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.
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.