Never Get Skunked Again
Reasons your next trip maybe shouldn’t involve surfing at all.
In roughly twenty-four hours the missus and I board a flight to Bangkok. It’ll be a fun few weeks of debauchery. No schedule, plenty of anonymity. Swanky hotels booked and enough money socked aside to pay for whatever we please.
We’ll be joined by my brother-in-law, a borderline moron who, knowing this trip was booked, dislocated his knee skateboarding last week; his eleven out of ten smoking hot girlfriend; and two more of my buddies.
Some of us have traveled before. One of them managed to get himself robbed at gunpoint the last time we were in Nicaragua*.
I don’t travel to surf much anymore, and I like it that way. Plenty of warm water and fun waves near my home create a total lack of motivation to search for surf. But there’s more to it than that.
There are no surfers around.
Surfing’s a great hobby but, as a culture, we’re the fucking worst.
Me-first takers, gimme gimme gimme. I’ve listened to Floridian transplants bemoan Central American locals long enough for a lifetime. Been forced to keep my trap shut for just way too long, as the guy down the bar recounts his amazing barrel that, as witnessed, was nothing more than a split second lip clip to the head. Left the water furious on countless occasions after a session spent battling back-paddling Californian nasal twangs. Swallowed my frustration while drunken realtors on holiday proclaim their plans for investment and development in an idyllic jungle haven.
I like my fellow surfers as much as anyone. Which is not very much at all.
No board bags to lug around.
Flying with surfboards is fucking ridiculous. Big heavy bags, exorbitant fees, the relative likelihood that they’ll get destroyed or lost or left behind by an airline.
I hate packing a board bag, loathe lashing it to the roof of a rental.
But digging through piles of NSP garbage at a rental spot in search of something decent never yields tasty fruit.
While we can hope the various companies popping up that claim access to quality boards might one day work, at the moment locations offering travelers quality options are few and far between, and rarely truly offer a wide range of boards.
(And paying monthly only works if you’re globetrotting on a regular basis. Otherwise it’s a just another recurring credit card charge to pay off, and a reminder of your stasis.)
On a non-surf trip you might actually get laid.
Surf destinations are sausage-fests, the few poor single women present fending off non-stop ham fisted attempts at courting. The traveling male surfer blends into the crowd, matters little, spends his days locked in sexual frustration, between furtive tugs in a cold water shower in the brief moments while their roommate is out.
But a surfer’s status improves as you move away from the sea.
Being a surfer makes you interesting; your broad shoulders make you unique. Your tan and weathered face is rugged and handsome.
Your job as a surf writer makes you a fascinating iconoclast, rather than another overweight hanger-on.
Luring women back to your hotel room gets one thousand times easier—though my wife takes issue with the word “lure,” claims it too predatory, prefers I say “entice,” etc., and though the words are synonyms with slightly different implications, if we were being totally honest we’d probably say “entrap.”
You can drink as much as you want.
An après-surf adult beverage is an amazing end to the day. When you’re young you can skull a dozen-plus and wake up bright and bushy tailed. But as the years add up and your liver ceases to function as well as it once did, you’ve no option but to plan for the future. If you’re surfing anytime before noon, you’ve gotta pump the brakes after three or four. Waking up to firing barrels, a roiling stomach, and splitting headache is a recipe for frustration and wasted opportunity.
When surf’s not on the menu, the problem goes out the window. Sleep in, wake up late, dip into the candy bag with your coffee.
Have a late breakfast, crack an early beer. Stumble around in a haze until your brain starts to fire and your dexterity begins to function. Scrub last night’s debauchery from your body and begin anew.
My wife makes me.
The wife don’t surf, and I like it that way. The few sessions she’s tagged along for over the last two decades have been awash in fearfulness and kookery the likes of which the world rarely sees.
“I don’t want to put wax on the board. It hurts my stomach.”
“Will you paddle the board out for me?”
“Why did you make me catch that wave? It’s your fault I fell.”
Surf trips are for the boys.
When the wife comes along you’ve gotta make other plans. “Surf all day, I don’t care,” means anything but, and skipping out on boring cultural excursions because the ocean’s on fire earns a days-long cold shoulder.
But it’s no big deal. She’s my best friend, we don’t spend nearly enough time together. I can scratch my itch when she’s not around, and focus on the hotel room humping that inevitably results from copious, vacation-level amounts of intoxicants we’ll use to poison our collective spirits.
*You can tell a man the hard truth, that there are in fact no strip clubs in San Juan del Sur, and that leaving the bar to wander alleys in search of one is a stupid idea. But when they’ve got a belly full of valium and booze, maybe it’s a lesson they need to learn for themselves.
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