Tag Archives: surf

Nova Scotia Surf Trip

Our travels through Nova Scotia were lacking the excitement we frequently had while traveling Central and South America. For example: the border crossings were quick and anxiety free, the vegetables were all recognizable, and police corruption as well as food poisoning were not daily concerns. In fact, the only trouble I seemed to get into was when I made a goofy turn into a deli and a local hooligan honked his horn at me. With that being said, I will not bore you with a cliche trip overview .

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On the other hand, We did get to experience some great surf during the first East Coast hurricane swell of the season. In fact, Nova Scotia has an excellent variety of waves up and down their rocky coast. We were very lucky to have witnessed some of Canada’s best waves working so nicely. Like most surf trips, especially trips on the Atlantic Coast, luck is something that will always come in handy.

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Living the Good Life: Driving Mexico’s Pacific Coast

The following story was recently published on The Inertia. You can read it below, or click here to check it out on theinertia.com.

For almost 20 hours, we trudged through the night’s dark sea. We left the brown desert of Southern Baja and arrived in Mazatlán, Mexico, the only gringos aboard a ship filled with drunken truckers who stood beside their rigs.

We felt comfortable aboard the vessel alongside the truckers; they were mostly old timers and family men. Colorful pictures faded from the desert sun–religious figures, naked women, photos of loved ones–plastered the walls inside their rigs. The ship’s diesel burned through the night while the stars made their way across a clear sky, the air cool against our skin. Exposed to outer space that shone from above, knocked out in a tequila-induced slumber, we slept through the night. The song of burning diesel was soothing while we were in our little tent on the roof of our truck.

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After we were dropped off by the ship deep on the Mexico coast, we began heading south in our truck. No specific destination and no timeline; the feeling of total freedom was as distracting as it was overwhelming. There was always a cloud of smoke as we blazed down the camino–fires burned constantly on the sides of the road, filling the air with a cloudy familiar smell. It was the smell of chicken being cooked, fueled by burning wood in an old oil drum cut in half on the side of the road in Mexico. It was the smell of life on the road. It was the smell of being free.

An offshore breeze blew through the tent. It was hard to sleep because the ground was rumbling. Close by, heavy waves crashed the Mexican sandbar until dawn. The chilly morning quickly warmed us up. Like a piece of steak marinating before it gets cooked, we embraced the cool morning before getting roasted. The mid-day heat forces shady naps. It is a dry heat; it hasn’t rained in months.

The military and police presence was strong on the major highways, but in some of the villages and more remote spots we were on our own. On the flip side, there are the other guys. They’re the guys wearing nice street clothes with neatly combed hair. Bullet proof vests, hand guns wedged in their belt, shotguns casually leaned on their shoulders. Several clean cut men just relaxed in their truck or strolled down the beach. While the afternoon scorch melted the sand, they also liked to sip a cerveza in the shade, watching the waves crash on the shore. I walked past their truck after a session, board under my arm, and they spoke to me in Spanish. “How are the waves,” they asked. I told them they were good.”Buenas olas.” They were not cops, nor were they military. They left us alone, and we tried not to stare.

Three months in Mexico and we camped every night. Countless waves satisfied, just like the cheap street food. Young kids wandered through camp selling freshly picked papayas. We were invited to a Christmas Eve dinner at a local place in the village. The party was filled with just as many surfers as locals–perfect strangers breaking bread and sharing the familiarity of a holiday dinner. The clock struck midnight and time suddenly stopped; everyone embraced one an other with open arms. Fisherman, farmers, surfers, children, drunks, degenerates, Europeans, Americans, and travelers all tipped their mugs and wished a “feliz navidad.” A stout older gent, a complete stranger, hugged me and smiled. His face told a story, nostalgic of another year passing by. So far from home, I felt right at home.

The palm trees danced from the afternoon wind as I scoured the ground for fallen coconuts. With some help from my trusty machete, I learned how to drink the water from the shell. Coconut water quenches your thirst, like a swing from a machete just feels good to do. I drank the sweet water and remembered how much coconut water costs back in the States.

Siesta time beachside. As I enjoyed a rest between sessions, a middle-aged Texan, as loud as he was irritating, tried to sell me ecstasy in the desolate grassy camp. I brushed off this madcap and resumed my catnap. My dog did not like him and let out a low growl. He threatened my dog’s life and disappeared into the heat. One day, the jaded Texas tourist will get his. So I simply watched the ocean and waited for the breeze.

The life of a traveler is a simple life. It’s a good life. While moving from place to place, you have few priorities: keep your things safe, spend your money frugally, see how long you can go, and surf as much as you can. Live an interesting life while owning as little as possible. Some may say its the easy life, but it’s not the life for everyone.

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Costa Rica summed up

We spent more days indoors than any other country.

We spent more money on food than in any other country.

We saw more wildlife and crossed more rivers, than in any other country.

We caught the biggest and longest waves of our trip.

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Costa Rica.

1 month and 9 days.  It was the second longest time we spent somewhere.

Ticos really are nice.  It is true. Pura Vida. They kept giving us  stuff: mangos, fish, a place to crash, assistance with Spanish, tips on surf spots.

I remember one the first nights we arrived in the country. I walked down the beach, right after sunrise.  It was so beautiful. I am not even sure how to convey the beauty, or what specifically made it more “beautiful” than the 100 other beaches that we have visited. I came back to camp and said to Dean, it cannot be denied that Costa Rica has really amazing beaches.  They have a sense of life and health. There is that.

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I must admit that we had a little bit of a bad attitude about Costa Rica (or perhaps it was just some resistance).  We had been there before, and we knew it would be more expensive and commercial than the other Central American nations where we have traveled.  And it is. But it is difficult to have a bad attitude when you have plentiful surf, kind people, familiar faces, and monkeys.

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Day One. We crossed the border amped for our adventure to Witches Rock.  There was a silence in the car, both caught up in our daydreams about the famed spot.  It is known that if you camp there, you are able to surf (alone) prior to the arrival of the boats, which make day trips from CoCo Beach. We really wanted to camp there. So there we were, driving that 51 km from the border for Santa Rosa National Park.  We see the sign, hang a right, roll up to the guard station, open our window, smile…and to our complete surprise…we are…DENIED. No mascotas. huh?  This possibility hadn’t even entered our little brains. We were dumbfounded. Silent. Smiles turned upside down. It can’t be? What about? Can we? No, No, No. And No. A young, serious Costa Rican police officer with a buzzed head and mirrored sunglasses looks back at me straight-faced as I attempt to smile a little bit more in my final attempt to cross the line. No.  Lupe sits on her little platform.  Her expression is the same as it has been for her entire life. We turn the Taco around and the 3 of us spend the next 2 hours brewing in a silence of disappointment. I guess we go to Tamarindo? It will have to do for the night. This was our first day in Costa Rica.

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In Tamarindo we camp in the parking area for the town beach. We are cheap and Tamarindo is expensive.  It serves the purpose. A couple of drifters roll through. A drunk dude passes out near the truck, claiming to be checking the surf. Women in brightly printed cover ups, and children in sun shirts stare as I attempt to to find el bano de la playa.

Then there is Marbella for a night. We camp at a killer spot on the beach, shaded by trees with the expansive beach on display in front of the Taco.  Dean splits his rail and I play in whitewater (that wave scares me).  Lupe makes a boyfriend (aka Old Sport).

There is Nanci’s house. She takes us in, feeds us delicious meals, provides us with beds and showers.  And how about that caramel corn?  We surf some local waves, have good conversation, and enjoy the company of a our new friend.

Juiquillio, Playa Negra, Playa Grande, Avellenas, Santa Cruz, Nicoya

Santa Teresa, Manzanillo. We return to a spot we had been 3 years earlier. A landing in front of a rocky beach with tidal pools.  I am really happy to be back in this spot. I  have fond memories of a previous trip to Costa Rica in which we stumbled upon this little gem and spent the day frolicking in the water. It is real nice until we put it together that this “landing” maybe acts as a toilet to locals who party at the beach.  Let’s get out of here. Our second campsite is beneath the palm fronds.  A couple slow days of swimming, beach runs, yoga, spearfishing, cooking over fire and chatting with locals.

Mal Pais. 10 nights.  We have a local crew at our campsite: David, Camila, Jake, the french dude who went drunk swimming in the rough surf at 6AM.  Playa Carmen, Banana Beach, La Lorna. The owner of the campsite, William, is a kind man.  He is an ex-Costa Rican futbol player.  He cooks paella on my birthday. We spend time with our friends Marcos and Carlos, whom we left in Popoyo. We make dinner together and hang out at their hostel.  Carlos gives Dean a tattoo.

Samara. We reconnect with Will, whom we met in Mexico through our friends George and Rachel.  There is Pablitos, surf, tours of local beaches, and some good catching up and hanging out with our new friend.

Playa Camronal, Playa Barigona

Nosara. Playa Guinoes.  Dean’s mom visits us along with her friends Cindy and Lois.  It is a week of family, quality time, love, nourishment. A nice break. We are replenished, spoiled, and appreciative for all the attention.

Puerto Jimenez. Kaylor, the owner of the local surf shop, takes us in for a night. Dean had painted a mural at his shop a few years ago.  We sleep in his garage.

Cabo Matapalo.

Pavones for 12 days. 6 days camping at the point. It is hot! It rains. We cook over fire. It is hot! I am grumpy. I take out my crankiness in the water (and on Dean). We love the wave and trade time in the water.  I practice. Get frustrated.  I enjoy the challenge, but grrrr! We watch the waves from our campspot. Dean surfs until he can’t move.

Chinos for 6 nights (pavones part two) We are under a roof, have a bathroom and kitchen, and are in town.  We reconnect with a bunch of fellow travelers whom we had met earlier in the trip.  Familiar faces are so awesome when you are traveling.   We eat hamburgers. I continue to practice. Dean surfs until he is “surfed out”.

Semana Santa is over and we decide that it is time to move on. We will meet Dean’s cousin, Cara, in Panama in a week.  Me, Dean, Lupe, Carlos, and Marcos pack into the Toyota and head to the border.