El Zonte, El Salvador


Nothing but wind and waves in El Salvador.   All night the wind gusts through the shade structure that is our sleeping quarters and while we see nothing but darkness you can make out the white mass that is a wave trailing from right to left on the horizon.  Other than the crashing waves and the occasional howling of the wind there isn’t a single noise all night.

I wake up to the crashing of waves that sound as though they just hit the side of the bus.  Without even lifting my head from my pillow i can see the top of the wave right outside our doorway.  I look up at it as it enters stage right gathering the energy of the water around it and churning into one huge mound of unleashed power.  As it reaches maximum height somewhere in the middle of the cargo doors the white water begins folding over from its highest points, crumbling under its own weight.  It lingers for a  moment behind the cabinets and when it leaps out from hiding into the safari window it’s fully breaking.  Churning and rolling across the bay in front of us. el zonte sunrise

el zonte surfel zonte bay

I watch a few of these roll by and take in the soft glow of the orange and purple waterscape.  The colors are amazing, the ocean seems to surround us and as my head clears enough to now be fully awake i realize i’m not dreaming.  The waves are real, but it seems as though we are looking up at them instead of down.  Is it possible we parked underwater?  My brain cant put together all the pieces and i eventually need to see a wave unfold from beginning to end and make my way out of the comfort of our bed and the bus.   As we step out stretching our arms to the horizon, it seems as though we can reach it and while its still dimly lit everything around us is spectacular.

We see now that the structure we pulled under last night sits at the furthest out part of the point.  Were it not for rock walls we would surely be underwater now that it's high tide.  The structure is nothing more that a rickety wooden frame, some tin roofing and small lean-to with a bucket of water to do dishes or “shower” off, but for us it’s perfect.  Shelter for us and the bus from the sun and an amazing viewing platform for the waves crashing around us.  As we lean out both sides to see further afield we see a tiny bay on one side with a few structures and walled in plots of land with nothing behind them.  The opposite side holds the rivermouth spilling freshwater into the sea, and just beyond is the home of the hermit crabs we stopped into last night.

bus at el zonterivermouthbeachkarma el zontepatience

As we make our way to a small bench sitting atop the stone wall the sun is coming up from behind the point further south and is slowly lighting the bay in a soft glow.  We sit and marvel at the size of the wave breaking seemingly a few feet in front of us.  How can nobody be surfing this wave?  Before long we see a lone surfer paddle out, just beating the presence of the sun above the outline of the point.  He makes the theatre even more enjoyable as we get to share his hope, excitement and disappointment each time he paddles into a wave.  By his second ride, the sun has peaked out from behind the point as though shining a spotlight directly on him and the wave beneath him.  He gets a few good rides in before another surfer or two join in, now in the full light of morning sun.

At some point we turn our gaze north to see whats happening and realize there is another break just on the far side of the point where 2 surfers are catching a few left handers that take them away from us and towards the beach beyond.  Seriously?  We get to watch two different breaks without having to go more than a few feet from the bus?  I love it here.jen el zonte


carvingsgalloWe watch wave after wave until hunger wins over and steals our attention away towards breakfast.  After we’ve eaten we make our way out for a walk down the black sand beach to explore our surrounds.  The beach and small community here it isn’t huge but does have a few surf camps, an 8 room hotel and a scattering of beach houses.  We walk about as far as we can before a point makes passing impossible and then return to the bus and the welcome shade of Raul’s parking structure.

The day is spent largely the way we spent our first minutes.  Staring out at the theatre of movement surrounding us and taking in the massiveness of the ocean. Not a bad day...not at all.karma