. but that's fine -- there are worse things i could have been doing, like cleaning out the porta potties.
Friday, February 13, 2009
pampilla broke nicely today and there were only a handful of people in the water, until two teenagers showed up, both of them snakes. a kid in a red shirt dropped in on me on a nice wave, but there was plenty of face to surf so i just stayed quiet and surfed behind him. no big deal, i thought and i realized later he didn't see me. then, another kid, in a green shirt dropped in on me (cut in front of me) on a garbage wave. i flashed him a dirty look but nothing more. he didn't get it. a couple of minutes later he dropped in on a mellow 65-year-old longboarder, who crashed, making the kid fall. gosh, i thought, he's cruisin' for a bruisin'. sure enough, 10 minutes later, he tried to smack the lip on a big wave and fell hard. then i saw him paddling to shore whincing in pain. he had slashed his foot on his fin. "serves you right man, you eat what you sow," i thought to myself. the surfing got better once the kid left, and i had one long run with a few big sweeping bottom turns, a couple of hits on the lip where i almost stalled out once, nice reentries and an ending that took me all the way to the shore. i stepped off in three inches of water, smiling proudly as the kid was cleaning his wound. only then did i realize he was a rich kid with an inflated sense of entitlement whose dad was waiting for him in the car and had driven him to the beach. "ahhhh, pobrecito!!!!!!!!!!!"
Thursday, February 12, 2009
i'm posting a link here to an interview with tim winton, a respected australian novelist, and lifelong surfer. the guy who interviewed him, tim baker, is a sharp writer and surfer himself. the interview is brilliant. winton captures the spirit of surfing perfectly in his thoughtful written responses. you can see it here...
by the way, i wholeheartedly agree with what he says about the pro circuit being about as interesting as golf. i find it incredibly boring and the surfing lacks real artistic expression, but that's how the logic of the big money machine works...
i surfed punta roquitas this morning. lots of work. the waves were high frequency, hitting square, and closing out quickly. i realized about 10 minutes into the paddle that i was too tired and sore after three days of surfing, and remembered too late that the biggest problem with the beach is that there's no easy paddle because it breaks everywhere, almost all at once, and that when it's big it's very demanding. well, it was bigger than advertised today. i got worked several times. mild stoke, and a few good rides made it worth it, but i should have gone to a different break. surfing has a way of reminding you that you always have to make good decisions, and this morning i was too groggy to even pick the right beach to go to. so, with that, i'll make a grumpy complaint. is it really necessary for surf instructors to show up with 20 students, cases of nasty soda, and an amplifier to blast reggaeton, all at 8:30 in the morning? dude, please show some restraint. or, in portuguese, "meu, deixa de ser um farofeiro, porra!"
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
pampilla was running at 6 feet this morning, fogged in so thickly that you couldn't make out landmarks to figure out where you were in the water, and you could only see at the last second where the waves would break. a bit crowded because it's summertime and the water is warmer than normal, but people were having fun and there were enough waves to go around. it was high tide and closing out, and i caught a rare left from a swell that came in from the south. it felt slow and steady with a nice groove.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
i bounced out of bed today and was in the water by 6:30 am, but in my haste to catch waves like yesterday i forgot that the tide was still kind of high. that meant that i spent a lot of time chasing garbage until about 8 am, when the tide dropped and things started popping. most of the people in the water emptied out to try to get to work on time, which freed up space and finally i found the sweet spot. patience really does pay off in surfing, though i still make lots of stupid mistakes because i'm overly eager and chase things i shouldn't or drop in too late instead of duck diving. about 8 am, the waves started breaking nicely and i caught one after another for a good 40 minutes. unreal. i pulled off a couple of big bottom turns, and one time i went from a face, to dropping down to avoid a closeout, to maneuvering around a bunch of foam, to back up onto the face again. technically, it was probably one of the better waves i've surfed. i also tried to muscle through a close out like i did yesterday but the wave was too powerful and knocked me flat. even that felt good. when i was getting into the water, an old guy who looked to be about 70, was up on a wave that he'd caught far outside, and there he was, hooting it up in joy all the way to shore "yyyyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa."
Monday, February 9, 2009
after work, i picked up my car from the shop and cruised down to the water to see the waves. i bought an ice cream sandwich from a lady with a yellow freezer box on a tricycle and watched the surfers at dusk as the sun filled the bay of lima with yellow and red hues. i think the danafria ice cream sandwich is out of this world. it has decent quality ice cream and the chocolate cookie part is slightly crunchy, unlike the soft chewy kind in the U.S.
i surfed pampilla today, which was just perfect at low tide this morning with 5.5 foot waves, sometimes 6.5 foot, streaming in one after another. the ocean was bursting with energy: little anchovas, glistening and silver, were popping up out of the water to feed and the sets streamed in non-stop. i was in the water a good 40 minutes before there was even a lull in the breaks. i managed to do some nice bottom turns today. on the second to last wave, which i caught after i got too far out in front of the line on an earlier wave, i forced myself to hold the line as the wave was walling up higher and higher, and just crouched down and muscled through it while it closed out. i tried to just shoot through it. what an intense feeling. holy smokes, i thought, that must be what it feels like just before you get into a barrel. surfing always brings new sensations, and opens up your imagination to
think about what else is possible.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
i went to a waterfall today to avoid crowded beaches, which fill up during weekends in the summer. peru is full of narrow mountain valleys where people have been living for thousands of years, planting crops on terraced hillsides overlooking steep canyon walls. the waterfall comes from a glacial lake and people tap the creek below it to water their crops. living at the bottom of canyons is dangerous as they suffer from floods or, worse, huaycos, which are mudslides. when rains hit barren hillsides, there's no vegetation to absorb the water and they come tumbling down, causing destructive slides that rumble on for miles. the valley i visited today was green and relatively stable, i think. lots of figs and chirimoyas among the patchwork of terraced crops. up close to the falls, the force of the plunging water created a wind tunnel that made my dog's ears go flap, flap, flap.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
today i surfed barranquito, which was breaking nicely this morning, until the tide came in and it got soupy. i've always been intriqued by a reef located way outside. you can see it in the background of the photo in the little blip of whitewater on the horizon. on big days, you wait for the break at barranquito and you can hear the water crashing over the reef hundreds of yards away. it was calm this morning and luckily there were no sea doo maniacs in the ocean, so i decided to paddle out to the reef with my longboard. it's really far. not sure how far, but maybe up to one kilometer. the waves were too small to ride and disappeared only seconds after they broke, but it was worth the paddle. there were a bunch of birds just beyond the reef relaxing after eating breakfast, and a fisherman in a wooden row boat throwing out a net.
here is the unassuming storefront of klimax, one of the big
board makers in lima. they have excellent shapes and reasonable
prices, though i think the sales staff is fairly unattentive. i bought
a used board there, and they probably should not have agreed
to even sell it. it surfs well, but is heavy and takes on water.
so i learned a lesson. buying new boards is the way to go and,
at the same time, it's worth it to have a beater that you don't
have to worry about. klimax is located on jose gonzalez 488 in miraflores.
this is a shot of the guy who watches cars at barranquito,
where i surfed today. his services include holding your keys while
you are in the water, and bringing you a bucket of agua dulce when
you are done so that you can clean the muck off your feet.
peru's wonders aren't just limited to good waves. most fruits and vegetables are grown without pesticides, because farmers can't afford them, and you can get fruits from the desert coast, the mountains, and the amazon. one of my favorites is chirimoya, which peruvians say only grows in the desert here, though you can find it in chile and even mexico, i'm told. in this shot, there's also tuna, or prickly pear, from the mountains, and grenadilla, which is related to passion fruit, from the rainforest.
i find that i have more energy surfing when i eat right. this week, my wife got the inside line with a fruit distributor and his stuff is unreal. the chirimoya he got us was the biggest i've ever seen, and the flavors are out of this world after having grown up in a landscape of corporate industrial agriculture.
i skateboard nearly every day, mainly as a form of transportation but in my older age have largely abandoned doing tricks. nowadays i ride a tiny jay adams model, which has nice wheels and bearings that sail through the flat streets of lima. it's a throwback shape that i bought at skates on haight 1.5 years ago. i dig it. it's light and carves like a dream and is funner than riding a bike around town. i've got a couple of other longer boards for downhilling, which i was really into a few years back, and would love to find a reissue of the alva fred smith model that i skated back in the day.
Friday, February 6, 2009
this post is for the frontman of the Cramps, Lux Interior, who has passed away at 62. i recently started blaring an old Cramps CD in my car, having not listened to them since i was in junior high. they stretched across the rockabilly punk continuum and i always dug the guitar, which had a nice surf twang to it...
Thursday, February 5, 2009
i've never got barrel, though i've come close. when i was a kid, there was an older kid in my neighborhood, a bit of a hick, who everybody called barrel because he was portly. i always wonder what became of him when people talk about barrel. here's a video i just saw at pineappleluv
today, as i was waiting for what few waves there were to roll in, i watched a group of three pelicans hunt. i still can't believe how big they are. i see pelicans and smaller birds, which dive bomb, for fish, every time i'm in the water. about three weeks ago, i surfed next to a group of five or six dolphins right here in lima. anyway, every time i see the pelicans, i always think of a jingle my dad used to say to me when i was a kid: "a peculiar bird is the pelican, it's beak holds more than its belly can!"
i woke up at 5 am to surf punta roquitas, the only place that was breaking this morning in lima. all the big web sites say peru has surf right now of 4.5 feet -- and they are all horribly wrong. not sure why. normally they are very accurate, but i don't think i've ever seen it so flat here. still, there were occasional good waves this morning, if you had patience, and i experienced a new feeling doing a bottom turn, driving down as hard as i could.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
wayo whilar is one of the oldest, and most respected shapers in peru. this photo of one of his longboards has nearly the same paint job as mine. it's a very nice board. he's a cool guy, charges a fair price and his shop is much less commercial than most places in lima. it's just boards, nothing else. here are his contact details: av. almirante grau 111 barranco. telf. 2476343 / 2541344. Nextel 9404*2280 email@example.com. for his fixed line phones, put a 511 in front of them if you're calling from outside peru, and a 5119 for his nextel.
herradura is the most challenging break in lima. it only works with a big swell, and when it's on it's fast and powerful, crashing up against scary rocks. here are some photos of it on a calm day. i love living in a desert. the dry coast of peru means that you can drive for miles without seeing so much as a tree, yet the ocean is full of life, so full that whenever i surf, i get to see big fat pelicans gliding low over the water hunting for fish with their long beaks. and it helps to have a vehicle that can go off road to get to the most interesting beaches. the drive out to herradura is rough and rocky. it's a gorgeous place, herradura, but i've never surfed it. a friend of mine who has surfed for 20 years and is in excellent shape surfed there once, almost drowned, and never went back.
waves today are 4.5 feet, down from 6 feet yesterday. wave heights have been lower than normal in peru since december. people have been blaming less nasty weather in the southern pacific, and high pressure systems. anyway, when waves are low, you can always surf makaja, which sits on the right side of the rosa nautica muelle in lima. you have to paddle in deep for the best break, about 15-20 yards past the end of the jetty. when it's big, makaja is a lot of fun, nicely formed and long, but the paddle can be a chore unless you resort to little tricks. i tend to paddle out hugging the boulders because there is a always a channel there and you can avoid the whitewater. i think it saves you about 75 percent of the energy you'd otherwise spend paddling straight out. the other place to surf when it's small in lima, if you want to just practice quick pop ups and bottom turns before the waves close out, is a place called punta roquitas. it sits just north of pampilla on the costa verde. anyway, peru normally has about 10 or 11 months a year of high, consistent waves, from around 6-9 feet. people tell me that is epic. sometimes i read blogs about surfing in california and people say things like "fun 1-3 foot surf," which surprises me. many peruvians won't even step into the water if it's below 5 feet.
cerro azul is a world-class left about 120 km south of lima. the beach boys were so impressed by it that they mentioned it in their song 'let's go surfing now.' i was there on sunday for the third time. it was fairly crowded because it's summertime, and the waves were small, but i had a good time and it was the first time i've surfed my fish hybrid there. it performed really well. it's a forgiving board that can catch even garbage waves and, on big waves, in my experience, is fast and easy to control. yesterday, at redondo, i felt like i was turning just by looking where i wanted to go. one time, i just craned my neck over my right shoulder and, BOOM, i'd already switched direction. kind of like riding a motorcycle. just look where you want to go and it'll happen. so anyway, i've surfed cerro azul when it was bigger and it is amazing. there's barely any wind on the peruvian coast, so waves form perfectly and are often glassy. the second time i was there it was during the week and wintertime. i was one of only two people in the water, and a dozen dolphins were chilling out with us, grubbing down fish and sticking their bellies up in the air to relax...
i've been surfing seriously for about six months now and, even though i did board sports my whole life, surfing takes the cake as being, in my humble opinion, the most demanding and most rewarding sport out there. it's a sport that only works if you are in very good to excellent shape. it's an all or nothing kind of thing. it gives back what you put into it -- perhaps more than other sports i've done. that means it rewards you if you wake up everyday before work and surf. and it doesn't allow you to be a half-assed slacker because there's an element of danger in surfing that is always present. that said, the learning process is opaque, there's a lot of trial and error, and a lot learning is done the hard way -- by, for example, getting caught inside.
yesterday after work i surfed redondo, which sits just to the left of the rosa nautica pier in lima. it's a tempermental left, with waves that tend to look fat and then close out quickly. still, it was working well. strangely, everybody was getting caught inside except for me. the only explanation i can think of is that maybe goofyfooters have an easier time reading lefts? who knows. maybe i've finally learned from my mistakes after getting pummeled so many times. happily, the other people in the water were nice, which isn't always the case, and the paddle was short, which allowed me to conserve my energy and catch lots of waves. the last one ended with me jumping off just as the last piece of the wave crashed onto the pebbles of the beach. when i woke up this morning i realized that, on an earlier wave, i blew a chance to do what in skateboarding we used to call a fakke, or rock-n-roll. so that's the next goal: forcing myself to do more gutsy turns and switchbacks.