Tag Archives: surfing

Journey Through Latin America (Part 6)

From Santa Ana, El Salvador I took a short bus ride to Santa Tecla (Nuevo San Salvador) to switch to a bus for La Libertad.  I was travelling with Ronnie from Australia who I met at Casa Verde, and we both wanted to go to El Tunco, the recommended spot for surfing.  We caught another chicken bus for El Tunco and a couple of hopeful local youths guided us to the gate of Hostal La Sombra (above).  The whole trip from Santa Ana cost less than $4.  The hostal was $8 a nite.

It was great to just walk from the hostal right to the beach and swim in an amazingly warm Pacific Ocean.  The beach is indeed perfect for surfing, and I was somewhat tempted to rent a board for $5 a day.  The town wasn´t really my style, however.  It is very small and compact, two main streets lined by hotels, restaurants, and various tourist based businesses, all with their walls connected in such a way that it resembles a rat maze for surfers.  Its probably easy to close off and keep it secure, but I felt a little claustrophobic.

I enjoyed walking around and taking photos, but I couldn´t find an economical place to eat, and I really was looking forward to fresh fish, so I splurged on a $7 plate with a huge whole fish, something like a snapper.  That evening I enjoyed talking to folks from different countries, only one of which was a bonafied surfer, though just about everyone in town is there to surf.  Ronnie scheduled a $10 surf lesson the next day.

After just one night at El Tunco I grabbed a chicken bus to Libertad, where I switched to another bus to Playa San Diego.  The drive is just 10 minutes, but it took almost an hour waiting for the bus and then the bus stops several times, etc.  I was pretty tired when I got off the bus where the driver told me, then heaved on my backpack and guitar to walk three long blocks to Hostal El Roble.

I knew I was in the right place as soon as I glimpsed the amazingly spacious, tropically landscaped grounds.  Soon I recognized Lozz, a cute Canadian girl I had met at Casa Verde.  She was the one who recommended this hostel, where she will be working for the next four months or so.  Thats what she does: looks and listens around for hostels that would like to trade free room and board for her to work there.  It sounds like a great way to stretch your travel out indefinitely.  Here is a picture of Dee Jay, who does the same thing and whose job Lozz is taking over:

I really enjoyed staying at El Roble for four days, the camaraderie of the guests is outstanding and Darrin, the Brit who owns the place is a great host.  I enjoyed the company of Lozz and DJ and then a Czech couple whom I met at Casa Verde (it really is a small country).  George is a meteorite hunter (!) and I hope to track them down the next time I´m in Tucson for the annual Gem Show which they always attend.  Among others I also enjoyed the company of a retired couple from Scotland who were such experienced travellers that they had all their necessities in two small backpacks.  Inspiring.

The only drawback of San Diego is the beach.  The waves crash directly onto the beach, so swimming is difficult and the numerous riptides actually make it dangerous.  You would have to be crazy to try to surf there.  I enjoyed cooking fresh seafood each night I was there, though I had to take a long bus ride (only 4 km) to the pier at La Libertad to make my choices:  one whole flounder $1, half a pound of large shrimp $2, large red snapper filet $3.  Yes!

Down this road would come a pastry salesman twice a day selling great treats for a quarter (cora) each.  You could tell he was coming by the bike horn he tooted.  I really enjoyed my stay at El Roble, but the mosquitos enjoyed my flesh too much and I still have  a long way to go, so I left for Alegria, where I am happily typing right now.  But alas my time is up, so todays story will have to wait for tomorrow.

Surfing Analogies

            There was a short time during my youth when I liked to surf, or try to.  Texas isn’t much of a place for surfing, but occasionally, when there is a storm in the Gulf of Mexico, there are waves big enough to ride.  For years I would paddle out to the big waves, get pounded, occasionally stand up for a few seconds, then exhaust myself fighting the waves again.  Then one weekend I was taught how to surf by someone who knew how.  He showed me how to use the rip current near the jetty to paddle past those pounding waves, then pass up the second line of breakers I had always stayed at.  He taught me to go beyond the third line of breakers, where the sea was calm—this is what is known as “outside.”  It was beautiful there, just sitting on your board and rolling with the swells.  The trick, it turned out, was to look toward the horizon and see the big swells coming—then paddle like mad so you were matching the speed of the wave at the moment it broke.  That’s when you can really get a good ride.  Then, after a nice ride, you have to peel off and get back “outside” before the wave moves you to the second line of breakers.         

            I was a waiter at the Lone Star Café at the time, and there was a serious surfer, named Bryan, working there as well.  It occurred to me on a busy Friday night how analogous the work was to surfing.  I kept telling Bryan, “ I can’t get to the outside, I’m getting pounded,” and he would nod knowingly, “ right on.”  The more I thought about it, and I still think about it, almost everything we engage in can be viewed in terms of surfing.  The reason is this:  everything in our physical reality, relative to time, is rising and falling, growing and decaying, coming and going, in a wave-like fashion.  We are on an ocean of change, and every entity and event in our lives is behaving like a wave.  So here are a few points to my “surfing philosophy” or “wave theory” and how they may be applied to one’s life:

1)      Find the rip current—“go with the flow,” why take a pounding and wear yourself out?  There is an easier way.

2)      Get to the “Outside”—its worth the effort to reach your goal.  Settling for the first line of breakers could be painful and tiring. (This one is difficult to be sure about, I guess you have to use your intuition to know where “outside” is.)

3)      Relax, and look to the horizon—contemplate the future, and try to visualize that perfect wave before it arrives.

4)      Give it your all—when you go for that wave, you’ll have to really dig in to catch it.  Don’t stop paddling.

5)      Keep your balance—riding a wave is a heady experience, don’t slip up.

6)      Peel off and get back “outside”—notice when it is time to move on, or you might get pounded and have to work a lot harder to get back to where you were. (again, you have to use your intuition here.)


Personally, I feel that I’ve been “outside” for several years now, and at the moment I’m paddling like mad.  I’ll let you know if I catch the wave, but its looking good so far.

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