- Are you hurt ???
-I'm so sorry
La Chichona broke down again. I was used to her messing up my plans. Besides, I wanted to test Chloé. My little paradise beach was completely remote. If we were going to spend a few days cut from civilization, she had to be reliable. Breaking down on the highway under the pounding Mexican sun is a sure way to gauge someone’s attitude. We bounced from one garage to another until we found a mechanic that could order the parts. They would arrive in 5 days.
We wanted to surf in paradise but la Chichona decided otherwise. Chloé was stoic. "It is what it is” she said. Without a car, our destinations were limited. The only accessible surf spot by public transport was Barra de la Cruz. Barra is a world-class wave, perfect and crowded. Chloé didn’t mind, any spot was better than a sweaty afternoon in a dirty garage.
We packed our boardbags and waited on the side of the road. Four hours and three rides later, we arrived at the mountain village of Barra De la Cruz. We dropped our bags and started on the long walk across the hill. On top, you could see long lines coming from the horizon, and lots of black dots in the water. Barra was pumping… and crowded.
To catch a wave, the best place to be is at the peak. Barra is a point-break, meaning the wave breaks once it hits the rock. There is only one peak per wave. Surfers gather around it like flies around a corpse. In crowded spots, locals rule over foreigners. Staying at the peak was a privilege few people had. Everyone else had to fight.
I noticed a strange phenomenon in crowded spots. Surfers are often chill and laidback. But in crowded spots, they turn into selfish territorial assholes, especially men. Surfing then becomes a testosterone contest. Where every guy is showing off, compensating for all his insecurities.
That animosity finds two reactions. You could wait in line and slowly make your way to the peak. Or you could go away and try to catch the rare waves that went astray, unridden. We counted over thirty heads in the water.
We warmed up, waxed our boards, and paddled toward the peak. The wave was rolling. Surfers took off one after one, not a single wave wasted. I had no chance. Ten minutes in, I gave up and floated away to a different section. Less waves and less people. Chloé was saying high to everyone in the crowd.
I sat on my board and waited, from a safe distance to the peak. I saw Chloé get wiped out heals over head. She emerged, paddled back to the end of the line and waited for her turn to go again. The next time she caught a nice wave and rode all the way to shore. She kept climbing back, after every wave, after every wipe out, she kept coming back. While I waited for a lone wave to come my way, she fought among locals for every single wave, a fierce lioness.
At sunset, more surfers kept creeping in like hungry hyenas. Chloé stood her ground. When a huge set of waves appeared on the horizon, fear turned the line-up to chaos. Everybody was paddling. Barra built up its power, and rose. A massive blue wall. Four people took off. Chloé was one of them, descending in a swift ride, like a hawk plummeting at a hare. Before she knew it, another surfer crossed her path. The boards crashed. Limbs and leashes entangled and the wave drowned everyone in a rage of white foam. Shit! That must have hurt, I hope she’s okay…
The two girls washed out on the beach. They checked on each other to confirm nothing was broken and returned to the water. They paddled side by side, exchanging common courtesy and chatting like old friends. I saw that scene in awe. A crash like that would make me storm off in a burst of anger or get my ass kicked in the water. The ladies showed aggressivity AND sportsmanship, a sorcery unknown to male surfers. I still had a lot to learn...
Chloé passed the test.