Rolling in the Sand

hugewave2

Photograph courtesy of The Journey of G

From the peak of the next wave he spotted the biggest waves he had ever seen, twin blue wind-whipped walls lumbering heavily toward him, one behind the other. A chill came over him. He plunged his shoulders into the water and sprinted madly toward the first one. He kept his legs straight and put his hips into his kicks, his torso into his shoulders. He glanced once at the wave to check his position. It was so far above him that he almost lost his sense of the horizontal. He would make this one, barely, but he had to get through it quickly if he was going to have any chance of making the next one. The base was too thick to dive through; it would stop him and turn him completely around. He met the wave at full speed and swam straight up its surface, becoming more vertical with each stroke. It began to curl. Before it could catapult him into the impact zone he lunged into it, clawed, kicked, and scratched his way through it, knowing before he popped out the other side that he wouldn’t make the next wave. He surfaced in a river of water pulling him backwards. A cold ball of panic settled in his stomach. Semana Santa.

The next wave was a stupendous manifestation of nature. It occupied the horizon. A kilometer to the South its shoulder dropped away. At this point it wouldn’t do him any good to get closer to the wave, but he did need some forward momentum. He swam with measured strokes, grabbing all the oxygen he could. The water was a deeper blue out here, and colder than his usual big wave spot. It was just water, he told himself. No rocks, no reefs, no logs in the water, no boats, no sunken tankers. Just water. He was strong. He’d make it.

The lip sprouted from the top of the face, curled angrily in the wind, and descended in slow motion toward the base. When it landed, the spray would blind him. He dove and hunted for the bottom. It was a fuzzy grey plane, and he’d found it much too quickly. Not enough water.  He plunged his hands into the soft sand and tried to lie flat against it. Boom! A crush of water slammed down, bouncing him off the bottom. He clawed at the sand and wriggled his body to stay flat, but the current tore him away. Suddenly he was bouncing around in a storm of churning bubbles, head over heels, up, down, sideways, twisting and spinning. He lost all sense of the vertical, and put his arms out trying to feel the bottom. How long had it been, ten seconds? Twenty? His lungs began to hurt. He opened his eyes and looked around for the light. There it was, on his right side. He rolled over, planted his fins on the bottom and pushed off.

On the surface he took a huge breath.  Foam covered the surface of the water, and it was hard to stay afloat.  Little eddies and vortexes still spun, denying the ocean its buoyancy. Quickly he checked the horizon.  No more waves.  Behind him, the wave he had just survived rolled toward shore, the spray flying furiously in all directions behind it.

Excerpt from Rolling in the Sand, Chapter 45 of Part II, to be published this Winter.  Part I is available from Smashwords.

Charly and the Waves

beautifulwave

A wave was as opposite of Charly’s nature as it was possible to be.  Charly, he chewed metal nuts for breakfast.  The he turned on all the chainsaws in the house and screamed with them.  Before showering, he pulled all the hair out of his chest, to show the water who was stronger, but by the time he finished showering, it had all grown back.  A wave, it is something very different from Charly.

When it is not as big as a hammer, a wave is soft as a caress. A wave is sensuous in shape, in movement, in color, in surface, even in the way it collapses and disappears into the sand.  If you surrender to a wave, the forces of the Earth they reveal their mystery to you: they show you the secret place where intersect the weight of your body, your momentum, the wave’s momentum, the angle of its surface, the power of the wave, the name of the force that keeps things on the surface of the water.  That place of magic changes every second.  You have to listen with your skin.

Charly, he did not know surrender.  He did not respond to mystery.  I had been around him long enough to realize he had the sensuality of a dog who protects a junkyard.  He had the seduction abilities of big, fat nail that you step on with the heel of your foot.  I did not and do not understand how a girl as beautiful and sensual as Milagros had any interest in him.

Waves were so much the opposite of Charly that once he tasted them, he developed a hunger that did not stop.  The more he consumed the waves, the more he needed them.

Except from Chapter 27, “Standing in Isabel’s Doorway. ”

Photo courtesy of http://iliketowastemytime.com/2013/05/07/daily-wallpaper-wave.

The Beaches of Tocayos

Villa

Photo courtesy of Aaron Chang

The primary beach in Tocayos is Playa Norte.  In the sequel to Tocayos, which I have not yet published, much of the action takes place in a second beach, which I refer to as Playa Sur.  Playa Norte and Playa Sur are fictional locations, of course, but they are inspired by two actual beaches, Punta Hermosa and Villa.  This can get a little confusing, so here’s a table:

In Tocayos In Peru
Playa Norte Playa Norte beach, in the town of Punta Hermosa
Playa Sur Villa Beach, in front of Villa Beach and Tennis Club

The actual Punta Hermosa in Peru has two beaches, Playa Norte and Playa Sur. Tocayos remains true only the actual Playa Norte.  It was the gathering place for surfers heading out to Pico Alto:

Pico Alto is a monster wave that breaks over a submerged reef a kilometer to the west of my family’s beach house. The reef requires so much force to make a wave that it breaks only a few times a year. Semana Santa is one of them. Every year during Semana Santa the surfers, the very best surfers from all the beaches north and south of Lima, they come to Playa Norte.

They arrive in ones and twos, driving Beetles and bathtub Volvos with long, skinny surfboards strapped to the roof. Some belong there, some do not, but they all gather along the malecon overlooking the beach, just below my house. There they walk back and forth, in a study of the ocean, each other, and their own hearts. Some go back to their car and check their glove compartments for lost bars of wax. Then they check the seams in their front seats for the keys they lost last summer. They untie and re-tie their bathing suit strings. They walk back to the malecon and warm up their muscles. They stretch their bones. They walk back to their car and examine their surfboards, still on the roof racks. They examine each other’s surfboards. They invite the other surfers to examine their surfboards. Anything to keep from thinking about what is going to happen to them.

Villa, the inspiration for the fictitious Playa Sur, is closer to Lima.  It’s known for its beach and tennis club, and its really nasty surf.  The only beaches I’ve found, read about, or seen pictures of, that has breakers more hollow and vicious as those of Villa are Sandy Beach and the shore break at Waimea.  Both are on Oahu.  The Wedge, in Southern California, is a body-surfing E-Ticket, but not as vicious as Villa.

Outside, the waves in Villa are big, hollow, powerful, and impossible to board surf. A few board surfers tried surfing them when I lived in Peru, but their broken boards washed up on the beach and they seldom ventured back out.  When that lip hit your board, it was all over.

Inside, the surf is just as hollow but thick with sand.  The wave scoops up sand from the bottom like a commercial fishing trawler scoops up fish.  I could seldom get through the middle section of Villa without carrying a fistful of sand back to the beach in my shorts.  The only way around that was to get lucky enough to ride an outside wave all the way to shore.  Since the big waves usually closed out, that almost never happened.

VillaBody

It’s hard to appreciate the appeal of body surfing from shore.  You almost never get to see the action.  Board surfing is much more exciting to watch.  But if you’re drawn to the heart of a wave, body surfing is pretty cool.  This picture is not of Villa, but the wave resembles an average size wave at Villa.

Needless to say, I surfed Villa with Duck fins or Churchills.  Without them, I couldn’t get enough force to slide down the face before going over the falls.  I have gone over the falls at Villa, and one time I hit the sand so hard I couldn’t walk for a week.  The calcification still shows up on xrays of my spine.  They also came in handy for dealing with rip tides, though we actively looked for rip tides.  They helped us get through the surf quicker.  Carlos didn’t surf Villa much, but when he did, he did it without fins.  Carlos was a purist.  And a fish.

There’s a lot more action in Playa Sur in the sequel to Tocayos.

Rick