I´ve settled in quite nicely here, especially with the assistance of an old friend named Liam who surprised me with a last minute email telling me he´s joining me for a leg of my journey. Liam is one of the most interesting people I´ve ever met, and although we have many differences, without him I would not be the adventurer that I have become.
We spent our first night in a little cuarto above the surfshop that I bought my board from. The next day we were able to negotiate a deal on a nice room in an unfinished building right on the beach.
There seems to be a lot of Canadians here in Puerto, many of them here in Mexico for much the same reasons as myself. Many of the international travelers are here not necessarily to escape or run away from anything but rather to achieve what they know is possible: a somewhat stress free life, a life in touch with nature, and a feeling of connectedness to the world. Some of the most interesting people that I´ve met are the locals. A late night of drinking and partying with locals revealed to me both the best and the worst side of Mexican culture. One fellow I met was a Mexican who had never traveled before, but nevertheless had the insight of one who had seen the world. Perhaps this is because here in Puerto Escondido, much of the world is brought to him. Although barriered by both language and intoxication, he was able to communicate to me about the many foreigners that come here only to socialize with other foreigners, and about how too many people draw borders and distinctions that are inimical to global harmony. Much like myself, he didn´t consider himself a Mexican, but rather a human. I could only look at him in admiration for holding such a mindset despite the seemingly negative interactions he has had with people from around the world. The same night I saw another side of Mexico as I found myself in the midst of what I will call "Barrio diplomacy". The Barrio is a district or neighborhood, and although I´ve witnessed localism back home, it seemed to be at a different level here. Liam and I had found ourselves in mixed company composed of a few foreigners and mostly Mexicans from two different Barrios. It was a precarious position to put ourselves in, and we´ve decided to avoid it again if possible. I sat at tables that night listening to locals conspiring against one another for lack of respect within the Barrio. I watched a man sitting across the table from me get punched in the face and knocked off his chair and simply accept it, for he was not in his own Barrio and he was in no position to retaliate. The last thing I want is to paint a bad picture of Mexico, and I´m sure that this was a somewhat isolated incident comprised of severely intoxicated people, but nevertheless it is something I experienced. Liam and I left unscathed that night, and even stopped on the long walk home for a nap on the calming beach.
I´ve been surfing everyday, usually twice a day, and its left me feeling refreshed and energized like I havn´t felt since the last time I was near the ocean. There are two main breaks in Puerto Escondido, Zicatela and La Punta. Zicatela (left), also known as "The Mexican Pipeline" is one of the heaviest waves in the world and is supposedly for experts only. La Punta (below) is a nice point break, and this is the wave that Liam and I have been surfing. We´ve befriended a fellow named Herman from Holland, an avid surfer and business man. The other day he somehow convinced Liam and I to do something that we probably shouldn´t have, although in retrospect I have no regrets. While sitting around talking one night he said that we ought to try and surf Zicatela, and try we did. It wasn´t so much surfing as it was continuous duck diving, getting tossed around, and getting held under the water for longer durations than I´m used to. Well this is not the ideal situation for a fun day of surfing, it is great training and experience.
There is a statue that can be found at the end of Zicatela beach, and I´ve learned from a local that this statue represents the power of Zicatela. It is shaped above a large rock and it is of two hands joined together at the wrists with the palms and fingers spread apart and beginning to clench together. It is the perfect symbol. The waves at Zicatela look smooth and peaceful like the fingers of a soft hand, but when the wave forms up and breaks, it relentlessly squeezes everything underneath it, like a strongly clenched hand. I felt those fingers squeeze me that day, and I´ve decided that someday I will come back here and conquer this wave they call Zicatela.
We are leaving Puerto Escondido on friday and heading South along the coast to find new waves, new people, and new experiences...