Intro to an excerpt from Chapter 14 of Ticket to Ride

It’s now the spring of 1979 and Livy’s editor has sent her to San Diego to meet with a bunch of surfers for a trip to Cabo San Lucas. Livy has never gone surfing and knows next to nothing about the sport or it’s culture. While on this trip Livy falls in love with the sport and gives us a unique view of the surfing lifestyle and its devotees.

What I’ve tried to do here is to present the world of surfing as realistically and as truthfully as possible. Livy’s experience is informed by the exuberance of Jack London’s introduction to surfing at Waikiki in the early 20th century and is tempered by what I like to think of as Duke Kahanamoku’s vision of the ideal surfer and waterman. Duke was born just outside of Waikiki and, as part of the US Olympic swimming team, won gold in the 1912 and 1920 Olympics, and silver in 1924. He is considered the greatest of the godfathers of surfing and was responsible for introducing the sport to the US and Australia. His integrity and kindness made him a friend to many.

From Chapter 14, Ticket to Ride

In her journal Livy writes:

It’s amazing how quickly you come to know people on the road. The Aussies are three of the coolest people any of us have ever met. Even Rob has warmed to them. They have an uncanny ability to stay in the moment. All of them left their jobs before coming here and haven’t a worry about what lies ahead. They’re here for two months and reside within each minute of the day as if it were made for them. Next to them we, Americans and Britons, seem like worrisome old ladies.


This morning a tram showed up with pampered surf enthusiasts from the El Presidente Hotel. Mind you I haven’t called them surfers as I’ve come to understand that you can surf but there’s more than that to being a surfer.

Trent told me,”Surfers know tides and wind direction, swell direction and seasons, they feel these things instinctively and are much like captains of the old sailing ships. They have saltwater in their veins and grow uncomfortable with the smell of the land. Brine and a seawind are their morning coffee. These folks from the El Presidente are and have, well, none of this. At the risk of sounding elitist, it would be nice if neophytes, or better, wannabes knew their place in the hierarchy. Deckhands don’t expect the comforts the First Mate enjoys. While it’s not, perhaps, entirely democratic, there’s an understanding within the greater surf tribe that newcomers are expected to show respect for the elders and allow themselves time to advance to a point to where they’re not a hazard to others around them. Most surfing areas have unspoken boundaries within which it is understood that you do not move on to the advanced section of a surf break until you can do it with grace, style and a proper command of your surfboard.”

To read the rest of Livy’s adventure in Mexico and elsewhere around the world, please go to: http://tiny.cc/tickettoride

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