Bodega Bay Mark

Had I recognized the (707) phone number coming through the cell, I probably would have screened it anyway. When I listened to the voice mail, I just could not believe my ears. To add insult to a mind & body riddled with injury, my chess partner and surfer extraordinaire to the North, Bodega Bay Mark, was phoning to say he probably wouldn’t be able to make it to Puerto this year. The news left me reeling.

BBM and I had bought that golden ticket on Mexicana in July of 2010. Round trip from SFO was only going to be $475. Chump change, even to us grinders. By August 26, 2010, Mexicana had ceased operations all together. Every week I phoned the bankrupt airlines, and every week I got The Manana. When our departure date of January 8th 2011 came and went, that’s when Surf Mutt broke the news.

For a split half a day, I was convinced this was the straw that put the cap on the dagger. All indicator flags leading up to BBM’s voice mail were pointing me towards staying in NorCal this winter. One thing after another after another. Thankfully I was wise enough to call bullshit on any red flags that were testing my heart & soul. I knew perfectly well that the disposition of my health was the only flag that mattered.

The after-affects of a late summer hernia surgery had me physically sideways. Some would say I came back to play for The Rebels a bit too early, but the surgeon from Ghana had ok’d my return. When coach stripped The 10 off my back for the final, I had officially hit an athletic low. Regardless, The Rebels went 5-0 over the weekend and sent the Bullies from Castro Valley driving back O.T.H. with a 4-1 loss to stew over.

On Monday, December 14th, 2010, I couldn’t really even get out of bed. I was in real bad shape. Later that day, a close friend of mine stopped by and handed me a couple of Vicodin and suggested I see Dr. FeelGood ASAP. “Oh and Aaron, I heard about your lackluster performance over the weekend. There’s always a spot open for you on the Hot Sox. We’d love to have you back. Let me know before you head to Puerto.”

Gracias Armando

Albeit a mere shoulder high, I’d have to call my initial day of surfing at the Zicatela beach break a successful one. This place is muy peligroso! At 3 foot, it’s pitching hard and breaking boards up and down the beach. I surfed for about 45 minutes and made four waves, and exited the water unscathed. I saw some familiar faces in the water which made the maiden voyage a cheerful one. It was 9am on Saturday morning. The enormous Mexican National flag was in the process of changing from limp to onshore. Regardless of how the rest of my day went, I had my surf in the books, and life was good.

After a quick breakfast, I hopped a Collectivo and decided I was going to give Armando and Co. a surprise visit. I had my laptop with me. As a courtesy, I wore a shirt. I wished I had remembered to bring flip-flops, but I am finding it to be a nuisance anyway. When I stub my toe the first time(and it’ll happen) I am certain that I will have wished I was wearing my Crocs, or the like.

Armando strolled in around 11am and was surprised to see me. He told me to right click on Properties, Left click on Security, Right click on Diagnose, Left click on WEP, and then enter my 10 digit pass phrase. I left clicked the hell out of there thinking that my chances of connecting in the treehouse were 10% at best. I flagged down a Collectivo, and 10 minutes later I was back at my tree.

My treehouse comes equipped with an outdoor shower that produces about 20 gallons of water per minute. Most low-flow shower heads will give out about 3 gallons at best. Do the math. First you have to plug in a mini-generator/pump of sorts, and then the fun begins. You almost have to brace yourself before getting underneath it. If you take a 30 second shower, you’d be wasting 15 seconds of precious water. It’s freakin’ awesome.

It was now noon on Saturday. I was warned by Papa Chango that one of the neighbors was throwing a birthday party, or communion party, or wedding party, or some kind of fiesta that warranted sufficient amplification for a U2 concert at a sold out Shea Stadium. It’s how the Mexicans roll. Suffice to say, taking a siesta today wasn’t in the cards. In the states, this kind of noise would have the cops at your door to break it up before it even starts. Thankfully, it wasn’t the kind of party that ends when the roosters begin their morning sing-a-long.

(I bought some time, read 50 pages, stretched, did some writing, and more or less just observed my surroundings from the shady confines of my treehouse. There is always something boggling to observe in Mexico.)

At 5:30 I ran barefoot(more on being barefoot later) with my $4 soccer ball down to the beach, and did some work. It’s about a 6 minute careful jog to the sand. With shoes it would take about half that time. It starts with thorny soot, followed by rocky hard pack, then some grooved, broken up concrete, which finally leads into sand. The 2 mile strand of beach around this time of day is pretty crowded with runners, lovers, walkers, photographers, horseback riders, soccer games, unattended dogs, and the like. It’s just less hot at that point of the day, plus a sunset is a given. A thirty minute jog will still have you drenched from head to toe.

Protocol put me back in the ocean for 5 minutes to cool off. I could sense the waves getting bigger and a bit more angry. Walked home w/ ball in hand, took a 10 second cold shower, and waited for my rice and chicken dinner to be served. Once again, it was 8pm and I was done…