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puerto escondido

Mattresses in the Sand

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Mattresses in the Sand

I have long felt that the best thing about living in a place is leaving it. Even if just for a day, some perspective is refreshing. And movement is a catalyst, it activates and invigorates, generating creative energy. I have needed something to combat the stagnation, the sense of lifelessness that has surprised me in this beach "paradise."

On this day, I packed in under twenty minutes, post-surf and pre-breakfast, and I didn't want to go. I'm glad I did. I needed the motion.

In a car full of acquaintances, we headed on a generally unplanned trip in search of a so-called circus in the nearby town of Mazunte. We scouted a beach, rumored to be empty enough to camp on, and found it entirely perfect for the goal. We went back to town, most drank too much mezcal, none could see the circus through the crowd, all ate tacos, wandered to a dance party, and at some point made it to our beach. 

I don't know how, because I was sleeping in the back of the truck, snuggled soundly with a stocky pit bull. I had thrown in the towel after a dreadlocked drunk stumbled over his singular Birkenstock to demand that I dance with him or I would prove myself a square. Happy to be a square this night, I gratefully accepted sleep while those more energetic than I kept working at the dance floor. 

In the morning I emerged from my tent to find everyone entwined around the remnants of the campfire. After playing in the surf, topless sun-bathing and cowboy coffee we made our way home — I rested, the others exhausted — all glad to have had an experience outside the routine.

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The Surf Gods

“Surfing, alone among sports, generates laughter at its very suggestion, and this is because it turns not a skill into an art, but an inexplicable and useless urge into a vital way of life.” - Matt Warshaw

I now know what any surfer can tell you: there is no experience more spiritual than being with the waves.

On the night before, we rented boards and went to sleep early, excited to visit an uninhabited beach with waves rumored to be even more wonderful than those of the beach on which we were sleeping on. At 5:30 am, 15 minutes before my alarm and 45 before sunrise, I awoke ready to go. In the darkness before dawn it was still cold so I pulled my shorts and sweatshirt on over my bikini. Out on the street I met the others, all bed-headed and rubbing the sleep out of their eyes. 

The five of us stacked our boards on top of the taxi we had prearranged and crammed ourselves into the four seats. We arrived at the break, La Barra, with only the slightest hint of light in the sky, stars still bright enough to reflect on the surface of the estuary and an honest-to-goodness white horse grazing untethered in the mist. I felt my cellphone in my pocket, pulled it out and took the most beautiful photo of my pals leaning on their boards against the backlight of the rising sun. 

It's the last thing my phone would ever do. At this moment I discovered that we would have to swim across a deep outlet to get to the beach and there was no way my bundle of clothing I had brought for warmth could possibly stay dry. And so I sacrificed my phone to the surf gods. 

I was rewarded by catching my first wave ever in the wild rush of some very powerful surf (such that probably should have injured me), emerging unscathed and exhilarated. Sitting on our boards out behind the breaking waves, we watched the sun, bright as blood, rise over the edge of the ocean. And over and over the sea took me and my shit-eating grin down, let me test the strength of my lungs while it held me under before spinning me back out into the air. 

After an hour of furious paddling and gallons of seawater in my nose I swam to shore, much closer to God, or death, or whatever it is that I felt more strongly present than ever before. 

Perhaps it’s good that I can’t share any photos from this day, and that I can’t look at any of them for myself. I remember the day more viscerally than I could if I had looked at it through a lens. 

And now every day without my phone is some kind of blessing.  I’m liberated from a kind of pressure to be reachable on a level that is unnatural. Every day, the only thing I’m now responsible to is my own gut instinct, without research or influence — just a glance at the water and what it calls for me to do in it. 

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