posted on April 04, 2007 03:00
"Two waves diverged in the ocean, and I,
I rode the one less surfed,
And that has made all the difference"
Robert 'Waimea' Frost
Ok, I am being cheeky but I have never been that gone on roads. Suffice to say that I am just back from a surfari in a seldom surfed part of Spain which most surfers would say is not worth a visit. More fool them because from beginning to end it was an exquisite experience.
There are trips where nothing goes right, my surfari to Portugal last October being one such example, and there are trips where nothing goes wrong, as if God himself was your route planner. The first inkling that we were on to a winner was when we were in Arrivals and this dude comes up to me and says, “Hey, you guys are surfers right, listen I am a surfer too, lets exchange numbers and I’ll show you around”. It turns out he was in the US Navy, had served two tours in Iraq as a paramedic stitching up the wounded in theatre and as a reward was now living in Spain. He was also as good as his word, staying in contact with us all week, bringing us to ‘locals only’ spots off the beaten track, taking us on a sherry crawl (Muscatel Pasa, it’s the best) and regaling us with stories such as the time his upper lip was cut in two by a glass wielding thug in a bar and how he calmly talked his way past the bouncers holding him aside, knocked the guy out and then went home to stitch up his mouth with Superglue, which he informed us had been developed by the US Military to cope with war wounds. He also gave us a cast iron way to deal with heavy locals at breaks you want to surf; just paddle into the middle of them with a six pack of high quality beer on the deck of your board and hand them out whilst asking how many of the surfers in the water were actually locals, all the time keeping a big smile on your face.
Probably the highlight of the trip surf wise was when I got up at 7:30am one morning and strolled to the nearest break ten minutes away only to discover beautiful, empty, green, glassy waves. I rushed back, woke up one of my compadres and, realising we didn’t have the ticket to the car park where our rental car was stashed (it was with the guys in another hostel who were asleep and had their phones off) but did have the key itself, we decided to simply change in the car park and then walk across the town in our wetsuits with our boards under our arms, past amazed locals, to the break which we surfed alone for two perfect hours before getting out and, dripping wet, walking back past more amazed local cops and tourists to the car park and an incredulous security guard. I think we even whistled the theme to, “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”, as we strode. Sweet as. When our other mates picked up the many messages we had sent in a futile attempt to dial them in on the action, they were both gutted and surprised as I am not known for going on dawn patrol. To be honest, I don’t do mornings…ever.
When we were not surfing we were enjoying the wonderful tapas, the crisp cervesa, the incredible warmth and hospitality of the gaditanos, the constant sunshine which produces a magical, luminous quality of light and the sight of endless numbers of beautiful Spanish Senoritas (very gorgeous but also very Catholic). All of this was sound tracked to Van Morrison’s ‘Astral Weeks’, an album of rare genius that I had the deep satisfaction to introduce to my circle of friends when we were in our teens; I think one of my musician pals even blurted out, “Astral Whats?” at the time, a lapse that he has never lived down. I tell you one thing, there is nothing like sitting on a warm sandy beach somewhere distant, after a surf, watching the sun go down as the local honeys catch the last rays of the day in front of you, with ‘Sweet Thing’ playing on the earphones, mixed in with the sound of waves breaking on the shore. It’s what Brian Wilson used to write about. Simply sublime. More ...