Back in El Zonte
Our time in el zonte is a paradox between the tranquillo serenity onshore and the power constantly crashing just meters away offshore. We spend our time endlessly watching the waves, our days bookended by glorious sunrises and sunsets at opposite ends of the beach. We talk with Raul, our host, and enjoy the smile that takes up his whole face and how he lights up when he talks about this place, his home. Jen sunbathes and plays her guitar while i get lost in designs and the blog. It’s a good few days.
Karma naps in the shade awaiting our next walk on the beach and her chance to find the perfect coconut which will become her favorite toy ever. We will throw it repeatedly into the surf for her and toward the end of our walk, when its time, she will shred it into pieces to make sure that no other dog gets to play with her perfect toy. I’m certain that in between our walks she dreams of that perfect coconut and how it cant possibly be replaced by another...right up until our next walk when she will find the best, most perfect coconut ever...since the last one.
Our days go by slowly and we cherish every moment. We have happy hour with a new friend we met up the beach and talk of waves and his family’s attempts to transition to a warmer environment over the next few years. The breeze is strong enough that bugs aren’t an issue and even our walk home in the dark is slow and delightful.
This beach has a way of making you feel like you’re alone on a deserted island. Sure, there are other people walking the beach, or playing in the surf. There is of course the pair of cows that come down to walk in the water and torment local dogs who urge them off the beach, or the visit from the policia and their automatic weapons (but who are too busy snapping photos of surfers to look intimidating . And today is sunday meaning swarms of locals pour onto the beaches and almost 10 of them may have ended up here. But somehow, it still feels deserted and we might be the only ones here, staring out at those waves and watching them roll into the bay.
I grow more disappointed at myself each day as we spend our time watching but never taking the boards off the bus. Not really sure why we don’t have this strong urge to jump into those perfect waves or why we have been hesitating. Maybe its the tragedy that occurred in Zipolite that still hangs in our hearts and in the back of our minds. Regardless, we are in a place with perfectly beautiful waves and we’ve spent days watching them without once paddling out.
Today i decided i wont leave this place without surfing. The waves are too big for me, but i will at least paddle out and look them in the eye before sheepishly paddling back into shore. I pull the boards off the car and apply wax quickly before i change my mind. I'm in such a hurry to get in the water before chickening out that i leave my rash guard hanging from one of the wooden posts. I make my way into the water and battle the waves to make it out to the break. It is indeed enormous, while surely the smallest swell since we arrived days ago. My shoulders are toast by the time i’m near the other surfers and I pause to take it all in. The ocean rises and falls in huge breaths around me. The breeze is cool and refreshing despite the sun beating down on me and a few feet away fish almost a meter long jump form the water and dive back into the next mound of water.
Its been a long time since we paddled out and i recall for a few moments why i love surfing. This peaceful zenlike state comes over me and i realize im smiling so wide that im almost laughing. As i turn my gaze from the last jumping fish back out to sea i realize that the sun has been eclipsed by an approaching wave and one of the other surfers has paddled into the wave, heading straight for me. My initial instinct should have been self preservation but i didn’t want to ruin his chance at this perfect break and paused to see which way he would go. I turn the other, take a few hard strokes towards the beast and dive under. one, two, three, four..uh oh. Just as i think i should be surfacing on the back of the wave its energy pulls me and the board in from behind. I didn’t commit hard enough and am about to pay the price. The board and i get sucked into a backflip and tossed about for a while. My feet end up so far behind me i’m convinced they touched my ears and my back and neck snap. Moments later i’m surfacing and doing the full body check. Okay. Everything seems to move and i think i’m still alive. good then.
I quickly check my surroundings and see that im in near the rocks and grab my board to paddle back towards the center of the bay as quickly as i can. The wall of white water approaching from my right clearly wins the race and i decide to simply lay on my belly into shore. Even here, half way into shore the wave is so powerful it rips me off the board and tumbles us both, again back over front. This happens once more as i bounce off the rocks and finally make my way into shore. As i walk up on the beach i pass a few other surfers entering the water and wish them well...that will more than suffice for my first day back in the water. I gingerly walk over the rocks back to our place, hand jen the board and check in to make sure indeed i survived.
All’s good - except maybe the ego and the confidence level. Today i attempted my first overhead wave...i was so rushed to not succumb to my fears that i forgot my rashguard, forgot to stretch, and as i think back i may have even strapped my leash to the wrong ankle.
Today i found a zenlike state in the water, and moments later i caught my first overhead wave. Sure, i caught it backwards, and sure i rode it completely underwater and under no choice of my own...but i rode that wave, and i survived to write about it. And next time i grow tired of watching a big swell from the shore with the board still strapped to the bus i will take it down, apply some more wax, and run into the ocean...at the far opposite end of the beach where the children are playing in the whitewater- and find a wave much, much more suited to my skill level.
We eventually pack up our things and make our way south knowing that one day we must go, and that if we don’t leave soon it may be hard to pry ourselves out of this spot. I ask for a little more help from jen than usual backing out as i cant really turn my head to the side...but i’m sure thats just because my bruised ego lives somewhere between my neck and right shoulder.