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. 

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