Bits and Pieces of the El Salvador Surf Trip

Intro

My initial goal was to provide a detailed journal of each and every day on our trip. Unfortunately I returned home with only a title and a departure paragraph in my journal. With only one day to unpack from my trip before heading to Washington DC for a job I had very little time to recount the journey in words. Below you will find bits and pieces that highlighted my trip down to Las Flores, El Salvador. I apologize in advance for the jumbled stories but I hope you will be able to get a taste of what the adventure was like. It’d be much more fun if I told you in person so if you want to know more at the end, call me and we’ll share stories over a beer. Enjoy!

Bound for El Sal

Sixty-degree temperatures and sunny skies graced our departure on this fine April afternoon. I was picked up from my house around 1:00pm so that we could check our bags before our 5:15 scheduled flight. Surfboard bags claimed to be our first and hopefully only dilemma as we reached the ticket counter.
We were immediately informed that the Canadian Royal Jet that we were set to take off on would only accept a bag up to 9ft. in length. Our bag came in at a cool 10ft. 6in….. What to do, what to do? The only real option was to head change our direct flight from Boise – LA to a more round about Boise – Denver – LA route leaving a solid two hours earlier. It was cram time. I jetted my mom and myself back to house to grab all of the camera gear and to meet our good friend Sonja to drop us off at the airport. Fortunately, we were able to make it with plenty of time to spare.

The flight to Denver was your typical boring hour and forty-five minute jaunt. A touch of gut dropping turbulence kept us all on our toes before we touched down in the mile high city. At that moment I had a flashback of the German Airliner landing video on Youtube.
No more that twenty-five minutes since we touched down and we were back in the air bound for the land of celeb silicon. Re-run episodes of 30 Rock kept me occupied on yet another uneventful flight. We landed a solid six hours before the third and final leg of our journey. Steve quickly searched his logged knowledge bank of restaurants in near LAX and had us in a cab bound for Alejo’s Italian on Lincoln BLVD. Steve opted for the pesto salmon, my mom the salmon ravolone with a checca sauce and I had the Friday night paella special. It was a great family style Italian place with fast service, good food and reasonable prices. I definitely recommend it if you’re ever in the area.

We were back through the airport security by 9:45 with a mere four-hour wait before the Taca flight to San Salvador was to depart. French teens eagerly bounced around the terminal making the iPod a welcoming piece of technology to drown out the ruckus. I must admit that I wish I would have remembered a some of that so called four years of French that I took through high school to give me some insight on what these scenester Frenchy teens were into these days, well besides french blading.

Tasty Waves and a Cool Buzz

We arrived in Sal Salvador at 9:00 am groggy yet still anxious to reach our final destination. Our trip to the resort consisted of three vans filled to the brim with luggage and surfboard bags. The accommodating vans took us on a two-hour journey through a brief part of El Salvador. On the way we caught glimpses of weekend markets, heavily armed officials and even a roadblock designated for anxious street vendors to eerily creep up to the van window eager to sell their various products. Our final destination, Las Flores, was marked with a tall gate manned by an armed guard. Needless to say it was a bit unnerving to roll into. The drive into the resort consisted of a coble stone driveway that offered up a bird’s eye view of the point break below. Fifty-year-old men lethargic men instantaneously turned in to anxious children impatiently waiting their time to play. Before you knew it, bags were thrown into rooms and boards were being unsheathed to meet their El Salvadorian destiny.

The afternoon offered up great overhead surf with offshore winds to keep the wave fast, tall and tasty. Having not been in the water for quite sometime left me nervous to venture out and more content sitting on our balcony shooting the perfect sets roll in.

Surf at Las Flores, El Salvador

School Visit

A few of the founding fathers of these surf trips have made it a point in the past to give back to the communities that they visit. For this trip they got in touch with a local school to see what they might need. The school came back with a bit of a tall order. They had never had a computer on site and stuck the idea out there. Generous people and affordable entry level computers made their wish come true. We took an afternoon to meet the children and to present them with their gift. It was a real eye opening experience. Sweltering open air classrooms with rudimentary teaching tools was what the students were used to. Roughly one out of every three hundred students go on from their elementary school to the equivalent of high school. It made me feel so fortunate to have the technology, teachers and capabilities to obtain the “norm” of education here in the states. The children’s eyes showed that they were grateful for what little bit they had. Their grins and eyes grew that much more as soon as we unveiled their new gift. I had a great time attempting to interact with the kids using what little Spanish I knew. I really appreciated the opportunity to meet everyone at the school.

El Salvadorian Children

El Salvadorian Children

El Salvadorian Child

Punta Mango

Every morning there were two boats that would depart to alternative surf breaks. The first boat powered through the surf at 5:30am and the second follow at 7:30am. The first few days I had neglected to signup for the rides out to the bigger more challenging break called Punta Mango and opted to get my feet back under me right out front in front of our hotel. With the swell slowly dissipating and my confidence building I put my name down for the 5:30 boat on Tuesday. A comfortable 75* temperature, calm winds, and a good group of surfers that I felt comfortable with surround my first journey out to Punta Mango. The ride out offered a totally different perspective of the waves. Offshore spray of the crashing waves erupted all along the desolate coastlines that we passed. This was to be my first experience at approaching waves in this manner and I was a bit nervous. The ride to Punta Mango only took twenty minutes once we had cleared the inside surf. Everyone was anxious to un-strap their boards to be the first ones into the lineup. I took my time and followed everyone out to the best-positioned spot. The waves here were much more sizable and intimidating. I watched wave after wave set up perfectly for each surfer that took off. Some were sizable enough to shack people up while others were more forgiving.

Ray surfing at Punta Mango

Basic Day to Day Life

Every morning we would wake around 5:15 to take advantage of the ideal surf conditions. The swell was typically bigger, the tide was right and the wind was calm. These conditions would remain until roughly 9ish which was plenty of time for me to be in the water at one time. A full breakfast menu awaited us all as soon as we could drag ourselves from the water. The “cowboy” was a personal favorite that offered up a nice strip steak cut accompanied by a corn tortilla, fried egg and beans on top all smothered with a moderately hot salsa. It was quite a treat to get the day going. Another favorite was a Papusa platter which was a thick corn tortilla stuffed with mozzarella cheese and beans all covered with salsa and pickled red onions.

When breakfast was said and done, people would lounge around in the pool, catch up on lost sleep or take some time to catch up with the outside world via the world wide web.. If you were in more of an exploratory mood, the low mid morning tide opened a sandy gateway to neighboring rustic villages.

Even though the breakfast meals were hearty enough to carry one through until dinner, the lunch menu was hard to pass up. Tortilla and mariscada soups, shrimp pastas, fish tacos and stuffed snapper all incorporated fresh mouth watering El Salvadorian ingredients that fully fueled the body for the afternoon surf sessions.

Having not surfed for several hours, post lunch sessions were a common occurrences that fed the need to get wet. The conditions were nothing to boast about but you really can’t complain when you can surf near desolate waves right out your back door.

I found myself napping, playing pool and rehashing clips of Team America (the surf trip gospel) during the mid afternoon hours. Afternoon winds would vary from day to day occasionally shifting around 4:30 presenting fun pre-dinner paddle outs.

Cool cleansing shower water washed away the sweat and salt crust and helped boost my energy before the nightly feast. All twenty-one of us sat at a large dinning table to exchange stories and enjoy the chef’s culinary presentations.

Nightly activities included Finlandia + Sodas, shooting pool, watching Team America, Morning Earth, and taking some time to learn more about our new friends.

The End…

Those seven blissful days of surfing, eating, exchanging conversation and just enjoying the overall surroundings will forever be ingrained in my mind. Thank you to everyone who made the trip so rad, especially Pablo, Lil, Wynn, Smokey and anyone else who had a part in putting this trip together. I hope that I’m fortunate to join in on the next adventure.

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~ by skier2435 on May 3, 2008.

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