Puerto Big Wave Challenge Weekend

First stop on the 2016 ASP Big Wave World Tour: Puerto Escondido!

Friday, June 24, 2016

The much anticipated weekend of fireworks came in fast with people filling the streets all week long ready for some crazy surfers surfing some crazy waves. The night before the contest started, we were blasted by a huge storm walking down to see the sunset and ran quickly for cover downtown at a Restaurant we have't been to yet called "Sativa". There we witnessed the biggest storm of the year so far, lightning pounding all around us, thunder shaking tables and everyone's drink, and rain flooding through the streets like rivers. It was an amazing site and we were super happy to be under shelter. We sat down for tacos right next to a couple surfers and I quickly noticed I was sitting right next to Strider Wasilewski, a retired professional surfer and commentator for the big wave world tour event. Cboo and I quickly started conversations about the structure of the surf event happening in the morning, the surf in Puerto back in the 80's and 90's, and a grip of other interesting things about these surfers who have traveled around the world since they were grommets (young surfers). We shared some laughs, fish tacos, and tequila toasts for the upcoming swell in the morning.
The next day you could here the surf throughout the whole town it was so big. We scattered quickly down the beach to see a huge scene of people, cars, electronic equipment, policia, and 6 surfers out in the lineup. The waves were better down on the south end of the beach so we just parked it and watched the action. It was difficult to know the scores, which surfer was in what color jersey, and where the best waves were. It made it all the more fun because you had no idea what to expect on every wave. There was little consistency on both days of the contest with the shape of the waves. Some sets were completely closed out, while others sets broke down the beach, and then their would be cleanup sets where all the surfers would barely make it through or over the 30 foot walls of water coming towards them. Their was an amazing amount of water safety and help throughout the ocean, I counted at-least 10 jet ski's in the water patrolling every inch of a crash or a surfer needing a tow back out to the lineup. Many times it was impossible to paddle out without the jet ski assist. The surfers caught plenty of waves because the heats lasted i believe, 75 minutes long, which meant you can easily find a huge wave before the horn blows.
The first day was 24 big wave surfers in 4 heats, the next day had 3 heats with 12 surfers left; 2 semi-final heats and one final heat at the end. The second day we watched a spectacular final with by far the best surfers of the whole event. Every surfer was taking off on huge 30 foot walls of water to find the best score, there was little doubt of fear in the lineup because every surfers was fully committed to not only win the event and a $30,000 but to be on the top of the rankings for the start of the year.
At the end we saw the title go to Grant "Twiggy" Baker, a South African 2x Maverick's champ take home first place. He came on to the contest as an injury wild card replacement and decided to steal the whole show with a ten point ride in the Final (pictures below!) Congrats to Twiggy and to all these guys for putting on an amazing show and risking their lives in some of the biggest surf I've ever witnessed. No one was hurt or injured and In my eyes I feel like they all won something here in Puerto Escondido!

In cased you missed anything feel free to watch the event here:

Day 44 - Nude Peaceful Zipolite

Chilling in the small coastal town of Zipolite at Casa Cabana

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Christi and I did some follow up research the day before Zipolite to realize that we were only 3 miles from the town. With only backpacks and no taxis to be found we set off early in the morning with lots of water and Benny Bennasi jamming from our solar speaker out of our backpacks. We took the time on the walk to see more of the beautiful coast and talk about what we expect on our decision to move to Puerto Escondido. It became a long walk with the heat and walking what seemed like straight uphill at times. We came to a peak in the mountains where we finally had a full view of the town and became excited to finally see this beach town. Most things you see and read online about this town are all about Europeans visiting and the long stretch of beach for nudists. We entered town and randomly asked people if they know where Cabaña at Casa Acalli-Cafe Maya is located. After getting a supply of water and a cold beer at the mini-mart we were pointed in the right direction to Casa Cabana which was located almost right on the high tide line.

We were promptly greeted on the beach by an American lady who had owned the cabanas for over ten years. We were happy to be put up in a 2 story cabana which felt like a tree fort with windows overlooking both directions of the beach. The owner loved to talk about stories of the culture their, storms of the century, even personal family situations. Almost seemed like we had to interrupt her to just talk or leave the situation at times, nonetheless she was very nice. The day for very relaxing playing games and chilling on recliners watching the surf roll in. We only had the afternoon and the night because we had to catch the early bus out to Hualtuco in the morning. The day became late in the evening when people came out to surf and enjoy the last part of the day. We took a walk down the beach people watching and getting a feel of the beach scene. Their was a mellow sense of lifestyle in Zipolite just like we imagined. People were lying around naked on their bellies and backs, frisbees being tossed around, people selling arts and crafts for the hair and tattoos. It was unique and satisfying to see so much diverse but yet relaxed culture. We watched the surfers and boogey-boarders surf off the north end of the beach till the sunset crept down.

We decided to head back through the small downtown strip to look for another amazing taco stand or tacqueria and check the scene. We continued to see expats from all over the world on every street corner doing their own artistic work and/or trying to sell something of their creation. Their was also dogs wandering the street that had nowhere to go and nothing to do. We ended up at taco restaurant that had amazing smells coming out and looked somewhat busy. We ordered up 6 tacos and didn't realize that they had a 2 for 1 on Thursdays. The chef brought out two hugs plates with 12 tacos, we just started laughing and said "what the hell, lets eat!" 10 Minutes later the tacos were finished by us and dogs drooling all around us occasionally getting sprayed by a squirt gun from the owners. We dragged our bodies home to relax for the rest of the night and take in all the fun and excitement when had for one day...Not too mention get ready Hualtuco!

Day 32 to 33 - Cruising up the coast to Nosara

Checking out the Northern side.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The trek back from Pavones wasn't too bad, because we talked most of the way up, about what places we liked, and if there were any that we'd want to live in. Nick got me thinking about life in that little village, because it was exactly what he was looking for; I tried hard to see myself living there, but it was difficult. Like the other places we'd been too, it was crazy hot and expensive, and there was nothing around for hours. We'd totally have to change up our lifestyle, and become jungle monks that didn't eat. Because of this, I kept having visions of when we were in Mexico, as it was so cheap, and everything was easy. It was a hard place to start, and made the rest of the places we visited, less economically desirable. Still, I was excited to see the Northern side of Costa Rica, and was ready to explore more.

The only crazy experience that we had coming back, was that it started raining like crazy, and the GPS took us on another route that we did not recognize; I looked at the map, and we were headed towards Panama! Nick started to panic, and we realized that it was too late to turn around. Luckily, the road only hugged the border, and we were not going across. Yet, when we drove parallel to Panama, the only thing that was dividing us was a little street; you could literally just walk across it. Then we noticed a military chick on the back of a motorcycle, who was carrying an oozie. It was a pretty gnarly scene, and the town was run down and pretty sketch. We got the hell out of there as soon as possible.

We drove for most of the day, and decided to bypass Jaco, because we had a friend living in Nosara. Besides, everything we had heard about it was negative, and we were on a budget to only see places that we wanted to live in. So we only stopped there for some money, and another bottle of Guaro. Jaco was just as it was described, by everyone we met: dry, dirty, and busy. I knew we made the right decision!

After a long drive up the coast, we finally made it to Nosara at about 8pm, and had no place to stay; we were totally winging this part of the trip by now. The roads were dark, and we had no clue where to go, so we spent a shit ton of time driving in circles. Before we started to tear each other's hair out, Nick finally spotted a little place that had cabinas. As we pulled up, I was doubtful; it looked like a slummy local biker bar, and the cabins seemed non existent. Nick ran inside anyways, and eventually came out with a random guy. He led us to our place nestled in the dark, and we were relieved to just be somewhere. However, the rooms turned out to be the best we'd had so far in Costa Rica; they were gigantic, with 3 beds, a kitchen, a fridge, and had AC. We had scored for only $40 a night.

Once settled, we got dressed up, pounded the rest of our Guaro, and went dancing at the hotel bar. For most of the night, we sat and watched the locals dance it up, because we were way too hot, and looked kind of stupid on the dance floor. Everyone looked like professionals, know all of the crazy dance moves. It was the first time we'd been out though, so I was stoked no matter what we did; all in all, it was a fun time.

The next day, we explored Nosara with our friend/guide, Tina. She had lived there for a few years, and knew the area really well. We roamed the beautiful beaches, and explored the little expat town that was there. I really liked it, but there were not that many places to live, and it was the priciest place yet. There were two areas of housing: one was the town of Nosara, where the locals lived because it was cheap, and the other was Playa Guiones, which was where the rich expats lived. The vibe was cool though, and it seemed pretty safe, as families roamed the streets with their dogs, and kids road their bicycles everywhere. There also were tons of surf shops, atv rentals, and food places for any taste. Thus far, it had been my favorite town in Costa Rica.

That night we kept it mellow: we watched the sunset on the beach, and went over our plans for the morning. We came to the conclusion that Nosara was ok, but we weren't exactly thrilled with everything about it. What was new right? So, I was hoping to get out of there early, and go see Tamarindo. It was our last stop on the Costa Rica map, and I wanted to give it enough time to go over. Plus, we were running out of money, and it was impossible to take money out in Nosara's ATMs. In light of this, Nick had agreed that he would go surfing early, and we could be on our way. However, that's not exactly what happened.

In the morning, Tina offered for us to go on a boat to surf this incredible wave, 15 minutes south of there. I wasn't really wanting to go, because I knew it would take a long chunk out of our day, and I don't surf. What the hell was I going to do on the boat, while they were out in the water? But Nick changed his mind, from the plan that we had talked about, and wanted to go. This definitely caused some problems; I knew we were supposed to be enjoying the journey and having fun, but this wasn't really the time to pull a surf trip. Regardless of our plans, the end result was: Nick dropping me off atPlaya Guiones for 4 hours, while they took off to surf. And if you've ever been there, there isn't much to do. So, I spent the whole morning waiting for them to come back, with nothing on me, but $20. I walked the beach area and the town for about two hours, then had to keep myself busy, as I waited for them to come back. I tried to be patient, but it turned out to be a frustrating day.

When Nick finally arrived, I was so over-whelmed for some reason; I pulled the silent treatment in the car, for most of the way out of town. I eventually broke down, after some questioning from Nick, and started crying in the car. I was so stressed out from traveling, and being alone all morning in a foreign town, that it was starting to get to me. After lots of analyzing, we realized the root of the matter: I wanted to find someplace to finally call home. Traveling was not as easy as I once thought it would be, especially when you have your whole life with you. I know this may sound like its all over the place, but that how I was that day. We eventually worked things out, and concluded that we needed to work together more on settling down.

Day 30 to 31 - Solitude in Pavones

Off the map, to a tiny surf town on the south end of the Osa Peninsula.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

We enjoyed our time in the small surf town of Dominical, but knew it wasn't the end all be all. Dominical was extremely hot, expensive, and the surf for the last couple of days was so so. It was time to hit the southern tip of Costa Rica, in a tiny little town, on the bottom of the Osa Peninsula, called Pavones. We knew we were in for a long drive that morning but had no idea we were about to go through rich amazing jungle to long road construction waits in the plains, and then a dirt road with our tiny clown car for almost two hours. Our GPS decided to take us on a long cut so disregarding the GPS we pursued to ask locals who never even heard of the town Pavones. We looked on the map for other towns nearby and continued asking the locals which directed us with finger pointing for about and hour.

We finally found a split in the road, one way Golfito; other way Pavones! It seemed like hours, but we finally made it to the smallest town off the beaten path so far. It a was beautiful setting, with longest left point-break on one side, and lush green jungle on the other. It was so small, we knew we had to find a room, before we were stuck homeless backtracking down the dirt road. We walked through the town, asking for places to stay for the night. After failing probably about 5 times, we found an Italian man named Alejandro, who owned a hotel called "La Dolfita", which had a pizzeria and small rooms. He said "no problem" for the night, and gave us a key to a single bedroom, patio with a hammock, including breakfast for $40...we were stoked!

We decided to walk the town, after getting situated in the room, and grab our much needed water and fruit. Everything, once again, was fairly expensive; considering it had to be imported all by truck. We decided to walk down to the surf break, and ran into our friends from the Green Forest (Jewish Alliance), in Uvita. We caught up with them, and they were happy to show us their beach-front restaurant/hostel, plus the many surfboards they brought down. I was getting very antsy after looking at their boards, and the waves peeling down the bottom of the point. So I ran back up, looking frantically for a board, and found a stoner dude who owned a hostel across from the pizzeria; he was happy to rent me a board for two days at $25. I grabbed the board and wax, and started running up the point. Not only surf after 30 days off celibacy, but to surf the 2nd longest left in the world with a growing south swell. The waves were insane, with minute long rides with a couple people of out; best session I've ever had in Costa Rica. The air and water (Air Temp: 90F Water Temp: 86F) was so hot, that I could only surf for an hour without getting dehydrated. We were happy to get off the beach, because of the heat, and settled down for the evening.

The next day we had our amazingly standard breakfast: eggs, rice, beans, and coffee. We took a short drive to the top of the point, to see more empty beaches, and visit the beautiful properties along the way; the coastline was so green and alive. It was truly an amazing place, but we had doubts about living accommodations here. After all, there were only 2 supermarkets, and random hostels spread throughout the town. It was, at minimum, an hour from any town town that would have hospitals, clothing, or anything in the middle.

I went back out for another surf session, with the growing swell and low tide barrels, while Christi decided to hit up her tan on the scorching beach. Once again, an hour later we were way too hot and dehydrated. We decided to jump in a river-mouth lagoon, which emptied into the point-break. We were quickly relieved, after jumping in to the cool water, shaded by a canopy of jungle while macaws flew overhead.

That night we wanted to hit the so-called "nightlife" of the town. The only thing open at night, was a small restaurant/bar, which played old surf films alongside 80's music videos. The bar was semi-filled with the locals/expats, and the out-of-towners that were just visiting for a couple days. I ordered my regular "Pilsen" beer, and C-Boo ordered the watermelon vodka, which was more of a smoothie then an alcohol drink.

We had many serious talks that night, about what we wanted from a place, and what Pavones had/didn't have. There were many great things about the place: lush year round jungles, good vibes from the community, cheap rent, and of course surfing (at least at that time). But, we also weighed out many cons as well; such as crazy bugs (day and night), scorching hot (day and night), minimalist town, and Christi's fear the evil crabs trying to break in every night (one actually broke in the last night we were there). We ranked Pavones to other places we had already visited; it was pretty high on the list, but not quite what we were looking for. So, we decided to pack up, to try the next place on the map.

Day 8 and 9 - Exploring Sayulitas

2 Days of traveling the small surf town of Sayulitas.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The rainy morning started by Christi and I walking with ponchos out of our mini hostel in San Pancho to the bus stop. We were soon startled by a cute little Mexican couple in an old Chevy pickup giving us the thumbs up for Sayulita. We quickly jumped in and we were off to the small surf town.

Upon entering Sayulita, the storm quickly became worse going from rain to all out downpour and small rivers soon flooding the streets. We gave the couple each a beer and jumped out of the truck to find some breakfast in disarray. Looking to the adjacent corner was a cool looking cafe that was bound to have at least coffee. We ended up downtown Sayulita, two blocks from the beach, in the middle of a storm in 5 minutes for 2 beers.The food was great and decent price, each plate of breakfast was around $5 with coffee and a plate of fruit.

Walking through Sayulita, we literally saw thousands of tiny shops selling the exact same thing; clothing, hats, all kinds of jewelry, and an assortment of useless souvenirs. The town also included hundreds of restaurants and cafes on almost every street corner and random surf shops here and there. The people within town were very unique with their own style of clothing, tattoos, piercings, attitudes, and everything in the middle. It was a very mixed crowd with local and expats, and the occasional family looking to find a good buy from anyone.

Finally getting to the beach, where we wanted to check out all along. There were half dozen beach bar restaurants lined up with tables and recliners stretched out all the way to the water. These restaurants were surrounded by surfboard rentals which includes hundreds of Wave-storms (foam tops) and SUP's (stand up paddle). The surfboard averages around $5-10 per hour or $25 per day.

After the rain blew over, we strolled down the beach looking at the waves on a low tide. The beach had a nice setup with a sandy beginner break on the south end. The middle of the beach had the beginning of a long extended reef which extended out to the north end. The reef was very soft and slow with many sections depending on the tide and direction. The surf was windy and small with few surfers in the lineup.

Continuing our adventure down the beach, we ran into some amazing beach houses surrounding the town. Each house had their own style, color, and landscape. Each of them being more beautiful then the next. We turned around at a natural rocky point heading back to town looking for a drink.

We stopped at a nice beach bar for margaritas, and a couple games of rummy against each other. We ended the afternoon with a shot of fine Cien Anos tequila, and a toast to a great day even though we never surfed. We decided to get a taxi instead of wait for the bus because of the schedule and the on and off showers. The taxi was about 5 minutes for about $5 and we were back to our hostel in San Pancho.

That night an even bigger storm hit taking power out to all of San Pancho. We left swiftly in the morning with good swell reports and sunny skies ready to finally get some surfing in. We went straight to the beach off the bus and still found stormy surf leaving us with just tanning on the beach with a couple of cold beers (tough morning). We eventually found ourselves in another storm after a couple hours running rapidly to a taco bar on the outskirts of town. We ended up playing cards, eating tacos costing less than a dollar each, and a salsa bar with an assortment of veggies and salsas. We left the town that afternoon still filled with smiles even though we did not surf in the Surf Town of Sayulita.