15 February 2009

Longest Lefts

Since I can't surf for several more days (and it's Victory at Sea conditions anyway, with wind and torrential rain), I've had plenty of time this weekend to sit by a cheery fire and catch up on reading the stack of surf mags that have piled up. Somehow I've managed to subscribe to Surfer, Surfing, and Surfers Path. The first two are cheap but half ads, and too phallocentric. They focus almost exclusively on male surfers, including interviews with pros' hottie beach-bunny girlfriends and annual skimpy-swimsuit issues. I'm dropping those mags when the subscriptions expire.

Expensive, ad-lean Surfers Path still exudes male bias but is more intelligent, with articles on the science of surfing and lengthy travel features accompanied by stunning photos. Issue 69 had an article on surfing the world's longest left, Chicama in Peru (pic at left), where linked rides can go on for a mile. Sounds like paradise to a goofy-foot, so I read "A Peruvian Appreciation" straight through. Unfortunately I can't find the article online to link to.

I've surfed the second longest left, Costa Rica's Pavones (my pic at right), and would love to go back there with friends. But while Pavones seemed like a place at the end of the road, with no internet, a single pay phone, and nothing much in the way of nightlife, Chicama sounds like a place at the end of the earth. S.C. Sipman described abandoning veganism - something I could never do; I'd just have to live on Cliff Bars - because of warnings that salads were unsafe. Despite trying to avoid the dirty water, he became ill and spent time in a grim 3rd-world clinic. And there were warnings about omnipresent crime too, from nighttime road bandits to women who drug tourists' drinks to rob them. Strike 1.

On the beach at Chicama, hunters bean birds with bottles, then sever their heads and wings, leaving the appendages strewn on the beach. "The biodegradeable carnage amidst the beautiful red marble beach rocks was a vivid scene to walk barefoot through on the way out to the point." Eww! Strike 2.

A companion article talked about the growing use of boats to ferry surfers back to the point, saving them a half-hour beach walk (through bird parts). So, noisy, smelly boats polluting the lineup and ruining the peace of the ocean. Strike 3.

The wave at Chicama may be goofy-foot heaven, and maybe I'm a yuppified wuss, but it's not going on my surf trip list.
Hmm, IW over at Wave Journal of a Surfer in Peru tells me that it's really not as bad as all that. Perhaps this is an attempt to keep crowds down?!

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