I’m fairly new to surfing. I got the bug when I was 52 and for the last two years I spend every possible free moment surfing or planning to surf.
Last week was my third trip to El Salvador. The surf school Fulcrum Surf takes a group down a couple of times a year and I always plan my calendar around such a fun time. Same break, same surf hotel. I love it there; the people, the culture, the third world simplicity and of course the surf.
The surf is definitely up in the Spring, with big currents and swells to match. My worst surf experience ever was on this same point break and I was determined to come back a year later and re-visit my nemesis.
I’m a goofy and 6 months new to a 6’4”short board. The point break is a right and if you miss the drop you are in some of the gnarliest rocks you’ve ever met. Sooner or later everyone visits Momma Roca and wishes they hadn’t.
Day number one was my second worst day of surfing. The surf was at least head high and wind swept. Getting out was a challenge and I got caught inside, buried, held under and punished on the rocks. And to top it off my worst fear of breaking a leash came true. God Bless my coach for giving me his board and swimming in. I barely surfed and tough as I am, felt close to crying by the time I dragged myself out.
After a good night’s sleep I decided that day number two was a new day altogether and my surf experience proved as much. Glassier conditions and the right timing on tides created a whole new experience. I still got held under and met the rocks a few times, but it’s surprising how accustomed you quickly get to challenging circumstances.
The locals are gracious and now much like family. We all come armed with gifts of clothing, surf boards, sweets and fulfilled requests. I have many Latin friends on Facebook and enjoy following their lives and conversing in my pigeon Spanish. Our trip included three meals a day and we enjoyed plenty of local dishes of fish, rice, pupusas, ceviche, fresh squeezed fruit juices as well as chicken, spaghetti and burgers.
I was the least experienced surfer on the trip yet again, but I got out for 2-3 sessions a day, coach patiently by my side, and paddled the best I could for the entire 6 days. I was continuously on my guard and humbled. Of course by the fabulous surfers around me, their unflagging support, by the ocean herself, the amazing sunrises and sunsets and the challenging conditions of a world class wave.
Ok, so I was in over my head, but the learning experience will elevate and reverberate for the next few months. My duck diving saw immense improvement. I am not afraid of being held under by anything San Diego has to throw at me. I see exactly where I need improvement and just hope I have the physical wherewithal to accomplish my goal of returning in a year, catching my own waves, surfing the high line and connecting to the inside.