- You got a letter from the CRA.
- What’s that?
- Canada Revenue Agency.
I landed in San Salvador early in the afternoon, after a 16-hour trip. The immigration officers welcomed me with a long interrogation about La Chichona. Then customs checked my permit, and kindly reminded me that it was expiring in a week. Due to the alert, I was not able to renew it. I had one week to drive La Chichona out of the country.
In El Salvador, all local men have nicknames. Among them was Winnie Pooh: the oldest surfer, cab driver, and all-around hustler of Playa El Tunco. When we wanted to go somewhere, we asked Winnie Pooh. When we wanted to know something, we asked Winnie Pooh. When we wanted to smoke somehow, we asked Winnie Pooh. The old man worked around the clock to support his family. And despite his crazy schedule, he was always punctual and cheerful. I really liked Winnie Pooh.
The afternoon heat slapped me in the face when I stepped out of the terminal. The air was hot and humid, with that tropical heaviness that only storms can move. I waited by the fountain, still and sweating, when a familiar voice yelled “Welcome home!”. Winnie Pooh gave me a hug and led me to his car. He blasted the AC, played Pink Floyd on the radio and caught me up on the surf forecast. Past the airport security, he handed me his pipe, a lighter, and a bottle of water. It felt good to be home.
I was away for two weeks but so much had happened it felt like months. La Guitarra had the same hot and homey vibe. I took a cold shower and started planning my next mission. Honduras was six hours south by car. There, I would get a new car permit and buy enough time to sell La Chichona. I needed to drive to the border, close El Salvador car permit, get a new one for Honduras, find a secure garage, sign the lease, and come back to La Guitarra by bus. Just thinking about that trip was exhausting. I went for a nap.
Sandra was back from surfing when I woke up. I told her about what happened in Las Palmas: the conversation with my dad, Alicja, and my money issues. She had been taking care of La Chichona in my absence and was truly sad to hear the news. “Nooo, it doesn’t feel right”, she said. I agreed, but time was not on my side, neither was money. La Chichona had to go.
Sandra brought me up to date with the gossips. There were two cool Kiwi boys staying in La Guitarra. They had flown from New Zealand to Chile and set up to surf all the waves of the Pacific coast, from Patagonia to Alaska. It took them six months to reach Colombia where one of them fell in love. A few weeks later, he decided to abandon his trip and return to Colombia. He flew the day I arrived; Winnie Pooh drove him to the airport. His friend, Nick, was now wondering what to do with his life.
Nick was super chill about it. He had no more reason to go to Alaska and was discovering the joys of traveling solo. We hung out on Sandra’s patio where he told me about all the surf spots he visited on his way up. Among them was one he missed: Playa Las Flores, halfway to the Honduras border. With no better plan in sight, Nick agreed to tag along until Las Flores. I would do the rest on my own. Sandra pitied me.
My dad was expecting a letter in Montreal so I asked Sam, my business partner, to pick up the mail. When I complained about my financial situation, Sam pointed that at least I was not in debt. He reminded me that I was ten grands below zero when I left his house to start La Chichona Life. Thank you, I guess.
Sam was sorting through a year and a half of forgotten mail to find my dad’s letter when he said:
- You got a letter from the CRA
- What’s that?
- Canada Revenue Agency.
- Fuck. That’s the last thing I need right now.
- It looks important. You want me to open it?
- Yeah I guess…
- It’s a check
- It’s a check for $ 9475.
- Dude. Don’t fuck with me. This is not the time.
- I’m serious. It's dated August 2018.
- You gotta be fucking kidding me! Turn on the video.
Sam was holding a check of $ 9475 with my name on it. Hysteria ensued.
- You had $ 9475 sitting in here since August 2018 and you did not even know it! I’m taking a cut.
- Hahahahahah take whatever you want hahahahahahahahaha
- This is a joke! You don't even deserve it.
It was a joke, a good one. He cashed the check and my balance got an extra zero. And just like that, La Chichona Life rose from its ashes.
Thank you Ô Canada!