Sunday, December 27, 2009

Peru-The Lessons of Fear Preface

     Adventure is a word I throw around a lot. “Life is an adventure”, “Let’s make this an adventure”, “I can’t wait for the next adventure”. But there is something key to these “adventures” that has made them so enticing, so manageable. 
    On each adventure I have taken in the past I have always been surrounded by the familiar company of either my family or my boyfriend, Scott. This adventure to Peru would be different. I would be traveling with my surf friend and neighbor, Roberta, and her friend Alexis. I felt excited and privileged to travel with these two women. It was an amazing opportunity. The only thing was that, for me, this was uncharted territory and I was nervous. 
    This may sound silly to people who have spent a lot of time doing solo missions around the globe, but I was nervous to travel without Scott. Traveling to me is one of the best things I think a person can do for themselves and the world, but this was a first for me. I would be without my faithful companion in a third world country far from home.  
     Before I left I asked Scott if I could take something of his with me to remind me of him while I was away. He joked about it and said he’d give me some old socks.
     It was clear to me already that this trip would be characterized by me facing my fears. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Peru-The Lessons of Fear Chapter 1: Self-Reliance

    I couldn’t show her or I knew I would cry. Scott’s gesture was so romantic and sweet I wanted to share it with someone, but I couldn’t even bring myself to open it or look at his perfect unmistakable writing. I didn’t want to cry in front of people I was just getting to know. It would reveal the vulnerability I felt inside. Leaving behind Scott was like leaving behind my most cherished comfort item. I felt unsure and uncomfortable, but I knew this was something I needed to do. It was the right time. It was the right trip.
      You thought I forgot.
The outside of the note read. How could I ever think that? He would never miss an opportunity to show me how much he loved me.
   This trip is important for me, though, I could feel that before I even left. I needed to go. Away from Scott and my family I was on my own. I would need to rely on myself and in doing so I would grow.  
     Usually, when I traveled Scott or my mom or dad would take care of printing the tickets, organizing the boarding passes, arranging transportation or dealing with the officials. I just showed up with our share of sunscreen, bug spray, vitamins, medicine, and snacks. Not to mention moral support and a smile. This time I was responsible for it all and that intimidated me. 
    As I sat next to Roberta on the plane ride to Peru and opened my journal, his note had fallen onto my lap.  
       This was much better than socks, I thought with a smile. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Peru-The Lessons of Fear Chapter 2: Sojourner

    The lights of the van parted the darkness. Everything around me was unfamiliar, but I felt secure in the warm grey passenger seat. Our driver Foruco spoke of the aggressive crowds at the break in Mancora in front of the hotel and I cringed. I tried to reason to myself that with my tenacity I would still manage, but I wasn’t very convincing. He spoke with a thick Peruvian accent, but his English was easy to understand, although, I have to admit, I wasn’t really listening. I sat with my hair pulled up in a loose bun to free my neck from the heat. I was taking in the sights, sounds and smells that surrounded me. I wondered how many other times in my life I would do something like this, travel to a remote location in search of the unfamiliar ecstasy that foreign waves brought me. Many, I concluded. Like I said, I am tenacious and usually find some way to get what I want and need. 
    The voices of my company hummed familiarly in the background. I wondered if I was being anti-social for putting my thoughts into my notebook instead of into their conversation. Foruco had turned the light on for me so I could see my journal.
    “You don’t have to do that” I said, trying to be courteous, but with a hint of caution. 
    “Don’t worry, I won’t read it. I don’t like reading.” he responded, glancing at me out of the corner of his hazel eyes. 
    “Huh” I laughed. Good, I thought. 
The van wove quickly but safely around trucks as we passed through cities still busy with locals chatting at restaurants and kids running wildly and barefoot. The light beamed down on me, lighting the front cabin of the car. I was done writing for the moment, but was nervous about reaching up to turn it off, fearful that I would hit the button the wrong way. I flipped through the manilla colored lined pages of my journal so the light was not on in vain.  The pages easily opened to Scott’s note. 
    If I read it, I thought, it would put the light to good use. I opened it. His familiar script like handwriting standing out before the words themselves. I refolded the letter and placed it back in the journal. I wasn’t ready yet. I eyed the car light for a sign or direction as to which was the off button. I reached up, shifted the button left and the van went dark. The only things visible now were rough outlines of the trees that lined the highway and the reflector bumps marking the road.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Peru-The Lessons Of Fear Chapter 3: Confidence

    I woke before dawn in my mosquito net. I slept lightly intentionally to avoid oversleeping and partly due to excitement. I could hear the waves crashing outside my window as I did before sleep caught me the previous night. They were closeouts, a shore break. They crashed all at once and then receded. I got up and put my new Roxy bathing suit on, then over it a 3/2 mm wetsuit that I had cut to have short sleeves. Mancora is a warm place, but the offshore wind was stiff this morning and I didn’t want to risk getting cold. As I waxed my board the grey sky became more and more blue. In the background I could hear roosters greeting the day. I looked left over the beige stucco wall of our hotel towards the famed left point Foruco had spoken of in the car last night.
    I squinted my light green eyes to focus on any sign of good surf. To my delight 3-4 ft.waves appeared to be peeling around the bay in a nearly identical fashion. 
     Roberta and I stepped onto the sand and simultaneously began to jog towards the point. We were both excited to see our travel dreams realized, as it is more than common to get skunked on surf trips. We slowed our pace eventually to conserve energy for our surf. At my feet I saw bottles and rappers that disgusted me and I bent down to pick them up out of habit. “You don’t want to touch that stuff” Roberta warned cautiously. 
    As we arrived at the break I could hardly contain myself. I studied the lineup for a few moments and figured out a position where I saw myself catching the most waves. I saw that people sitting to the far left were often too deep and decided to sit inside some and more to the North. My first wave shut me down. A 3ft wave came towards me. I watched one Peruvian and one traveler not make the section. Yes! I thought to myself. The takeoff was steeper and faster than I had imagined from the beach. I slinked forward on my board and pumped excessively. I was caught behind the section but managed to catch up. I set up for my typical but cherished roundhouse and cutback. I banked off the whitewash but considered the turn a failure since I couldn’t totally feel myself getting on rail. On my third wave locals began to cheer me to go as others before me had not made the section. I was in the perfect spot, but was too late as I turned. I tried to push myself up onto my board but it was too steep for me and I fell. Foreign water filled my nose. As I popped up I felt frustration, but it only pushed me to avoid doing that again. 

    As I sat waiting anxiously for redemption a board with a Billabong sticker came into my peripheral vision. I glanced casually to see who it was. Magoo de la Rosa! I exclaimed in my head. He was a local legend and surfing champion. I had seen a few celebrities from time to time, especially after growing up in Southern California. I was never very star struck. Professional surfers, on the other hand, excited me. I watch surf DVDs at home as much as some people watch the news and a chance to see any of these characters surf in person was a real treat. 

    I couldn’t wait to see Magoo catch a wave. To my delight he began paddling for a wave at that moment. He took off frontside and ripped into a bottom turn, arching flawlessly to the top of the wave and then redirecting his energy again back down the wave’s face. As he did so, water shot over the back of the wave, sprinkling me and others who were near with a warm shower. I smiled to myself and hoped I could see that again. 
    Just then a wave came right to me. I paddled sideways so that when I took off my board would already be in position to make the fast section. I pumped high and made it to a slower section. I looked for the lip and realized that the only thing I was prepared to do was a floater. I glided up the wave and gently slid my board up on the lip. I slipped myself off a moment later and bent my knees to absorb the landing. Next I set up for a bottom turn and directed myself up the face, arching around at the top and looking towards the whitewash. I put my backhand near the water and focused on getting low and bending my knees. Just then, I saw Magoo smiling at me. He dove under the whitewash and I banked off of it as its force sent me back onto the face. 
    I saw a section coming up that I really wanted to smack, but I wasn’t sure if it was possible for me without getting licked. The inside had an odd and fast current. The waves ran up a small and hill on the beach and then retreated back into the sea creating an uneven section and a choppy landing. I went for it anyway, bottom turning and eyeing the sketchy lip. I hit it and turned forward over my board. The wave smashed my board around and I landed at the bottom going faster than usual as the water began to disappear beneath me. I jumped off and slid to my knees in the sand. 
    As I gathered my board I heard clapping. It was, what I imagined to be, a hungover local leaning against a female mannequin wearing a lime green bathing suit at the front patio of a bar called The Bikini. I smiled a simple no teeth grin, pleased, and raised my left hand up to acknowledge and thank him for his compliment. 
    I could feel the confidence building and surging within me. The locals were aggressive, as Furuco had warned, but my tenacity came through for me, as I had hoped. Although I was far from home, I was still somehow finding confidence. 

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Peru-The Lessons of Fear Chapter 4: Courage

    The next two days of the trip passed in a similar fashion- fun waves and exquisite food. The dining at the hotel was first class. Fish almost every meal and all organic sides. We surfed in a town just south of Mancora called Organos. On Wednesday the waves were small, but the water was so clear I felt like I was surfing in a glass of water. We wandered the town of Mancora in the afternoon and were pleased to find that the local venders were half as aggressive as they are in other third world countries, such as Bali and Mexico. It was so pleasant to deal with them that I forgot to haggle, a shopping practice that is very acceptable here. 
    On Thursday morning, November 12th, we had planned a trip to a town and wave called Lobitos. At around 6:15 a.m. a Peruvian man named Felix greeted us. He had pepper colored hair and wore a faded green cap. The only English he spoke was the word “Hello”, which deceived me at first as I followed his greeting with an onslaught of questions. He responded all in Spanish. “Uhh...” was all I could say at first, searching my head of limited Spanish for a response. 
    “Lobitos?” I managed.
    “Si” he replied as he took my board under his arm. 
    The car was a small silver four door with stickers covering the back windshield so completely that I wondered how he could see out of it. When I closed the car door I examined it nervously, realizing that it was not much thicker than my surfboard, a mere 2 inches. My seatbelt was an unretractable belt of an unadjustable size. I buckled it nervously, realizing it would not do much to save my life and wondering if I would be better off without it. Felix selected a CD with music that reminded me of my college days of traveling to the clubs of Tijuana. The road to Lobitos was paved and marked, but our driver and others around him did not appear to obey the markings or follow any traffic laws I recognized. 
We wove through some hills without guard rails as I watched a truck reading “Peligro! Combustible!” trying to pass another on a total blind spot curve. Thank goodness my mother can’t see me! I thought, cringing at her probable perception of this peligro situation. The surroundings were a light tan color, the sky the pale grey of dolphin skin. We rode atop dirt and rock cliffs that reminded me of the Grand Canyon without any water. LOBITOS, a sign finally read. “We made it!” Roberta exclaimed. Although I wasn’t entirely convinced as the car turned onto an unpaved rock and dirt road. 
    The waves at Lobitos were perfect, as far I was concerned. It was about 5 feet and reeling. Roberta, Alexis and I sat in the car and watched cylinder shaped left handers race in front of us as our janky car drove along the uneven beach. A group of local dogs of mixed sizes and colors chased behind our small car as if it were a tennis ball someone had thrown for them. I looked back at them with uncertain eyes. What will they do when we stop? I wondered quietly. When we stopped, the dogs slowed their pace to a trot and dispersed themselves in all directions as though we had become invisible to them. 
    We stepped out of the car. The wind was probably 15 knots offshore and snuck right through the white, navy and purple flannel that had become part of my daily uniform for the trip. I only had my long-sleeveless 3/2 mm wetsuit for the 63 degree water I hadn’t anticipated. After psyching in the car and trying to warm up, Roberta and I ran across the sand to the faultless waves.  
    I leapt right onto my board from a sprint without even pausing. I knew that the less time I took to absorb the water’s temperature, the longer I would last. There was no point in dwelling on the cold now, all I could rely on to keep me warm was adrenaline. The waves were pretty fast and more powerful than I had envisioned from the beach, but my adrenaline not only kept me warm, it kept me catching waves. I paddled right into the pack of male Peruvian surfers without even blinking and shamelessly began hunting for waves. If there was one thing I had learned about South American lineups it was that you had to take what you could get, and get anything you could take.     
    When I traveled with my Dad or Scott I tended to draw courage from their presence. This wasn’t an option today, it all had to come from me. After we exited the water, I took a few moments to take in my surroundings. The beach was enormous, at least a few miles long and wide. The teal color of the ocean water contrasted the browns of the land beautifully. The landscape in Peru was so simple yet so mesmerizing. I was falling in love with its rugged beauty more and more each day. As I sat behind Felix on the way back, his window down and dust filling the car, I didn’t even worry about my seatbelt or the thin doors. I was captivated by the unfamiliar scenery and vibrant existence that passed by my window. A warm sun colored my face a soft yellow and thawed my core.
    On the way back to Mancora we stopped by the town of Organos to check the waves at the rock left point we had surfed the day before. To our great surprise 4-6 foot waves rolled out right in front of us like a red carpet. “I’m getting my board” was all I could say as I dashed towards the car. Beholding these perfect lefts, I couldn’t help feel a twinge in my heart for Scott and his goofy feet. It was extremely windy, white capping out past the break, but the wave faces were relatively unaffected. We surfed another 2 hours at Organos until our arms gave out. 
    The fear I had originally felt for traveling to such an unknown place without my other half began to melt away. Although I missed Scott, navigating my way through the unknown waves and territory was pushing my level of personal courage to an unfamiliar and blissful level.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Peru-The Lessons of Fear Chapter 5: Companionship

    7 a.m. came around the next morning, but where were the epic waves I had dreamed of last night? We arranged for our new amigo Felix to pick us up Friday morning so we could return to the left point we had surfed in Organos. We were hoping to score waves similar to the day before, except with less wind. What we were greeted with instead were 5-7 ft. closeouts since we hadn’t factored in the tides. Oops. 

    I stood on some fuzzy green grass in front of three nice beach bungalows and sighed as I watched the unridable waves explode onto the rocks. After discussing the conditions and approaching tide Alexis, Roberta and I gathered our things onto the grass and spread out our towels. We each settled on a towel in the grass waiting on the tides. I couldn’t complain because this is exactly the thing that I yearned to do at home. Now that I am no longer a student and have a “nine to five” job (which is really 10-6) I have to take what I can get in the morning, regardless of tides or conditions. Compared to my normal routine this was a luxury. 
  Our discussion topics during this waiting period ranged from work to surfing to boys and life. I was getting a different satisfaction from this trip than I had imagined. 
    As our conversation took a break, I uncrossed my cramped legs and laid back on my yellow towel. I looked up at the blue and grey speckled sky and smiled, stretching out my body until my fingers and toes were both pointing. I wasn’t even surfing and I was so stoked. After living by myself for the past few years and primarily hanging out with a bunch of dudes, it was refreshing and exciting to hang around and travel with two really unique, kind and fascinating women. Moments like this separated this trip to Peru from other trips in the past. 
 At around 9 a.m. Roberta and I suited up for the highly anticipated session at Organos and paddled out.  I rode across surfaces that turned from tan to whale blue to sea foam green as I passed each unique section. You could ride long enough to hear your thoughts. 
    Why did I ever fear this generous land? It was teaching me life skills I could not have acquired in my own comfort zone at home. I was afraid to come here because of qualities this place had that I was unfamiliar with. But it was these unfamiliar qualities that were showing me the way to an unsought after enlightenment. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Peru-The Lessons of Fear Chapter 6: Love

    I rested my head on my tray table as if it were a chest high pillow, as I dreamed of all of the chest high waves we had ridden before this long trek home had begun. I rubbed my tired eyes on my familiar navy flannel. ATL to LAX, the final flight of three that it takes to get home from Mancora, had two hours and 23 minutes left. If I hadn’t woken up on the airplane I might have wondered if it was all a dream. I sat up and traced a design on the airplane wall with my index finger. I kept the window next to my invisible design closed to keep out the white bright light that would have made me aware of everything. I opened my journal for something to do. A white folded paper dropped into my lap.
You thought I forgot.
The outside of the note still read.
I blinked my eyes twice, trying to rouse myself into the state I needed to be in, a state I was finally ready to be in. Holding the square folded paper in my hands I turned it in circles, touching my index finger carefully on the point of each corner. I guess now would be a good time, I thought. 
As I read the first sentence I paused in mystification. How is it that someone can know what you need even better than you, yourself do?

I'm so excited for you to be realizing a dream you have had for so long.
the thoughtful note read.
    How did he know this trip was everything I needed? Before I began this journey I had laid my head on his chest and cried, sobbing about all of the unknowns and the what-ifs. The truth is, the unknown moments became the most defining ones. Getting myself from one unfamiliar location to the next, challenging myself to bring my surfing to a new level in a new place, driving out in the middle of nowhere in search of waves with someone who spoke no English, and forming new friendships along the way. 
 I will miss you a ton, but make sure you remember that I will be here when you get back, wanting to hear about your great adventure. 
So be sure to make some great stories.
Don’t worry Scott, I did. 

Friday, October 23, 2009

Clear Water Confidence

    The waves rise and fall around me, but do not break. Surrounded by lobster traps, I sit outside the breaking waves trying to get my head set for what is to come. The horizon is cement gray, the water sapphire blue. My heart beats fast, my eyes blink slowly. I take it all in with each sense. 
    It is Thursday, October 14th and a large NW swell has brushed in along the coast of California gifting lineups with 6-10 ft. waves. Many times in past Winter seasons I have sat at sea with my heart in my mouth almost disappointed in myself for the fears that I felt. Today, the feeling is different. Today I feel content with myself for overcoming the fears I had felt in the past for waves that rose much higher than my level of confidence.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Finding Solitude: Part II

   As much as I enjoy the warm and inviting summer waters of my home in San Diego, California, I felt as though I could use some time away from the crowds and commotion to reconnect with the sea and explore another area. It’s not that I don’t love surfing at home, I couldn’t love it more. I just started to get the itch to travel and surf somewhere where I could listen to the sound of waves instead of the hum of planes towing Bud Light ads. California’s offshore islands seemed to be the perfect place! My Dad, Scott and I arrived just at the end of the big summer south swell and were greeted by clean waist to chest high waves for our entire trip. 
  While at sea I found myself imagining wonderful scenarios of being one of the first people to discover the islands and the waves, and, at some moments, it felt as though it could have been true as we were occasionally the only souls around for miles.
    In the mornings the air was crisp and fog would fill the crevasses of the island cliffs. Our first morning we surfed by ourselves for 2 hours. After our session and breakfast, company began to surround our boat. I was trying to take a nap when all I could hear was my Dad and Scott talking about how many boats were arriving around ours. “My solitude! My waves!”, I thought. Without further adieu I pulled my wetsuit from the engine room and grabbed my board before the crowd got too large. Luckily the crowd was only Tom Curren and his sons. I got my wave of the day as Tom Curren was paddling up the face, although I doubt he was very dazzled :). We barbequed chicken that night with a lemon soy sauce marinade. It was delicious! The next day we surfed another uncrowded session with the three of us and one other guy. It was howling offshore, somehow, and epic. I practiced getting barreled on the more hollow ones. The sound of water falling all around me was exactly the sound I had left in search of and I won’t soon forget it. Although I was bummed to return home yesterday to knee high wind blown waves, my body needed the break anyway. I felt so rejuvenated after my journey to solitude that I immediately began dreaming about my next getaway...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Finding Solitude Part: I

I am writing this entry from the parking lot at my place of work. What am I doing out here? Finding solitude. Sometimes our lives, our lineups, our roadways and our work schedules can become so hectic that this is simply the only thing to do. At work I find solitude by taking my lunch break in the parking lot with my car backed up to a canyon. I put a camping chair behind it and eat and write as the breeze pours over me. It’s not much, but it is a moment I have in my day that is mine, and no one else’s, and I find that to be so important. 

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Catalina Trip

I have been going to Catalina since I can remember. It is one of my favorite places to visit and we never fail to create lasting memories there. My parents have had a boat since I was a little kid and sometimes I swear I feel more at home on it than I do on land. Being surrounded by the water definitely gives you great energy. I swim often in the ocean when at home and have been scuba diving since I was 11, but it is so different jumping off the back of the boat and swimming around in what seems like endless amounts of ocean water. Swimming deep, I spin my body and take in the feeling of the water surrounding me. I watch the sun shimmer off of my skin and listen to the clinking of boat chains and humming of engine motors echoing though the underwater world. This must be what it feels like to be a fish, and for a moment I am jealous. I kick my legs together in a scissors motion and push my arms downward. I look up towards the sun above and then break through to the surface. Air fills my lungs and I exhale, giggling a little. I smile at my family on the boat and jealousy subsides. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

San Diego-"Gone Fishing"

Riding my fish at home one memorial day weekend. Music: Phoenix; Song: 1901; Filming: Scott DeMint; Editing: Devon Holloway

Friday, May 22, 2009

It's Summer!

 It’s finally Summer! Or at least it feels that way. I wore my spring suit in exchange for the old tattered 4/3 I was previously wearing. As I ran into my parent’s yard I wasn’t expecting much as the previous week hadn’t offered waves more than shin high. I saw 1-2 ft. waves with the potential for a larger set as I walked down the grass towards the cliff. I was already out there in my mind. It wasn’t much but it was more than I’d had all week. “I promise it will be fun” I convinced my slightly skeptical Dad. 
    I ran home to change. I returned from my apartment in my 2/2 with long sleeves. It was the kind of day where you could smell the reef. You know? It smells kind of like a salty rock baking in the sun. “It’s finally Summer!” I thought in my head. 
    Ridding my 5’0” fish my boyfriend Scott shaped me, I dropped into dark turquoise waist high waves (knee high on everyone else). My dad and I were the only ones out. I smiled as I paddled back. In my head I thought “At least some days still make it seem like this place is a secret”. I licked the salt water off the tips of my lips as I paddled. Right arm left arm, right arm. A nice little peak came to me about mid session. White water began to trickle down its face. I caught it right in front of my dad and did an off-the-lip before his face. I turned back and smiled at him, my mouth turned up like a half moon. It wasn’t just a stoked smile, it was a smile filled with giddy content, tied together with fulfillment. 
    My dad is the reason I know how to surf. I remember watching him paddle out at San-O as a young child and wondering what it was he was doing out there. He fianlly took me along one day and led me to the passion that has shaped my life into what it is today. He was the reason I was surfing this spot right now. If he hadn’t bought property on this cliff I would have never known of its existence, of this place that has given me so much joy. 
    I ducked under the 67 degree water and hesitated for a moment before popping back up. I tried to take the water in with every one of my senses. “I feel so happy right now” I thought. It finally felt like Summer.

Monday, April 6, 2009

El Salvador-"Your Heart"

El Salvador
My trip to El Salvador with Donavon Frankenreiter. Music: Donavon Frankenreiter; Song: Your Heart; Filming: Luke Thorpe; Editing: Devon Holloway

Sunday, March 22, 2009

El Salvador

     I remember trying to talk Scott into going on this trip. He thought it was too expensive and he wasn't sure we should be doing this kind of travel right out of college. We got in a fight about it while we were running errands on this quaint shopping street near our house. It was December. Cheerful shoppers were brushing past our car on their way to buy gifts and there we were, sitting in our car trying to figure out who was right. I remember feeling really bad halfway through that argument because I thought I was asking Scott to do something he wasn't totally excited about. A few weeks later he changed his mind and we reserved two spots on the El Salvador Go with a Pro Surf Trip. The pro that was going on our trip was musician Donavan Frankenreiter, whom we both respected as a musician and a surfer. 
     I can't believe I am actually putting this in writing, let alone on the Internet, but Scott is right in most many of our conversations. He's just more easy going, and I am much more prone to freaking out about unnecessary things. That being said, I was right on this one. When I look back on this argument now, I'm glad I was being so pushy about going. It was a really good time. I know Scott agrees.