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.

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