Posts

Five Least Likely Surf Spots to Consider

If you are any kind of surfer, you understand that crowds have been and still are an increasing factor in your wave search. Some have quit surfing all together (NEVER!) while others play hookie in hopes to score two-foot mini-drainers. Those “sick days” no longer apply as more kiddos are now home-schooled and groomed to be the next Slater or Reynolds. Midday lunch session escape? Nah–you’re surfing with your boss and the marketing team on their Wavestorms and funboards at Creek, if you are so lucky.

“Hey, can you teach me how to surf?! I just got this 9-foot board and I don’t know how to duck dive it.” *bangs head against desk repeatedly*

Good luck, buddy ole pal!

Within the last decade, surfers have really pushed the limits to reach out to the corners of an otherwise round globe in search of their perfect ride with minimal crowds. If it has a body of water and some form of wind, there is wave potential, right? After my experience with the latest wavepark craze in Texas and coming out the other side mostly healthy, (albeit slightly worried–see ‘amoeba’ and ‘BSR Cable Park’),  I recognize that not everyone needs Trestles to feel satiated…well, except for me and 50 of my best friends on a Saturday morning.

I want to believe and know for a FACT there is a secret adventurer in all of us aqua wanderlusts…someone who’s been cooped up since the Endless Summer days and so desperately needs to get out of the park-pay-surf routine. If you’ve got the bengies, balls and/or brains, below is a list of options you might consider when scanning the discount travel interwebs.

Now, I wonder if Germany charges for board bags…

Antarctica

Is your surfing mission to solely avoid all people and/or crowds? While I might recommend an easier remote Baja trip, this blog is not about the typical and the easy, but more focused on the “WTF mate?!” reaction. If you’re hell-bent on being completely antisocial with a frigid ‘tude to boot, the approximately 11,000 miles of Antarctica’s icy coastline is your best…friend? Crowds will not be a problem here. If it ever becomes one, I quit. Even with my crappy screen shot here, you can see major point break potential. Chilean pro surfer Ramon Navarro was the first pro to brave the freezing waters of King George Island in 2014. If you’ve got the grapes (assuming you don’t mind frozen ones), I challenge you to surf the sub-zero temperature ranges while I venture to warmer parts unknown comparatively.

The Great Lakes

Not exactly balmy. Great Lakes for the win! Photo: secondwavemedia.com

Not exactly balmy. Great Lakes for the win! Photo: secondwavemedia.com

The Great Lakes are nothing to sneeze at–they hold 6 quadrillion gallons of water and are considered one-fifth of the world’s fresh water supply. First: have you ever even heard of anyone using ‘quadrillion’ outside of space travel? I haven’t. The lakes also offer more than 10,000 miles of shoreline, which, according to magicseaweed.com, is more than the U.S. West and East coast combined! Because of the Great Lake’s size, the fetch produces large, surfable waves–with the right conditions. Often requiring lots of neoprene and vasoline (protect that mug!) as well as patience and an interest in surfing in the snow, the Great Lakes can have good waves, but do you have the balls? Someone did and I wonder where he got them–The first Great Lakes surfer was a G.I. with a longboard, who was returning from Hawaii in 1945. According to the same site, the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and northeastern shore of Lake Erie saw more surfers combing their shores throughout the 60’s and it now exists today–remember that part in Dana Brown’s “Step into Liquid” movie back in 2003??

See also:

Vans’ “Weird Waves Season 1

Surf Shop’s “Unsalted: A Great Lakes Experience

Red Bull’s “Surfing in the Great Lakes

Eisbach River–Munich, Germany

In the most landlocked of European countries, it turns out surfing is a thing in Munich, Germany–namely ‘River Surfing.’ The mile-long man-made Eisbach (aka: “Ice brook”) river is a side arm of the Isar River. Although at this point crowds MAY be a factor since pros like Mick Fanning have given it a go, the wave is not exactly ‘friendly.’  Also known as “E1,” the wave was specifically

Germans mean business about not just beer. Photo: Riverbreak.com

Germans mean business about not just beer. Photo: Riverbreak.com

created to be ridden by experts. Folks literally sit in line and take turns (imagine that!) for waves, so dropping in on someone is completely unacceptable. Not gonna lie: I would absolutely LOVE to hear an errant tourist get bitched out by a German local.

According to this website, the concrete baffles that support the wave’s flow can break your neck and the fast-moving current combined with a rocky riverbed will gladly take out your board that probably you paid a hefty travel fee. Is there ding repair in Germany? The wave and the crowd may be tough, but getting to the lineup isn’t: Throw your board in front of you and use the river’s momentum. But, beginners be warned: according to the site, if you’re a beginner, “just forget it.” However, there is a spot named “E2” that is supposedly more approps–not sure how the Germans view the Wavestorm crowd or how they define “beginner” while they nonchalantly slug “Das Boots.”

Clarks Fork River–Missoula, Montana

Brennan's Wave in the Clark Fork River, Montana. Photo: Sean Jansen

Brennan’s Wave in the Clark Fork River, Montana.
Photo: Sean Jansen

My longtime friend Sean Jansen wasn’t planning on moving to Montana, or planning anything that does not involve being outside and in nature. The San Clemente local-turned Montana resident is no stranger to thinking outside the box or shall we say, wave? With the nearest wave being over 2,000 miles away, Jansen has taken up river surfing in the icy waters of Clarks Fork River. Just as in any kind of wave, there is a science and adventure to river surfing and Jansen is no stranger to either. See his river surf explanation below:

The same winter storms that hit Washington, Oregon, and California keep marching inland after they hit. Once in Montana, those storms land as snow, coupled with storms from Canada. Once spring hits and temperatures rise above freezing, snowmelt happens and floods the river, hence the brown water. And river surfing is born.

Brennan’s Wave is the name of the wave and it is an artificial wave created by concrete submerged.

Silver Dragon–Qiantang River, China

 

I hate to disappoint, but this is NOT Game of Thrones…or were you already disappointed by that anyway? :) However, maybe I will take my cool braided locks and my future …Lost board, which will have Drogo painted on it, to China to surf the elusive and rare Silver Dragon -Qiantang River Tidal Bore. A tidal bore happens during specific conditions–the spring or fall tide and full moons. There’s even a festival dedicated to this occurrence known as “The Tide-Watching Festival” held on the 18th day of the 8th month in the Chinese calendar. The festival brings 170,000 people and has been celebrated for hundreds of years. The break is named the Silver Dragon because it is first seen from a distance as a stroke of silver on the horizon along the Qiantang River located in East China. The river and Hangzhou Bay are known for the world’s largest tide bore. As you can see here, the wave is really nothing to snub. It’s got some juice.Reminds me of a certain man-made wave in kicker country. Photo: npr.com

 

Maya Gabeira Surfs Biggest Wave by a Female Surfer…Gets Blown Off by WSL

On January 18, 2018, renowned Brazilian big wave surfer Maya Gabeira charged the mountainous peaks of Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Portugal. According to videographers, oceanographers and academics, her wave clocked in at 80 feet.

8-0, people.

Let’s take a moment to marinade on that number.

That’s eight stories tall…when the rest of us are shaking in our boots over 10 feet, multiply that by eight and that’s what Gabeira rode. The hard-charging waterwoman matched Garrett McNamara’s November 2017 record of 80-feet at the same break.

“Since 2013, I have been trying to bring the idea that we should have a women’s world record,” said Gabeira. “I started talking about it through emails with The Big Wave Awards, which, a couple years back, was bought out by the World Surf League. Since 2013, I have had very vague responses on it…nothing was clear at all.”

Aside from being one of the most decorated and pioneering females in the big wave arena, her 2018 wave was not Gabeira’s first record-breaker. In 2009, she broke the record for biggest wave ridden by a female at Dungeons in South Africa clocking a 46-foot ride, nearly half the size of her Nazare wave.

With her mind focused on riding the world’s biggest waves, Gabeira set her sights on Nazare’s massive size-holding capabilities, a wave that nearly ended the young charger’s life.

In 2013, Gabeira nearly drowned after wiping out and losing consciousness on a massive wave at Nazare.

“It almost ended my career with the complications I had with injuries and to come back and be able to surf, it was already my dream,” said Gabeira.

After five years of dedication, recovery and training coupled with her passion for big waves, Gabeira put pedal to the metal and caught a massive mountain of water–a wave large enough to put her in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Photo Courtesy of: Stephanie Johnes Maya would go.

Photo Courtesy of: Alex Laurel
Maya would go.

When Gabeira approached the Guiness Book of World Records, they referred her back to the WSL for certification.

But despite reaching out,  the WSL gave very vague and inconsistent responses to Gabeira’s amazing accomplishment. Every few weeks, Gabeira followed up with the WSL and still no confirmation of any progress. Frustrated with the organization’s lack of support or responsiveness, Gabeira let them know her intentions and in August 2018, started her petition.

Although, the organization did at the last minute ask her to present at the annual Big Wave Awards this past April for the Men’s Big Wave Award of the Year. To add more salt to the wound, during the women’s division, none of her clips were displayed.

“I had to hold my tears, breathe and go back stage to then present the men’s division,” said Gabeira. “I was kind of really baffled because I flew all the way to LA to not see any of my waves [displayed], to be celebrating the winter and pretend I wasn’t participating in the winter. While all my [male] peers had all their waves they rode on the same day exposed and won awards and records.”

After multiple backstage apologies from the WSL’s director post-awards, Gabeira sat down with him where he reiterated the WSL’s interest and dedication to her accomplishment. But radio silence from the WSL soon followed…again.

“I just want this [record] to be established because I think it’s important for women–it’s always been to me, at least” said Gabeira. “When Garrett [McNamara] discovered Nazare, it’s always left such a big impression on me to be able to see somebody credited with “The biggest wave ever” and have a number on it. Being in a sport that’s very subjective, it was something that I got attached to. I just want to finish it off so the next person doesn’t have to make it all happen from the beginning. They can just have the category established, surf a bigger wave and break the record and BOOM–it’s registered.”

With the WSL’s recent leadership falling under CEO Sophie Goldschmidt, Gabeira was hoping this would propel the industry and open a new chapter for women in the sport. The WSL gave this response via email:

“We have a huge amount of respect for all our big wave surfers. We have been in active discussions with Guinness for some time on the topic of reviewing Maya’s incredible ride from Nazare earlier this year for submission, and look forward to continuing to celebrate men’s and women’s big wave surfing with an announcement soon.”

The WSL got back to me within hours with this response, however, when I asked them specifically why the process took as long as it did and why the WSL couldn’t give Maya a solid answer, I was told…(am I surprised?)–> all they could say was just that.

“I don’t know if it’s just a lack of professionalism or if it’s just a lack of care for an athlete,” said Gabeira. “It’s my job, it’s what I’ve done for many many years of my life and to not take that seriously, it’s extremely disrespectful and it really hurts.”

To no surprise, after Gabeira’s petition launched and the world became aware of what was going on behind the bro-curtains of the surf industry, the WSL now crowds her inbox. :)

Best of luck, Maya. We are rooting for you! <3

Check out Maya’s video:

 

Product Review: COR Surf’s Excursion Waterproof Travel Pack

If it’s not obvious already, I LOVE to surf Trestles…along with thousands of other folks from in and out of town. It’s not just about the wave, tho. I enjoy all aspects of the experience–walking there and back again, checking out the ever-evolving street art/graffiti and saying ‘hi’ to my fellow ‘Trestlers.’ While surfing Trestles for many years, I have learned that high quality equipment is essential for a top notch surf experience–and have specifically noted the evolution of my backpack.

It started with a simple drawstring sack used to carry records, which evolved into Dakine’s backpacks. At first I adored my Dakine pack, it went with me everywhere and endured all things ‘beach.’ It wasn’t until boating out to a particular break in Nicaragua that I noticed my Dakine was not 100 percent waterproof–I almost lost function of my DSLR camera because water invaded my pack. Add on my post-Trestles soggy bottom trek back to my car and you’ve got a surfer girl determined to find the perfect pack.

Enter COR Surf’s Excursion Waterproof pack.

The deets:

Designed for a two-seven day trip, this pack has removable interior laptop sleeve and pocket, a secret passport pocket, waist and chest straps, a top cinch strap for your towel. It is made of 100 percent TPU waterproof material–nothing is getting soaked unless you spill your drinks inside the pack–but of course, there’s a feature for that. Two drink holders made out of mesh material can be found on either side of the pack, although I like to keep mine on one side so it doesn’t bump into my board. Did I mention this particular pack carries 40 liters worth of stuff??

4-0.

If a magician were a surfer, this would be his dream pack.

What I love:

The depth…not like “letstalkaboutthemeaningoflife” depth…I mean, I can literally fit my entire head and shoulders inside (I’m also 5’3”), but the point is the pack is deep deep deep. I fit my wetsuit, towel, small stuff, change of clothes, and water with plenty of room to spare.

How I’ll use it:

Trestles and travel–seriously, this pack makes me want to travel (*cough* wheremysurfergirlsat *coughcough*)

I wish:

There was a separate area for my soggy wetsuit

Price:

On sale for $79.99

Boys will be Boys: Six Tips for Surfer Girls Traveling with Surfer Boys

It’s common knowledge that the mass majority of surfers in the lineup are guys. Okay ladies, let’s face it: the likelihood of an all-girls surf trip to Mexico is pretty slim. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve traveled to Mexico by myself, survived and loved it, however, not many of my surfer girlfriends are as eager to hop the border and rough it to find perfect un-crowded waves. Call me ‘crazy’ for going to Mexico by myself on my first excursion, call me ‘insane’ for the second trip with a bunch of boys. I don’t care. My end results were fun times with no regrets.

Testosterone is everywhere on a guys trip and every once in a while, they might think you’re cool enough to include in their boys club, but I don’t blame you if you re-consider and decide to wait until Mexico’s drug war has ended and kidnappings are at an all-time low.
But if you’re as impatient as I was and pale at the thought of empty points breaking without you, here are few tips about traveling with the boys:

1.) Let them be Boys
You are on this trip to surf and surf some more. They are on this trip to do the same along with all the beer guzzling contests, dirty jokes, burps and farts intact. Deal with it. Bodily functions are a-plenty, so if you have a weak stomach, perhaps you shouldn’t have gone on this trip. Bring a nose plug.

2.) Bring a good book or a pair of headphones.

Get ready for hair metal mixes, mass drunken sing-a-longs to a garden variety of rap songs, dirty jokes you didn’t know existed and fart smells that will fry your nose hair. Think I’m kidding? Think again, chica. But don’t be bitter, this is a boy’s trip and you’re, well, the minority. It doesn’t hurt to occasionally force-feed a little Cyndie Lauper down their throats, either. You would be surprised by the music middle ground you can reach with a group of guys. Who knows? There might be a closet Taylor Swift fan among the group.
But there are times when those dirty jokes or fart noises can get out of hand. Tired of hearing Metallica’s ‘Creeping Death’ for the 10 millionth time? Remember to come prepared with your head gear equipped with your favorite tunes.

3.) Know Your Limits and Plan Back-Up Activities
If you don’t want to stay up for that third keg of beer or you’d rather not surf the spot swarming with seals, let your guy friends be their gnarly testosterone selves. Go for a hike, surf a different spot or take some ‘you’ time. After all, traveling with all boys might make you forget that you are, in fact, a girl. Celebrate all that is feminine while they hunt for bone-crushing barrels that break in inch-deep water. But if you can hang, go for it! You will only command more respect among the Y-chromosomed. Just try not to emasculate them in the process. But, know your own limits so they don’t have to cut the trip short due to your cute cocky self scoring a broken limb or head injury instead of a sick drainer.

4.) Stroke Their, um, Ego
Despite the over-stated machismo image stereotyped for surfer boys, there is a secret sensitive Sally whose feelings and ego can get hurt. Guys aren’t made of stone, so always stay positive and patient. Make them feel good about their attempt at breakfast or their supposed ‘sense of direction.’ Most of all, compliment their waves. Whether they’re ripping or taking dives over the falls, find something good about that ride. A little ‘yeeww’ goes a long way.

5.) Why Can’t We Be Friends?
If you intend to hook up with one of the guys, stay home. Putting that dynamic into the mix can add an awkward vibe to the trip and tends to create jealousy or resentment among fellow compadres. Be cool and try not to cloud a male bonding experience with your cute, um, assets. Keep your pants on. If sparks fly, try to wait until you’re in familiar territory. Besides, I bet he will respect you that much more if you play a little hard-to-get and show him that he’s not the center of your universe…for now.

6.) Laugh
Perhaps the most important point of all: laughter is key. Yeah, boys can be gross, smelly and downright annoying, but really, just laugh. Don’t deny it, your inner tomboy busted with laughter when your buddy chugged four Tecates then proudly belched his A-B-C’s. Unless you’re sitting in the U.S./Mexico border traffic, the ipod’s gone stale and your buddy continues to drink until he unwittingly trades his passport for more tequila which consequently shoves you’re crew into the secondary line, let it fly. Besides, I’m guessing if you’ve made it to the end of this article, you probably aren’t 100 percent girly-girl, anyway. Ain’t no smirking and mouthing ‘what an idiot’ to a home girl who’s not there! Laugh it off.

Just a Quickie to Mexico

South-bound feels so good to hashtag…post…Tweet…or vocalize…whatever your communication fancy, tell it to the world, be stoked and unplug, if only for a day.

A couple of friends and I crossed the U.S./Mexico border for a couple of days and had the time of our lives, san distractions. Some times it is SO necessary to shut off the noise from everyday life and seek out another adventure that’s beyond a desk, phone or face-to-face.

Mexico’s great for that.

I CONFESS: I’ve got that old familiar itch and I intend to scratch it.


 

Good friends=Good times

Good friends=Good times

 

Surf Speak in Spanish

It's times like these where communication is key...not to mention super fun!

It’s times like these where communication is key…not to mention super fun!

On my recent trip to Nicaragua, I found myself socializing with nothing but spanish-speaking locals. I was so stoked  because mi español became muy mejor and by the end of my week-long trip, I was helping my friends translate. There’s nothing like submerging yourself!

Cinco cocos verde.

Cinco cocos verde.

Daydreams of those perfect warm water barrels should include a little español because once you get down there, not only does everyone talk nothing but Spanish, but many people also might not understand much (if any!) English. Therefore: es muy importante para practicar su español!

I CONFESS: My practice did not begin until I was reading the safety guide while my flight rolled down the runway. The first thing I picked up really quick: this ain’t Mexico…people talk very fast! Time to buck up.

So while you continue to get shacked in your dreams, insert a little Spanish speak so reality won’t hit you like a ton of bricks being laid out for that awesome language barrier.

“Me gusta tubos en Nicaragua!”

Ok, snap out of the barrel/bikini/hot salsa dancing scene for a second and float back down to reality: no matter which Spanish-speaking country you decide to trip-it to, bring a Spanish-English dictionary. I don’t care how many apps you download onto your smartphone, you need a book. Other than draining your battery, apps tend to require a wifi signal and although most places might have a signal, it won’t be there all the time and readily available.

Iguana on a stick! Julio negotiates dinner options: green or black iguana?

Iguana on a stick! Julio negotiates dinner options: green or black iguana?

 Diccionarios are a cheaper safer route and won’t cost a pretty penny if it gets ruined. If your dictionary gets wet, simply lay it out in the hot sun and presto! It’s still readable. Iphone gets wet? That’s a $600 bummer.

So for you traveling surfers, assuming you made it beyond the aeropuerto and have reached your calle to an undisclosed locale, consider these words before paddling out to any pico:

Surfing (verb): ….Surfeo or Surf

Beach: ……………..La Playa

Surfboard: ………….La Tabla

Pico

Pico

Ocean (noun): …..Mar
Water: ……………..Agua
High Tide: ……….Marea Alta
Low Tide: ……….Marea Baja
Small waves: ….Pequeñas olas
Big waves: …….Grandes olas
Tubes or Barrels:…………….Tubos
Rocks: ………….Rocas
Cow:………………Vaca
Horse:…………….Caballo
Chicken:…………Pollo
Sting Ray: …….Pastinaca
Jellyfish: ………Medusa
Fish: ……………Pescado
Shark: ………..Tiburón
Boat: ………….Barco
Sand: ………..Arena
Wind: ……….Viento
Rain: ………..Lluvia
Sun: ………..Sol
Hot: ………..Caliente
Cold: ………Frío
Right: ……..Derecho
Left: ……….Izquierda
Island: ……Isla
Secret:…..Secreto
Puesta del sol

Puesta del sol

Paddle (verb): ……..Chapotear
Strong (strength):Fuerte
Strong (force): …….Fuerza
Happy: ……………..Feliz
Sad: …………………Triste
Tired: ………………Cansado/a
Fun: ……………….Divertido/a
Today: …………..Hoy
Tomorrow: …….Mañana
Tonight: ……….Esta Noche
Late: ………….Tarde
Near, close to: ..Cerca
Far: ……………….Lejos
Fast: ……………..Rápido
Slow: ……………Lento
Point: …………..Punta
Reef: ………….Arrecife
Shallow: …….Poco Profundo
Deep: ………Profundo
Beer: ………Cerveza
Wine: ………Vino
Food: ……..Comida
Moto:……..Motorbike
"Arena"

“Arena”

Common phrases:
“How are you doing?” ¿Cómo está? ¿Qué tal?
“Please.” Por favor.
“Thank you.” Gracias.
“I want to go surfing.” Quiero ir a hacer surf.
“I would like to go surfing.” Me gustria hacer surf.
“Where are the rocks?” ¿Dónde están las rocas?
“The wind is strong today!” El viento es fuerte hoy.
“Do you want this wave?” ¿Qué quiere esta ola?
“I’m so hungry/thirsty!” Tengo hambre/sed!
“Where is the beach?” ¿Donde esta la playa?
“Where is the road?” ¿Dónde está el camino?
“Where is my dictionary?” ¿Dónde está mi diccionario?
“I want to learn to speak Spanish.” Quiero aprender a hablar español.
“I am having so much fun!” Estoy teniendo tan divertido!
“I was too late.” Llegué tarde.
“The waves are good today!” Las olas son buenas hoy.
The sweetest gato ever!

The sweetest gato ever!

 I hope this lista helps you! Remember to always bring your surf etiquette, too! Despite your attempts at Spanish, your actions will ALWAYS speak louder than your words. The locals know it, too. Be nice.
Buena suerte, amigos!

Baja Sur, solo

The sky exploded with color on my birthday, Dec. 27, 2012.

The sky exploded with color on my birthday, Dec. 27, 2012.

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, had their apprehensions about my solo trip to the small town of Pescadero in Baja Sur, Mexico.

I heard it all:

You’re gonna get lost.” (Most realistic)

You’re gonna end up in a body bag.” (Really?)

You’re gonna get hacked up into small pieces and end up in a body bag buried in the middle of the desert.” (My personal favorite)

“You should write a will.” (Nice.)

Though my family and friends were adamantly turning my vacation into another sequel of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I refused to succumb to fear. In fact when they said these things, I only wanted to prove them wrong that much more. Though I really appreciated the legitimate concern, I didn’t want to change my schedule to nice “safe” Hawaii, nor compromise any part of my plan, especially after I was told I’d end up in a body bag.

This was going to happen. Screw fear.

Ready to G-O!

Ready to G-O!

Aside from 90 percent of my surfing done alone, I’ve camped for five days along the Big Sur coastline in 2009 along with another trip to Hawaii in 2007. I was calling this a mild introduction to the wide world/rabbit hole of travel.

Stoked on my birthday sunset!

Stoked birthday girl

   Reality didn’t set in until I stepped off the plane in San Jose del Cabo. Though the terrain looked like a familiar extension of southern California, sans houses and mini-malls, it still felt far away. I did it, I’m here…okay, now what.

Local donkey was a rescue...if you didn't have food, he didn't like you.

Local donkey was a rescue…if you didn’t have food, he didn’t like you.

After marveling at the first stamp in my passport, it occurred to me the next step was to find my rental car, among the flurry of time shares and vacation package sales reps salivating at the airport’s exit…Then and finally, onto Pescadero off highway 19…where ever that was.

It was Christmas Eve and I thought I had a rental car. Not so.

Despite the fact that I booked with the ironically named Advantage rental cars online, they said they did not have me on their reservation list. <Insert obvious ‘Advantage’ knee-slapper pun here.>

After an hour of crocodile tears and shameless claims for refunds, they rented me a car for a pretty penny. Several hurried signatures and multiple broad maps later, I jumped into my car as fast as I could. They told me to take the road through Cabo San Lucas and turn right at a bull ring. Some guy smoking pot told me to take the toll road, but my mind was made up. I sped through the early evening dust to find highway 19 before the sun set. And the sun did set…right as I became thoroughly lost in Cabo San Lucas.

Should’ve listened to the pothead.

In the states, you get at least a three mile warning before you find your turn-off. In Mexico signs (including stop signs) do not matter. They might appear or they might not. This was evident as I almost t-boned a city bus while driving thru a very non-Americanized area of Cabo in the dark on Christmas Eve.

I ran into back alley dead-ends and skidded around random scurrying dogs. Hertz’s bright yellow emblem burned like Harry Potter’s Voldemort scar on the back of my rental’s trunk while sets of eyes followed my blonde noggin and pasty complexion. Anxiety balled up in the back of my throat and for a second, I considered the possibility of spending the night in my car on the side of the road.

After asking “Donde esta highway 19?” over and over to various convenient store clerks, random passerbys and gas station attendants, I eventually found my highway.  Taking a deep breath, I stared at my only company, my borrowed surfboard bag, which was propped up in the passenger seat before speeding off into the dark desert. If surfboard bags could talk, this one might know what to say as it’s seen many destinations, such as India and South America, thanks to my well-traveled buddy Sean’s severe travel bug.

Sand crabs galore.

Sand crabs galore.

Half way through, I thought. I’m almost there, I can do this.

Outside of Cabo, there are no lights for anything except the Pemex gas stations. Darkness surrounded me while semis barreled past me, my eyes peeled for km 64 and a Pemex station.  Despite these set-backs, my faith never faltered. I knew everything was going to be alright.

The point on Christmas day, 2012.

The point on Christmas day, 2012.

I could hear Sean echoing in the back of my mind:

“Accept the fact that you’re going to get lost, Jackie,” he said as we carefully mapped out every step of my route the night before. “It’s just part of traveling. Besides, it’s not an adventure until you get lost.”

This was the mellow part of the road to my hotel...however, you don't need  four-wheel drive.

This was the mellow part of the road to my hotel…however, you don’t need four-wheel drive.

Eventually I found my way to the hotel through a couple of drunk local surfers who led me down a dark dirt road. At this point, my dwindling faith hung by a thread, the only legitimate sign about these locals was the wave drawn in the dust that caked their truck’s rear window. Nevertheless, they guided me and didn’t hesitate to invite me for drinks.

“No, gracias,” was my immediate response.

“There’s going to be waves tomorrow! Come surf Cerritos, chicaaa!” they chimmed while hanging out the truck windows.

 Sean was almost as worried as my parents and demanded some form of contact when I arrived. His was the only number I wrote on paper for an emergency (my cell phone was null-and-void for multiple reasons). If there was ever an emergency, I knew he could be down there faster than any government agency. He knew exactly where I was and said if I didn’t contact him in 48 hours, he’d start driving. And he was serious. So, in order not to ruin his family’s holiday, I managed to call him via a nice San Diego couple’s cell phone laughing about the experience thus far.

After thanking God multiple times, my tension finally eased as I fell asleep to the sound of crashing waves that pounded the shore outside of my casita at the San Pedrito Surf Hotel.

Christmas morning at the San Pedrito Surf Hotel, Dec. 25, 2012.

Christmas morning at the San Pedrito Surf Hotel, Dec. 25, 2012.

Five days solo in Baja Surbring it on.

Merry Christmas, Yakie. Lights out.

As dawn crept over the mountains, I woke up to a chilly off-shore breeze. It was Christmas day and the point was well overhead. Surfers arrived in droves with longboards, shortboards, fish and SUPs. Though it was quite the crowded spot, I didn’t mind. The water was clear and 77 degrees with off-shore breezes combing the swell. With my board underarm, I plunged into the ocean to commence my vacation. The swell did not dip below shoulder high in my short five day trip.

I quickly made friends with locals, ex-pats and fellow travelers in the water.

My breakfast on Christmas day...hit the spot after a surf.

My breakfast on Christmas day…hit the spot after a surf.

Two days after Christmas came my birthday and I decided to surf Cerritos, a peaky sandy beach break. While surfing, I met two sweet fellows, Robert and Michael—brothers from Northern California— who immediately adopted me as their own. They did not hesitate to share their fresh food and tequila with me as well as take me on a tour of Todos Santos, a cute artsy town that sits right on the Tropic of Capricorn.

HA- how ironic…I meet a bunch of Capricorns locals around my very Cap. birthday. And we partied on the Tropic of Capricorn.

Belazul Swimwear fashion show, Dec. 27, 2012.

Belazul Swimwear fashion show, Dec. 27, 2012.

That evening we all returned to Todos Santos to check out one of the premier events, the annual fashion show, featuring local bikini line Belazul Swimwear fashioned by Todos Santos local chica, Joella Corado. Her husband, Kurtis, gave me a heads up about the show the day before, so when I announced my plans to my new-found friends, they quickly obliged to join.

My friends from Northern California: Robert and Mike and the best scallop and mango salsa creation with watermelon/tequilla.

Robert and Mike and the best scallop and mango salsa creation with watermelon/tequilla.

Between the colorful and tasteful fashion, bikinis and belly dancing and after party with a healthy supply of drinks and dancing, I decided this was the best birthday I could possibly have. And- none was planned. Not to mention an amazing sunset…who could ask for more?

My new motto: Plan to make no plans.

The guys and I accidentally left one of the truck windows down during the party…nothing was missing. Either there was a shamrock up my butt or the stereotypes are extremely far-fetched…but once outside of Cabo, I never felt unsafe in Baja Sur.

On my last day, a new swell had arrived and the point was firing! All types of people were on it early. However, the water temp did not compensate for the Aussie who shoved me off a wave. After the rude awakening, I made a valiant effort for more waves but soon resolved that reality was waiting for me at the airport and I still had not eaten a fish taco.

Fish Taco/Airport > Crowded Point

And God help me if I missed my flight…my next adventure had me turning right back around days later and crossing the U.S./Mexico border, again, with six boys.

Next Destination: Parts unknown 

Objective: Uncrowded waves

Sean, no doubt, was twiddling his thumbs til I arrived, his bags already packed.

Solo or not, I’ll be back, Baja! Count on it!