Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Heart of Darkness 221208

I’ve had a couple of days surfing the pretty solid lefts of Careneros. The first few sessions I went barefoot, like the big boys do, but a foot full of sea urchin spikes has put paid to my early bravado and I’ve donned my reef boots since. A full hour digging and hacking at my feet with tweezers, a knife and finally a sewing needle to get the beautiful yet poisonous purple shards out extinguished the remaining desire to be a cool barefoot reef surfer. It’s not like I’m trying maneuvers of such skill and delicacy that only my highly dexterous soles in direct contact with my board will suffice. My Bocas surf buddy has been with a 9yr old local kid who’s hitched free water taxi’s with me – I think that illustrates my level perfectly.

The swell dropped in the last day rendering Careneros too small so I headed for Isla Bastimentos, the next island in the chain and one who’s north coast is exposed more directly to the prevailing wave direction. The water taxi dropped me in the small town of Bastimentos on the south side of island. I was heading for Wizard beach on the north side and had been told there’s an easy 20 minute saunter across the island on the one clearly marked path from town. I asked some kids for directions in my finest Spanglish and was pointed down the path which served as the town’s high street. There’s no cars or roads on this island and it’s conspicuously less developed as a tourist spot than it’s neighbours. With chickens, goats and ponies wandering up and down the High Street(path) and not a gringo to be seen it’s unequivocally authentic. I followed the main path hugging the coast through the town until it veered inland and up the hill through the town graveyard, weaving it’s way through the graves until it stopped abruptly leaving only a small track leading into the dense jungle. This easy, clearly marked path kept splitting and splitting into equally insignificant and equally muddy one-person width tracks. As the mud got deeper and the jungle denser my flip flops (Inappropriate Footwear) stopped flipping and just flopped as the plug incessantly got sucked through the sole by the sloppy mud. Not long after I had to use my gorgeous new board as bridge to cross a stream whose banks were knee deep in mud I began to question the veracity of this path. I continued further taking a few left forks and a few right forks using my primeval hunter-gather’s instinct to guide me… Yes, I was lost and alone in the jungle. The twenty minute skip over the island had turned into an hour or so’s hacking and wading through almost impenetrable foliage and impassable mire. It was here and now that those innumerable hours spent worshipping at the televisual altar of the Almighty Ray Mears and my tireless, meticulous study of The Book — ‘Ray Mears World of Survival’ — kicked in. These years of Mears-conditioning had brought me to this point. My mind was alert, my body taught and keen. Preparation is the key for survival in this kind of terrain. My calm, calculating mind instinctively surveyed my kit list: Shorts, T-shirt, nice green surfboard, flip-flops (I.F.), sunglasses and a flimsy plastic bag containing a novel, a latin-american phrase book and some zinc sun-block for my lips.
What would Ray do?... What would Ray do?... The question rolled over and over in my mind for a minute or so before instinct, a sixth-sense if you will, possessed me as I reached for the phrase book and swiftly mastered the phrase “Where is the beach?”.
I stumbled onward, accumulating mud, sweat and tears as I went. Through sheer good luck, a favourable breeze, an indeterimate number of left turns and some right turns later I triumphantly staggered out of the jungle toward the topaz, lapping sea,. I had slightly missed my destination and had gone full circle back to the eastern end of the small town I’d been dropped in. To add to my already swollen sense of self-worth I had to shuffle past the kids who’d pointed the way an hour or two earlier — now a sweaty, sun-burnt gringo covered head to toe in a baby-diarreah coloured mud, wearing flops that had lost their flip, bearing a heavily mud-camouflaged mint green surfboard, muttering “ Dónde esté la playa”. Thanks Ray.

I did finally make it to Wizard beach, using the OTHER main path out of town. It’s a beautiful, secluded, palm-fringed beach but the solid 3ft waves were blown out by an onshore breeze by that time in the afternoon. I was exhausted and just had a 30 minute paddle out, as much to wash the mud off my self and my board as to catch a wave.

SR’s arriving in just over a day — woohoo!
Just in time for a new swell pulse to hit, which if Surfline is correct should be producing 12ft waves on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! A classic case of the surfers eternal dilemma. I’m really looking forward to spending tropical beach time with SR but can I ignore the best waves of the trip so far? Greater men than I have stumbled upon this quandary before me, so what can I learn from their accumulated wisdom?

Get up early and get a couple of hours in before she wakes up and then try not to fall sleep over dinner.


Anonymous said...

That wouldn't be 'George el mentiroso que roba' would it? He tucked me up for £25.00 outside the Fortune last summer. He certainly gets around, the fella.
Peace to you at Christmas mate, looks like you got that covered though. Wishing you the challenge that you seek on the GG. Al sends her love. I showed Levi a photo of you, and told him you were around the other side of the world riding waves on a board. He said "Tell him I love him and miss him as much as the sky"..... Quite the master of the understatement.
Love to SF if I got that right and May Jah bless and keep you safe, Whilst testing your every sinew with the almighty power of the ocean (not bad at the understatement meself);-)
Easy mate, and once again, have a great Christmas.

Midfield General said...

hey Ed,
hope it's all going grand.. lovely words and pictures as always..
just wanted to say merry xmas and a hap-hap-happy new year
much love
d x

Anonymous said...

happy new year buddy, just back from xmas in portugal, solid surf all week a bit too big got mashed up quite seriously a couple of times but the sun shone on xmas day hey hey ! sounds like another great adventure for the red devil and his green goddess, have a good un peace in ya city xxxxx

Anonymous said...

happy new year buddy, just back from xmas in portugal, solid surf all week a bit too big got mashed up quite seriously a couple of times but the sun shone on xmas day hey hey ! sounds like another great adventure for the red devil and his green goddess, have a good un peace in ya city xxxxx

Hamish said...

Happy happy joy joy. Fantastic blog. Happy New Year to you, SR and GG.