chicama sessions - feeling old, a robbery and almost crapping in my wetsuit

  • sunset
  • luka, the hostel dog
  • light bulb - i have an idea
  • the main drag
  • monument to fishing and waves
  • town church
  • you think they love foozball here?
  • the cadi
  • El hombre hostel
  • sky opening over the monument

After 3 days of waiting, I finally got in the water today, the 18th of July. The sea had been flattish for the past couple of days, and today the swell picked up again. Dorris's nephew Alex and his 2 buddies from California saw I had been out in the morning so figured my foot must be fine and invited me to go surf the cape with them. These guys are all 16 and today for the first time ever I felt old - or at least they made me feel old when we went in the water.

We took a mototaxi out to the cape, which is about a wo minute walk along the beach and only a few minutes on the moto. The ride out is spectacular. The surrounding landscape is a desert and then you get dropped off at this canyon where the stones that lead down to the beach are razor sharp - not great for the foot. It's totally surreal. You're out in this desert and then suddenly the canyon opens up onto a beach. I was telling Alex that tomorrow I'd bring my camera phone out for some photos, but that idea got quickly laid to rest when we came across a group of Germans, 1 guy and 3 girls, who had just been robbed at knife point as they finished surfing - a backpack, 2 wetsuits, 2 cameras and one of the girl's medication was taken. They were in complete shock. The robbers ran off into the desert, probably to get picked up by some accomplices. After that I just wanted to get into the safety of the water.

As I was saying, the 3 young dudes really made me feel old. We jumped off the rocks into the incoming waves, and as soon as we got in they started charging at all these waves that, for my level, were a bit too big. And even though the current kept washing me back, these little bastards just kept charging the waves, and then paddled back against the current. I tried, but my arms were so exhausted, I had to paddle to the rocks, get out and walk back to the lineup. The youngsters would also paddle to the rocks and walk, but only after they had caught 2 or 3, maybe more waves. In fairness though, these guys do competition surfing and were telling me they try surf every day back in California to the point that if the surf is really good during school hours, they'll skip school.
Chicama wasn't really working the way people have spoken of it. Basically to get the legendary 2km waves, you need a swell of about 2 metres coming in from a slightly different direction, and today was probably 1.5m. I caught a few smaller ones further along the section, which I was happy with, but every time I popped onto my board my cut foot stung quite badly.

I also came within an inch of shitting in my wetsuit. I drifted off a bit from the guys, to where I felt more comfortable with the swell (and less like an old man). So I was sitting on my board waiting for this set, when I suddenly felt a massive tug on my leash - strong enough that it pulled me under a bit. My thoughts, just after I screamed out like a banshee, were "Shit! I'm gonna lose a limb...if I'm lucky" and "Should I go underwater and try punch whatever it is?" and "Why the hell did I come into the water with a semi open wound?!?" and as soon as my leash released, I paddled my ass off towards the beach. As I did that, I looked back, and realised the "creature" that had tugged at my leash, was nothing more than a lobster fisherman's cage buoy. These things are attached to heavy cages on the bottom and don't always float above the water, sometimes just a few cms below, and you can't always see them. So what must have happened was that my leash wrapped around it, and as the swell came through, the "tug" and pulling me under was just the fact that the heavy cage on the bottom didn't allow me to go up with the wave. When I realised this, I laughed embarrassingly and looked around to see if anybody had noticed, but fortunately nobody had. I carried on surfing for a while after that. Told some of the guys when I came out the water (obviously leaving out the part where I was scared shitless) and 2 of them said it's happened to them and they crapped themselves. Thinking back, I did some research before coming out here and there aren't any of those things, that I thought of when I was in the water, out here in Peru.

It's half past 9 in the evening and I'm sitting in bed typing this, ready to call it a night. The youngsters asked me if I'd go with them to the "discotteca" tonight (probably so I can buy the little delinquents booze - yes I'm quite bitter that they made me feel old, they're actually decent lads), but I'm too exhausted. The foot feels surprisingly good tonight, so I think tomorrow morning I'll go in for another session, avoiding fisherman buoys, and then will catch the afternoon/evening bus to Mancora - a beach 10 hours from here.