“A day may come when the courage of men fails… but it is not THIS day.”
Aragorn, King of Gondor
I was looking for a new home where I could work and surf. There was a little town on the coast close to Mazunte. It had a surfable wave, good internet and was not too far from Karleen. Being the only nudist beach in Mexico, it was famous for its abundance of hippies and drugs. The Indigenous had named the town Zipolite, the beach of the dead.
Zipolite was a fierce beach break. The wave was hollow, fast and powerful. Besides, the current was strong and treacherous. To surf in Zipolite, you had to be explosive, accurate, fit and fearless. Every skill had to be mastered, else you ended up smashed in the sand. I wanted to improve my surfing, and that was the wave for it.
In my search for a room, I came across Chefi, an old Mexican lady with a gorgeous smile. Chefi owned a restaurant on the beach and rented three little cabanas above it. Ken and Darcy, an old retired couple was living upstairs. They were American snowbirds on their sixth winter in Zipolite. I was looking for a quiet environment to work and surf. Ken said: “You won’t find a quieter place in the entire town. Trust me, we looked!”. And so, I moved in at Chefi’s.
Mornings in Zipolite started with Darcy's coffee at 6 am, then surfing. I got my ass kicked over and over. After every painful wipeout, I heard the wave whispering"not today son, not today". I took the challenge seriously and trained everyday. Agility, balance, cardio, nutrition, sleep. Being fast and fit was not enough, the hardest part was the fear. The fear of getting hurt, the fear of drowning. I had to accept pain and learn to live with it. It was the price to pay. With practice, I got less scared and less bruised. The wave was shaping me.
On a windless morning, the water was suspiciously still. The sun pierced through turquoise waters, so clear that the wave seemed to build up instantly. The blue wall stood, swirled and smashed the ground in a terrifying roar. Surfing inside a barreling wave is the ultimate maneuver in surfing. And a wave unleashes all its power when it's barrelling. On that glassy morning, Zipolite was barreling.
I stretched my body, my courage and entered the water. The rip tide and a few duck dives got me to the back fast. I waited patiently until I saw a small lefty raising on the surface. I paddled hard, pushed my board under me and crouched into the barrel. I rode the face, felt the lust for a second, then the wave crushed me. The wave pulled the board too hard and snapped the leash. I went flying amidst an avalanche of white foam. Game over. Not today son, not today…
Humbled, I grabbed my board and headed home. A girl came running toward me, arms up and tits bouncing. Long clumps of brown hair hung free from her armpits. In a distraught Argentinian accent, she screamed:
- A surfer! A surfer! You have a board!!!
- Euuuuh yes
- GREAT! Go save her. She’s drowning.
She pointed at a body in the water. A black dot was popping in and out of the surface. The current pulled down and sideways, moving the body like a puppet. That spot was dangerous even for surfers… And my leash had snapped! Without a board to grab on, we would both be swallowed by the current. The hippie was still screaming... I closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. My heart was pounding. For some reason I had Aragorn's speech in mind. A day may come when the courage of men fails… but it is not THIS day! I clenched the board, yelled Allaho akbar and ran to the water.
The current sucked me in like a vacuum. It had swallowed the girl’s clothes and energy. She was unconscious and heavy. I shoved the board under her, spread her limbs like a turtle and aimed the board at the beach. With the next wave, I pushed her on the whitewash, riding fast to shore. A local man grabbed the board and dragged the girl out like a corpse, still unconscious.
I floated with the current and waited for the right wave. As it came, the whitewash sent me back to shore. The hippie was jumping around, her tits and hair celebrating. Two lifeguards arrived to attend the drowned girl. She was on her side, sobbing and convulsing. She was puking sand and sea, but she was alive.
I grabbed my board and left, too euphoric to stay. In the heat of the moment, I was terrified. That same fear when you are agonizing for air and realize you are still a few strokes from the surface. Somehow, I found just enough courage to act. And acting despite fear was liberating, exhilarating. I sat on the sand and laughed.
It feels good to save a life.