- That's a cool riff man. Where is it from?
- Thanks! I don't know, I usually just play my own stuff
- Oh cool, you have other songs?
- Yeah a few more. I play in a rock band.
With the rainy season came bigger swells, and older crowds. La Guitarra's new guests were more seasoned. They had grey hair and wrinkles. Older travellers split into two groups: the parents and the non-parents or rock stars. The parents attended their kids. The rock stars had scars, tattoos and unusual lifestyles. By default, I belonged to the rock stars.
My partner in crime was a long-term solo traveller around my age. A cheerful blond who knew how to take it easy. She also quit the rat race to pursue her passion, to live a healthier life. Now she rides powder in the Alpes for half the year, the other half she rides waves. Besides the adventurous lifestyle, her signature was her laugh. A loud and explosive laugh that makes you want to be part of it. Her name was Sandra, Sandra Tranquilo.
From our hammocks, Sandra and I pitied the parents for their non-stop chores and responsibilities. They rarely stayed still, always doing something for their kids, family first. In contrast, the rock stars acted based on their desires, free of responsibilities. Obsessed by freedom, they planned little and went with the flow. They were envied by most. The difference in lifestyles made me question. Can a rock star become a good parent?
Everyone in El Tunco loved Sandra. She was a cool surfer girl, charming and chill. Thanks to her I met the popular locals. One of them looked like a friend of mine from Morocco. He was an older beach boy that had the same look, the same job and even the same nickname as my friend! Because of his dark skin, they called him Negro.
Negro moved to la Guitarra with a much younger girl. It was strange but who were we to judge? He did not give a fuck anyway. He had an uncommon lifestyle as well, working on his own terms. He cured his hangovers with THC and triggered Sandra's laughter at every chance. He lived through the Salvadorian civil war in the 80s and told us what life was like under curfew. Negro shared all the shenanigans of his former years. He was an all-around hustler, an experienced rock star.
Our trio was soon joined by a professional musician, Marius from Norway. We jammed, surfed and partied together. He was a rock star, a storyteller and an extreme snowboarder. Him and Sandra talked about powder like cocaine addicts.
We discussed the place family had in our lives. In his late thirties, Marius admitted that he would love to have a family. The problem was that he enjoyed his life way too much to spare time for kids. I mean, travelling the world to surf, snowboard and rock the stage... Sandra and I understood. Sex, drugs and rock & roll.
Every morning we would listen to Negro's waves report like the call for prayer. Surf sessions paced our days, and hammock time happened in between. The four of us were chilling when Marius got curious about Negro's female company.
- So... you moved in with your girlfriend?
- No, my girlfriend is in Australia.
- Oh okay...and that girl with you is...?
- Ah! That's my daughter. She's fifteen.
I choked and coughed out the smoke, feeling cheated and struggling to make sense.
- YOU are a father ???
- Yes, a father of two. Check out my second one, she's so cute.
Indeed Negro was a father, and a responsible one. Everyday he spent time with his daughter and had long term plans to reunite with his family. We didn't see it because we assumed he was one of us. He lived like a rock star, yet he attended his responsibilities as a father.
I could not conceive how one could embark on an adventure if a child depends on them. Negro said that life was the best adventure. And once you become a parent something happens within you. Your selfishness and personal desires don't matter anymore. You just shift your priorities, that's what good parents do.
It was not the first time someone had told me this. And even though my time hadn't come yet, seeing Negro juggling both lifestyles inspired me. I was looking forward to experiencing that change too, hopefully before it was too late.
Being a rock star is selfish and fun. Being a parent is selfless and exhausting. But being a rock star AND a good parent is to me the ultimate challenge. A delicate mix of personal growth and family life. Adulthood done right.
Nature was calling...