Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What the surf’s up with Nicaragua?!?

Firstly, let me state that surfing is difficult. No, not the kind of difficult you experience when learning how to juggle for the first time, this it turns out is just a matter of time and likely does not involve putting your body in any kind of real physical danger. It’s not even the kind of difficult where you try to complete a full length triathlon, because as this also turns out, you just have to get fit enough.

Late afternoons at Playa Maderas where we spent a memorable four days surfing from daybreak to sundown

Surfing is difficult in the kind of way that it might be to stand on one leg while juggling, but only while riding an escalator going downward and only between the hours of two and three in the afternoon, but only when your cousin Bob thrice removed is also riding the same escalator and only if the song “Hit Me Baby One More Time” happens to be playing on the loudspeaker radio. And even then, you will probably mess it up.

The general populace is made up of one surfboard to one person, surf jams are a common event here at Playa Maderas, one of the most popular idyllic surf beaches near San Juan del Sur, the popular seaside tourist town in Southern Nicaragua

The first kids on the block, this hostel was the first business on Playa Maderas, these days profits run low as more and more competition moves in to capitalize on what is becoming a highly visited tourist beach - still it is wonderful and retains a certain kind of charm probably due to being physically limited as a pretty small beach

But seriously, in order to surf you have to have the right fitness and balance skill combined with a good knowledge of the ocean and waves gathered over time and experience, employ it all at the right time, in the right spot and on the right wave…and then when it gets there, you have around three seconds to stand up and ride it.

This photograph was taken at Playa Santana near Juiqiliste and Limon where we spent a number of weeks, the debris here is the next morning result of the first big rain for the year - sadly much of the land on the coast is proximally backed by farm land where deforestation, cows and heavy fertilizer use are commonplace, and towns where modern rubbish is irresponsibly discarded all over

Likewise the towns do not have good waste water treatment infrastructure - this photograph demonstrates how untreated washing water and cleaning chemicals affect the surf beach at Playa Santana (only two locals and three foreigners dared enter the chocolate-brown water this day, all of whom got some eye or ear infections, normally you will see hundreds of people in the water)

A very calm image from our visit to Apoyo Laguna near Granada, not relevant but its a good break from the above!

That aside, I remember a famous wise saying about being brave and stupid, or stupid and brave, can’t remember which it was but this is pretty much what I did. I stupidly, or bravely, continued trying to surf convinced that the angels might at any moment take pity on me and send heavenly ability to carry out this, the most difficult of physical tasks.

At Playa Maderas we stayed at Buena Vista Surf Club, a wonderful accommodation in six unique and beautiful cabins - this is where we rested at the end of the day before our delicious dinners were served up by owners Marc and Marielle

The whole place is beautifully and lovingly crafted, embodying a sense of belonging and love for one's work - this image shows the stairs leading to the restaurant/bar area on the left, bathroom in the centre and the refreshing outdoor shower on the right

Looking toward the beach over the lavish terrace - each morning the surf report was delivered personally by the ocean itself

Now this is how you do a lounge area - Buena Vista Surf Club got this totally right and as a result we enjoyed the perfect space to mingle with other guests and staff over cool drinks

Colette's otherworldly perspective of our cabin at Buena Vista Surf Club - take note of how snuggly it fits between three large trees, the owners refused to cut them down and therefore designed around it

Despite spending somewhere in the order of twenty plus hours in the surf with a legitimate surfboard, in unbelievable opposition to the universal rules of statistical probability, I never once achieved a proper “surf”. I did achieve many, many, many a spectacular wipeout, sore and fatigued muscles, breathing in of sea water, praying both above and below tumultuous ocean swell, sun burns and skin rash to the nth degree, cuts and bruises, burning eyes and utter exhaustion.

"Kicking the shit" after a hard surf session, just another one of the perks of putting your body through the hard work, hard earned and all the better, this activity makes up about fifty percent of what surfing was all about for us

Ghost towels of overheated beach clingers gone splashing

But all was not for naught…ehmmm, yeah. When you are lucky enough to make it beyond the hell portal break that is the Pacific Man-eater (not commonly known as, artistic licence generously applied), found here along the entire Central American west coast, you get moments of pure tranquility out in the not-too-cold-not-too-warm ideal sea water, watching the birds fly and swoop, and the fish swim and jump. It is extremely quiet, a real rarity in Central America, and somehow you do count yourself as being awfully fortunate to be able to experience such a crazy adventurous but beautiful thing in your life.

The view out over the ocean as the day sets taken from the Buena Vista Surf Club restaurant /bar lounge

This night image exemplifies the finely selected colour tones employed at Buena Vista Surf Club, as well as the attention to detail applied to light, material and construction selections - all of these add up to creating a more comfortable hotel environment than we had enjoyed up until this point

Likewise I learnt many a trick of the trade, I should remain confident that should I ever find myself in a surfer bar in either Australia or California, I will undoubtedly be able to hold my own in any situation or discussion. If the terms; “right-point-break”, “close-out”, “A-frame”, “reef-break”, “duck-dive”, “big-set”, “offshore-wind” or “turtle-dive” mean anything to you, then you know what I am talking about, whoooaaa gnarrrllllyyy duuuudeeeee. I think that if surfing was a mental challenge I would be at least top ten in the world, because I get it all…in my head it all makes sense, I could teach you if you like…I just can’t do it myself, you know what I mean?

In San Juan del Sur we stayed at La Terraza Guest House, a wonderful converted private three level house come budget luxury stay which offered these comfortable home-like spaces, a small number of guests would share the terrace, living room and kitchen 

The view from our kitchen window over the Parque Central and San Juan del Sur's main cathedral

In hind sight, the positives are quite distinct and noteworthy. On the one hand surfing requires an incredible amount of physique, it is extremely tough body work, which means that after all that “trying” I think I am in petty good shape right now - the ladies love it! The other massive bonus has been having a good reason to go and stay for a long time in some of the nicest beach holiday locations in Nicaragua, and this did not go unnoticed as many a sun down was enjoyed watching the beach goers and marine animals play out the theatre of ocean-meets-land.

So, like whatever dude, check you later, Vinko out.


Post a Comment