EDITORS NOTE: The following is a transcription of events and experiences that took place during the filming of Road To Solitude by Isaac Zoller this past summer.
A Last Minute Surf Trip To Avoid The Lockdown And Keep The Sanity.
Last time I caught up with you guys I was just back from a trip to Tavarua, Fiji. Since then it has been a whirlwind of stay at home orders and travel bans. With each passing day new rules and restrictions have pulled us further and further from the road. For us who are used to traveling much of the year it was a shock to the psyche. I stopped looking at swell forecasts across the world and started to focus on projects at home. Months passed and summer arrived in California. Sunny days helped the lockdown feel a bit brighter, but the lack of swell and dense crowds was starting to get to me.
Once I finished my new surf film “GONE,” it was time to start thinking of ways to escape. It was the beginning of fall and Mexico had lifted its travel ban to the world. I started to plan a trip down to Puerto Escondido to chase some big walls of water on my brand new 8 foot gun. Everything was booked; 2 weeks in paradise where I would push myself and hopefully come back with some fresh footage. But 2020 had other plans. Just two days before our flight left for Mexico I got word from my friend in Puerto that the town and the wave would be shut down until after Dia de los Muertos in November. The police put yellow tape up and everything. Evading cops patrolling the beach for gringo surfers didn’t sound worth the hassle. We would have to pivot our plans and figure out another stretch of coast to sneak off to.
I’d been hearing mixed things about the points south of Puerto being closed off to the public. Villages shut down their roads, which is the only access point to much of the waves outside of panga boat. The headache of logistics was building. There was a veil of possibility behind a wall of noise, mixed in with some lost in translation moments with locals down there via email and Facebook messenger. I’ve had trips with question marks going in but this was on another level. Accessibility. Conditions. Sand quality. All up in the air of chance, the only certainty is that there would be a week of swell in the South Pacific and that was enough for us to pull the trigger and get on that flight south.
“...THERE IS ONLY SO MUCH FORESIGHT YOU CAN UNCOVER BEFORE YOU LOSE SIGHT OF THE PRESENT. THE MORE WE RELY ON ON FORECASTING TOOLS, THE MORE WE TRY AND SEE THE FUTURE, THE MORE OF A HEADACHE IT BECOMES..."
Flying over villages nestled amidst dense jungle and canyon ridges I was reminded that no trip is ever the same. There is only so much foresight you can uncover before you lose sight of the present. The more we rely on forecasting tools, the more we try and see the future, the more of a headache it becomes. I always wonder what traveling surfers thought processes were like in the 1970’s, when surf trips were planned around full moons. No reason to overthink it, just go and see for yourself. Now instead of going for a month we can go for a week and pinpoint exactly which day will provide the goods. The romance of winging it and stumbling across the perfect day a la Bruce Brown in the Endless Summer is impractical these days. Not saying it still doesn’t happen though.
Walking off the plane onto the runway tarmac I’m greeted with the thick warmth of the Mexican tropics. The sun has already set and twilight is fading into darkness as we grab our boardbags and find our driver Simi. A short 15-minute drive and we are eating Al Pastor tacos and drinking cold cervezas. After the headache of plans the last week it only took some local tacos, cold beer and warm air to remind me it’s not all about the waves, just being on the road feels good.
The following days we were up at dark driving the windy jungle roads south towards a wave that we had access to. An hour of anticipation every morning was enough for me to amp up no matter what the waves were like upon arrival. Lucky enough each day was better than the last. Multiple swells allowed for a week straight of overhead surf, a rare occurrence on any surf trip. After going from surfing small inconsistent waves all summer I was finally able to feel out my surfing. We would surf for around six hours a day, milking every last drop of opportunity each day.
A hot sun, warm water, clean empty waves, cold beers and good friends. This is the trip I had needed to take to keep my year going, to remind myself why I do this. Over the course of a week we had scored some great waves and were able to compile some cool footage. It reminded me to trust my instincts, to get on that plane, to uncover new experiences. Covered in sea lice and mosquito bites I got back on the plane satisfied with a mission complete, now the question is which country will let me in this winter?