Where’s Lizzy: Episode Two

posted by / News / March 24, 2006

It’s March 16th and I’m still floating at Punta de Mita. Shannon and I have had quite the social schedule here. By the way, I apologize to anyone who tried to email me at liz@swellvoyage.com…it should work now. Ok, after the last update, I received an email that the Wetsand.com founders, Chuck and Candy Menzel, would be in town here for a few days. It’s a very small place, so they easily found us and took a panga out to spend an afternoon hanging out on Swell. Despite trying to enjoy a break from their busy lives, they graciously offered us the use of their beautiful condo-for showers, laundry and Internet. What more could two salty sailor girls ask for? We hadn’t had a real shower since Cabo. They treated us to a huge dinner out, too, pina coladas and all. Not only did they offer us all the hospitality and help with anything they could, they’re just the coolest couple ever. We brainstormed ideas for the future of the environment, especially as it relates to surfing and surfers and shared stories about our rendezvous with the Wetsand/Patagonia crew in {{{Baja}}}. It was awesome to have time to get to know them better, and for them to see the Voyage of Swell in action after all they’re doing to support it.

It’s March 16th and I’m still floating at Punta de Mita. Shannon and I have had quite the social schedule here. By the way, I apologize to anyone who tried to email me at liz@swellvoyage.com…it should work now. Ok, after the last update, I received an email that the Wetsand.com founders, Chuck and Candy Menzel, would be in town here for a few days. It’s a very small place, so they easily found us and took a panga out to spend an afternoon hanging out on Swell. Despite trying to enjoy a break from their busy lives, they graciously offered us the use of their beautiful condo-for showers, laundry and Internet. What more could two salty sailor girls ask for? We hadn’t had a real shower since Cabo. They treated us to a huge dinner out, too, pina coladas and all. Not only did they offer us all the hospitality and help with anything they could, they’re just the coolest couple ever. We brainstormed ideas for the future of the environment, especially as it relates to surfing and surfers and shared stories about our rendezvous with the Wetsand/Patagonia crew in {{{Baja}}}. It was awesome to have time to get to know them better, and for them to see the Voyage of Swell in action after all they’re doing to support it.

Before the arrival of Chuck and Candy, we’d been invited to the annual town rodeo by one of the local surfers. We were ready to dive into Mexican culture, and when he picked us up decked out in cowboy gear from hat to boots, we knew we were in for a good time. We pulled into the dirt parking lot where families and friends gathered in wait, clutching cold six-packs of Modelo. I lived in Isla Vista for three years and I don’t think I ever saw a beer to person ratio like this. You even got a Modelo with your ticket! I love Mexico. The rodeo was classic. There were probably {{{300}}}-400 people in the stands-families with three and four generations, all enjoying the event together. It kinda seemed that what actually went on in the ring didn’t matter too much; it was more like a social event in the bleachers. First we waited for about an hour until the thing got rolling, oh, no I forgot-there was a local favorite band on stage with 7 Enrique Iglesias’ dressed in matching tan suits and black hats behind a stuttering poof from their feeble smoke machine. They’d let out a tired-looking bull every half hour or so-no hurry, no scoring, no winner. He’d buck a few times (only one rider actually fell off) and then twelve men would run out and lasso him. A few kids would run into the ring and the rodeo clown would chase them around.

After a few hours of this, couples went out in the ring to dance a strange combination of ‘freaking’ and Salsa. Everyone did the same dance over and over. That’s when a caballero on horseback rode up to grab another Modelo from his buddy and asked Shannon if she wanted to ride the horse. As a seasoned rider, she’d been itching to get out there all night, so she jumped right up and rode the massive sweaty horse around the ring. It was an amazingly trained horse. We’d previously watched it spin and side step, almost dancing to the music. Shannon, with absolutely no fear, spun in circles and trotted around the ring perfectly. Eventually, they made her get off, because it was time for another bullride, but I was quite proud of my compadre. That took some guts. We were the only white girls around. Caldo, our host, kindly introduced us to all his family and friends. By the time the dirt in the ring glistened with empty Modelo cans, and the salsa freaking was getting freakier, we’d had a full six-hour taste of this cultural experience and thus opted out of hitting up the late-night salsa freaking party. It was a good time, though.


The next day we sat up in the Menzel’s condo over-looking Swell and the bay, taking advantage of the wireless connection to send a few emails. A massive yacht pulled into the bay, dwarfing all the other boats. It’s pointy, speedy-looking, white hull was what I usually referred to as the “dark side”, or the gas-guzzling mega-yachts that take luxury to a new level. “I bet they have ice,” I joked to Shannon.

Just before dark a shiny, white tender pulled up to Swell and the two guys aboard invited us over for dinner. Shannon had chatted with them in the line-up earlier, so sure, why not, we’d dabble in the dark side if it meant free dinner. Brett and Dave of “Southern Way” turned out to be great guys. We made fun of their “star trek” doors that opened with buttons, the “scary white” leather, and the various names they had for all their decks-the “California deck” being my favorite. The boat was exquisitely clean and excessively plush. The tour was impressive until he opened one of their five freezers lined with gallons and gallons of Haagen Daz ice cream – then we were astounded. The meal tasted divine: dorado, fresh veggies, and rice. Dave then prepared a dessert of fresh carmel and bananas over three heavenly scoops of Haagen Daz. We nearly had to be rolled back into our dinghy. I even got caught adjusting my belt like an old man in a recliner. They were more than gracious and it was fun to indulge, even if it meant simply washing our hands in hot water.

The following day we surfed early and then worked on the boat a little. That night, Caldo, who’d taken us to the rodeo, was turning 23 and having a bonfire beach party, and we were expected to be there. So with our demanding social schedule, we cleaned up and went in for a few beers and exhausting translational conversations. It turned out to be a great time with great people-locals, expats from both Canada and the States, one of whom donated a beautiful harmonica to the Voyage of Swell. Thanks J.P., now I have something to do while Shannon strums her guitar! There was even a partial lunar eclipse. Never too anonymous lately, I ran into a friend from the past, whom I’d met on a surf trip to Cabo 3 years prior. It was good to catch up with ol’ hard times Mark. He kindly offered us the use of his truck and a stay on his ranch and general help with anything that came up. We’ve been so fortunate to run into such good people, Mark is no exception.

So yeah, we’ve been pretty “busy,” I guess you could say. This morning, waking up to no waves, I started feeling the itch to move on. We bussed into La Cruz to pick up the part being made for the dinghy wheel I broke, but Fernando apologized when we got there, saying to try back again next Monday. Of course, that’s how it goes down here. Time is relative. After getting a few groceries, we were picked up at the bus stop by a few of the local surfers, which was a little less scary than the bus. We then hung at Accion Tropical, the surf shack, all afternoon. I attempted to skate the half-pipe and drank fresh coconut milk while Shannon photographed the local dog, Beethoven, a true survivor from Tijuana. We even squeezed in a sunset session in some small but clean surf with the local ripper we’d met at the bonfire, Kemi. The sky and water turned neon pink. We all smiled and exchanged stories. Kemi was ripping despite the wave size. I hope I get to surf with her again. What a great day! What an unreal week!

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