Sunday, September 16, 2012

Jason's Surf Trip '12

Nicaragua!  This trip was last minute, with only about a month of planning.  The trip included Sean, Robby, Mike Pacada, and Mark Vorwaller (Sean’s friend from Florida).  When I initially heard about the invite I was really excited but figured it was a “no go”, since Charlie was still pretty young.  Emily was adamant about me going, since she knew I’d love to do a surf trip with those guys, and especially to Nica.  So, I bought a ticket – and insurance.  We had been advised by Sean, that if the swells didn’t look favorable, we would push the trip back.  Well, sure enough the swells didn’t look good and neither did the winds.  Robby, Mike and I bought insurance through Priceline, and to make a long story short it was a nightmare trying to figure out the insurance and to see if we would be covered.  Luckily Robby had “sinusitis”.  We risked it and booked the trip for the week after, which ended up being August 12th – 18th.

We arrived Sunday, and Mike, Robby, and myself all had the same connecting flight from Houston to Nica so we poached some seats in the upgraded coach-plus section (which was empty) and got to sit by each other.  We arrived around 9pm, and Sean and Mark had arrived before us.  They had already picked up the double cab truck, and some essentials - five jugs of purified water. 

The drive out to the coast was three hours, with one hour being on dirt roads.  Mark has been to Nica many times and so he was basically our surf/tour/driving guide the whole trip.  If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have scored nearly as many good sessions as we did.  Mark had also done the hotel reservations, and we stayed at a place called “The Surf Sanctuary”.  It was right near the beach, and was set up like a resort/mini little village.  We stayed in a house on the property and it was surprisingly nice.  It had a full kitchen, three bedrooms, two baths, and most importantly AC in all the rooms.  It also had pretty good wireless internet, which is crazy considering there wasn’t a paved road for probably 60 miles. 

Monday – We woke up around 7:30am, (we slept in since we didn’t get in until 2:30am).   Robby, Mike and I all had reserved beforehand surfboards at a local place called Popoyo Ding repair.  They had a great website with a good variety of boards, and at $10/day you couldn’t complain.  We picked up our boards, and headed out for our first session.  Popoyo – probably the most popular break in the area.  The waves were good, a little crowded, but a fun place to start the trip.  The water was perfect – warmer than Hawaii.  Lunch was at a local place called Yolanda’s Cafe.  The food was awesome!  Excellent chicken, rice, beans, and some fried bananas.  I loved having the rice and beans, since it reminded me so much of Brazil.  There was an entertaining monkey that would swing from a chain while we ate too.  We had a ciesta during the afternoon since everyone was pretty beat, and then headed out for our second session to a place called “death rock”.  It was really close to our house.  The walk  was a about ten or fifteen minutes and was gorgeous.  The actual surf spot was nestled in a little cove that was also really pretty, with some nice Americanized homes  all around the cliffs and hill sides.  This was a really fun session, with some good waves and a lot less people.  That night we ate at the restaurant at our resort.  The food there ended up being really good and so we ended up eating there quite often throughout the trip. 

Tuesday  - We woke up a lot earlier – 6ish. Headed out to death rock again since that place is best during low to mid tides.  Sean decided to bring his camera, since it is and was the only convenient place to take pictures.  There were only a couple other people out surfing with us which made it nice.  The waves were once again, really fun. As soon as it was around high tide, the waves got mushy, and we walked back the same way we came.  At high tide, a place called Santanas goes off with fun little A-Frame waves.  We only surfed at Santanas until about 12:45.  Our truck had been having problems with overheating, so we had arranged for the rental car company to come out and exchange trucks with us at 1pm.  Santana ended up being a lot of fun and we were able to get some more pictures there as well.  The rental car guy didn’t show up until 2:30! We were on a tight schedule since we wanted to surf Colorado’s, and it is best at mid tide.  Mark knows a lot of locals in the town, so he had one of his friend’s sons come with us to help us find a short cut.  Colorado’s is located in a private community, and unless you can get in there, you have to walk quite a ways.  The local kid supposedly had a connection to get into the community but that fell through.  Colorado’s ended up being pretty crowded, but since it’s a beach break, we were able to find a few areas that were peaking with some good waves rolling in and fewer people.  It was a fun a session.  Randomly, the winds turned on shore at the end so it was a good time to head out.  A side note of Nica – Winds are almost ALWAYS offshore which make for great waves.    

I forgot to mention that for breakfast each morning we each brought granola bars and other snacks.  I brought Cliff bars, which worked out great.  Mike brought some nature valley bars, and ate them all by today – ah, very typical.  He then bought some local cookies, similar to E.L. Fudge cookies, and had those the rest of the week for breakfast.

Coming out of a barrel




Mike, Jason, Mark, Robby, Sean

Wednesday – boat trip.  Mark had a friend in the town that had a boat and gave us a good deal to take us out on his boat for a trip to further breaks. The boat trip was incredible, with awesome views of the coastline. The place we went to ended up being AMAZING!  It was called Punta Raylo.  It’s a point break, right alongside a 100 foot cliff in a relatively narrow but deep bay.  When we showed up, we were all a little disappointed because it looked like the waves were pretty small, but at least no one was there.  We waited it out for about ten minutes to see if any bigger sets would come in.  Another side note – although we ended up changing the dates for better swells, the forecast changed to massive swells.  The forecast had 15-20ft+ swells for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday!  So this boat trip was intended to find a spot that would knock off some of the size.  After waiting for around ten minutes, we saw some sets come in that looked amazing.  Without anyone else out yet, we quickly got in the water, and as for me, I began surfing the best spot I have ever surfed.  The waves were no bigger than 2 maybe 3 ft overhead, BUT, when you caught a wave you could ride it in for 200 yards!  AND, it gets better…we had it completely to ourselves the whole time!  I was amazed and loved every second of it!  Mike, near the beginning of the session ended up breaking his board in half on the inside, where the wave would typically get a little heavier and hollower.  LUCKILY, he had thought to bring a second board on the boat trip (he had reserved two boards).  When we were all starving and the tide started making the waves a little less favorable we headed towards the boat, just as another boat with surfers were arriving.  We lucked out, and thanks to Mark and his planning and connections, I got the best session of my life.  Later in the day we went up the coast a little bit to a place called Lances.  We got there pretty late, so we didn’t have much time to surf.

Thursday – During the night there was a crazy thunderstorm that knocked out the power in the middle of the night…which meant no AC.  It was miserably hot and humid.  Thursday was supposed to be the biggest day of the swell.  We decided to drive South about two hours in search of some spots that Mark had heard about but never had been.  We brought with us two locals, who sat in the bed of the truck.  The one local was the same as on Tuesday, and the other was another girl, who just wanted to go along for the ride.  It ended up being a really fun day and adventure.  The local, Eddie, took us to a place called Hermosa Beach.  It was set up as a kind of surf camp in the middle of nowhere.  He had promised to find us a point break, but it ended up being a beach break.  We waited on the shore for about an hour just lounging at the surf camp on hammocks until the swell came in a little to make the waves better.  It ended up being an awesome session.  It was probably the second best session of the trip. Nica mostly has breaks that are lefts, but this place offered both lefts and rights.  It was fun to surf some rights for a change.  We were all shocked and happily surprised that the waves ended up being so good and it was another solo session!  It definitely made it worth the drive and the entrance fee to the camp.  We ate lunch on the beach at the restaurant they had there.  Another great meal!  We definitely ate well during the trip.  And, we all drank a Coke a day to help with any possible stomach issues, and I surprisingly enjoyed the Cokes quite a bit!  (Usually I hate Coke).  We left that spot in search of a point break a little further down the beach.  Mike and I decided to ride in the back on the way to the next spot.  Along the dirt roads we could hear some crazy howler monkeys!   We ended up finding a really cool spot, but we didn’t surf because it was almost dusk and the tide was too high to make it worth it.  But, it ended up being a really pretty spot and we got some cool pictures.  

Friday – Sean’s last day.  Because of all the crazy travel plans and changing of itineraries, Sean ended up having to fly out Friday late afternoon.  The rest of us were scheduled for Saturday around noon.  We headed out really early Friday morning so we could get in a session before Sean would have to leave.  We went back Lances.  It ended up being a much better session, with better waves.  Lances is more of a “reef” or “rock” break, with probably the longest paddle out that we did during the trip.  It was a great morning session, and a good one for Sean to have as his last of the trip.  Lances is near  a fishing village, that had tons of fishing boats lined up all along the shore.  And the way the boats get into the water, is they roll them down the sand beach, on big wooden logs.  That is also the same way our boat was launched when we went on our boat trip on Wednesday.  We ate lunch at our resort restaurant again.  Some of the dishes I ate there were, black bean tacos, fresh mahi mahi tacos, Mahi and Mackerel steaks, chicken, chocolate and banana pancakes, and awesome omelets.   Sean left after lunch.  Then Mark arranged to take some of the local kids out to some hot pots in the afternoon, so Robby Mike and I walked to Santanas again.  The waves were a lot bigger than on Tuesday.  We stayed out for a couple hours until Mark came back and joined us for a little bit.  We then went back to Popoyo, (where we first surfed and picked up the boards), to finish off the trip with one last session and to drop off the boards.  We only got to surf for about 30 minutes because it was getting so late, but there was an amazing sunset.  

For Friday night, we ended up leaving the house because it was booked by another group, and we stayed in one of the actual rooms of the lodge.  Mark’s good friend, Mollena, offered to make us dinner that night.  She lives right on the beach, and has 18 kids! Yes…18.  She made us a great meal, of beans, rice, coleslaw, and fresh caught red snapper.  She and her family live in VERY humble circumstances.  We were given the biggest servings, and we were the only ones that ate fish.  They were really nice, and it was a good way to finish up the trip.  The circumstances reminded me a lot of my mission. 

Saturday – departure day….boo! But, I was very very excited to see Emily and Charlie again!  We kept in touch via email each day throughout the trip. We woke up early and had breakfast…banana and chocolate pancakes, which were awesome!  We each settled up our tab at the restaurant and headed out.  We had a three hour drive ahead of us, and once again we brought some locals with us who wanted to go into town.  We said our goodbyes to Mark, and thanked him for pretty much making the trip as good as it was.  Robby, Mike and I were on the same flight back to Houston.  Upon arriving near Houston thunderstorms made us get rerouted to another airport.  By the time we landed in Houston, Robby had like 10 minutes to make his flight.  He missed it.  And luckily was able to get another flight, otherwise he would have had to spend the night in Houston.  Mike was actually coming back to Utah, since he began law school on Monday.  Originally  he had an overnight layover in Houston, yet I was able to fly out that same evening to SLC.  So, Mike used the thunderstorm chaos at Houston to tell the gate agent that he originally had my same flight, but for some reason his itinerary now showed him having a layover.  The gate agent didn’t think twice about it, and put him on my same flight with an upgraded seat.

The trip was incredible! I’m so glad Emily let me go, and wanted me to go.  We all had such a fun time and we all got along really well.  The waves couldn’t have been better, the winds cooperated the whole trip.  Great food. No one got sick.

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