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Posts Tagged ‘surfing’

Photo courtesy of Maria; "Welcome to Puerto Malabrigo, home of the longest perfect left hand wave in the world"

After a couple of false starts, I’ve finally managed to get my Chicama experience!  Rolling out of Huanchaco with my companions after dark, we overcame all the odds to catch a bus from a junction somewhere in Trujillo and then blunder through the patchy streetlight in Chicama town to find accommodation.  All hostels were full to bursting with excited surfers awaiting the big day, but we all managed to spread ourselves out amongst different hostels and beds.  A quick wander into the pretty grimy centre of Chicama to get a carb-friendly meal preceded an early night, but not a lot of sleep was had as I was too excited…

For those that know me, moving from a prone position in the morning is a task as difficult as pulling teeth, but not on Chicama swell day.  I shot out of bed like a rabbit on amphetamines at 5:30 and bounced into my wetsuit, knocking on the window to the room of my amused Australian travelling companions a few minutes later.  Dragging them grumbling along the 20 minute walk along the rocky headland to the point, there was barely light in the sky, but surfers were already seeping out of every corner, striding down on to the same trail and joining the procession.

We suited up and stretched off at a sandy bay at the point and, inhaling sharply as the cold morning water trickled through our wetsuits, paddled around the craggy black rocks sitting menacingly on the inside.  We were some of the first to get in, but could see more white boards bobbing through the half-light along the shoreline.

Chicama has a strong current; before I knew it I was paddling furiously to stay in position, occasionally losing ground as I turned to attempt a paddle onto a wave in the face of a stiff offshore breeze, dropping off the back of the face before I could catch it.  Suddenly, my efforts paid off as I felt the momentum of the wave pick me up and, back arched, I shot to my feet and dropped in.  It was…short, small and fat.

Yup, not every wave at Chicama is a behemoth kilometre long affair.  This, combined with the frenzied paddling to stay in position for catching the passing waves, took the shine off things a bit.  However, all this was forgotten as I caught waves steadily down the coast into a hollower, steeper, faster section.  Much easier to catch and undisturbed by the wind that was getting to the waves at the point, I found myself staring down an overhead glassy wave as the sun suddenly broke above the horizon and the whole thing turned gold.  It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.  The wave jacked up and I realised that it was about to form a tube; this could be the moment that I’d dreamed about, sitting inside a breaking wave!  I tucked my body up and shifted my weight forward, dropping my board a little lower down the wave.  I saw the lip curl above me and…it hit me in the head.  Never mind, there’s always next time.

Awesome photo courtesy of Maria; Richie tucking in…maybe me next time!

I surfed Chicama for about 6 hours in the end, trotting and paddling around the enormous circuit of the wave and the walk back up to the headland over and over again until there wasn’t enough strength in my arms to push me upright on my board.  The waves filled in throughout the day, getting longer, larger and more powerful making for some epic rides.  My defining memory of that day (apart from my morning golden wave) will undoubtedly be pumping my board like a maniac down the line of a closing wave, going faster than I’ve ever gone and feeling the burn in my legs of the last 500 metres.  I am a lucky, lucky boy.

Awesome photo courtesy of Maria; down the longest line in the world

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Thanks to my friend Syl’s big fat SRL camera with a huuuge zoom lens, she was able to snap a couple of pictures of me out for a paddle a couple of days ago.  These are the pretty much the first shots of me surfing that I’ve ever had, so I’m very excited and want to share them with anyone who will pay the slightest bit of attention!

Thanks to the long rumbling lefts of Huanchaco, all the shots are from the same wave as I wind my way down the line.  Thank goodness for her speedy shutter…

Evidence of Surfing

Up...

Evidence of Surfing

...down...

Evidence of Surfing

...up...

Evidence of Surfing

...out!

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Boooo, the swell arrived late…just as I started my teaching again!  No Chicama trip to gloat about; never mind, I’ll be here for a few months yet and I’m sure to get the opportunity another time.

In the meantime, bumped into this fairly impressive piece of graffiti in Trujillo.  Great photo courtesy of my Beligian friend Syl.  I’ve robbed a couple of her other ones which you can see on my Flickr photostream.

Flirting, Trujillo

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Childish Excitement

One of the downsides of teaching English in El Cultural in Trujillo is that you have to work a seven day week.  Yup.  Because of this I’ve been sacrificing chickens in the kitchen sink for the last two weeks hoping that there will be a big swell coming through for the end of the month when I have a clutch of rare days off between teaching cycles.

Well, it worked.  Those chickens died for a good cause.  Visiting the most reliable surf forecast for Peru, I could barely contain my excitement when I saw the chart below.

One of the mighty southern swells is rolling into town this weekend, bringing waves in some spots of up to 13 feet!  There’s only one place to use a nice big swell like this; Chicama.

The longest wave in the world, Chicama needs a fair bit of size to get working but when it does, holy schmoley it cranks.  When all the sections of this mutant wave that wraps around a headland join up, the wobbly-kneed surfer can catch rides of up to one mile long.  Yes, almost 3 minutes of consistent wave riding.

Hence the childish excitement.  I’ll post soon, hopefully with some epic pictures of the trip over the next couple of days…

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Paradise Found

Following my comments a month or so ago for my lust for the ocean, I’ve taken the bait sooner than expected.  With a pause in progress with the work with COCLA while they tidy up the business plan that I’ve helped with and do the run-around for funding, I’ve made a dash for the seaside.

Huanchaco

Passing through Trujillo via a Couchsurfing stopover, I quickly discovered that I could live within a stone’s throw of the water in Huanchaco.  A 30 minute commute to Trujillo to teach English would sustain my ailing financial situation.  Within a week of arriving, I’d scored a job, found a place to live and aquired a wetsuit.

Huanchaco

Room and board (harhar)

Life in Huanchaco is slow.  Nobody moves fast unless they’ve just hooked a fish off the pier, and the town moves in a steady ebb and flow of tourist pedestrians and surfers entering and leaving the water.  A four block walk from my house is the little local market where I can buy fish that was pulled out of the sea next door on the same day, or I can just get up early and buy it stright off the fisherman as they come in on their boats.  If I’ve got time in one of my busy afternoons, I might wander out to the pier with my aging Spanish housemate Eugenio and catch my own with one of the lines left over from my time in Belize.

Fishin'

Fishin' with Eugenio

It’s looking like a 3 month minimum stretch here while I chip away at my online earning strategy and surf every day (should be easy enough, as the waves apparently break every day here).  I think life here is going to be good.

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Mavericks goes off

While the poor folks of the Sacred Valley are picking up the bits of their houses, infamous Californian big wave break Mavericks went off the top the charts this weekend, registering up to 50ft swells according to the San Francisco Chronicle!

The crowds that swarmed to the clifftops overlooking the contest were so big that there were several injuries amongst spectators.  At least they didn’t get mauled by the monsters that the Chronicle photographs were showing…my respect goes not just to the 24 competing surfers, but also to the photographers who swam quarter of a mile offshore to take a beating in the freezing cold water to get shots like the one below of Kelly Slater dropping in.

Even though the sight of these cold grey slabs causes my balls to rise up into my abdomen somewhat, I’ve suddenly realised that it’s been almost SIX MONTHS since I went for a surf.  With the longest break in the world within range, I think an escape from the mountains of Cusco and a reconnection with the sea is in order…watch this space.

It's behiiind you...

Ouch.

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