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Hitch hiking Baja Mexico and the search for surf


BIG WAVES AT PUNTA CONEJO

We woke one day to Carston standing at our tent. He told us he was going to Punta Conejo a massive point break somewhere round the other side of the peninsula and asked if we would like to join. He pulled me aside and said he had a board for me…he had seen the snapped remains of my old one that morning in San Pedrito. Soon enough we were in his camper van racing along a dirt track for miles. I grinned as Finley Quaye blasted out onto the surrounding cacti. I was a little nervous though, Carston told me that the swell was big and it could peak up to 20 feet. I remembered the heart in mouth feeling of north shore Hawaii and the horrendous wipe outs and hold downs I had had. But I told myself now was the time. My confidence and skills were peaking after a 7 month stint in Hawaii and I was at the point where I could really push myself harder. After all, I may not have the opportunity to be in this condition again. I had imagined pulling up over the hill to see five-storey waves peeling around the point but as we did, the wind was all over it. So, instead we parked up on a sand dune under the campervans faded sun roof. We lazed on deck chairs, reading, swapping stories and waiting for the wind to change. I surfed at sunset on big unpredictable waves and snapped my leash so had to paddle in. The sunset was incredible and we feasted on the most deliciously moist and tasty steaks I have ever had. We were all in an extremely good mood, out here in the desert laughing and yarning. I slept like a pup.

The next few days were spent surfing some great waves at Punta Conejo. It really was an incredible spot, just us in the middle of the desert perched on the top of this sand dune in a campervan and a tent. A couple of times in between surfs, I went off on a wander through the desert or along the beach, listening to music, not a soul in sight. I was feeling in really great shape. Surfing all day, sleeping extremely well, eating fruits and vitals and we hadn’t brought along any beer or smokes. I was even taking jogs along the beach and Carsten had been teaching us some strength endurance training techniques. I was in peak physical condition and I’m glad, because the next day I would need every ounce of it.

I woke at 6.30 to the pounding of surf. It echoed out across the desert and I lay in my sleeping bag my imagination running amok. I clambered out of the tent and looked out at the ocean. Massive walls of whitewash were pounding the beach and beyond them I could see the dark lines out to sea of monsters growing. Before I had even woken up I was jogging lazily down the beach in the early morning mist with my board tucked under my arm. My heart was beating in my ears as I got to the paddle out zone. Both my board and I were battered before I had even paddled out beyond the break. There was so much water moving around that I felt like a cork in the Niagara Falls. I paddled out back where only Carston sat grinning, a wild look in his eyes. “It’s big” was all he said.

As I sat out in the water there was an eerie feeling and the sky was as grey as the ocean. They faded into each other and it was difficult to see the silent waves building until they were almost upon us. Sets came but I was psyching myself out and kept pulling back. I’d paddle and look down the line at the steepest faces dropping off into oblivion. A couple of times I went over the falls and was held under doing endless somersaults getting pulverised by the waves. 10ft faces pushed forward and pounded the shore with extreme force. And it was getting bigger. I knew what I had to do, that it was time I took a drop. I started to paddle not daring to look what was looming behind me. I vaguely heard Carsten yelling out “paddle Avi! Go!” and so, with my heart pounding so hard I thought it would explode and vocalising to myself “Fuck! No! Yes! Go!” I launched onto the wave and everything went silent. I could hear my breathing and my heart in my ears as I practically fell for what seemed like meters on end down the vertical face, finding my feet doing a massive bottom turn, back on the face, thunder from behind me, skidding, speed wobbles across the wave, almost being swallowed by the barrel, extreme force from wind, spray and up flying over the lip into the air, losing my board and diving deep into the ocean. Screaming under water and fist pumping, shaking, kicking…

I paddled back to Carston who was in awe. “Holy shit!” was all he said. I stayed grinning until my mouth hurt. The day turned into afternoon and we kept surfing, the waves kept coming until I was too sore and burnt to continue and paddled in. I dragged my feet across the beach, my arms barely able to hold onto the board, and felt it may in fact not be possible to reach the campervan. I ate two bananas, three protein bars and a rock melon before I knew it. After a much needed and deserved day nap we broke camp in the scorching sun and head back to Todos Santos. We stopped in La Paz on the way for a couple of dos equis and the most delicious tacos in history. We didn’t stay for long in Todos Santos, as we just had to stock up on provisions for the next mission. East Cape.

EAST CAPE

After a quick feed and stop at Carstens house, we took off. It was hard to believe that this was the same day I had surfed Punta Conejo. We listened to “world music” as a mist fell over the green hills. Drumming and wailing of various sorts. We once more passed Cabo, almost holding our breath as we drove through the traffic and hoards of people then sighing in relief when it became just us on the road again. We turned onto a dirt road with wild horses galloping across the red dirt and into the cacti. My journal reads “here we are at nine palms, setting camp beneath a palapa as the sun sets and the surf breaks…” says it all really. That night after some salmon Mac n Cheese I slept on a reclined deckchair under a million stars with lightning flashing orange on the horizon from time to time.

I was well into week three of my Mexican standoff and had fallen into a pattern of waking and moving and surfing and sleeping. I woke from my slumber in the deckchair before sunrise. I paddled out to nine palms point and surfed while the sun came up. The break was a really fun right point break, kind of mellow on high tide but a couple of faster rides came through, bigger with more push. The water was that clear tropical turquoise colour under which you expect to see giant sea turtles weaving around mounds of coral. Exhausted once more (it seemed to be a routine these days) I paddled in and had yoghurt, banana and mango. Carsten had obviously had a good surf session too as he paddled in grinning then slathered himself in Mango jumping around saying “I am the Mango Man!” Anna stayed in longer determined to get some nice long rides. It was hot, the sun was high and bleaching the sand and everything it touched white. Carsten and I talked about meditation and conscious dreaming while peeling mangos in the shade of a Palapa. Anna had paddled in; excited for the wave she had caught. I stretched out and smiled to myself at the friends I had made, the waves I had found and the whole damn trip. I went for a massive walk around the point listening to music and wearing a large straw sombrero. I even stumbled upon a beautiful brown and very naked woman lolling in the waves, out there in the middle of nowhere, no one in sight.

Carsten invited us to stay. He had told me he had made some good business decisions when he was younger so he had a bit of coin. He was building his dream house in Todos Santos and it was a surf chalet extraordinaire. Mango and palm trees littered the garden and a stone driveway cut through the lush orchard to his house. It had a big old door that looked like it was made from an old boat and the rust orange and Corfu blue window pane house looked as if it could have been fashioned out of clay. The house was all tiled and wooden with Jimbae drums and paintings of waves. The bathroom was made of rough stone like a cave, as if it had been chipped out of a rock face. There were massive balconies on either side made with driftwood pillars and bamboo awnings. There was a large open kitchen and a big old wooden table, a TV area with bamboo couches and blue cushions. Pretty much the perfect mix of luxury and rustic, I was in awe. Anna and I cooked dinner and we had a few bottles of wine. I realised that I hadn’t been inside a house since Coyote Cals which felt like a decade ago and felt very happy with the little family I had adopted.

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