THE STORY OF LA CHUPAROSA #1: Could this be our Rincon?
For our first trip to Playa La Saladita, we didn’t actually stay there. I looked online and the places available to rent were pretty basic, fine maybe for folks on a surf safari, but not for a guy and his non-surfing wife. We needed something a little cushier so Ann could hang out by the pool while I spent the morning surfing. So, I booked a casita at The Inn at Manzanillo Bay in Troncones.
I’m a dawn patrol, early riser guy, so I woke up early and quietly took my board out to the car and drove in the dark to Saladita. Back then, the road from Los Llanos out to the beach was a dirt, ungraded adventure and since this was August there were puddles (or should I say ponds) that were so deep, I wasn’t sure if my little rented Nissan Tsuru would emerge from the other side. It took a good twenty minutes just to drive from town to the beach (a drive that’s about 3 minutes now).
When I arrived, it was still dark and there was lightning hitting the ocean out near the horizon. I watched carefully as the daylight snuck up to be sure that it was moving away as opposed to closer. When it got light enough to see the break, my jaw dropped. Beautiful head high waves peeling forever. The fact that they were breaking the opposite of what I was used to seeing was a bit disorienting, but I was EXCITED to get out there! Occasional lightning flashes in the distance were still getting my attention, but they didn’t seem to get any closer so I started to paddle out.
When I got out to the peak and turned around, the view took my breath away. The sun was rising over the mountains in the distance and the curve of the beach with the silhouette of palm trees was postcard perfect. At that point, in 2005, there weren’t very many buildings on the beach. Just North of the point there were a few bungalows, restaurants and fishing boats. A bit further North there were a few houses with a lot of open land in between.
I had a memory of sitting out in the lineup at Rincon (California’s “Queen of the coast”) and thinking how amazing it would have been to be able to buy a little piece of land on that beach fifty years ago when it was still somewhat affordable. A real pipe dream. Then looking at beautiful Playa La Saladita I thought, “ok buddy, dreams come true for those who take the leap.”
Wow, really, buy land in Mexico… I don’t know… at that point the only other guy out there gave a whistle which woke me from my revery. The set was coming. It was big. He got the first wave, and I swallowed as the next was coming towards me. I took off, bottom turned and for the first time, had a big beautiful Saladita wave right in my face. I would like to have seen my expression. Eyes like saucers I’m sure. My experience had always been having the peak at my back. Way less confrontational…
I took one look at that large wall of water rising so close, and I fell right off my board!