There’s always a wave or session that defines a surf trip and stands out forever — an earmarked page in a book full of surfing adventures, if you will. But sometimes, it’s something entirely unrelated to the ocean that ends up being the mascot for the memorable times you shared. For me, on this trip, that’s exactly what happened during a hot summer night on my first trip to Nicaragua with the boys from team Rusty.

Yep, just a little game called Scorpion Roulette…

It was on our very first night of the trip that Robert Gregory, owner of Two Brothers Surf and father to our surf guide, Marsh Gregory, mentioned something about a game they play with every new crew at the camp. Our minds raced with ideas of what we could be in for, but after surfing our brains out for four days straight, it seemed a distant memory. That distant gap was bridged all too quickly in the form of anti-venom that our guide Marsh gently set down on the adjacent table. Nervous laughter and looks of fear began to overtake our surf stoked and sunburnt group as we began loudly brainstorming what the fuck was underneath the aluminum bucket in Robert’s large, calloused hands.

Our only real clue was: “Don’t sweat, they don’t like the water.”

Well, what the fuck are “they”? And what the fuck is this game?

In a nutshell: Your chest is pressed to the edge of a table as you face your opponent with your arms laid flat, with one inside and one outside of the person opposite you. This pulls your chin a lot closer to the wood than you would like, believe me. The idea is basically to create a cage with your two bodies. A cage for what, though? I glanced back at the box of medicine wondering if that was just a scare tactic. There couldn’t actually be something deadly under that aluminum bowl, right? Sam Orozco was not going to take any chances. His Google search read: Will a scorpion sting kill you?

Robert holds his hand over the bucket and the crew hovers closer in anticipation. And then in a blink, he quickly lifts the bucket and reveals not one, not two, but three small, black, and evil looking scorpions. Sam’s scream is something out of a B-list horror movie as he doesn’t even try to outlast Kerrzy and is halfway across the room before the scorpion had even moved. Kerrzy accepts his win and jumps out of his seat. Even though I wasn’t on the spot my heart was still racing. As Marsh and his dad scoop the scorpions back into their container, I almost wish I’d gone first and just been done.

Seth De Roulet and Mitch Hayes, the elders of our crew, are straight up over it. The lid comes off and both are out of their seats in a flash. The scorpions furiously scrap towards table’s edge and all fall to the floor, sending the lot of us hopping and pushing our way out of their path. They are beyond not happy. The floor is searched and they are corralled once again. But we realize there’s only two. The smallest one is finally found hanging upside down underneath the table. These fuckers are angry and ready to lash out at anything in their path. My turn!

Bones and I take our seats. I’m giggling already, a bit of adrenaline beginning to flow. We create our cage, one arm inside, one arm outside and press our chests against the edge of the table. Doing this brought my whole face and neck situation a lot closer to the angry scorpions than I had expected. I took a deep breath and waited for Robert to lift the container.

The second that lid was pulled off I began trying to blow at the scorpions in an attempt to steer them towards Bones. That just pissed them off more. The largest of the trio immediately beelined toward Bones’ arm. He reflexively snaps his arm up, leaving mine exposed and now in the frantic scorpion’s warpath. Bones then drops his hand onto my arm, holding it down as the thing scrambles the last few inches separating us, stinger raised. The slomo kicks into high gear, I break out of Bones’ grasp and the scorpion passes centimeters under where my arm had just been, striking at the air. I jump back from the table and the relief sets in. I made it through, unscathed.

As a group, we are in stitches laughing at the odd game we’d just played. I kinda wanted to play again. It was nature’s version of a Las Vegas game of chance, and even though we scored a few days of really memorable tubes, Scorpion Roulette is what I’ll never forget when I think back on my first trip to Nicaragua.

Thank You to Waterways Travel and most importantly, Robert and Marsh Gregory of Two Brothers Surf for gifting us an amazing experience, in and out of the water!

All photos by Seth De Roulet

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