So: a moment, but, I believe, a crucial and revealing one, because it was neither a beginning nor an end, but a middle, a time that felt close to the fulcrum of history, a time when all things, all possible futures, were still (just) in the balance.
-Salman Rushdie, The Jaguar Smile
Celia went to San Juan del Sur to meet up with Lucía and Loretto, and I got a ride from Greg at Surf Tours Nicaragua to Leon. Headed for a wave called the Boom, located in Aserradores, I was looking forward to surfing the notorious beach break and also visiting my friend Cydney, who lives in the area.
On the way there, I got swindled by a man who told me that $10 would buy my way to Aserradores. When the bus reached its final stop in Chinandega, we were still 45 minutes from Aserradores, and I learned that the bus fare was only $1. Looking back on it, I made a stupid mistake, but I guess I was thinking of all the people that I have wrongly mistrusted. Oh well. My money probably made that man’s day.
Nico and MacKenzie, who I met in Popoyo, told me that they reserve a portion of their budget for getting screwed over. I think this is a great idea. There’s not much use in worrying about small amounts of money, I’m learning. Shit happens.
Writing off the loss of my $9 to the getting screwed fund, I got on another bus which dropped me off at the top of the road to Aserradores. With about 10 miles to go to the beach, I would have to hitch a ride. I dragged my boards over to a patch of shade on the side of the road as a group of about 8 nicas watched in amusement. It turned out that they were all waiting to hitch a ride as well.
Attempting to be funny, I said in Spanish that I wasn’t going to be very popular with the drivers, that I would be last in line. It worked, and they laughed. One man jokingly asked me if I could give hime one of my boards to surf. I said, “Los tablas son mis novios. Quieres montar mi novio?” which means, “The boards are my boyfriends. You want to ride my boyfriends?” Everyone thought that was hilarious.
A truck pulled up and all 9 of us piled into the back. We put the boards on top of the cab, no time for a tie down. As the truck took off, the board bag caught air and all of us leaned against it to keep it from flying away. “Estamos surfeando la calle!” I yelled, “We are surfing the street!” Everyone laughed and hooted. I thought we were going to lose the boards, or at least my hat, several times. But it was a blast, and we arrived safely in Aserradores.
I got a bed in the dormitory of a peaceful hotel just a short walk from the Boom. After I set down my bags, I took a walk around the property, collecting ripe mangos and avocados that had fallen from the trees. Grassy and shaded, the hotel had flowering plants and hammocks everywhere.
The entire area of Aserradores was much less developed than other places I had visited in Nicaragua, with lots of open space and trees. It seemed cleaner somehow, the landscape unmarred by the erratic footprints of man, uncrowded by buzzing hives of humanity.
I walked down to the Boom, a beautiful stretch of beach with just a few inconspicuous thatch roof homes considerately tucked into the trees. A wide estuary spanned the southern end, bordered by a large, uninhabited island, dense with rocks and trees.
The waves at the Boom broke close to the beach, dredging black sand up from the shallow water and incorporating it into powerful, spitting barrels. The waves shifted maniacally, a gentle looking shoulder transforming rapidly into a death pit closeout. The only predictable thing about the waves was that they all finished with a spectacular, lurching BOOM in two feet of water, shooting fireworks of spray high in the air. I decided that the waves at the Boom looked evil. I was not in a hurry to surf this place.
I walked back to the hotel, and was invited for pizza with Rachel, Caroline, Evan, Chris, and Sam. The next day, we took a boat to a fun left point break off of the island that borders the estuary. This was the main place that I surfed, despite jelly fish stings and cuts from the rocks, it seemed safer than the Boom. The waves were overhead, fun, and well worth it. At the end of each day, surfers returned from the Boom, some bouncing up the trail bursting to tell everyone about their barrels, others shuffling dejectedly with a piece of broken board in each hand.
On the way back from the point one day, the boat dropped us off at the Boom, and I decided to try and catch a wave or two. I quickly got a nice right, with a steep drop and a couple of turns before I kicked out easily. Not too shabby. Next I got a left which seemed to double in size before it closed out massively in a foot of water. I had to straighten out and shoot my board in the air to keep it from breaking. I got beaten against the bottom; my suit, hair, and ears filled with sand, but I was ok. I didn’t get an epic barrel, nor a board breaking beating. It was neither a high point nor a low point. It just was.
A substantial south swell, along with an unsettled weather pattern, was forecast for the coming weekend, and I was anxious to get to Las Flores, El Salvador. Rachel was keen to go as well, but we couldn’t confirm a boat to take us directly from Potosi to La Union, the fastest and most direct passage to El Salvador. Rachel was wary of wasting a day on the bus through Honduras with swell already beginning to fill in. I also hadn’t yet connected with Cydney, who had been in Managua since I arrived.
It had been years since I had been to Las Flores, but my memory of the place and the waves still shined radiantly. My time at the Boom felt unfinished, but in the end, I decided to high tail it to Las Flores alone. Cydney and Rachel are surfers, they get it. I am grateful to have such understanding friends. An urgent voice inside of me was saying that there would be a small window for good conditions, my one chance. I have learned to listen to that voice.