1 Surfer, 6 Months, 7 Countries

Solid day at Playa Negra.

Originally published in Santa Cruz Waves Magazine.

Maybe I should bring a gun. The thought crashed through my mind without warning, dropping uncomfortably into the pit of my stomach. I glanced at my blue backpack and the fake yellow daisy tied to its strap. The idea of packing a gun into it, or more importantly, pulling a gun out of it, seemed ludicrous.

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Spooky tree.

The swell jumped up at Playa Negra, and I scored more epic waves, pulling into several barrels and even getting my bikini top blown off, an event which everyone in the lineup found very exciting.

Bob Witty said the swell looked promising for Northern Guanacaste, and organized a Real Surf Trips expedition to Santa Rosa National Park, where we planned to surf Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point, two spots I had heard about, but doubted I would have the chance to see due to their inaccessibility.

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Humble Pie

Perfect conditions.

But in a way you can say that after leaving the sea, after all those millions of years of living inside of the sea, we took the ocean with us. When a woman makes a baby, she gives it water, inside her body, to grow in. That water inside her body is almost exactly the same as the water of the sea. It is salty, by just the same amount. She makes a little ocean, in her body. And not only this. Our blood and our sweating, they are both salty, almost exactly like the water from the sea is salty. We carry oceans inside of us, in our blood and our sweat. And we are crying the oceans, in our tears.
-Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram

As I drove from Pavones back to Playa Hermosa with Marie and Roberto, we talked about my plans for heading north. On their recommendation, I decided to go to Playa Negra, a heavy, high performance reef break. Roberto warned me that it tended to get crowded when it was good, and the bus situation was questionable, but I decided to take my chances.

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Swell Junkie

Aloe Driscoll surfing Pavones, Costa Rica.

She wondered what it was, this sensation: if it might be called happiness, or whether it would more rightly be called fear.
– Naomi Wood, Mrs. Hemingway

A massive south swell was rumored to be heading for Costa Rica on the first of May. It started as a whisper. As April drew to a close, it gained momentum, building to a crescendo of cackling jesters, becoming a singular, maniacal fixation. I was eager to keep heading north, and began to solicit information about surf breaks on the Nicoya Peninsula that could handle a big south. A tico who had lived in the area for years told me that nowhere on the Nicoya would be able to manage it. I looked at a map in disbelief. How could this be? It didn’t make sense. But the more people I questioned, the more certain the answer became. Nowhere. Nothing. No.

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Brown Sugar

Nice left in front of the house in Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica.

We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.
– Joseph Campbell

My friends Marie and Roberto live in Playa Hermosa, just a few hours bus ride to the north of Dominical. Looking back, Marie was an important inspiration for this trip from the moment it began to take shape. I met her three years ago in El Salvador. I was traveling with friends and she was solo; living feral on the beach with her tent and surfboard. A fuse lit up in my mental circuit board, expanding my comprehension of what is possible in this life.

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