Tuesday, December 22, 2015

El Tunco

I'm going to be honest, I have almost no pictures from El Tunco. I think after I explain what I did while I was there, the reasons will become clear.

I got into El Tunco around sunset on Saturday night, and rejoined with the Belgians. They'd spent the last two days with the French guys that we'd met in San Pedro, exploring waterfalls and the Ruta de Flores (though not nearly as well as I got to explore it on the motorcycle). When I arrived, we did some quick re-introductions, and then headed out to get some dinner. After a quick stop back at the hotel, we headed out to the bars for a few drinks on a Saturday night.

A quick summary of the night: at one point in the night, we all (guys and girls) started trading shirts and passing them around.

Like my V-neck in back?
Oh, and we ran into Toby at the bar again, of course.

The next morning we just lounged around. After a couple days of riding it was nice to sit in hammocks, occasionally hop in the pool for a quick swim, and enjoy the food from the hotel. I needed the rest too, as some dude in my hostel room had spent the night (noisily) enjoying a girl he'd met. Gotta love hostels.

At one point when I was swimming, I was going from one end of the pool to the other underwater, and had my eyes closed (the water was really, really rough on the eyes). Apparently I overestimated how far it was to the wall, and went face-first into it, and came up thinking "I hope I didn't break my nose because that sounded like a crack." I felt my nose and it didn't feel crooked or anything, but there was some piece of material stuck to it or something that I could feel... oh wait, nope, that was just a flap of skin right on the bridge of my nose that had split open and was now bleeding pretty good.

I got some butterfly strips out of my first aid kit and attempted to patch it up so the cut would heal together nicely, but it's actually pretty tough to get them to stick to that part of your nose it turns out. I put a few Band-Aid tough strips over it and went back to relaxing in the hammock.

Just before three in the afternoon, Dan and Delphine and I walked over to the surf shop to rent some boards and ask about lessons. When Delphine had asked in the morning, the guy at the shop had told her $10 for a lesson, but the waves would be better in the afternoon. When we got there, he told her it would actually be $20, so she decided to just rent a board and go out on her own. As we were collecting the boards and heading out, I asked the guy where would be a good spot for us to head on the waves.

"I don't know, I guess you should have taken the lesson."

Sometimes I hate surfers. Even if you don't like new people coming into your sport, you could at least do your fellow surfers the courtesy of telling the new people how to stay out of their way.

We took the boards out on the water and I searched for some good waves for beginners, but there wasn't much that looked that good. So the three of us paddled out to where a couple other surfers were hanging out, and looked for some good waves.

It wasn't a place for beginners, that's for sure. The waves were rarely below shoulder-height, and often above my head. I attempted a few waves, and got rolled enough times that I gave up - I didn't want to smash the board (or my head) on the rocks if I somehow ended up too shallow, so I headed back to shore.

Delphine and Dan had both decided it was a bit too dangerous to be out there too, and when I got to shore Delphine was talking to someone with a board who was indicating that we should probably go farther down the shore to the next break. So we hiked down the shore a ways, and then set the boards down and rested while we watched the waves.

This break looked a little more manageable. Sometimes still a bit bigger than I'd be comfortable with, but mostly smaller, and a decent length of whitewater that Dan and Delphine could get into if they wanted to try it. So I paddled out... and paddled... and paddled.. the break was pretty far out. But eventually I got close, and sat on the board and watched the other surfers to see how they were catching the waves.

Suddenly I looked behind me and saw a massive set coming in. I paddled desperately to get out of the way, but only succeeded in putting myself right where the wave was crashing. I got rolled under the wave a few times, and then popped up behind it, somewhat confused as...


A fish jumped into my face! I looked around, and there were hundreds of little fish a few inches long jumping out of the water. I don't know if they get confused by the waves or if it's something else, but I watched a few other waves, and on some of the really huge ones you could see them hopping out of the water in the wake of the passing wave. I even saw some pelicans swoop down behind one of the waves and open their mouth to potentially catch a few of them.

Eventually, I gave up on catching the big waves - I hadn't ever been that good at it in San Diego, and I wasn't going to learn in the next hour, so I headed in on the break a little bit to catch some whitewater. That ended up being the right decision, because I spent the next few hours catching a wave, paddling back out, and then catching another one right away. I took a break for my tired arms for a bit, and then headed back out to squeeze in a few more before sunset, but by that point the tide was low enough that the waves were ending in shallow, rocky water, and it was getting a little dangerous to ride that part of the wave. It felt really good to catch a couple good waves again though, and I'm glad my ankle held up just fine for the whole thing.

We headed back up the beach, caught the sunset from there, and then carried our boards back to the shop. I grabbed a beer from a nearby place on my way in, which I then took with me into the shower. There wasn't any hot water at the hostel, but a post-surf shower beer is still one of the simple pleasures that I will never tire of.

We all relaxed for a while and played a few games of pool, but it was pretty clear none of us had much energy after how the night before had gone. We decided to go out and grab some dinner, where we all got the special: burritos. Let me tell you, burritos down here means something different. This thing wasn't much bigger than a sausage, whereas I'm used to burritos that are as big as your forearm. It was still good, though. The seating arrangement ended a little weird, however, and David and I ended up at the (bald) kids table.
Not pictured: the bar-heigh table with the other four people.
Dinner was a quiet affair with how tired we were, but we decided we'd walk around town and maybe find a place to just have one beer. As we walked past one of the places, who should yell out my name but Toby, once again. so we walked up to the balcony bar she was hanging out on and all grabbed a drink. Toby had become a bit of a local legend as she had now failed to wake up in time for a bus three times, causing her to miss three flights. She was supposed to be gone from El Tunco before I even got there, but here she still was on our last night in town.

Next thing I know, someone bought a round of beers while I still had half of one. I thought we were just having one? Then, someone bought a round of tequila shots. The music was good, we were dancing a lot, the bartenders were funny, and pretty soon "just one beer" became "just one more beer" ...a few times over. It ended up being more fun than the night before in some ways, just because it was less crowded and was really just us and a few others having fun and dancing and talking.

In the morning, it was time for us to split up once again. The others had booked a bus ride direct from El Tunco to Leon, Nicaragua, crossing through two borders and spending only an hour or two on the road in Honduras. I wasn't willing to attempt that in one day, since it would have been eight hours of riding plus two border crossings. Add in our "just one beer" that we'd had the night before, and I didn't exactly wake up early to get a good start on the day. So I made plans to make it to Honduras that night, and then meet up with them in Leon the next day as soon as I could make it, and we parted ways again.

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