My brother James has surfed, but he doesn’t own a surfboard. He doesn’t know what the swell is doing, or forecast to do, on any given day. He has a good job. He plans out his weekends in advance. Though he has surfed, he wouldn’t describe himself as a surfer, and thus is not susceptible to the same fanaticism as I am.
I have a vivid memory of a young boy throwing trash out the window of a bus in Mexico. Piece by piece, his mother handed him a plastic shopping bag, a food wrapper, a Styrofoam plate, a fork, a plastic water bottle. Each item twirled briefly in the air before settling on the side of the road, amidst piles of colorful and stinking detritus. The little boy squealed with delight. His mother clapped her hands. I sat silently next to them, angry and resentful, feeling powerless to do anything about it.
“This doesn’t look familiar,” I said to Heathyr from the backseat. She sat up front navigating on her phone as Dave drove down a dirt road, past goats and chickens and mango trees. Heathyr’s phone promised to lead us to La Saladita, a surf town that I’d visited two years ago. Only, I didn’t remember the road.
On Elaine’s last day, we explored Saladita, a small town to the north with a well-known surf break. Since that was the direction I was headed, I packed my things, planning on finding a place to stay for a few days after Elaine left. We chartered a taxi for the day, and were soon headed down a bumpy dirt road, winding among colorful hand-painted signs advertising surf hostels and restaurants. Through the trees, we caught glimpses of the ocean, where a cluster of long boards floated amidst small, neat lines of waves peeling down a gentle point break.