Atacamenian Hangover

After 3 months of Pachamama-guru gardening in the Andes, I was in dire need of salt water, coastal air and moving water. I set out on a 20-hour bus ride through Martian-like terrain only to arrive at an Atacamenian oasis filled with coastal pampas, lively atmosphere, colorful South American houses and an abundance of reefs.

On the first morning I woke up before first light to check the waves. I found myself in front of empty, overhead sets coming in under the overcast dawn. I suited-up in minutes and paddled out with two other locals. We traded off quick, heavy barrels with hoots and Castellano conversation.  After a while the crowd filled in and I headed in for some toasted flour porridge. I caught on quick to the locals surf schedule and un-crowded waves were bountiful. Dawn patrol sessions, mid morning breakfast followed by a mid-day session, siesta and concluding the day with an evening session quickly became my soul nourishment.

On the 3rd morning, the routine and waves were still holding strong. I suited up and paddled out alone admiring empty-emerald-overhead-right-hand barrels. I waited for a set and caught my first wave. I drove down the line, pulled in, didn’t come out and went straight to the bottom. A flash of light illuminated the ocean green in front of my eyes. I surfaced dazed, confused and with open gash near my temple.

Makeshift duct tape bandages were applied but they only lead to torn-out hair and a delayed bloody-faced taxi ride to the ER. I keenly observed the ikikeñan nurses in hope for more than just a remedy, and as my name was called low and behold the only grey haired, nearly blind surgeon opened the door for me. I’m not sure if it was the lack of eye contact, sparse mental/physical condition questioning, or simply the hairy bloodstained sheets that had me second guessing lying under the lamp. Never the less, the Doc. left me with 5 stitches and a prescription for 1 week of no surfing.

The following days were filled with frustration, relaxation and reflection. It was agony not being able to surf while watching the waves fill in. I quickly became the regular gringo at the bar de zumo. Round after round of zanahoria and naranja kept me hydrated and nourished. Argentinean bodyboarders kept my mind occupied with excessive consumption of yerba Maté, yerba buena and boogie vids. Their hospitality and lifestyle reconnected me with the sport of bodyboarding, and above all why and how I began to travel. It was humbling and motivating to meet more kids in search for waves, travels, adventure, and most importantly not sweating over the bullshit of social pressure and pursuing their own path in life. Although my latest travels haven’t been a hundred percent wave driven, bodyboarding is what sparked my first travels. It has been with me on every trip and it will continue to be so on those to come.

Departing the oasis in return to the farm was an endless filmstrip of arid earth and uncharted coast with tons of potential for waves. Injuring myself due to excitement, lack of local knowledge (being it was low tide) or simply rusty bodyboarding skills was frustrating. However it is the risk when one searches for thrill and is part of the adventure.  I’ve got just under three months left of working la Pachamama until I return home and if I don’t return to the Martian oasis, at least I have a souvenir that I’ll never loose. Good times in South America!

Around the World

James Murdock – Oaxaca
Murdock made his annual sojourn deep in Mexico last month, this time conveniently coinciding with the IBA Zicatela Pro. Over the years James has become at home in the land of Pedro, Espuma Loca, mezcal, and some of the best beachbreak waves in the world. James finished equal 5th overall in the trials, which guaranteed him a spot in the main event with the top competitive riders in the world. An historic contest followed, with Jeff Hubbard taking the win after James bowed out in Round 3 of the main event.

This year James teamed up with fellow North Shore transplant James Dawson. Tons of media was collected between the two with a full writeup coming soon to this site. In the meantime here’s a few pieces that have been leaked on the net since the comp. From the looks of it plenty of ETs were terrorized with pterodactyl late night buzz on reincarnations, a Tom Selleck stache, and full jungle building demos amidst other drunken carnage.

More: 2010 story, pics, and video

Cale Moore – Central Coast
Cale checking in with a couple shots from the Central Coast: “It’s been an extremely dismal summer for waves up this way. Every swell has coincided perfectly with bad winds. Definitely looking forward to fall.”

More: Cale Interview, Killmore Chronicles

Willie Richerson – Bali
Willie just got back from his 3 week retreat to Bali, scoring plenty of swell while meandering in the South Pacific. From his last few days: “At Desert Point saw some of the best waves of my life. Seriously. Got a few scraps, hard with fifty people out and forty that rip….. enjoying myself and taking it all in. Taking this incredible Bali energy straight back home!”

More: Camel in Indo

Adam Terpening – Chile
Adam’s still down in Chile but now living the sober life on an Andes vegetable farm as his adventure has taken an interesting turn:

“The experience is going great but has taken a whole new direction…I dropped studying (formally) at the University of La Serena in June because of the student strike that has been happening for the last 3 months. The strike is still going strong and the cultural contrast between university systems and students has been a big eye opener.

However, thanks to some amazing serendipity I found a job on an organic/permaculture farm in the Valle de Elqui. I’m currently living here with the owners and more people are planning to travel here to work and help expand the vision they have for this land.

The owners, John and Veronica, are awesome people and are very at one with nature. The place is nestled in a canyon with fresh spring water. I work 5-6 days a week doing various things. I’m learning tons about organic gardening and permaculture. It has opened my eyes up to amazing things leaving me looking at the world in a whole new way (again). Also, on this farm it’s prohibited to smoke or drink, so sobriety and vegetarianism are in the mix as well.

I’ve been lucky to find some waves on the weekends while visiting friends in La Serena. I’m a bit of shocker to the country folk here. Being a blond haired gringo carrying a boogie board on a dirt road at 6000 ft. in the Andes will leave a few of the locals a bit dumbfounded, hahah.

I hope to send more photos soon. I have a visa until the end of February of 2012 but we’ll see how things keep going here on the farm.”

Last Minute Update from Adam:
“Recently returned from a trip to the Atacama. Scored sick waves, found some cool culture and left some flesh on the reef in trade for 5 stitches as a souvenir. Full story and more photos to come.”

Pismo Groms – Colima
Sandy Sphincter and a couple other Pismo groms recently visited mainland Mex. Plenty of beer was consumed and plenty of pictures of the elusive Brown Kid were snapped when not getting tubed.

More: 2009 frames, story, and vid