In the waning summer months before my freshman year at UCSB, I told my parents that I – along with two buddies – was going to blaze down the North American coastline into Baja, Mexico, on an epic surfventure.
My mom, knowing of a soft spot in my heart for the herb, tried to warn me away from it with Third World horror stories about women she knew of who had their hoo-haws burnt off by Mexican prison wardens because they had been caught smoking a doobie.
My response? “Thanks, Mom, but I don’t have labia.”
I was off, Baja-bound, my underpowered two-wheel drive car fully loaded with my shred sticks, wax, towels, and a tent missing its center pole. What we were lacking was a more significant list: passable Spanish skills, enough food and water, maps and sobriety.
On our trip – which probably stretched somewhere between two and three weeks – we drove down to the southernmost tip of Baja, a crazy place known as Cabo San Lucas, stopping at every ripple of a wave along the way.
The swell was weak, at most. Still, two to three seshes a day were in order, and neoprene was banned from the trip by the three of us, a symbolic gesture of us casting off our U.S. concerns and adopting more traveled demeanors. Or some shwag like that.
Bouncing down the west coast of Baja, Mexico, searching for waves and wisdom led us past fields of 20-foot-tall cacti, daredevil semi drivers, miles of boulders covered in graffiti, and some of the most tasty taco carts to ever grace the globe. Our skin was burned and peeling, our throats were as dry as a blowtorch up a brown hole, and we were drained from drinking too much tequila and puking up too many canned beans. Did we find wisdom? You tell me.
Society tells us that the first time you go to a strip club, it should not be a sleazy hole-in-the-wall a couple of hours south of Tijuana. You should probably not take a “free fifth” that is given to you by a stripper — no, she does not have a crush on you, she wants something in return, and you’ll probably wake up in an ice bath without a liver. According to what experts call “common sense,” you should probably never subsist on only tacos, burritos, tortilla chips, Mexican candy and beer for more than a few hours – and never for a couple of weeks.
But, on a surf trip out of the country, most anything goes. I feel that, as surfers, we all have an inherent gene that allows us to blow rational thought out of the water in search of soulful serene stretches of shore that will forever be imprinted in our memories.