Monday, 5 January 2009

Nochebuena! 241208

My my, I'm behind on this blog. A combination of Christmas cheer, surf, remote wilderness and SR time has kept me away from the blog, but I'll begin to play catch up right now.

One of the most striking things about the Carribean side is the music. Music of all kinds and generational appeal booms out from peoples houses day and night like the oil in the Bocas del Toro machine — the Bocas Crew car creeps through town with it's blacked out windows, huge spoiler at the rear, UV lights underneath and a very fast looking "Bocas Crew" logo in gold down each side booming Ragga & Reggeton – A genre of latin music mixing hip-hop, reggae, and ragga, salsa and merengue. People of all ages throw open their windows, face their huge soundsystems to the street and sit on the porch to listen to anything from ballads, to reggae, to dancehall & ragga to reggeton to straightup salsa and merengue. On the far less touristy and therefore genuinely carribean Isla Bastimentos was the biggest soundsystem of them all.Coming from the murky depths of the most ramshakle and rund own looking stilted wooden house came the bone vibrating, blood jiggling bass from the meanest sounding ragga I've heard. The whole of Old Bank — the main town on Bastimentos — vibrated quite happily to this sound while the owner sat nonchalantly on his porch. A few brave souls tried to compete but to no avail.

Being a beginner — at anything — gives you the best and worst of times in close proximity to one another. On Christmas Eve I had my best surf ever, doing my first cut back, proper top to bottom turns and this all on my backhand! Christmas day was good but the point at isla Careneros was way too busy so I didn't catch too many waves and then I had my worst ever surf on Boxing Day. With a bit of a hangover I stumbled up to the point to see that the predicted new swell had arrived and it was absolutely firing. The waves were another foot or two bigger but more significantly they were hollower and seemed to slam into the reef with much more power and therefore much more noise. I paddled out, finding a convenient gap between sets and found myself in position pretty quickly. I managed the take-off and the drop OK but was immediately aware that the increased speed of the waves left little margin for error. I had taken off with too little angle so this fast breaking wave overtook me pretty quickly and I realised I wouldn't make it round the section ahead and kicked the board away to take the tumble in the whitewater before trying again. The tumble was much more than I'd bargained for as my limbs were flung about in every direction and I was spun head over heel for what seemed like an age. I'd had enough and tried to make it to the surface but the surging water was holding me down against the reef. Don't panic is the golden rule in these situations but every atom of my being was screaming "PANIC!". It was over relatively quickly and I came up for air only to realise in my haste I had taken the first wave of the set and I had another 6 of these beasts to come. My board's pretty floaty and the water was shallow so that incombination with my being an eedjut meant I couldn't duck dive deep enough beneath the oncoming waves to avoid the turbulence so I wrestled-the-crocodile and hung on to my board as I got pushed and pulled about underwater for the next 3 waves. A quick look up and I realised I had been washed nearly all the way down the point by now and the rocks at the southern end were looming perilously close. with one last push I summoned all my energy and paddled hard away from the rocks and managed to punch my way through the last couple of waves narrowly escaping being dashed on the rocks. That episode set the tone for the rest of the session, I was too timid and surfed without conviction taking off eather too early or too late but either way I missed most waves and pulled out fromsome perfect take-off spots as I watched people getting barrelled left, right and centre. The next day I wasn’t afraid but just lacked the skill to surf comeptantly in these kind of conditions. I caught a few waves but took missed out on a whole lot more. On one particular wave I dug my inside rail in as I was making a bottom turn and got sucked up the face of the wave and over the falls, me and my board getting slammed with the full force of a Carribean storm nose fist into the reef. I smashed the tip of my board into something hard, i think it may have been my ankle because I gouged a chunk out of my ankle too. Surfing is a great teacher; the lesson learned in these few days was that if you do or act with fear and too much caution then things just won't work out, and if you're not very good at something things don't work out. If you're not very good at something and you're afraid then be very careful!

SR arrived on Cristmas Eve, dazed and confused after a mammoth trip from Sweden via Stanstead, Heathrow, Houston - Texas and San Jose - Costa Rica! We had an hilarious and beautifully sweet Christmas with silly hats, presents, rum, champagne, hammocks, tequila, palm trees, crabs, beaches and our local pub on stilts over the sea!

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