Tag Archives: surfing

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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South America… a short video

Our bags are packed and we’re ready to fly home today. As this trip comes to an end, and another trip is in the planning stages, we will continue to tell tales from the road. So stay tuned…

Here is a short video showcasing some of the things we encountered during our travels in South America. Without cheating, can anyone name what 80’s movie this song is from? If you enjoyed this video please share it on your feed. Thanks everyone for following…

3 Weeks in Chile

We were craving a bit of organization. When I say “organization” I’m mostly referring to safer drivers and pasteurized cheese. After traveling some of the poorer countries in the Americas, It will be an interesting transition back to the so called “first world.”

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We were not surprised we got denied at the Chilean border, Lupe’s papers were insufficient. Chile is  very strict about any pets, eggs, vegetables, and various other animals and food products one may try to pirate across national lines. For this might contaminate the country with disease and foreign fauna from the bordering countries. Being unsure of the specific paperwork we might need for Lupe, we just rolled in to see what needed to be done. Smuggling her across the border (like we did in Panama) is a risky move, because Chilean authorities have the ability to take your pet from you, for a variety of reasons, including no paperwork, so we’ve heard.

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Approaching the border we are surrounded by grey mountains of sand and rock. It could be the backdrop of any haunted desert movie. Everything was dreary, the overcast sky, the color of the sand, the trucks driving by. We had no choice but to drive the 20 miles back from the border to the Peruvian border town, in search a vet to provide the proper papers for Lupe.

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Before the days end we made it through the border legally. While approaching downtown Arica, I immediately notice a difference in the Chilean drivers good etiquette, as well as no senseless horn blowing. Not to mention we are in a beach town during the off season, and I can’t help but admire the resemblance of Arica, to the off season at the Jersey shore. I immediately liked Chile.

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Some of our food was confiscated at the border by the vegetable cops, so we decided to do a quick shop. The large grocery store resembled one from back in the states, genetically oversized veggies, pre packaged cheese and meat, individually packaged tuna burger patties. This was familiar, and noticeably more expensive than anywhere we’ve been this past year. Then we found the Chilean wine, which is only three dollars a bottle, so it all evened out.

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We camp on the beach every night with the overcast landscape, sounds of the ocean, and the occasional drizzle. Our mornings were spent watching surfers shred “El Gringo,” which is a large barreling wave that breaks on a shallow sharp reef. Expert surfers and body borders only, due to the danger factor, which is why watching proved to be entertaining. We were restricted to surf all the other breaks in the area, and did so every day we were there. The wind picks up in the afternoon, leaving the jaded vagabond to roam the beaches or explore the pueblo.

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Afternoons were mostly spent wandering downtown, buying car insurance, stealing wifi, eating epanadas and completos. “What the fart is a completo?” A completo is a regular sized hotdog in an oversized bun, laced with guacamole and mayo, and possibly other various sauce and toppings depending who you buy it from. This might sound disgusting and sloppy, and you are right, it is gross. I bought a completo and did not like it, plus it made a mess on my lap. Eating a completo while driving is not recommended. Unhappy with this hotdog creation, I just thought I went to a bunk vendor. I tried a new vendor and I got the same results. Sara got it all over her cloths forcing me to kick her out of the truck. The completo was not only messy for our relationship and apparel, it also does not look very appetizing to begin with. The popularity of the completo will forever remain a mystery.

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Ten nights in Arica, a daily routine, several acquaintances made, we could stay here longer (and later wish we had,) or start heading south down the desert costal highway. Arica is laid back, and an easy place to live in your truck. Our favorite city in the country we hardly traveled at all. Chile is safe, beach camping is not a problem. From what I gather, the most dangerous thing I experienced in Chile was almost chipping my tooth on an olive pit in my epanada.

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The costal road is littered with nameless fishing villages, sandy cliffs, and waves crashing on the rocky urchin covered reefs. Driving days spent passing several grassless golf courses, a suspicious number of pet cemeteries, one abandoned and possibly haunted house. Once again faced with the dilemma of having no place to be and no specific time to be there, we walked the cemeteries and wandered old buildings while overlooking the never ending Pacific blue.

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There is cloud cover every day, while a few miles inland the sky is as blue as can be, its that time of year. Over several days we drive through and pirate camped to the cities of Iquique, Tocopilla, then to Antofagasta. None of these places matched the relaxed vibe and waves of Arica, which is why we wished we stayed there longer. While questioning our next move we drove to the “Mano del Desierto” also known as “Hand of the Desert, and had a team meeting discussing our next move.

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We wanted to go more south, we wanted to see the rest of Chile. With the budget dwindling, It would be tough to make it work. You could easily spend 6 months exploring Chile and Argentina alone, we don’t have the resources at the moment to do it properly, so we decided to save it for the next trip.

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Our time in Chile was cut short. While leaving the “Hand of the desert” we unexpectedly decided to drive East and prepare ourselves to cross South America, with Uruguay as a final destination. The Atacama Desert, salt flats, and the Northern Argentinian farmland is what lies ahead for the next week.

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2 months in Peru

Petrol pumping on the beach, street side pork stands, reckless drivers, world class surfing, and glaciers. We must be in Peru.

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After an overcast couple weeks of mediocre wave riding in Ecuador, we decided to hustle down South to Peru. Peru has a reputation of being a country where the culture and history of ancient civilizations are abundant, amazing food for the frugal traveler hunker around every corner, the disconnect between the rich and poor are strikingly apparent, and travelers will experience a complete sensory overload, only comparable to our travels through Mexico.

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The border crossing was a piece of cake: new facilities, uncrowded, organized, and fast. Our paperwork was complete, the vehicle import permit granted, and a seductive glare from an auto insurance sales women sent us on our way. A generous bag of plantain chips was purchased, split open the top, and our greasy hands dug into the feast. Now we head Southbound through the desert.

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In need of the ATM machine, we search the streets of Tumbes. I park street side, enter a casino, and withdraw some bills (not knowing my bank is about to red flag my account because a transaction has been made in Peru). With cash in pocket, I return to the taco to find street folks trying to sell cocaine to Sara and Lupe. We brush off these clowns, lock the doors, U-turn on main street, and head for the desert highway. We are anxiously excited as we seek out the beach town of Punta Sal.

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Punta Sal, from what we have read and heard from other travelers, is a good first night stop while driving the coastal border crossing from Ecuador. It is on the beach, safe, and provides a welcoming first impression of the country. We find the gated entrance (most costal towns in Peru are gated with security guards), sign some paper that states we will not rob, rape or murder while visiting the community and creep down the dusty beach side road in search of a place to set up camp.

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We drive on the beach ready to set up for the evening, when a man (Jimmy) approaches us, and explains that we cannot camp on the beach. He then notices our New Jersey plates, and states that he used to live in Elizabeth, NJ, where he drove a taxi and sold cocaine in the 70’s. He smiles, shakes our hands, and politely insists that we camp in the driveway of his hostel. Jimmy has a clean, well manicured little hostel on the beachfront in Punta Sal. He performs Ayahuasca ceremonies (a psychedelic brew known to enlighten people spiritually) for people at his beachside crash pad. He was caring for a client at the time of our stay in his driveway, so we made sure to keep quiet, and respect his profession. Our first night in Peru was clear and starry, the desert beach was comfortable, and there was a noticeable difference in scenery and temperature from close by Ecuador.

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The next day we arrived in Lobitos. Lobitos is a town in the baron desert with little to no vegetation, off shore winds most of the day (in actuality it is a very windy place), and travelers seeking good surf. There is not much to Lobitos and if your not looking for surf there is absolutely no reason to visit this place. The noisy petrol pumping litters the sandy landscape, the ocean horizon is contaminated with drilling platforms, and 6 breaks of world class surfing with waves all year round. Although the town is not crowded, and very spread out, the surf is jam packed much of the day. If you can work the crowd in the water, the reward is quite superb. Lobitos has been, without a doubt, some of the best waves along our Pan-American journey. I describe this place, as the movies, Mad Max meets Point break. An industrial wasteland of abandoned dilapidated buildings amongst desert landscape, with consistently wicked surf. We rented a cabin (Tres Cabanas) in Lobitos for close to 3 weeks, surfing everyday under blue skies. Countless waves ridden, full moon, ceviche, windy afternoons. Would I come here again? I hope so.

After a full days drive Southbound, In search for more surf, we inspect several breaks to set up camp for another couple weeks. Anxious to surf Chicama (one of the longest waves in the world) we arrive to flat seas. If we hang out for several days, and wait, we will surely become overwhelmed with boredom. We move on. A couple days here, a few days there, a quick bribe to a corrupt cop at a traffic stop, and we find ourselves in Huanchaco. We set up camp at Huanchaco Gardens, a hostel/RV park on the north side of town. Huanchaco is famous for their reed boats that fisherman have been using for thousands of years. The town is booming, cheap street food is abundant, The waves are big, fast rolling masses of power with virtually no one else was in the water. The paddle out was difficult, the water was filthy, but the wave was amazing. At Huanchaco, I surfed the biggest, fastest, longest wave of the trip, and my life. All the way from the point, past the pier, into the bay. Several waves, and a very long walk back to the point through traffic and tourists, lets do it over and over again.

Peru is a beautiful country with a wide range of things to do and see. Like all places in the world, Peru is not without its problems. Especially the costal regions we’ve noticed just so much trash everywhere. In the desert, its hard to decompose, and the wind will take it flying down the coast. Driving behind a bus, people are throwing their styrofoam take out containers out the window for miles on end. I see people eating in the streets and throwing wrappers on the ground while a trash can is within arms length. People picnic while leaving bags of trash and miscellaneous rubbish to blow around the beach. Maybe there is no organized garbage pickup? Maybe there is no money to correct this problem? Maybe locals have zero respect for their home? Maybe people are blind to the disgustingness of this behavior? or maybe I am ignorant to the root of an even bigger problem? This was the disappointment with Peru.

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For the past month, surfing daily, satisfied and physically unscathed, we thought it would be a good time to head to the mountains and breath some clean air. We planned on a few days but it turned into a couple weeks. Snow caps, glaciers, hikes, and cheap living. The markets were similar to those of Mexico where you find meat for sale hanging from hooks on the streets, entire cooked pigs sit on tables while chunks get sliced off and sold to lined up street walkers. You sit and feast amongst locals and the plate of the day is a measly dollar or two. The markets are bustling, the eats are abundant. Its difficult not to enter a market and stuff yourself to the gills. The variety of food is unlimited, and cheap, so why not gorge? During this trip I have learned that my stomach is bullet proof, I have not been sick. I eat anything, served from anybody. This is a talent I’m proud to exploit. I am a pig with no self respect when it comes to street food.

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On the way to the mountains we accidentally stumbled upon the famous Canon del Pato (duck canyon.) The canyon carved by the Rio Santa gives one an epic few hour drive through a massive rock canyon going through 35 one-lane tunnels. This route is a must see to anyone driving through Peru. Once through the canyon opposite the coast, one is rewarded with unlimited opportunities of the mountainous inland life. Exploring the city of Huarez, and the surrounding area over the next couple weeks, we hiked to glaciers and lakes during the day, had wine and cheese at night, and purchased large bags of veggies and trout for only a few bucks. Camping in the mountains, (We recommend camping at the sustainable hostel outside Huarez “The Hof”) one is rewarded with stunning snow capped views, old rock rubbles are evidence of expired civilizations, and road side cheese stands under clear blue skies. While we explored underground tunnels built by ancient ancestors, Lupe the dog was not allowed entry. We each took turns trotting along the 2000 year old subway passages. With no other tourists around, the lonely tunnels gives one a haunted presence of life back then.

We want to get back to the ocean, the sea is always calling. We heard the beaches on the southern outskirts of Lima are supposed to be welcoming, so we head there.The drive through Lima was riddled with close calls of crashing the Taco. The drivers in Peru are the worst to date. Overall I’ve noticed the drivers here are dangerous and take unnecessary chances while passing on blind curves or with oncoming traffic. We make it out of the city in one piece, we camp here and there. The more south we go the less towns there are. The Pacific Coast of Peru then 1000 miles into Chile is all desert. Its a beautiful stretch of baron coastline, scary and desolate. Driving the Southern Coast of Peru into Chile, one is rewarded with awesome cliffside highways looking into the deep clear Pacific. This time of year the water is moving North, so the clean 1st world waters of Chile are reaching Peru, which makes the South coast a true beauty.

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Peru is a huge country covering half a million square miles. We only scratched the surface. The coast is mostly South West facing, making it a perfect wave making machine. The waves here will blow you mind, if you don’t mind wearing a wetsuit. This is a place of endless exploration, a rugged country that suffers on many levels. Amazing food for the broke and rich, and gold toothed indigenous selling anything one desires.