Friday, January 19, 2018

Surf Trip

Surf Trip Record
by Mike Blackheart

Day -61
Mike: I’m so sick of all these fucking kooks. Kooks here , kooks there, kooks off the starboard bow.

Dan: Shut up. You sound like a kook.

Andrew: Hey Mike, you aught to go on a surf trip to sliders point. It’s near crocodile river mouth of death, also kinda near Weezel reef..

Mike: Shut up. 

Day -60
The next day I (Mike) tell Dan we are going to sliders point in a few months. We buy tickets and notify loved ones. My dad tells me he knows some one in that country. He claims there will be someone waiting for us at the airport.

Day 0 6:02 p.m.
I get on the plane and wait for Dan. I start thinking Dan isn’t going to make the flight. Just as they were shutting the door, Dan rolls up. Dan smells like a coffee bean was roasted while a bud of cannabis was eating a hop on a warm sunny day just after being inserted into a sweaty 217 month old vagina.  I was so hyped to smell that, as that meant Dan was sitting next to me. I didn’t intend to go to sliders point solo. 

Day 0 6:29 p.m.
By the time we are on the tarmac, Dan suggest I ask the stewardess if I can join the mile high club. So I do. She says no, and  proceeds to treat me like a degenerate for the remaining 5 hours 37 minutes of the time in the airplane. About 5 hours and 4 minutes into the flight the captain says “there is too much fog on the landing site, we’re going to land in a different country.” It’s around 1:27 a.m. in whatever time zone we are in. As we approach our landing , the plane goes through this brief moment of weightlessness. The moment the wheels make contact with the ground, there is a violent BANG!! I was convinced the plane would burst into a giant ball of flames at any moment. It didn’t. People on the plane start clapping. The stewardess eventually announces we had a “hard landing”, and that we will soon deplane, yet our checked luggage will remain on the plane. I didn’t want to deplane. My idea was, stay with your surfboard, then you’ll be with your surfboard. However, we were told after we deplane, a van would drive us to a hotel, and the airline would pay for the hotel. 

Day 1 1:41 a.m.
We de-plane. Dan and I are standing on the curb. In a pre-Uber time, random vehicles with no obvious signs of being official taxis are showing up , aggressively requesting we ride with them. Dan and I are holding out for an “official” van. Eventually a van that seems official shows up. Dan and I make our move. We are over run in a manner similar to a drunk gringo in Spain during the time a herd of enraged bulls run through the streets. ’Twas no chivalry that day. We had to fight to get on that bus. We rode on top of bags in the back behind the seats. The bus takes us to a hotel. We get a few hours of something remotely resembling sleep. Our passports were never stamped from this alternate country experience. 

Day 1 12:32 p.m.
Eventually we leave the hotel to go back to the airport in an effort to depart for the host country of sliders point.

Day 1 3:47 p.m.
Upon our arrival, after clearing customs and gathering our boards and shit, there is a portly gentleman holding a sign that says: “Mike Blackheart”. I’m so hyped there is a human holding a sign with my name on it. I suspect this is the guy my dad told us about. I take a picture of this guy as we are walking up to him.

Turns out the portly gentleman holding the sign is a fella by the name of “Don”. He tells us he is going to drive us where ever we want to go that day. Afterwards, he will eventually bring us to his house where we will spend the night. Finally, after spending the night at his house with his family, he will drop us of at the “coca cola “ bus station so we can get a bus to our final surf destination. Don’s vehicle was a 2 passenger truck with a frame for a truck bed. We had to strap our boards directly to the frame of the truck. Currently, there was a lawn mower on top of the frame of the truck. “no problem-o”, says Don. He proceeds to strap the lawn mower on top of our boards. Dan and I squeeze into the truck. Its a manual transmission , so the person riding in the middle has a rough go. Dan is smaller than I am, he volunteers to sit in the middle. That was kind of him. I rolled down the passenger window.

Day 1 5:19 p.m.
We ask to go to a bar. “Vamos!”  Don says. On our way to the bar, Don asks us if we want any coke-ay-eenah? At this point I’m wandering “what the fuck?!!” My dad, the honest, hard working role model, set us up with this guy. I mean, I trust this guy since my dad put him in front of us, yet what seems 10 minutes after meeting this guy, I’m questioned if I want coke? We say “you got any weed?’  Don says “claro!” 

We drive through some neighborhood where every house has bars on their windows. Don finds the one house with no bars on the windows. He pulls up and tells us to sit tight. Don walks in. A few moments later he comes out with a small wad of newspaper. He hands it to me. I unravel it. There is a substance in it. The matter somewhat resembles the burnt leftovers of a casserole that stick to the pan. I ask Don what he just gave me. He replies “mota!!” After leaving the slum, Don pulls into a convenient store. He grabs a 6 pack of cold ones. We crack them in the parking lot. Don rolls a spliff with the substance he brought out of that slum house with no bars on the windows using the news paper it arrived in.

Day 1 evening
We blast it. I’m guessing it had formaldehyde or angel dust sprinkled in it. I’m fucked at this point. I can’t even read the digital display indicating the time on the pioneer compact disc player, much less process who we are with, or where the fuck we are. I’m on the edge of a full blown panic attack. I sip my ice cold cervesa. That helps. Poor Dan. He looks pale and hasn’t said anything since he pointed out the condition of the neighborhood we got the substance in the newspaper from. 

Day 1 dark outside:
Don ends up calling my name several times at ascending values of volume. Finally, I recognize he is requesting my attention. He asks if we are ready to go to the bar. I respond “si”.

Not sure what day, dark outside:
Don pulls his truck in front of some hole in the wall place with an indistinct beer sign barely lighting up a door way. Although we are in the depths of the city, there aren’t many street lights nor is there much activity. He just leaves his truck in the road. I guess you could call it parallel parking, except there were no other cars and we are at least a meter from the curb.  He turns off the truck , and opens his door. We get out and follow him. We ere greeted by “the pus spewing neck slit human”. At this point, I twitch a little. We enter the bar and find a table. The human with pus oozing out of the stitches from a slit in his neck that stretches from ear to ear, makes himself cozy well within Dan’s personal comfort zone. The look on Dan’s face, and his general body language put forward the sheer terror that undoubtedly is welling up inside him. I feel like I am about to laugh hysterically. The smell coming from the human with the puss oozing out of the ear to ear neck slice is overwhelming. I can smell him from where I am across the table. I’m looking to Don to correct the intrusive behavior of the human with the infected neck slice. No such luck.  Don ends up talking at the human. The puss oozing slit throat human tries to talk but mainly just makes gurgling sounds. I remember feeling like the dude was going to fall over dead at any moment. We drink a cold beer, then eat a “boca”. We leave the bar. I fall asleep in the truck on our way to Don’s house. I’m guessing Dan did too. I wake up to an AK 47 in my face. Don lives in some compound that has at least one guard. This guard was leaning over talking with Don through the passenger window. We enter his compound for the night.

Day 2 7:03 a.m.
We wake up in the morning and Don gives us a tour of his compound. We meet his beautiful wife and daughter. They had goats , chickens and many fruit trees. He lived in the mountains above the city. We hear monkeys, and see colorful parots. His wife makes Dan and I some ham, eggs and excellent coffee. I remember when she brought the eggs to us, I didn’t want anything to eat. However, she insisted saying we had a long day in front of us.

Day 2 8:21 a.m.
We load up in Don’s truck. Dan seems to be in better spirits. I’m pretty optimistic. The last 24 hours had been crazy. However, here we are in a beautiful country on our way back to the city to catch a bus to some EPIC waves. At this point we are in the middle of the country. Nothing around but cows, coffee fields and jungle. It’s a clear day, the temperature is crisp. We had been driving in silence for about 10 minutes when Don says “Give me your plane tickets. I’ll keep them safe for you. Call me when you are back in town from the beach. I’ll pick you up , and take you to the air port.” We thoughtlessly take out our tickets and hand them over. Another 5 or so minutes go by. More cows, coffee fields and jungle pass by the truck’s windows in silence. Don then breaks the silence and calmly says “we are going to get in a wreck”. There were no cars coming at us on the other side of the road, and we are out in the middle of no where, thus his statement seemed so ridiculous. He slows his truck down , and someone gently rears ends us. I go from a state of confusion over his statement to a state of worry regarding the condition of our surfboards. As it turns out, there was a car and a truck behind us.

Day 2 8:56 a.m.
Don tells us to get all our stuff out of his truck quickly. He said we need to get out of his truck before the cops get there , else they will want to take statements from us. If we have to give the cops statements, we might not make it to our bus in time. The car was the vehicle that gently rear ended us. After a very brief discussion with Don, the truck driver loads us up in his vehicle.

This entire truck / car/ truck incident probably only lasted 4 minutes. After about 4.7 minutes in the stranger’s truck, I’m about to loose my shit. Dan hasn’t spoken a word since breakfast. I try to make small talk with the driver. That went as well as could be expected between two strangers that don’t speak each other’s language.  We get into town. He pulls up at some random spot and tells us to get out. I say “no” . This random spot looks nothing like what I expect a  “coca cola” bus station to look like. The driver insists on us getting out. I refuse, He  gets angry. He hastily drives us to some other spot. There is no indication that this new spot is a bus station either. I refuse to get out. More anger from the truck driver, more haste in driving away. We end up at a place with busses, and a sign on the front of the place that advertises coca- cola. We get out. I am excited to be out of that guy’s truck. I remember standing on the curb, super happy to be entering the next stage in our travels. At this point I need to successfully negotiate the correct bus tickets to the little fishing village where our epic point surf awaits us.

Day 2 10:53 a.m.
After a tremendous amount of confusion, we are holding bus tickets. Apparently we will be getting on a bus in an hour. This bus will take us to a bus station where we have to transfer busses. The ticket vendor tells me what to say at the bus transfer station in order to get on the correct bus to our final surf destination. During this hour, we examine our boards, and try to calm down. I take a few photos. I remember laying on my board bag trying to center myself. There were the sounds and smells of diesel trucks and busses everywhere. 

We get on the bus. We get seats up toward the front. It is packed and there is no air conditioning. I snap a pic of the countryside as we exit the city and enter the mountains. While we are driving up the mountains on a two lane road that twists and turns through the rain forest,  there is an 18 wheeler directly in front of us. I can see out the front windows of the bus and out of the side window at our seat. We were on a stretch of road where there is a tremendous canyon on our right. The sheer depth of the canyon makes my stomach turn. We are going so slow, I remember wishing the truck would get out of the way. At that moment, the truck veers off the road and falls down into the abyss. Everyone in the bus screams. Our bus driver kept driving. 

We continue on for a few hours until our bus breaks down.  We wait in the hot bus for hours. At this point I am so grateful Don’s wife insisted I eat those eggs for breakfast. Finally our bus gets going again. 

Day 2 9:02 p.m.
We arrive at the transfer station late. There are no other busses leaving for our fishing village until 10 p.m. We are forced to wait it out. 

Day 2 10:17 p.m.
We get on the bus around 10 p.m. We are the only passengers on this bus. We load our boards inside the bus where passengers would normally sit. I can’t imagine this bus getting us anywhere. It’s just a bucket of bolts. The gears sound like the lungs of someone suffering from chronic pulmonary disease, or maybe like marbles bouncing inside a giant bucket. It is refreshing to be the only ones on a bus. The night is clear. We can see the full moon, and all the stars. We’re bouncing over kilometers and kilometers of washed out dirt roads. This bus is traveling much slower than I can walk. The condition of the road coupled with the condition of the buss’s suspension was causing this incredibly loud banging sound. I was sure that even though our boards made it through a flight and a car crash, there was no way they would survive the torment of this bus ride. 

Day 3 12:00:37 a.m.
I decide to get out and walk beside the bus. It is a beautiful night lit by the moon. I am feeling so stoked to be nearing the end of our crazy journey. We have planned to stay in this village and shred epic waves for 5 weeks! Just as I am starting to feel optimistic , I see the road turn into some mix between plasma and liquid. The driver starts looking at me with sheer terror in his eyes and is yelling at me. I’m still trying to figure out what the fuck is going on with the road. I’m not sure what he is screaming. Is he telling me to run, or is he telling me to get back on the bus? Finally, he starts moving his right arm in a fashion that suggest “come here, QUICKLY! “ I jump back on the bus, he slams the door. We proceed to drive over millions of tarantulas the size of my hand. The entire road was covered by them for at least half a kilometer. It was surreal. Eventually we get to a building. Our driver pulls the bus over and says it broke down. He tells us to walk the remaining 3 kilometers to the village. We refuse. I tell him we are going to sleep in the bus until the bus is fixed. He gets angry. He goes into the building. Some time passes, he brings out a jug of water and pours it into the radiator. We’re on our way again. It is super late. We show up in the village while it is still dark. You can smell the ocean , and hear the surf. 

Day 3 3:01 a.m.
The bus driver drops us off at some kind of make shift police station. Our first sleep occurred in what felt like a prison cell. Every other place that provided lodging in the fishing village was closed for the night at that moment.

Day 3 7:01 a.m.
We wake up. I go for a walk around the town. I was so happy. The tide was low. I saw a rock pile with an A frame peeling, I saw crocodile river mouth of death, I heard roosters calling, monkeys howling and I smelled trash burning. It was paradise. I find us a cabina to stay in.

Those 5 weeks were filled with amazing waves. We ate plenty of gallo pinto con juevos, and drank gallons of beer. We met some true characters. 

Smiling dog was one fella that stands out. He was an ex patriot that owned a little piece of land near the river mouth. He had built himself a shack on some stilts.  He was a Vietnam vet that was grizzled as fuck. Smiley had a bull dog that lived with him. He loved that dog. Every night that dog ate rice, beans and fish. I saw that dog get murdered. 

Day 11 6:04 a.m.
A local fisherman grew tired of Smiley’s dog chasing him as he rode his bike to his fishing boat in the mornings. One morning as the fisherman rode his bike to his boat, the dog begins its pursuit. The fisherman dismounts his bicycle, and calmly unstraps his machete. While Smiley’s giant bull dog is barking, growling and running toward the fisherman at full speed, the fisherman just calmly stands and waits for his moment. Then with the blunt edge of the machete, he cracks the bulldog’s skull just as the bull dog was jumping for his throat. It was Neo style Matrix shit. It happened so fast, yet all in slow motion. Smiley didn’t see it. I did, thus I had to break the news to Smiley. He was fucking bummed. 

Day 11 8:43 p.m.
We morned Smiley’s loss over several bottles of distilled sugar cane. That shit bursts brain cells when you so much as smell it, much less drink it. Later on that night, after we were into our second bottle, Smiley told me a story about a dolphin and the banzai pipeline. One day decades before, Smiley had consumed a large quantity of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide while surfing pipeline. A dolphin jumped out of the water while Smiley was in the tube and winked at him. The wink was the dolphin’s signal that telepathically gave Smiley the idea of the tri - fin  surfboard. Smiley never forgave Simon Anderson for taking credit for Smiling Dog’s dolphin friend’s design idea.

Day 12 1:04 p.m.
I meet a guy by the name of Sam. He was from San Fransisco, California. He was traveling by himself. I traded him a pair of pants for a T-shirt. He had a rental car. Sam was going to do a day trip to this volcano and hike around to some waterfall/swimming hole/ hot springs. Dan wanted to stay at the fishing village. I go with Sam to the volcano. We take this hike that puts us in this stream that has a sequence of 13 waterfalls and associated swimming holes. The water was clear and cool. There were all sorts of beautiful plants everywhere. I took some photos. The creek bed was volcanic rock. My heels looked like the ground in death valley where those rocks mysteriously slide around. My heels had deep cracks in them. I thought scrubbing them with volcanic rock/ sand would be a good idea. My heels no longer had the flakes and deep cracks, that was certain. However, walking sucked for the next 4 days. 

While on this excursion, Sam told me about this raccoon situation he had back in San Francisco. These raccoons came in through his window and foraged in his kitchen trash bin every night. He had names for them. Smueli, Horace, and Walter. Sam said the raccoons were going to be pissed at him since he wasn’t regularly filling the kitchen trash bin. Before Sam left on this trip, he said he emptied his fridge into his trash bin and unplugged it. He figured the raccoons would be occupied for at least a week. 

On our way back to the fishing village Sam and I pulled into this dirty river town. I was starving. I tried to order a plate of rice and chicken with sour cream sauce. I said “arroz con pollo suico”. The cook looked at me with this look of deep concern. She kept repeating “suicio?, suicio?” I kept asserting “SI! crema suicio! Quero crema sucio!, Yo quero crema SUCIO!”. Eventually she comes out of the kitchen with a plate of rice and chicken drizzled with a sauce. I also ordered an ice cold Coca Cola. That beverage was so crisp. I was so hungry and thirsty I drank that stinging beverage with great vigor. The first bite of my rice and chicken tasted off. I was so hungry , I thought that taste was an isolated chunk of rice or something. My second bite was off as well. More so , even. My esophagus slightly spasmed. I guzzled some cold coke. Upon my third bite, I was digging into my rice and chicken plate with great gumption, as if to announce to my stomach that we have work to do. That was a bad idea. That cook was honest though. I got ruined by my earlier food description to the cook. Turns out I should have asked for “arroz con pollo suiza”.  The ride back to the fishing village was stinky and slimy. I had to throw away my trunks after that digestive episode.

Day 14 1:05 p.m.
Sam drops me at my cabina. I feel like my guts are going to exit my body. I’m laying in bed, convinced I might die. As I am thinking about moving from the bed to the shower, I noticed Dan in his bed. After some stretch of time laying in silence, I muster the power to ask Dan why he’s in bed. He tells me about some Argentinian girl he got ravaged by the night before. He seemed terrified while he was describing their interaction with each other. He said she was super sexy. He was most disturbed by how they fit together. He said it felt like we was banging a baseball bat around in an empty trash bin when they were copulating.

Day 16 11:21 p.m.
Dan and I decide we should paddle out and surf sliders point naked. The surf was small, the water was warmer that usual, the sky was clear, billions of stars everywhere. A sliver of a moon. There must have been a fair amount of dinoflagellates in the water. The water made green glowing vortexes as you paddled, and the white water wasn’t white. It was actually fluorescent green. Surfing with no clothes on and no real light to speak of was magical. We had been surfing Slider’s for so long, I was able to trust feeling, rather than sight. Eventually, I fell and lost my board. I swam in and started walking along the beach naked. My wang had a wee bit of wax rash. I reasoned the only way I’d have a chance of finding my board washed up was if I implemented some sort of pacing back and forth algorithm. I committed to a swath of sand that probably stretched 100 meters. After the 23rd iteration of my pacing algorithm, I was ready to give up and accept that Neptune now had possession of my shred sled. I turned my back on mother ocean and began walking up to the cabina. Just then , it washed up and gently bumped my ankles. I was done with the night’s shenanigans at that point. I grabbed my board and headed back to the cabina.

Day 17 
There were the dudes from Australia we met. Mick and Dan-O. Mick seemed to be the mellow one, Dan-O was batshit crazy. One day we were surfing Weezel reef. The waves were very heavy. It was a day of beautiful barrels and tremendous poundings. One wave bashed Dan-o pretty good. Later that day as we were trying to deplete the bar’s store of cold beers, Dan-O  mentioned his wrist seemed fucked. It was discolored, and improperly shaped. We decide to catch a bus to the nearest town with some kind of a medical clinic. It turns out he broke his wrist. He’s bummed. Now his surf trip is fucked. While Dan-O is getting his cast put on,  Mick , Dan and I find a market and load up on distilled sugar cane and beer. We miss the bus back to the fishing village, thus we taxi back. I’m drunk. I puke in the taxi. Later that evening, I end up drawing a pentagram on Dan-O’s cast. He gets super pissed and kicks my ass properly. We end up laughing it off and drinking till wee hours of the morning. 

Day 18 8:52 a.m.
I wake up with all kinds of terrible stuff written all over me in permanent marker. Dan uses my camera and snaps a pic of my post debaucherous state. I was a head to toe billboard for derogatory issues. Dan-O is still asleep in the tent he shares with Mick. Mick comes bursting out of the tent puking everywhere. As it turns out, Dan-O has just pissed and shit himself. It was getting hot too. I went over to check on Dan-O around 9:45 a.m. It must have been 85 degrees Fahrenheit by then. The smell was so awful, I nearly puked when i got close to the tent. Eventually Dan-O woke up. He was a mess. He turned his tent inside out and scrubbed it clean.

Day 20 6:03 a.m.
Weezel reef was firing one day. There were only 2 guys out. I was super excited to get out there. The waves looked huge, but super clean. I didn’t spend much time watching the sets or anything. After waxing my board, I just jumped in the channel and started paddling out. The two guys out were sitting way further out than I had seen anyone sit ever. They hadn’t even paddled for anything during the entire time I had been there. A giant set comes. The two guys out, don’t bother with this set. They don’t paddle a single stroke. I catch a bomb. It was terrifying, and amazing. I didn’t think I was going to make it out of the barrel. I made it. I was shaking and buzzing from the adrenaline. Paddling back out felt strange. I’ve never felt anything like that before or since. I get back out into my position. I remember sitting out there feeling like I wasn’t occupying my body. My mind kept seeing the vision from being super deep in the huge tube. I was day dreaming kind of. I notice the two guys that are sitting way further out than I was start scraping for the horizon. I see what is best described as the ocean lurching up and organizing itself in such a way, that I know I am about to receive Poseidon’s wrath. I’m in disbelief. I realize that there is no way I can duck dive this slab coming at me, I also realize there is no way I can paddle anywhere to avoid this oceanic detonation that is going to occur on me.  There is so much water moving, I feel like an ant being flushed down a toilet. The ocean starts sucking off the reef. I remember noticing the height of the water was below the reef. I scoot off my board, swim under and try to hold onto the reef. The swimming under part seemed more difficult than any other time I had ever swam under water. It seemed the water was more dense that usual. All I remember is this giant BANG! Poseidon was tearing every appendage from my torso. I felt like a bomb centered in my torso had just exploded and all my limbs were going to fly off, never to be seen again. Some how I emerge from what I was certain was my grave. I just get a breath in before the ocean explodes near me again. I get pulled down, and scraped across the reef. I make it to the surface after this beating. I’m in the channel. I am calm. My hand, ankle and head don’t feel right. I look at my hand, it is cut. Every heart beat caused an arc of blood to spew into the ocean. I start prioritizing getting to the sand. I have to swim through some swift moving water. I have no idea where my board is. I make it to the sand. I’m sitting on the sand feeling strange. I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t relaxed. I think I was in shock. Some stranger comes over and asks if I am o.k. I tell them I think so. He suggest I go to a clinic to have my head, hand and ankle tended to. I get in a truck with a stranger, and am taken to a clinic. I do not remember the drive to the clinic, nor do I remember much of what the next few days were all about. Some stitches were put in my hand. 

Day 21 4:05 p.m.
There was a friend I made in the village named Greg Pearson. He was a visiting surfer/photographer from Rhode Island. We both had the exact same camera. One day he and I were checking the surf at Crocodile River mouth of Death. The waves were glorious. There was a local indigenous person fishing at the river mouth. The tide was going out quite swiftly. This fisherman kept wading into the river, and loosing his footing. It was nerve wracking watching him try to manage himself. Eventually the guy looses his footing and gets swept out to sea. With out hesitation Greg jumps in after him. When Greg gets to this guy, the fisherman is so panicked that he is trying to pull Greg down to save himself. I see how fucked everything is going, and I grab Greg’s board and another board for myself and paddle the boards out to Greg. I manage to get Greg’s board to his general area. We were near the impact zone. I get washed around and so does Greg and the fisherman. By the end of the melee, we couldn’t find the fisherman. A couple days later his body washed up. He was all swollen and discolored. There were pieces of skin missing around his eyes and lips.

Day 23
5:33 a.m.
I wake up kind of early this morning. I was super exited as the tide / wind / swell was cooperating with the top section of sliders point. Now, the point was going to be surreal. The fact that this wind / tide / swell combo was hitting meant the point would be at least 2 or 3 times as long. I wake up at dawn and crack it! I was the only one out. It was such a fantastic session. The waves were practically machine made. Each wave cracked the point at the same spot, and had the same height and form. It was ridiculous. Before I paddled out, I timed 7 un sectioning glassy waves at an average of 2 minutes 43 seconds. During my session I had the most insane barrel rides of my life. It was a session of perfecting the line in the tube. Subtle adjustments that translated to seconds more in that existence. My legs burned after each ride. Those barrels were just the top section of the ride. There were so many turns and more tube rides on each wave. This particular day had insane conditions. The water was clear. So much so, I could see the different colored barnacles on each cobblestone as I was paddling into what was sure to be a dry barrel. The air was a bit gloomy. It was a noticeably humid day. After a seemingly impossible to count many tube rides, some sixth sense encouraged me to stop surfing and paddle in. I listen to that shit.

Day 23 7:11 a.m.
I put my board up and grab my swim fins, snorkel and mask. It was still early around the fishing village. Dan wasn’t up yet. Although the roosters were doing their thing, and trash was being burned, the village was quite still. I thought I was about to go out and snorkel sliders point by myself this particular morning. ’Twas not the case. Two dudes I had recently been casually consuming fermented malt and hop with seemingly creeped out of the bushes and insisted on joining me. Turns out the humans came from England and Austria. One was an Olympic pole vaulter, the other was a cannabis processor prior to a time when weed was legal. 

Day 23 7:21 a.m.
I debrief these chaps on our route out to observe the top of the point. This route required a little bit of rock dancing, and a tremendous amount of swimming. That sixth sense feeling had me re-thinking swimming out that far. However, now that these blokes are with me I feel like I am fully committed to this hair brained idea of checking out the top of the point.  We get out there.  It is gorgeous. So peaceful. This day, the water is very warm. The ocean is calm when a set isn’t rolling through. The sets have some time between them. During a lull between sets, we were floating over the depths and noticed a tremendous amount of very large fish making their way back out to the great drink of the pacific. As I was focusing on what seemed to be an undulating sea-floor, it became clear a giant apex predator shark was just below me. With a flick of its tail, it juts up at least 30 feat. At this moment, I am sure I am going to be mauled by this servant of Leviathan. I burst into this full blown panic spastic swim to shore. So too does the Austrian and the English  bloke. We made it safe, but fuck all was it a terrifying experience. Safely on the beach I was feeling like my life had flashed before me. This experienced left me a little spooked for the rest of the entire trip.

Day 27 10:13 a.m.  
The wind just turned onshore. Ever since we arrived in the fishing village, Dan and I had been noticing these nice hats and bags that local fisherman had. They were made from some textile. I asked Don Nacho, the owner of our cabina, where we could get a hat and a bag like those. He tells me the indigenous people make them up in the hills. He says he knows where the indigenous people’s village is, and if we would like, he could take us there. I tell him we’d love to get a hat and a bag. 

Don Nacho is this fella that always wore tight jean shorts, a white short sleeve button up cotton shirt ironed and tucked in , buttoned up just past his belly button. His jean shorts were fashioned with a gold trimmed belt, which is the support structure for his machete he constantly wears. His feet are adorned with those rainbow strapped grocery store flip flops. His clothes were always crisp and clean, his hair was always greased. He sported a very well groomed, super slim pencil mustache. Don Nacho smells like old spice. He has a small gold chain with some saint’s medallion on it. No chest hair. He must have been somewhere between 28 and 42 years old. He existed in a state of just having exited the shower and is about to greet his high school sweetheart he hasn’t seen for 10 to 24 years. After me telling him we’d love to get the hat and bag, Don Nacho says “vamanos!”. Dan and I had surfed for 2 hours at sliders point. I hadn’t rinsed off or anything. Dan was in the cabina. I tell Don Nacho, I’m going to grab my camera, a shirt, some money and Dan then we’ll be off. 

Day 27 10:15 a.m. 
Dan, Don Nacho and myself walk toward the hills. After about an hour I ask Don Nacho how long he figures this walk to get the hats and bags will take. He says ”poco mas tiempo”. It’s pretty hot out. About another half hour into it, the road stops. We continue on up into the jungle mountains walking on this red clay goat trail. 

Day 27 1:30 p.m.
Eventually we crest the ridge of the mountains. Up on the ridge you can see the layout of the fishing village. You could also see every surf spot. I took a photo.  We continue our hike back into the valley on the other side of the ridge. The hike down the mountain was super sketchy. That clay trail was narrow and super slippery. I’m sure , if you walked it frequently you’d know how to manage it in such a way as to not eat shit as much as Dan and I did. Don Nacho never slipped, nor did he break a sweat. `

Day 27 2:43 p.m.
Once our descent ends, we exit the jungle and enter this amazing grass field enclave situation. The indigenous village was nestled in this base of where several huge canyon walls converge. A deep yet narrow river flowed vigorously through the village. The sound from the river was deafening. There were all sorts of distinct , particular trees in random spots scattered throughout what seemed like golf corse quality grass. As we were entering the indigenous person’s village, I was observing the environment, and taken back by the fact that there were no humans visible. Don Nacho points out a tree he says the indigenous people use bark from to make the hats and the bags. I notice a large hut with smoke coming from it. Don Nacho has us walking toward it. I should say, beside Don Nacho telling us about the bark, or answering my question regarding how long the hike would take,  this entire walk was made in silence. It was the sort of hike where you are absolutely focused on your body’s movements. 

Day 27 2:53 p.m.
Just before we enter the hut, I realize how fucking thirsty I am. Don Nacho walks into the hut as if it were his. We sit on these tree trunk stools. In the hut there is a lofted area, a fire pit, and a clay pot suspended over the fire by way of this stick contraption. I’m sitting there happy to not be walking, wishing I had a drink of water. At this point I figured the indegineoous people would welcome us, since we were bringing them money. I remember looking at Don Nacho for some guidance in his facial expression. No luck. He was a stone in this regard. After about 3 minutes of silence and weirdness, a shaman type elder vaporizes into the front door. I was taken off guard. I had been looking at Don Nacho, freaking out on his entire get up. I almost forgot where we were, and what we were doing. Then this shaman figure is there with us. It was wild, there was a moment of Dan and I being in danger. Don Nacho and the elder had aggressive words for a second. We ended up paying a tremendous amount for our hats and bags. After the deal was made, Don Nacho walked us down to a swimming hole. We jumped in the river and rinsed off. The water was surprisingly cold, and swift moving.

Day 27 3:41 p.m. 
We exit the indigenous people’s village. Although I hadn’t drank anything, the dip in the river gave me renewed optimism. During our ascent back up the mountain, the sky opened up. It poured on us. I thought the clay trail was challenging earlier. Eventually we made it back to the cabina. Had Don Nacho accurately expressed the challenges of getting the bags and hats I would have never agreed to blast this excursion. Yet here we are. All is good.

Day 29 5:34 a.m.
This one morning I woke up before Dan. The previous day while surfing the river mouth, I saw a peak way down the beach across the river. I decided to take my chances and paddle across the river. People have died by the jaws of salt water crocodiles in this very river mouth multiple times. Thus its name “Crocodile River-mouth of Death”. It is too spooky paddling across the river. Every rotation of my arm, I keep thinking will be the last time i ever get to use that arm. I feel confident it will be violently grabbed, and then death twisted off my torso. The river water is this reddish ,blackish, chocolate milky color. Super silty. Its a high tide , so the river is swollen. The light is barely dawn outside. As I am paddling the near 30 meters across the river, this giant thing surfaces right in front of me.  I squeal and go into this panicked spasm. By great fortune, it was only a tree trunk that had been floating down the river. I get across the river and start hiking down the beach to the peak. I was spooked from the paddle, however the quality of the waves were such that nothing else in life existed at that moment. There was no development anywhere the eye could see. Just pure jungle, black sand  and a gorgeous blue ocean. Other than the occasional hermit crab,I was the only non-botanical organism I could see. It was just me, and these perfect slightly over head, glassy waves. The paddle out was easy. The peak was caused by this rock formation, so there was a channel set up to get to the peak. This session was a highlight of the trip. I surfed super well that day. The waves would start out kind of soft, then pitch into this gorgeous barrel, then they would soften out again. The wave never sectioned. You could do anything you wanted on the wave. It really gave me an opportunity to understand my board. It was difficult to understand it wasn’t a dream. I surfed it for hours.  Eventually I came in, and laid on the sand in the shade of the jungle to rest before my hike and swim back to the village. When Dan asked where I surfed that morning, I said “cave town”. It just felt right. 

Eventually Dan and I had to head back. 

Day 33 9:07 a.m.
We hitched a ride back with the Rhode Island crew we had met. Traveling from the beach to the city in a rented car felt luxurious. 

We get to the hotel where the Rhode Island crew are staying before they fly home the next day. At this point, I am wishing we still had possession of our plane tickets. However, Don has them. So ,with tremendous reluctance, I call Don. A little while later, we see Don pull up in his truck. 

Day 33 11:01 a.m.
I’m trying to stay positive, however seeing the truck and hearing his voice, I can’t help but be fairly pessimistic. We hastily gather our things from the Rhode Island crew’s room and load up into Don’s truck.

Don seems more jovial and less of a sociopath than I recall. He is excited to tell us about a little parade that finishes at a local rodeo that his daughter will be featured in. He said we have an errand to run first, then we will spend the night with him, and enjoy the festivities tomorrow before boarding our flight. Don whisks us off into the bowels of the city. We end up in some ghetto. There are partially finished high rise buildings all around. Off in the distance , I see hills densely packed with brightly colored wood shanty houses that have corrugated tin roofs. He pulls over to the curb and tells us to get out. There is an old, yet grizzled gentleman that still had a few teeth standing on the corner of the intersection. Don speaks to this gentleman for a moment, then asks me to come to the window of the truck. Don tells me he’ll be back soon. More over, he says that his fried, the grizzled gentleman that still has a few teeth, Don Rodrigo, will stay with us until he returns. Don Rodrigo smiles in his own special way. Dan has that pale terror filled look. Don Rodrigo pulls out a switch blade and shows it to me. I say “Bueno” to Don Rodrigo. 

Day 33
I can’t accurately say how many minutes or hours pass on the corner with Don Rodrigo, Dan and myself. During this moment of standing on a street corner, it occurs to me that the name “Don” is used in this country as the name “Mister” is used in the United States. 

Don shows back up. Dan and I squeeze in the truck. There is a female in the truck with him. She’s half his age. We drive over to one of the unfinished high-rise buildings. We park in Don’s characteristic way. We go up at least 10 flights of stairs into this female’s domicile. She offers us some type of cool-aid drink. We oblige. The drink is cold, sweet and super bitter. She rolls one of those newspaper spliffs. I am so fucking paranoid of those things by now. Poor Dan hasn’t said shit since being dropped off with Don Rodrigo. We puff the spliff. Don leaves Dan and I at a table in the kitchen area while he disappears with the female. Dan and I are sitting there in this strange place in total silence. I’m sure the formaldehyde has congealed my cerebral cortex. Some random thought causes me to start laughing hysterically. I hear this faint sound of laughter coming from what I thought was a pile of dirty laundry. I stop laughing and feel like my colon is going to involuntarily evacuate. I notice that there is a humanoid staring at us. This being has been there the entire time. It was hard to tell, but I’d claim it was either a human child that was fully committed to some sort of an extra terrestrial character or it was actually a human / alien hybrid. Poor Dan, I’m sure he is permanently scarred by this entire Don experience. I’m starting to look around the dwelling. I’m seriously about to just panic run the fuck out of there. The being starts laughing louder and louder. 

Don comes back into the kitchen. He and the female seem like they have been doing bickram yoga. He tells Dan and I we are leaving. We stop by a store and grab a six pack before returning to Don’s family compound. We enjoy a pleasant dinner and go to bed peacefully. 

Day 34 7:09 a.m.
The next morning we have a nice breakfast. We enjoy some eggs, rice, beans, fried plantains, fresh papaya, tortillas, watermelon juice and some delicious coffee. Don’s wife was an amazing host. Don’s family, Dan and I all drive down the hill to roughly the same spot where we got in that wreck. This time we are not in Don’s truck. This time we are in some bullet proof Mercedes SUV thing. It was all blacked out. I was so relieved to be rolling with Don’s wife and child. I had a suspicion he wasn’t the lunatic around them he was otherwise. 

The parade that Don’s daughter participated in was beautiful. I take a few photos of brightly colored ox carts being pulled through a gorgeous country landscape. The parade ended at a church. Adjacent to the church was a soccer field where they had constructed a make shift gladiator type arena for various activities involving bulls, horses, and humans. 

Day 34 1:06 p.m.
Don made Dan and I try our luck at this activity where you ride a horse and try to poke a silver spike through a ring suspended from a clothes line stretched across the arena. It was scary, but really fun. I nearly made it. I would have won a super fancy saddle had I been successful with the spike. There was beer and distilled sugarcane everywhere at the rodeo. Don dared me to get into the bull ring and participate in this activity where one tries to slap the bull in the face. I was sitting on top of the fence that made the arena, watching the locals do it. They would start out behind the bull, run super fast very close to the side of the bull, then slap its face just as they were passing by its head. The bull was always distracted with someone in front of it.  It seemed to be a reasonably successful technique. I timidly climbed down into the ring. I bring my camera with me into the bull ring. I’m guessing I can get an interesting photo from this perspective. There was another gringo in the bull pen too. This guy was trying to approach the bull from directly in front of it. I was positioning myself behind the bull. I snap a picture. Just as I pull the trigger on my shutter , this local darts beside me and continues on beside the bull eventually slapping its face. This startles me, I drop my camera. The bull reacts and charges the gringo directly in front of it. The bull then hooks the gringo in the thigh and launches him in the air in what I can best describe as Goose and Maverick’s plane when they go down in Top-Gun. This poor gringo lands in a terrible way. His femur did not agree with his landing. I heard a sound that I wish to never hear again. The sound was a mix between a crack, a twist , a thud and a stretch. Very awful. The gringo’s wife starts screaming. The bull starts running wildly. I’m thinking about my camera, however the enraged bull charging at me has me bolting for the fence. My camera is entirely obliterated by the bull’s charge. I jump up on the fence in an effort to avoid the same fate as the other gringo. The crowd won’t give me a clear place to climb over. I have to lift my ass up higher than the bull is willing to try to hit. He runs by me. Soon, I get over the fence, feeling like I just dodged a bullet. It turns out that gringo and his wife were on their honey moon. He received a compound fracture to his femur. There was an ambulance at the event, but they would not take him to the hospital until the end of the event, because the hospital was so far away. The ambulance reasoned there would be more people needing transportation to the hospital. Don makes Dan ride a horse back to his compound with one of his guards. I ride with Don and his family in the blacked out Mercedes SUV. 

Day 34 4:53 p.m.
Back at Don’s house we are packing up and getting ready for our trip back to reality. I find my camera. Well, it wasn’t my camera, it was Greg Pearson’s camera. I guess when we were in a hurry to leave the Rhode Island crew’s hotel room, I accidentally grabbed Greg’s camera. Too bad I never thought to grab Greg’s contact info. Greg, if you are out there, you take some AMAZING photos!