After months of camping at remote surf spots, we have plopped ourselves in the middle of Zihuatanejo – land of large gringos, loud roosters, and Katy’s parents, who own a great little apartment in town. Zih is a great town – part Mexican fishing town, part tourist town – with great food, nice beaches and plenty of amenities.
For the past week, we’ve been camping behind a beach restaurant in a makeshift campground/parking lot at Playa La Ropa. We’ve decided that Dozer is quite possibly the best dog ever, as he is surrounded by chickens, roosters, squirrels, a puppy, a toddler and a cat and hasn’t eaten a single one of them. It’s like a doggie wildlife safari.
For a few mornings, we went surfing at Playa Linda, which is a mediocre beach break north of Ixtapa. Getting there requires a 30-minute walk to town, where we hop on a crowded rickety bus with our surfboards for a 30-minute bus ride. After the bus lets us off, we walk another 20 minutes to the beach. This is all fine and dandy in the morning when there is a cool offshore breeze, but the afternoons are sweltering and we sweat our way back to civilization. Chris is convinced he loses five pounds of fluid weight each day. Katy sees it as training for SE Asia.
We’ve been getting the royal treatment from Katy’s parents – many good meals, free doggie babysitting, fishing trips and lots of lounging in their apartment. Yesterday we were treated to La Escollera, a hillside restaurant, bar, and pool overlooking the beach with killer Margaritas and excellent Caesar salads. We felt fancy.
We have been feeling a big melancholy about our last few weeks in Mexico, but we are soon heading to one of our favorite places in Mainland where we will spend the remainder of our time surfing (more), lounging (more), and hanging with friends that we have met over the last few years. We are also looking forward to meeting up with some Bend friends, Newman and Chelsea. You know what they say – “Mexico. Come on vacation, leave on probation.” Look out Newman!
1. Surfing Is Beautiful
Not only does surfing take you to amazingly beautiful places, it’s also a very aesthetically pleasing activity. It’s hard to explain the feeling of being on a wave, the feel of the board beneath your feet, suspended by an energy pulse in the ocean. It is a paradox of feeling gravity and weightlessness at the same time. Surfing is creative and artistic, powerful and strong, graceful and beautiful, all at the same time. And let’s face it, tan and fit, surfers are a sexy bunch.
2. Surfing is Spiritual
Steven Kotler writes in his book, West of Jesus:
“There have been many theories about the spiritual nature of this sport, and most involve some form of watery communion. At the far end of this spectrum are the surfers who believe that since the ocean was the place where life began on this planet, the act of riding on a wave allows the surfer to momentarily connect with this living memory. In Jungian terms, surfing gives the surfer access to the collective unconscious of the planet. Perhaps it was for this reason that Timothy Leary called surfing our highest evolutionary activity.”
And if Timothy Leary said so! With the risk of sounding pretty woo-woo groovy, it’s been said over and over, that surfing is a Zen experience and surfers everywhere (including myself) have stories of riding waves when “time stopped” and they became one with the wave. Surfers use words like “magical” and “out of body” to describe these moments. Perhaps it is the nature of surfing, because the minute you catch a wave, the rest of the world drops away, you have complete focus and you have no choice but to be 100% committed to nothing else but surfing.
3. Surfing Might Be The Hardest (Physical) Thing You Ever Try To Master
We have a friend who is 61 years old and he has been surfing since he was 8. That’s 53 years of paddling out, paddling into waves, standing up and making turns on the face of the wave. And he will be the first person to say that you will never master surfing. For many people it takes days upon weeks to learn how to even properly stand up, let alone do something even close to cool on a wave. Surely it must be the biggest learning curve of any sport as it resembles an extremely long 2-degree slope – infinite, really. Sure, like anything else, there are plateaus and peaks and valleys, but it’s a helluva hard thing to master.
4. Surfing Helps You Understand Your Place in the Food Chain
Recently, while I was sitting out in the water waiting for waves, I saw a very large “fish” of some sort, lunge through the water and eat another fish. It made a big splash. I always get a little unnerved when I see this kind of thing, even though it’s basic ecology stuff. Small fish eat the tiny fish, medium fish eat the small fish, and big fish eat the medium fish. And the really big fish, they eat a lot of other big things. Surfers talk about “the landlord”, “the man in the gray suit” – those big scary things are out there. The ocean is not the natural human environment. We are just visitors. So, respec’, yo.
5. Surfing Makes You Tough
Have you ever gotten “washing machined” by little waves at the beach? The wave rolls over you and you roll around, flailing your arms, not knowing which way was up. You resurface, gasping for air, with new skin after your natural sand exfoliation treatment. It’s just water, right? How bad can it hurt? Kinda bad sometimes. Similar things happen when surfing but you have a chunk of heavy foam attached to you. You fall off a big wave, go “over the falls”, take your beating. Sometimes you get stuck inside (in the whitewater, trying to paddle back out to calmer water), and it’s like a tortuous water treadmill, duck diving under waves, getting rolled, catching your breath and feverishly paddling as fast as you can. Taking a beating is part of the deal.
6. Surfing Takes You to Amazing Places – And Gives You Another Good Reason to Travel
I can’t underestimate this one. From the Oregon Coast to Indonesia, anywhere there are good waves, there is surfing. And when you’re not surfing, you experience life. Meeting the locals in the water lets you experience their culture as you share a common bond a love for the ocean.
7. Every Single Wave Is Unique
You can travel the world, and find different waves in different places. Some are steep, powerful and barreling. Others are slow, long and mushy. Even if you surf the same area for years, different ocean conditions can produce different waves. There are so many variables in creating waves that it becomes such a dynamic experience. Swell size, swell direction, wind, tides, ocean bathometry, weather, and erosion all change the character of a wave, so every day can be a new adventure.
8. Surfing Teaches You Good Manners
Although surfing is an individual activity, more often than not, you have to surf with other people and you have to play nice in the sandbox. There are unspoken “rules” in surfing – things that you just don’t do. Don’t ever drop in on anyone. Don’t paddle out past the locals first thing. Don’t claim waves. Don’t be an idiot. Share. Some people never learn these things, but it should be one of the first things to learn.
9. Surfing is Healthy
Forget Cross-Fit classes and personal trainers. Unless you are drinking 12 beers a day and snorting coke (we’ve seen the effects of both), surfing is good clean fun. Regular exercise, fresh fish diet, plenty of natural Vitamin D, early morning sessions, strength and flexibility training – surfing can provide all of the above. Not to mention a good daily sinus flushing to clear the passages. Leave the neti pot at home.
10. Working Is Not Healthy
Working for The Man affects you negatively mentally and physically. Sitting at a desk staring at a computer for 8 to 10 hours a day deadens your mind and numbs your ass. True, without work you are not “contributing to society” and we do believe that you should earn it. So, you owe it to yourself to just pack it in and get out and enjoy the world. Forget the surfing part. Just plan, save up the dough and bust a move to live whatever your dreams may be.