The Weather Charts Made Us Do It - Heading South
There comes a point in every summer where it’s time to pack the boardbag and skip town. Limited sunny days and even more limited days with fun surf at home meant that by mid-August the froth was real for a surf trip. I saw a little pulse of swell heading down to Mexico and by the time I hit up Eli (Viszolay) he had seen it too. The timing was right to escape the madness of tourist season at home. We booked the flights and got on that 3-hour flight south.
Walking out of the Volaris plane into the dense humidity of Mainland Mexico never gets old. That’s when the surf trip feeling sets in. Grab the boards, hail a taxi, strap the boards to the roof, and head west. Our hotel is right on the beach and a friendly cast of local characters greet us as we shimmy the boards off the yellow cab. Drop the gear in the room, put on the boardies and rinse in the pacific. The water moves a lot here. There are countless stories of Mexican tourists getting sucked into the lineup. It’s dangerous, but it gives you that man vs nature feel that not many places can. That evening, air drying on the shore, sipping on a cold cerveza, we smiled knowing tomorrow morning would hold crystal blue tubes.
We’re up before the sun drinking coffee and squinting through the first shades of mornings twilight. It always looks small at dark. But there’s waves, enough to wax up the 6’6” and start the tube hunt. We punched through the shorebreak just as the sun crested over the palm tree forest. Rights, lefts, closeouts. Rip currents, sandbars, backwash. The lineup is a rubix cube of action. Surfing a beachbreak is about reading your surrounding environment and reacting accordingly. If you see a set over there, check out that zone for a bit. If you see a rip forming, bail out of it sideways before you float out to sea. Most times there is no rhyme or reason with when and where the wave of the day comes in, which keeps things interesting.
Day in day out the waves showed up, and we found some blue tubes to keep us happy. We’d surf all morning until 11 or so, power a big breakfast right on the beach, and wander throughout the rest of the day, trying not to let happy hour start early. There was a hurricane on the way, starting just below us off the coast of Nicaragua. Hurricane Hilary showed up the night before we were set to leave. Strong South winds battered our room window as I laid my head on the pillow, closing my eyes just as a 4.2 earthquake hit. The building shook for a few moments and it was over. I fell asleep with a feeling tomorrow would be a sight to behold.
Dawn broke the next morning to a turbulent sea. A current sucking across the beach from South to North, visibly moving as set waves started to pour in without end. It was messy, but within 30 minutes of first light it cleaned up and a big perfect left spit its guts out right in front of where we were watching. I went into overdrive, running to wax up my 7’0” and put the padded safety springsuit on. I ran up the beach with my new French buddy Louis, the both of us taking deep breathes in hopes of making it through the inside and into the lineup. Turns out I wouldn’t make it out that first try. After duckdiving around 30 waves I looked behind me and was a mile down the beach. I went in and there was a guy with an ATV at the edge of the water. He offered me a ride and we went more than a mile up the beach this time. I then sat on the shore for an extended breather, attempting to time the nonstop sets amidst the rapidly intensifying swell. Somehow, huffing and puffing, I made it out the back.
The ocean was jumping and wedging all around me, and with Louis out of sight down the beach, it was just me and Hilary. I soaked in a bit of the chaos around me and decided I need to catch a wave quick. The current was pulling me so fast I was minutes from approaching the death zone up the beach. The swell had jumped from 6-8 feet to 12-15 feet in a matter of that hour. Just as I began to think the worst a left came to me. I turned, knifed the drop and was forced the straighten out before the warbly lip took me out and potentially broke my board or leash. I bear clawed the board and rode it to the shore. I walked up the sand completely spent from the whole ordeal. I was out of sight from everyone on the beach in front of the hotel. And looking out at sea it was perfectly obvious I shouldn’t have been out there. But I just had to try.