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As you roll into Boca de Pascuales you see a couple of hotels, some small palapas, a couple of tiendas and some umbrellas on the beach. About a fifty yards into town, there is a break in the palapa restaurants and you see the surf. Saturday night was definitely the biggest we saw it. Roughly the end of the W-SW swell that we had hoped to pick up in Barra de Navidad. I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget seeing that first wave, some unknown surfer silhouette charging down the face of this gaping, wedging, monster of a wave; a solid 3-4 feet overhead and pounding. I’m certain that Pascuales is the heaviest wave I’ve ever surfed (seen) and supposedly this was the end of the swell. You should’ve have been here yesterday was the going mantra (for you non-surfers, this is always the going mantra as surfing stories and fish stories have a lot in common).

I paddled out the next morning into slightly smaller but still grande waves. All it does is barrel – over and over and over again. For me, there is no shoulder, there is no late take off. No whack on the lip. Just air drop off the peak and hold on until it either swallows me up or I get spit out, arms held high like I just got that perfect 10 you needed to win the world title. Morning number two was slightly smaller still (the pictures are from this day), but still not for the faint of heart. I was in the water at 7:00 and by 8:30 my shoulders were burning but not as much as my stoke. I had managed my way into a couple of meaty ones and lucked into a full cover-up backside barrel. Needing a bit of rest I paddled out the back to recover a bit. A huge roller came right at me, not wanting to look the kook that I am, I turned and jammed my tail into the face, two strokes and to my feet as fast as I could manage, apparently not quite fast enough. I made the drop but the barrel was already cranking over. It picked me up spun me over the falls and then just for fun scooped me a second time.

Wha???? No leash?

The thing about Pascuales is that it is super shallow, maybe only 18 inches in some spots. The wave comes from deep water and smacks the shallow sand bar pitching the lip of the wave over the front on just about any swell from any direction. I must have looked a bit stunned by the time I made it back to the peak. A local asked if I was ok and then a Mexican paddled over and said “poco lento” (a little slow) while holding his thumb and index finger about two centimeters apart. “Are you sure” I asked rhetorically in English, turned and stroked into the next wave that came my way, a smaller left… the other thing about Pascuales is that the backwash off the beach can double up the waves or, worse, pitch a launch ramp about half way down the take-off that sends you uncontrollably hurtling through the air while the face of the wave chases you down for some more punishment.

That was the last wave of the day for me. Natalie and I might walk down the beach in search of a less pitchy wave that we can surf together. We’ll kick it here another day or two and then head south to softer, gentler, kinder, breaks when the next “real” swell fills in.

For the whole set of surf pics check out the flickr set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/22504035@N04/sets/72157625420530076/

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We had received some advice to check in at Edgar’s hotel and camp there upon arrival to Pascuales. We drove in and checked it out but it wasn’t exactly set up for the van, lots of tent campers, a board shaper putting halved boards back together, and a fun looking scene, but definitely not the best van camping. We wandered down the road stopping to ask about good spots to camp. One set of surfers suggested a beach palapa where we could plug in to the adjacent hotel for some power. While a great spot, and right in front of the break, the two tons of trash piled under the palapa wasn’t exactly inviting. We then ran into a local gringo named Alan. Alan was about as stoned as could be and still be coherently walking in a straight line and giving advice and directions. He took a look at our rig, our most common conversation starter and suggested that New Zealand Dave had a good spot for us to park around back. “Just head down the road, it’ll turn to sand and then it is the only round palapa in the row.” At the time the directions seemed a little Mexican style, no real turns or landmarks, just “go that way and you’ll figure it out.” Pascuales is a pretty small place though and those directions turned out to be pretty much spot on. We pulled up and Dave was sitting out on his front bench watching the waves roll in as we found to be his usual.

We chatted for a bit and showed him our Raglan sticker on the van, he showed us around to the back where we pulled in the gate and into our accommodations for the next couple days. Kiwi Dave’s was exactly the sort of place I had hoped we’d be staying in all along. A couple of toilets, a shower, a small kitchen with propane burners, hammocks and a ping pong table. Throw in a good book swap library and what more could you want. Dave and his brother Pete have a little plot, fenced off and in process of being officially titled. A bit of a surfer’s paradise.

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I’m a pretty big fan of Pardon the Interruption, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon are the best analysts in sports. Kornheiser is maniacal and a bit off his rocker but an incredibly astute observer an unabashed at telling it like it is, no matter who is offended. Wilbon provides the more even keeled counterbalance and a little bit of street cred while dolling out some actual journalistic reporting. For the past couple years they have been espousing the death of the sport of boxing. To listen to them the entire sport will fade into relative anonymity alongside horseracing, bowling, and curling.

Our first night in Pascuales, was Saturday night, the night of the Pacquiao-Margarito bout. I had heard that they’d be showing the fight on the street outside the local tienda so I wandered down the road for a beer and a look. About 30 Mexican locals gathered in the parking lot, grilling, downing Corona Familiar cervezas, and shouting at the T.V. About 20 more sat scattered amongst the tables and bar of the restaurant next door. It reminded me of the early Tyson fights, when pay-per-view wasn’t solely relegated to the UFC crowd.

The locals didn’t care who you were as long as you weren’t a Pacquiao fan. They fed myself and some Aussie blokes carne asada and fish tacos and took turns running inside the store to sell more beer. Throughout the under-cards, which were mostly Mexican fighters, the crowd was evenly split, even when a kid from Sinaloa was losing to an American. But once the Pacquiao bout was underway there were no mixed allegiances. Unfortunately for the crowd Margarito, despite being substantially taller with about seven inches more reach, was no match for Pacquiao and his relentless two footed assaults. I’m not sure what the official score cards had but I only gave two rounds to Margarito (Pacquiao won by unanimous decision). But those were two of the most fun boxing rounds I’ve ever seen. The locals would yell and cheer and call both men unrepeatable slurs that almost always ended in madre. Boxing is alive and well in Mexico. Oh yeah, in the Philippines, they want Pacquiao to run for President, not exactly a sign of pending death there either.

 

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