With warm water and some of the longest breaks in Central America, El Salvador is known for the surfing scene. Because of this, I was anxious to dive face first into this adrenaline pumping sport. This is Part II of the ongoing series “Eric Is An Idiot” (check out “My Search for Israel” for Part I).
Taking a bus from Guatemala City to San Salvador was uneventful. The border crossing was easy, no unnecessary searches, or even questioning of that matter. Arriving in San Salvador, I hopped on a rickety old school bus (think 1960’s yellow bus from the New England area) to take me to Playa El Tunco, just a few hours west of San Salvador.
Playa El Tunco is a surf town and not much of anything else, with people totting boards through the streets to hit the breaks right off shore. Honestly, I couldn’t have been more out of place. I tried to pretend I knew what the surfers were talking about with all of their “surf talk,” but I think they realized I’m a fake when I dropped the word “narley” in regards to the Beach Boys. Who knew that they were out of style?
Talking with some locals, they informed me that the swells (waves) were the biggest they have seen in awhile. Ranging anywhere from seven to ten feet, I figured this was the perfect place to learn…sink or swim, right? I thought about taking a lesson, but then I realized that it can’t be that hard to just stand up on a board. Remember…Eric is an idiot.
Heading to the surf shop, I picked up my rental for the day. One of my mates I befriended the night before gave me a quick lesson on surf etiquette before heading out. This mostly consisted of advising me not to piss anyone off, because if so, I might get a punch in the face. Got it…don’t be a jerk.
When we arrived at the beach, I had a good little walk to the break I was going to attempt to learn on. Considering my board was six times the size of myself, by the time I arrived at my desired location, I was dead. I should have taken this as a hint that I’m not in shape at all for this sport…but I can often times be quite stubborn. I ran straight for the water…pretending I actually knew what I was doing.
The rocky shoreline makes getting in and out of the water quite difficult. I finally made it in the water and began the long and tiring paddle out. Since I was on one of the longest breaks of Central America, it took me a good twenty minutes of hard core paddling to get to an area where I can rest and wait for a wave. That’s my favorite part of surfing…resting out in the water. Good surfers sit on their board looking outwards to the oncoming waves. I possess the balance of…we´ll, I don´t know what has awful balance, but whatever does, that´s me. I looked like I was riding a mechanical bull when I tried to sit up, so I finally opted just to lay on my belly.
Seriously, those guys out there were serious. I was just splashing around, wishing I had a rubber ducky or a beach ball to mess around with while everyone else was intensely concentrating on what was to come. After some time, I finally regained my strength and was ready to catch a wave. When I finally spotted one, I turned and prepared myself, because I confidently knew I would master it on my first attempt while I pulled off numerous tricks and turns. As the wave started to lift me up, a million things went through my head. What foot do I put forward again? When do I stand up again? Wait… crap… how am I supposed to get off this thing? Are the girls watching me? What should I have for lunch afterwards? Obviously, I wasn´t in the game (nor ever will be).
Before I knew it, the wave lifted me up to the crest, forcing me to look down ten feet to the base. I never really paid attention in science class, but it would have helped at this moment, because I was unaware that I would be propelled at rocket speed to the bottom of the wave. My board went nose first into the water, with me tumbling along with the wave. The force kept me under for a good forty eight minutes and twenty two seconds, throwing my pants at my ankles (I´m surprised not completely torn off), allowing me to drink an excessive amount of salt water, and lastly, having sand shoved in places I didn’t even know existed.
I finally surfaced in the white wash, put my pants back on, and then looked back and see another wave coming my way. I was thinking “you’re kidding me, right?” I grabbed my board, held on for dear life. I think the best way to describe my scene is a comparison to a bowling alley. You know when you throw the ball, it hits the pins and they go everywhere? I was a pin. But instead of just falling into the gutter, I tumbled along with the ball hitting me the whole way.
I resurface again and said enough of this hogwash…I hate this damn sport. But I still had a good paddle in, fighting the waves and rocky shoreline. After cutting up my feet, I finally made it to dry ground. I threw my board to the side, dropped down and kissed the earth I was standing on. After resting up on the beach, I stumbled over to the bar and bragged about how I just rode the ¨narliest¨wave ever. I just failed to mention that I was riding under it instead of on top.
So enlighten me, how is surfing enjoyable?