BACK TO MY HAPPY PLACE
It had been a full two summers since I’d ventured back to Puerto Escondido aka the Mexican Pipeline. Guys like Skeeter Leeper and fallen hero lifeguard Ben Carlson had introduced me to the place as well as my shaper Roger Baltierra. They had told me of the tremendous power the place held and the amazing views you could get in the bus-like tubes that were regularly on offer. For me though it’s not just about the wave itself, it’s about the people, the food and the culture that is omnipresent in this city. Thanks to those three previously mentioned friends I was able to make relationships with the locals and traveling surfers that regularly could be found at Playa Zicatela. Still, two years is a long time, and I wondered if it’d still be the same and, most importantly, if I still had the same fire in me to tackle these monstrous waves.
After the redeye from LAX to Mexico D.F., I arrived at Puerto Escondido around 1pm on a Monday. The swell was forecasted to build through the evening and peak the following morning. As I stepped off the plane I noticed clouds building over the hills- a common sight in the summer afternoons that could often be a telltale sign of evening offshores. My fingers were crossed. Local photographer Edwin Morales grabbed me in his truck and immediately said, “Hey, we haven’t had evening rain and offshores once yet this season. I think tonight you may have brought them with you.” Sure enough, two hour later as we watched a powerful building swell underneath Pacifico Surf hotel and sipped beers the winds flipped offshore and it began raining cats and dogs. I immediately sat down my beer and began thinking, “Alright, it’s time to get back out there.” I ran up to my room at Casa De Iguana and began waxing up my trusty 8’0” Baltierra that had been broken and put back together. The paddle out at Puerto is intense and often times a leash is optional. If you’re a good swimmer, you’re much more apt to not having one and getting washed to the beach sans board. That night I swam probably over a mile and took some brutal beatings. However, my last wave was a beautiful inside gem that gave me a solid pocket ride and a bit of a vision. It was just what I needed and it gave me confidence for the next few days.
The following morning was straight offshore with 20-25ft faces occasionally rushing the lineup. Local standouts Jose Ramirez and Coco Nogales got there share of nuggets as well as traveling surfers and frequent Puerto standouts Tom Lowe and Gavin Beschen. By days end I had racked up three rides of my own. One right and two lefts, the third being one of the biggest barrels I’ve been in since 2014. Three waves in four hours may seem less than satisfactory for most, but for me, and in this arena, it is more than enough. The rest of the trip saw fun sessions at the beach, a couple of days at the point, great food and even greater company. Friends like Edwin Morales, Coco Nogales, Max Diaz, Cesar Petroni, Will Dillon, Lucano Hinkel and his son Mattie all showed me an incredible time. This is why I come to Puerto Escondido and will continue to for the rest of my life. I love the people, the culture and the wave. A special thanks goes out to my longtime supporter Roger Baltierra. He’s like a father to me and is unbelievably gracious. Until next time, Puerto! Saludos.