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…

Sixty Days in Puerto Escondido

For the small handful of you anticipating my daily blog, it’s about to begin. For the random others I decided to include on this list, pretend to humor me. I was hoping to begin my writing the day I arrived, yet it wasn’t meant to be. It’s not a motivation thing, rather a convenience thing. You see, I am deep in the Mexican tropics, and am living in a treehouse for the 60 days I am here in Puerto Escondido. The minor major details in setting up a wireless connection here in this tree, are still being configured. What follows is the initial five-day “general” recap so far as I remember it. Once the Daily begins, it will be written the very night of the very day, and published immediately. I am hoping the details are written well enough and creative enough to warrant even the slightest bit of anticipation towards my next post. Stay tuned…

I arrived in Puerto Escondido on Monday, January 18th, at 3pm sharp. I flew from SFO to Guadalajara to Mexico City to Puerto. I was picked up at the airport by my friend Papa Chango and we headed off in his trusty Honda Passport. By 3:30pm local time, I was at my treehouse, which sits 15 feet off the ground, wrapped around a 50 y/o Perota tree. I immediately shed all my clothes, put on my board shorts, and ran barefoot down to the ocean for a quick swim. The water? Warm. By dark I was sipping Mezcal and eating dead chicken. After dinner I popped a 600mg IBU, finished off my king sized Mike n’ Ikes, and my long day was done…

Tuesday was going to be a business day. In lieu of some rent, I purchased a 610 Peso(~$50) commercial fan for my room, and a $200 Wi-Fi device that was going to be installed(fingers crossed) way up in the tree somewhere. We met with Armando who set up an install appointment for Wednesday. By noon I was back in my tree. The rest of my day was filled with random barefoot runs down to the ocean. The reason for going barefoot as often as possible serves many purposes, and none of them revolve around getting hurt. At 4pm I purchased a cheap futbol, and by 5pm I was back on the beach doing my first bit of ball work. Had some rice and some Dorado for dinner. Swept a few leaves off the patio(lots of leaves living in a tree you know) and by 8pm I was horizontal…

Filling in for Papa Chango, at 6:30am on Wednesday, I walked one mile(w/shoes) to Casa Dan’s so that I could be driven to the only tennis court in town. We played three sets of doubles from 8am til 10am. If I had the choice between sweat bands or shoes, I‘d have chosen the sweat bands. Needless, the losers bought Gatorade which meant I didn‘t pay a Peso.(wink wink) I was dropped back off at main beach(Zicatela), ate a Surfer Slam breakfast, and ran back to the treehouse via the beach. We waited all day for Armando to show to install Wi-Fi, but he never showed. It was a classic case of manana. At 5:30 I ran barefoot down to the ocean and did some more ball work. Two days into my trip, and I still hadn’t surfed. I had been in the ocean countless times, but haven’t broken my cherry at The Mexican Pipeline. It’s been small anyway…

I forget what happened Thursday other than being barefoot all day, drinking lots of water, and waiting around for Armando and his brother Edwin to show up at the treehouse for installation. They finally showed and made it happen. I ran down to the water for a standard swim and sunset. As I was walking back, I stumbled on the 25 y/o Spaulding twins from Coloma, CA, and they invited me to their vegetarian hostal for a few beers and a black bean burger. I asked if they new of Jackie Greene. They didn’t. I sniffed my way back to the treehouse in the pitch black and called it a day. On the way home, countless dogs came charging at me barking, thankfully not biting.(more on dogs later) So, three full days in Puerto, and still no blood. Several bug bites, but no blood. Knock on wood…

Friday morning was another tennis morning. I don’t anticipate playing too much tennis. I’m just sort of filling in for one of the regulars while he is in Oaxaca seeing a doctor. Once again, my Gatorade was bought for me. Wolfed down another Surfer Slam at Dan’s Café Deluxe(40 pesos) and then took a Collectivo(4 pesos) back to the treehouse. Collectivos do just that; They collect people along highway 200 and take them to wherever it is they are going. Came home only to find Internet not working on my computer. After all that! Instead of laboring on that bummer, I took a two hour siesta and then caught another Collectivo back into the main part of town and got myself a full buzz haircut and a clean shave. I was now a new man. With groceries in hand, I took a taxi back to my tree. Ran barefoot down to the water for some ball work and another sunset. Got back to my tree for a special Chipotle Pasta dinner. Watched George Carlin on HBO and called it a night. It was now 8pm on Friday night, January 22nd, and I still hadn’t ‘gone surfin’. The forecast is calling for some swell on Saturday. I can smell it coming…