You need a girlfriend, Tocayo

youneedagirlfriend

Painting courtesy of  Pinterest.

You must understand, in Peru during those years, there was only one phone for each house. And the maids answered it. And when a boy asked to speak to a daughter of the family, the maids had orders from the parents to say “Who? She is not here.” The only way to reach a girl was to go where she was.

However, you could not simply go to her house. No. “What are you doing here?” the parents would ask. “There is no party today. Come back next year.” You had to find out where her friends hung out. And you had to pretend you were there by accident. “Imagine that! Running into you by accident. What a pleasant surprise.”

“You need a girlfriend, Tocayo,” I said, looking back at Charly.

“Why?”

“So you can go places with Angelica and me.”

“Angelica?”

I nodded.

“What about Anna Maria?”

“Angelica is my real girlfriend. Anna Maria is only a diversion for Playa Sur. Even I am not crazy enough to have two girlfriends on the same beach.”

My friend from America, land of Calvinists, probably believed that my strategy was immoral, and secretly wished I would get caught. In flagrante delicto, as they say. Arms and legs entwined, rolling in the sand. Other girlfriend shows up. Screams “Bastardo!” Points the finger at me and turns on her heel. “Who’s that?” first girlfriend asks, untangling herself from Carlos, the Peruvian Don Juan. “But but but but but,” I beg, not letting go of her half-opened blouse until she slaps my hand away and storms off.

He would be wrong, of course. I would not stutter and beg. I would simply release a heavy sigh and fall back on the sand, slayed by my pain. And in time they would both come back to me.

Excerpt from Part II of Tocayos, which I will publish this Winter, a bit behind schedule.  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.

La Carretera Panamericana – Tocayos Part 2

PlayaNorte

Photo courtesy of Panoramio

As we rounded the last house on the street, the blue waters of Playa Norte finally revealed themselves to me.  I stopped, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath.  The morning breeze, thick with the ocean’s moisture, gently caressed my face like a mother’s hand.  Seagulls squawked overhead, and the warm, bitter aroma of guano that pervades the Peruvian coast drifted into my nostrils.  I opened my eyes and took a long, loving look around.  There was the small park with the tiny lawn, the half-buried white stones, the cluster of nicely painted houses.  There were the black cliffs above my house and the thatched patio that jutted out over the rocks.  There was the royal blue Pacific, sparkling through the mist, undulating with swells slowly making their way toward shore, tumbling over themselves into sparkling white foam, and rushing in a hush onto the sand.  During the last month of school I had dreamed of this moment at least once per class period.  This humble but lovely creation of God had been responsible for a full grade point off my average.  And now it was responsible for letting me forget all about politics.

Excerpt from Part 2 of Tocayos, which I hope to publish in the Spring of 2016.  Part 1 is published here.

GiG

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