Sunday – Surf day
I think Einstein had something to say about the space time continuum. I don’t know exactly what it is that he said. I only know that somehow space and time move differently as you get to the speed of light. I think the same is true when you travel to Mexico.
Take a shower for instance. A good shower can last you 24 hours. Maybe you have to take two if took one in the morning, worked outside all day, then had to go out at night. Or, maybe you’re a nine year old boy and then a shower can last you 240 hours. When you travel at the speed of Mexico a shower may last you 24 minutes. If you do anything except sit still in an air conditioned room you will look like James Brown closing a show with “Cold Sweat.” I mean soaked. Ever see people getting wheeled around in wheelchairs hooked up to oxygen tanks? I have a friend we call Big Sweaty II and all I could think about was him having to be in a wheelchair hooked up to a water cooler.
Which is why I think I was dehydrated.
We got picked up for our first surf lesson by Jesse, who was driving an enormous green van with a couple of surfboards on top. He seemed to be a half hour early or so which turned out to be a half hour late or so because we crossed a river into a new time zone except people don’t like changing their watches when they cross the river so they just use the same time zone. The Mexican space time continuum.
Talk about being completely unprepared.
When you prepare to go snowboarding, even for the first time, you become mentally prepared if only because you go through a process of armoring yourself. Baselayer? Check. Warm socks? Check. Second layer? Check. Outer shell? Check. Boots? Check. Gloves? Check. Helmet? Check. Goggles… It takes a good half hour before you can even think about putting on a board.
Surfing? Ok let’s see. Sunscreen? Check. Board shorts? Check. You’re ready to go. And just like that you’re in a van driving into the Mexican countryside to go surfing.
Jesse is American which is nice There’s only so many times you can say the 5 Spanish words you know just so people here don’t think you’re an asshole. I never say hello, or good afternoon, or friend, or thank you to anybody really. But, if you’re brown and I’m in your town, it’s “Hola, Buenos Dias, amigo, gracias” as soon as you glance at me.
We drove to the other side of Punta Mita from where we’re staying. Driving is a relative term. It’s basically a process of going as fast as you can between speed bumps otherwise known as “Mexican radar guns.” It’s like the whole country is a parking lot except with enormous potholes. We made our way on the main road to Sayulita and then turned off onto a cobblestone road that was the entrance to a little town called “Something Blanca.” Not my words but somebody described it as driving into an old Western. True, but even more than just any old Western I expected to see Clint talking to an empty chair. I thought if you listened closely you could hear the theme song from the “Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” whistling under the sounds of roosters, the shock absorbers of a van under duress, and my nervous chattering/interrogation of Jesse.
From the cobblestone street we turned onto a dirt road which, again, is a relative term. The dirt roads that we’re used to seeing the Amish build? Those things are like Interstate 71 compared to these dirt roads. But just as Mexico can be perfect but flawed it can also be flawed but perfect. This road led us to the coolest beach I’ve ever seen.
Ever watch an episode of Gilligan’s Island and think “Man, that’s a cool setup. Why do they want to leave?” (You know you did. Admit it) That’s what I was thinking as we carried the surfboards to the beach. We were at the apex of a gentle curve of beach that was bookended by two giant rock formations. Like being the queen on a chessboard. We set up under a (insert the whatever the hell the Mexican word for a shelter that’s made from sticks and that has old palm fronds for a ceiling) for a little shade and began our lesson.
It didn’t start well. And we weren’t even in the water yet.
Truth is that Cachorro de Gato wasn’t really that thrilled to go surfing. She’s a gamer so she got on the plane but as we were standing there on the beach, feet and minutes (again, relative term given the Mexican time space continuum) from heading into the water her reservations were pretty clear on her face. It didn’t help that Jesse started our lesson with the suggestion that we shuffle our feet at all times because the ocean floor has all kinds of dangerous things on it. He might as well have said we were going to saddle up some spiders and ride them out to the waves.
Ever want to smack someone who’s completely innocent? It’s such a raging personal conflict between doing what you really want to do and needs doing versus the pain of having to explain your actions. Oh, yeah, and there’s the whole morality part of it.
In the end, I didn’t really want to explain myself. Plus, I was betting long. I was betting that despite being away from the kids, despite the travel, despite the Mexican head fake, despite the dogs consummating their relationship without, you know, at least taking their action behind a car or something, that as soon as she rode a wave that it would all be worth it. I was betting that there are transcendental moments in life and surfing was going to be one of them.
Did I mention the dogs?
I have a different fear of them than Cachorro de Gato. I think of them the exact same way as I do people. I really don’t care what they do with their personal lives as long as they don’t bite me. Which is exactly what was going through my mind when I was laying prone on a beached surfboard.
A German shepherd is intimidating. Two of them are scary.
Every relationship begins with the check out. The sizing up. A lot of times it’s friendly and sometimes it’s not. What’s disconcerting is when you can’t tell the difference when it matters.
I couldn’t tell the difference with these dogs. They were beautiful, almost all black with even blacker eyes. And that was the problem. I couldn’t read their eyes. They could size me up but I couldn’t return the favor.
When Jesse threw the stick I knew he could teach us how to surf. He went from saying the absolute wrong thing at the absolute worst time to doing the absolute right thing at the absolute right time. The difference was this time he knew what he was doing.
She got up the first time and rode the wave all the way into the beach.
Hermosa Chica Surfista.
I had to quit before she did.
I think I was dehydrated.
Oh, and the dogs?
They stole one of Hermosa Chica Surfista’s sandals while she was surfing.
And then they brought it back when we were leaving.
The Mexican head fake.