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.
One day while I was paddling out at Las Flores, I saw an unexpected face. No way. I did a double take. It was Casey, from Costa Rica. “What are you doing here?” I called out jokingly. He was on a trip with his friend Red, and like me, they had decided that Las Flores was the call for this swell. Unlike me, they had brought along a jet ski to simplify their trips to Punta Mango. Unfortunately, it was having problems. After a few minutes of use, a warning light went on, at which point it wouldn’t go faster than 6mph.
Returning to Las Flores evoked a feeling of coming home, seeing a beloved friend, grown and changed, but with the same warm smile, the same tender heart. Three years ago, the sign welcoming tourists to Las Flores was shiny and new, bright with hope at the promise of work, money, a better life. Now it is pockmarked by stickers, indulging in a decadent feast of surf tourism. The landscape is similarly changed. New hotels have sprung up like weeds along the road, which has been widened and flattened, laid in parts with cobblestones, bridges. Droves of surfers toting shiny new boards file out to the waves.