Saturday, May 26, 2012

Machu What?

It's a very rare occurrence but it happens. Once in a blue moon I leave my surfboard behind and head for the mountains. A few moments of separation anxiety occur, but time apart is good for the soul. And what better cause for inland dwelling than the one and only Machu Picchu?

To be honest I wouldn't have gone but my friend is visiting from Brazil. Sometimes I need a third party to shake me out of my comfort zone and try something different. We arrived by domestic flight to Cusco. I was cold. I live exclusively in my flip-flops but it was clear that wasn't going to cut it anymore. The rain was pouring down soaking my freezing toes, and I had to buy a $1 blue poncho off a lady in the street. One mini van ride and a seriously overpriced but stunning train ride later we made it to our destination - the small town nestled in the mountains bellow Machu Picchu.

A strange mix pot of nationalities, the town is a tourist mecca attracting people from all over the world. It's a buzzing little place with so many different restaurants, hotels and some really nice hot springs. We spent the chilly evenings drinking red wine and playing Jenga. The first night I felt the altitude. I thought I was tired, had the flue or something - my head was pounding. Local remedies are always the best answer, after a  few cups of coca tea I was feeling a lot better.

The bus left for the ruins at 5:30 in the morning. A huge line of tourists huddled together in the cold waiting. While the history and structure of the ancient Inca ruins are incredible, it was the view that got me. I can't even explain it. It's like this little hole in the mountains, a platform nestled in a truly overwhelming mountain range with giant peaks towering in every direction.

We made the extra hike up to Huayna Picchu (also known as Wayna Picchu), a 8,920 ft peak overlooking the main ruins. There were so many stairs. I'm used to mountain hikes with a few steep parts separated by some flats but this was ALL stairs. Just climbing up and up and up with your legs on fire and the thin cold mountain air in your lungs. We stopped at the top then continued down the other side on a small trail leading to the Temple of the Moon. Half way down my legs were like noodles. With every step they were shaking, threatening to give out beneath me. Then on the way back up it started to rain. I double plastic bagged my camera gear and tried to hide under my $1 blue street poncho. But it was beautiful. The rain and the clouds, the cold and the never ending stairs, the big mountains staring down at me.

Coming back to Lima our flight was delayed by 5 hours. The airport isn't heated and the toilet in the waiting lounge was broken. My tennis shoes were completely soaked so I resorted to a serious fashion faux pas , I wore big wooly socks with my flip-flops. Now I'm reunited once again with mother ocean but a strange thing has happened - I'm dreaming of the mountains.

5:30am bus lines

I ate one of these for dinner. I'm sorry, but it tasted pretty good. 

Blue poncho high fashion 

James checking out the view

Stairs, so many stairs!

Drink anyone?

Local kids. Always good for a laugh.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cuba Parts

A few months have passed since my trip to Havana, but I still think about my friends there often. Cuba got under my skin and I can't seem to shake it.

Right now I'm trying to get the surfers of Havana a new graphics card for their computer. It's broken, and the computer is their lifeline - it's used to co ordinate the visits of international surfers and donations. Getting them the part is challenging because of two things:
1). The computer (like everything else in Cuba) is old.
2). Nothing gets into Cuba via mail.

I have to find the next person visiting Cuba and send them the part to take in their luggage. This card will aslo allow the computer to run editing software, which the surfers can use to edit pictures and videos to help share their stories...

So, is anyone going to Cuba soon? Let me know!

I can't wait to go back and visit again. Next time I'll be prepared. I'll take the time to fundraise properly, be more organised and definitely won't need to be rescued by the Canadian Embassy. I have so much amazing video footage from my trip to edit together, but it's going to take time. So for now here's a clip by my fellow Aussie Blair Cording created from his recent visit to Havana. He founded (along with the head of Cuban surfing Eduardo) the Royal 70 non profit organisation to help the surfers and skaters of Cuba.

Here is their story.

mi familia Cubana de surf

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Gold. Absolute Gold.

Wow I just had the best discovery. Seriously made my whole day, even my entire month. Check it out. A Surfing magazine from 1990. I'm staying at a little guest house in Punta Hermosa just south of Lima. In amongst a pile of old magazines there it was, staring at me in all its fluoro glory.

The cover was epic. The smiling surfer, clad in a brightly coloured wetsuit with his hands ecstatically raised in the tube. Quick someone give me a double high five! And each page just got better and better. Tacky plastic brightly coloured watches, electro sunglasses and the bikinis... oh the bikinis. It even had Kelly as a grom, and Kalani Robb as an up and coming 12 year old.

But the most interesting part was a small article entitled "Beach Girls: Women and Surfing". It features comments from various pro surfers on the development of the women's professional surf scene. The scary part? All the comments could have been from today. Have a read and see what you think.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Living Lefts

My legs are in pain. Not just my legs, but every little bit of skin not protected by my spring suit. It was a war zone out there. Like dodging landmines. I'm talking about a serious jellyfish infestation. At one point a giant one wrapped itself around my legs and got stuck in my leash.

So why would I put myself in such an unpleasant position? The answer is simple - the world's longest left.

Chicama. The stuff dreams are made of. I've been blessed to surf many long breaks, but this place is something else. There's this huge bay. And these lines. These big lines just roll. They wrap. And the wave goes forever.

You take off outside a big rock. It's like ok, a few turns, doing good. Then another one, then a cut back. Now my legs are tired. I'll just sit back on this wave and watch the people go past. Then it hits a section so I'll start racing. Now I'm tired again. I'm flying past heads bobbing the water. There goes another boat. I squeeze in a few more turns then watch as the wave races away from me. I'm too tired and slow to keep up anymore.

Yesterday I had the longest wave of my life. It must have gone for a kilometer.

Now if that wasn't enough check out the place I'm staying at with the magazine, Chicama Surf Resort ( They wash and dry your wetsuit, and the hot tub and sauna are patiently awaiting your return from the surf. And then there's the boat. After the longest ride of your life it picks you up and drops you right back at the peak.

Today is the last day of my work trip. Time to kiss goodbye the life of surf resort luxury. Time to welcome the return of the dodgy budget accommodation and chicken busses. But most importantly it's time to make a decision. Do I stay or do I go?

Well hello there world's longest left

How big was the jelly fish? This big!

Local Peruvian dinners

The one and only Chicama Surf Resort