East of Heart

The Glass Slide

Sunday afternoon and the first day of an enormous Pacific swell. Fabio and I had just made it out to the major wave break line at the back of Makaja beach. After diving through a last series of shakingly powerful waves, we were now sitting on our boards in their rolling trail catching our breathes. Five other guys were out there with us spaced out in rough parallel. A huge crashing wave suddenly appeared 50 metres ahead on the horizon. I’d seem him stretching on the beach: a big 6-foot, far-gazing, thick-necked, hard-built aquanaut. You knew he was a master out there. Now, just as everyone was spooking ahead of the oncoming challenge, he woke us up with arms outstretched and pointing: “MOVE OUT TO THE SIDES!”. I felt like a just-drafted Spartan getting my first glimpse of the Persian army.

Short of passions of the heart, I’ve never experienced something so insidiously enthralling as surfing. I’ve so far had eight sessions this time around. I’m mostly still building up strength, learning to read the waves and getting used to being thrashed around. You need to be really strong, agile, have foresight and respect for the ocean to hack it in this sport. Yet you’re really just setting yourself up to be a conduit for the elements.

I often leave the beach shivering, thinking that I’ve finally had enough, but the second I let my conscience drift on the bus home, I start to imagine being back out there. In the morning I wake up and check the wave report. I push myself to eat a lot and healthily so that I may have what it takes for the next outing. It’s gotten to the point where I even go to sleep re-imagining what I’ve lived in the waves.

I have four days left in Lima. I have a gut feeling that it might be enough to follow through my first big wave. Not a wave where either way it hits you you’re going to get traction. I mean one of these 2m behemoths that you have to swim out 300m to see swell, that turns into a beautiful glass slide just before tumbling over. I’ve gone down the slide, even stood up for a few seconds, but I’ve yet to survive it in flight through to its last break. After that I can take the plane.