Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 16: I am possessed by a primal energy…

SurfersGuidetoBajaDay 1

After a long overnight drive to a small Ejido south of Ensenada there was a day of rest. Trent and Jay struck up a game of football (soccer) with some of the local kids. The villagers went mad for ‘em. Loved the gringos and laughed at their awkwardness on the field. A couple of the kids showed up later and we traded them T-shirts for fish and in the morning we headed south for a place we’re calling Rattlesnake Gorge. Trent got out for a piss and just about gave a snake a bath, hence the name. It’s a beautiful setup with cliffs to either side and a sandy spot in the middle of a fifteen-year flood plain. The occasional rain has created a triple reef/sandbar break and the guys went nuts for it, and having discovered a cheap outlet for Corona, we all celebrated our good fortune of surf (I surfed for the first time today) with a middle-of-nowhere no one-to-worry-about party in the wilderness. They’ve shown themselves to be gentleman and I’ve told’em about the guy in Europe. Good lads, a respectable, earthy sort. Live by a code of chivalry and sharing.

Between 100 and 150 miles south of where we were yesterday. Guys’re gonna surf as soon as we eat some breakfast, beans and tortillas, same coming out as going in. A couple of surfers from Long Beach camped next to us last night. We had  a fire and talked about whatever. We’re settling in. It’s fun to try and communicate with the locals and shopping and the whole bartering thing is pretty cool. Swell’s picking up.

Surf’s dropped again from this morning but they say the swell is definitely “showing.” It’s just that this spot is a sort of “mysto” spot where the swell seems to come and go with the tide.

Later: Had dinner in El Rosario, “bistec ranchero,” in a hot adobe with thick walls painted aqua. With the sun on our faces, the table seemed surrounded by sunburnt jesters or some sort of royalty. Our hostess, an ancient “indio” woman tried her best to give us a brief history of her life in broken English. The girl cook didn’t seem to like us.

Punta Baja turned out to be a bit desolate. Windy and cold like winter in Torquay so we came back to Rattlesnake. Sun’s setting now and, framed by the cliffs of the gorge, it feels something like primeval; as if we’re here very alone and in the long ago past. Thinking of the guy in Portugal: Lit me up somehow. Lit me up like I haven’t ever been lit. Might love him but it’s such a big word, huge. Trent’s turned on the AM radio, The Zombies are singing “What’s your name, who’s your daddy… It’s the time of the season for…”

A pelican just walked up to us in the dark. It seems he wants to hang by the fire with us. There’s a knowing in him that knows he’s safe here. God is in him.

Best waves of the trip this afternoon, Trent took me out with him. Surfed, or better, splashed around for the better part of two hours. Rob said some Japanese folks and a husband and wife came by then split, came during a lull in the surf and didn’t have the patience to see the sets. Fine for us. Went into San Quintin for supplies then cooked up the fried potato, chorizo and egg staple. Fresh tortillas are a meal in themselves. Come from the loving hands of “indio” women and hot stoves. My hair’s getting lighter with the sun; “bushy, bushy, blonde hairdo” and tan, feeling healthy. Beautiful sunset tonight, framed by the gorge as we came in from the main road. Strong promise of surf for tomorrow. Time for a golden, sweet, and cheap Corona, then sleep.

Just beyond Rattlesnake Gorge we found a rusted old school bus sinking in the sand. The wheels are gone and we’re all guessing maybe some hippies got lost on the way to Woodstock. “Summer of Love” run out of gas. Inside I nearly stepped on a rattlesnake. Remnants of parties all over; a bong inscribed with “FURTHUR” after Kesey and the gang. Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test bubbled over, dessicated in the sun. We’ve dubbed it the “Magic Bus” after the Who song.

Third day was an all-out bee-line through the desert with burritos for breakfast in El Rosario. The trip seemed to start then. Remote, gone, last outpost on the Pacific behind us and nothing but pot-holed road ahead. Huge cactus and white stones everywhere, drinking. We stopped a lot in the desert to wee in the brush. Had a margarita somewhere near Guerrero Negro and a guy gave us a tip on some camping on the Gulf side. Long road off the highway, dirt, like washboard, shook the bloody hell out of the bus, but with a beautiful sunset going on around a triple-peeked set of hills we came over a rise in the road and Tristan began to wail. In front of us, a mile or so off, was a spit of land with large swells rolling like caterpillars. I got “stoked” with all of ‘em and am feeling like I’m getting a peek at the draw of the sea. Then we got stuck in the sand. Slowed down to get a better look at the surf and sunk.

This morning we’re situated just below a sort of airfield and adjacent to a rudimentary lighthouse. The Aussies next to us were calling it 10-15 feet and said the place “wasn’t holding the swell” the day before. Today it’s “dropped off” a bit and the guys are calling it clean, better with the tide, and the word is the wind turns offshore in the afternoon and adds a crispness to the surf. This spot’s too dangerous for beginners but there are lots of beautiful shells on the beach. Tristan, Trent, and Jay came in saying the rock reef shelf is like a racetrack and “gnarly.” I saw them all get tuberides and wonder what that must be like.

A man who calls himself Ismael came by this morning to check on all of the campers. Nice sort, salt of the earth, or the sea in this case. Says he’ll have lobster later, a dozen for $10.00. There’s a “mellow” break further up to the point and Jay took me up there for a surf. I stood up on nearly every wave and Jay was hooting. Feel like I’m a natural to this.

I am possessed by a primal energy,

a tribal tension,

the residue of millennia





elemental simplicity fueled by

an adrenal stream and

pumped by an infant heart


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