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No traffic through the greater San Juan area. We made our usual Island drive rest stop in Hatillo at the El Buen Café for a late lunch, media noches all around plus some tostones. No rush to make Rincón before nightfall since the swell is very small.
St. Valentine's Day Swell. My son is still dog sick so it is off on dawn patrol solo with cafés con leche y pan de agua (no es caliente at the colmado on the rincon of Rincón). Make the first stops in Rincón where it was breaking very small. The swell has not yet arrived, not so surprising since the big snow storm'smovement was very slow. Headed north to check the usual places, didn't see anything terribly inviting and headed back to the villa. Breakfasted with my wife, drank some more coffee, read the newspaper and kept my eye on the indicator point from the vantage point of my beach level lanai. By noon the swell is beginning to show -- head out to make the rounds again. Lot's of west made the breaks line up in a funny way. Maria's is fairly crowded on the point - straight out is mostly closing out with all the west. Next option? Domes is loaded with longboarding gringos. Turn the page and keep on moving. PdD is lining up in a very peculiar way and Avalancha is breaking even better but I am not up for a long paddle out and solo surf. Check some other spots none of which are showing much form or size. End up back at PdP where 2 shortboarders and a bodyboarder are riding lefts just north of the usual takeoff zone. PdP proper is mostly dumping over and smaller. Funny thing the way this other peak is working - it sometimes teases with a right that barely yields a takeoff before it disappears into deeper water. But the lefts are working! Never, ever saw that before. As I wax up the others are calling it a day catching their last rides in. The paddle out isn't too tough but finding a good line up zone was a challenge. Caught a few waves, nothing special, until my last one, a powerful left that I worked with several top to bottoms after initially conservatily riding just down the line. Stoked. Caught the wave that makes the trip worthwhile (yeah, I still want more but this was good). The power of the waves makes me shake my head back and forth -- these were the fastest, most powerful waves since riding Pipeline nearly 11 months ago.
Post-session grinds: Stopped at a favorite colmado to pick up a ice cold Heineken, then at a nearby panaderia for a couple of chicken empanadillas and pan franceis, before heading to another local break for a late lunch. Dinner ended up being a slice of pepperoni pizza ('ay dios mio!) after doing the mountainside detour through the hills of Rincon as the city streets continue to be torn up 14 months later. Gotta get with the program, soon!
¡Que Lindo! Indicator swell is still showing. Grab a coffee and head for a surf check at Maria's. Yes, I know it's late at 7:30am, but 30+ cars are already parked with more flowing in and on to Domes. Still crowded as hell at the puntilla, others at Pistons and Dogmans. Way too crowded for me with more north showing in the swell. We head to alternate sites. It was looking good from Puntas and the prospects were sparkling from PdP. Park at Little Cheapou check point where there are about 6 bodyboarders on the peak , going lefts and rights. Walk up the beach with a chica bodyboarder. She asks where I am going out and I point and smile... she points and smiles at Little Cheapoo. I join a "crowd" of 4 shortboarders in perfect waves. Paddle out and initially setup up about 20 yards off the peak main secondary peak - nobody is riding the northern primary peak today. Not even there a minute when a nice, solid 6 footer rolls in and one of the guys smiles and says in Spanish, "Es tuyo, dale, dale." A couple of strokes and I am in and busting down the line. It is so good to feel the rail edge and fins working so well in this poweful surf. Everyone is catching plenty of waves as the crowd slowly diminishes over the next 90 minutes. Before long, I am alone in these perfect waves.After about an hour the wind picks up -- it's time to go in anyway. The sets are becoming irregular, 4' sets and 8' sets with no one else to line up for a bearing, usually not a big deal here, but there is a big construction project and some clearing on the beach that has disrupted by bearings. Catch a final ride in and walk back down the beach. Damn construction project cramps the parking. One can only hope that the reef won't be damaged and beach acccess isn't restricted. Catch an ice cold heini at my favorite colmado and drive back to the villa. Very satisfied.Sorry my son missed it with his cold - he will be good for tormorrow but today's session was special.
Family lunch at The Paradise: Alex and I split a huge mahi mahi criollo with rice and beans, my wife has chuletas and we all share plates of maduros and amarillos. El Capitan prepares my traditional jugo de china fresca con Ron Barrilito. More changes. The Capitan is retiring and The Paradise and adjacent building are being torn down and developed into something else. It will not be the same.
Wilderlogs. Alex joined me on the surf hunt this morning but wasn't feeling strong enough to paddle out and make it through the sets so opted for one more day of rest. We arrived a bit later than normal (8am?) but who would have expected two rows of cars already? Tons of gringo longboarders in full longboarding mode. Before long a bodyboarder and I had paddled well up the Wilderness break towards the House of Caca where we shared a peak and gave big time stinkeyes to any approaching logger... after having these beasts stalk us up several peaks after we'd snagged some good rides. Maybe they get tired of dropping in on each other, ha ha? Caught one of the hot Wilderness lefts for one of my rides of the day - smoker with a solid cover-up before getting smacked good on the final section.
Post session grinds: Cafeteria Borinqueña (sandwich de jamon, queso y huevo).
Boy Gets Tubed! Alex was stoked and ready to go out today. After a slow start he started snagging regular waves. Today's strategy was to hang on the inside and then snap the clean-up sets as the loggers scrambled over. I suffered only one drop-in, that on my first wave, but the person knew they'd done bad and gave me wide girth rest of the morning. Caught several very good rides but not that magical left... never in the right place at the right time! Alex easily had the ride of the day, a smoking deep tube ride that garnered several comments. It was a great getting wet again session... sorry he missed the session from two days ago :(
Post session grinds: Cafeteria Borinqueña sandwiches
for Alex (media noche) and Beth (ham, egg & cheese) and the roasted
half chicken, rice and beans plate for me (sandwich de jamon, queso y
All Gone. Dead swell. Probably should have paddled out into the 1-2' curls at PdP. It was insubstantial everywhere else we ventured. Maybe a half-dozen logs out at Wilderness - they weren't haveing much luck. Didn't even check Surfers Beach as a contest was scheduled. Jobos was mobbed but they were mostly playing bobbers, nothing breaking off the rock. Two gangs of surfing lesson groups - gag me with a spoon! Funny... they were doing as well on the inside 12-inchers as the crowd out in the line-up. Stopped at Surf Zone and picked up some fin teathers and a Surfing Magazine (it's been a year, ok?).
grinds: We were near Jobos so that means one thin... that superb
empanadillas stand. My carne empanadilla was good and the yucca
alcapuria was fantastic. Even Beth and Alex broke down and ate
empanadillas mariscos (shrimp, lobster and crab) and relleno de papa
Rip and Tear. Yeah! In the water <g> and with the gear :( Didn't lose any flippers but the left strap ripped loose during my last wave of the morning, for the second time... time to retire this good old trusty pair. Earlier in the day my board leash was nicely sliced by my board's fin as it wrapped all around as we tumbled at the end of an ill-timed re-entry on a hot barreling Wilderness left. Finally, my old left ML Churchill flipper split right below the foot pocket so there's not much life in it unless I can get hold of some of Terry Hendrick's super goo. I love this old pair because it was last of a breed when Churchill still made a nice real rubber flexible blade flipper. Tried on a pair of Churchill Slashers but wasn't completely pleased with the fit - the ML size was much too tight and cut into my ankle arch. The L size was a better overall fit but the ankle straps ride very low towards my heal and as a result just don't feel like they will stay on securely. Alex also slashed his hand and scraped a knee on the reef going out.
Back to the waves... PdP looked nicely, nobody out when we arrived and as we left. Exchanged greetings with a couple of the local boys, one of which probably was going to hit it (pick up truck man) and one that was gonna look around (rasta man). The lefts were breaking clean in the head-high plus range but Alex asked to check some other spots opting not to fight the probable southern current. Our tour ended in Wilderness proper where we found *nobody* in the water but a couple checking it out. In a bout ten minutes there were five of us paddling out and one or two joined us later but we spread out widely across the far east, main and rivermouth peaks. Alex snared several cranking waves and a couple of lefts came my way, one a long semi-shacker playful wall plus the one spitball machine; I also had one very memorable right from just to the east side of the parking lot to well into the cove. Now it's time to find a replacement pair of fins as I did not bring a back-up pair on this trip (doh! my excuse is the post 9/11 weight limits on luggage).
Post session grinds:
Alex/I ate heaping plates of arroz amarillo con gandules y habichuelas
rojas along with criollo roasted pollo. Panaderia/Cafeteria Borinquen.
Christmas Eve dinner at El Galleon: fillete de chillo con tostones
y "home fries" y langosta; pan de ajo; sorrullitos y bolas quesitos; y
Santa Surf Patrol. We cruised the coasts checking for waves venturing at far as Camuy. My old secret spot wasn't working but there were a dozen people out at nearby Los Alemendros (4-6') -- didn't paddle out there but talked for awhile with Auntie Chara who was shooting some pics of her nephew. I detoured via the old road to Jobos to treat Alex to some of the empanadillas from a special roadside stand just west of Playa Jobos. Buzzed by PdP and decided to take the plunge after exchanging "felicidades" greetings with some the local waveriders. Good session to test drive the new flippers, a pair of Vipers 5" Flexers (orange dot) (thanks Santa!). Quick evaluation: cut lower on the bottom of the foot than my Churchill's and most other flippers, digging in slightly half way up my foot -- need to get used to that. Once wet they slipped off and on easier. The vipers feature a soft pad along the top foot pocket lip and throughout the top half of the foot pocket. This model were not as nice as my flexi Churchill's for cruising through the water but did provide a bit more thrust during wave catching. They have a nice two way paddle kick through the water, don't completely torque the ankles, but do stress the calves more than my Churchill's. My right knee also became a little tweaked from the additional stress. Overall, very good but I still plan to check out the Tech2's. Tonight we dine on traditional holiday dinner at Cofresi!
We paddled out with a few others early on, joined by up to a dozen persons throughout the morning as we spread out over several hundred yards. Alex, myself and a funboarder eventually ended up riding the clean-up sets that rolled through just south of the Shithouse peak that set us up for rides of a couple hundred of yards. I basically fell into a 20-minute cycle, a little less consistent than might be desired but not bad all things considered. The swell was a heavy NE making for lining up with a take-off feature ashore kinda misaligning... but a tortuga friend helped out ;) Alex scored several great rides from the very beginning and had his best overall day. Water was clear and beautiful. The German couple was at Wilderness again and we met up with them later at Cafeteria Borinquen for post-session grinds.
Dropped Alex off at the airport this afternoon. AA Eagle ended up vanning him to SJU in near record time. Spoke with Ruth Lea today - she's all excited about our mutli-class reunion fiesta tomorrow - Keith Martin and family check into the Villa sometime today. Looks like a lively, sold out Villa for this evening.
Reunion Day. DP'd again for a few hours in sunny conditions w/beautiful water. Moved down the coast a bit from yesterday since Wilderness wasn't catching today's northeast very well. Rides were generally shorter and not as good as Brian's Place can get although I did catch some long rights mid- to late session any only a few lefts today, none like can work here (needs more north). The crowd consisted of about four Cubans from Miami, a couple of gringos and late in the session a couple of Island bodyboarders. The German couple had been at Wilderness but he said nothing much was happening. We talked story for awhile along with a gringo from New Hampshire. Not even close to epic but still another nice day in warm waters. Kirk and many of the Annapolis Surf Club guys would have enjoyed being here today ;)
Post-session grinds: sandwich de jamon, queso y huevos from Borinquen along with a cafe ex(s)presso con leche.
Now's time to prepare for
30+ yr. school reunion. Expected between 15- 20 of us from the old Escuelita
IAU, many of us whom have not seen each other since then... will I be in
shape for surfing tomorrow??? Three of my classmates, all mamacitas,
from our senior class of 12 will be here!
Recovery and rest day. Strong NW winds (generally on-shore throught the region) today and small swell. Time to give the bones a rest, maybe do some touristing, and recover from yesterday's multi-class reunion. Many former classmates were in attendance, in addition to schoolmates, including a couple that were accidental visitors just stopping by to Villa Cofresi, were recognized by one of the other attendees, and improtu joined our festivities. Ricardo Cruz, Ruth Lee Oran and I did our best to polish off several cans of fruit juice, bottles of some rum drink and a bottle of Barralito into the wee hours. Expect surf to improve in size and quality tomorrow and Tuesday, but winds will likely be unfavorable through Monday.
The Wildo Experience. Yep, the wind is still blowing hard from yesterday's front that passed through with scattered pineapple showers here and there. Since I somehow crawled out of bed after watching the Ravens defeat the Steelers in OT last night the car was put into automatic drive with my eventual destination being Wilderness, just in case. Was it worth the "Wildo Experience?" Who knows??? Just above Ruins the experience commenced as a Rehomo transplant eyed me longingly as I bumped down the potted, gutted and rolling mix of sand and tar road. El Numero Dos was making its needs known with each and every bounce along the beach road so somewhere near El Shithouse I pulled over for business. The winds must have been blowing 25 kts onshore and sideways - la caca was flying everywhere... and just as my joyful experience was reaching its climax there is El Pato Bravo gazing my way longingly for several seconds. Time for decisive action... hanging there I take a long deep swipe, raise my arm in full presentation as El Pato finally gets the message and meanders away. Next stop is Wilderness proper... as I pull up the regular parking spot an old man, reminiscent of El Mono in Tamarindo, the 45 yo version, approaches me frantically with wild gestures, his 24 inch machete waving all about. He wants to talk to me... I am not so sure... he continues to wave the machete like a crazy man... my car is positioned for a quick escape... turns out he is looking for his horse! I'm outta there! Stopped by Steps and Maria's on my return drive to Rincón - very small at the former and very poor conditions at the latter. Time for a siesta.
Getaway Day. Pre-packed most of our stuff the night before so we could get an early morning surf. Up pre-dawn and headed straight up to Wilderness where dawn broke slowly over the mountains. This is good because according to alt.surfing's Alvin Donovan the waves are bigger as the sun rises over the hill and mountains... and so it was since the wind and swell was smaller as we departed. Today was a better overall wave selection and riding day for me but less so for Alex who did very well yesterday. Two others and myself alternated the set waves on the eastern peak just beyond the parking lot w/Alex in-and-out as he as caught inside battling the incoming tide but set waves during paddle outs. We each saw several large turtles rising high in the swelling waves. One of my memorable waves was a crusher right from the throwing lip on the take-off until the end aobout 75 yds down the line--the lip and furball simply banged on me all the way! Also rode some very nice walls with steep drops and long sections to work with roundhouse cutbacks into the curl and down the line again.
Post session grind request
by Alex was a Panaderia Eileen (Aguada) criolla calzone. I treated myself
to a flan de vanilla and Café con leche. Also picked up half-pound
of pan fraceis for the trip home. After clenaing out the car, washing
down the surf gear, stripping the wax, getting showers and saying goodbye
to our friends at the Villa, we headed into Rincón for our getaway
lunch at The Paradise. Alex had their fresh tuna sandwich; Beth the chuletas
with arroz con gandules; and I feasted on a pastele with arroz con gandules.
Fresh squeezed jugo de china for all of us and a shared platter of tostones
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