A Love Letter to Puerto Escondido
Dear Puerto Escondido,
You have become something of a summer home away from home for me over the last few years.
This year, it had been such a slow summer for you that I started to wonder if I was ever going to look at a forecast and see anything substantial. I finally couldn’t take it any more and came to you the last week of July for a 6- to 8-foot swell, because I needed to ride a wave with some power. Then it happened, like it always seems to in Puerto; you go for one swell, and then a bigger one pops up behind it…and then another. The year I got that amazing XXL tow-in barrel there it was like that. I went for a swell. I was supposed to stay for ten days, and I ended up changing my ticket twice and staying for almost a month and two more big swells.
When I saw the next big swell was going to hit the first week of August, I cringed a little bit, because I knew I had to be back in Cali for obligations for three of my sponsors during the US Open. Even though it would have been so much easier and cheaper to just change my flight and stay for the swell, as a professional athlete, I knew it was wrong to blow off my sponsor obligations. So I paced around my hotel in Mexico all afternoon looking up fights and then bit the bullet and booked a pricey flight to come right back down to Puerto the night of my last U.S. Open promo.
I spent a hectic 72 hours in California at the U.S. Open and then boarded my flight back to Mex. I arrived in the afternoon the day the swell peaked. I was texting with Edwin Morales as soon as I landed. “How is it?”
Edwin: “It’s HUGE and perfect, get your ass here, Chi Chi!!!”
(Chi Chi is my nickname in Mexico. They call me Chi Chi Rodriguez)
By the time I got to Playa Zicatela, the wind had turned and was messing it up. I checked into my hotel where my friend, Maui charger, Paige Alms was waiting for me. She had flown in the day before for the swell and had gotten to surf the morning session with the boys. She gave me the run-down of who was charging, the usual suspects: Greg Long, Rusty Long, Mark Healey, Coco Nogales, Oscar, Skindog, Alex Gray, and Will Dylan. First-timer in Puerto, Kohl Christensen had an amazing opening session scoring a bunch of big barrels.
Rusty had a really bad wipeout and dislocated his shoulder. Greg sat for hours like he always does and bagged the wave of the day, which will more than likely win the “Wave Of The Summer” contest.
It sounded like a super exciting day, and I was amping to get out there and try to get a bomb for myself. I watched it for a while. Healey was out there and managed to find a super big hollow left that he got spat out of. That was all I needed to see, so I grabbed my 9′ 0” and paddled out with Alex Gray and Skindog around 4 PM. As soon as we got out, the wind picked up and the tidal rips destroyed the line-up. We stayed out for a few hours, hoping it would change, but it just kept getting worse. I caught a crappy little corner to come in and ended up getting caught inside and pounded a bit.
I heard it glassed-off before dark, but I was exhausted and decided to save my energy for the next morning.
It was smaller the next morning but there were still some solid waves coming through.
I paddled out just in time to see Alex Gray get spit out of two barrels. I am always so impressed with Alex’s barrel riding skills. I took the next wave after Alex’s and was stoked to make it out of a barrel of my own!
Coming out of one barrel at Puerto can instantly turn a bad session into a good session. And let me tell you it is really easy to have a bad session out there. Puerto is a very tricky wave. Sometimes all the perfect barrel photos can be very misleading. There are a lot of closeouts, and there are a lot of “phantom chops” and weird textures that the riptides can create. The barrels sometimes go from massive at the take-off to teeny-tiny and bullet-train fast on the end.