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Transit Day. Clean sailing through check-in, security, departure and arrival. This year we flew AA out of BWI on a Boeing 757. Landed at 12:30pm, secured our luggage and caught the shuttle to the National Car Rental lot where there was a 2008 Camry waiting for us (could have used the GMC Envoy we had last year as it turns out - the car we needed for the roads down at Wilderness). We pulled into El Buen Café for our customary lunch. We unpacked, ordered a traditional piña colada, finned up the board and ran into town to pick up a few items. The Double A Baseball Convention was at Villa Cofresí making it more crowded than ever before. We will time next year's trip to coincide with the completion of the convention!
Reconnection Day. The alarm went off around 6:00am. I was treated with a solid 3-4' with frequent head high sets on a shallow left reef. Our crowd topped out at 5 of us for a short while but it was mostly just 2 or 3 of us all morning long. Nice to catch some solid leftovers before the long flat swell. Grinds: A jamon, huevo y queso sandwich from the Panaderia Gabriel, washed down with café. The Double AA Baseball Convention is in full swing at our villa. Caught a movie after dinner at RicoMini.
Lazy Days. Nada mucho. Surf es muy flat. Lazy days of reading the San Juan Star, drinking café and Heinekens and piña coladas. I dawn patrol'd to check the surf on a couple of mornings, including one day all the way up to Wilderness, Surfers Beach, Jobos and beyond. My jaw dropped when I saw 8 people out at one of my "secret spots" next to La Crica de Marta. I turned around and drove back to the villa. Sandwich criollos at The Brothers in the evening and arroz con pollo at Bambinos on another evening. Paranderos woke me up at 3:30am with their borachando and revelry on Sunday evening... Ate dinners twice at RicoMini in Mayagüez before going to the movies.
Found the new location of The Paradise Restaurant. However, it was 4pm and closed. We will stop again soon.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008. Day Trip to Ponce. Our first stop was the old panaderia down near the water in Mayagüez, Panaderia Franco, renown for their brazo gitano (jelly roll cake). We grabbed late morning sandwiches of jamon, huevo y queso, followed by the complimentary slice of brazo gitano topped with a scoop of helado vanilla. The main attraction on today's road trip was a visit to the Ponce Museum of Art (Museo de Arte de Ponce). The MAP has an excellent Pre-Raphaelite collection and a special exhibition of David Schnell, who simply blew my mind. His creations had so much movement it felt like being in the fur ball of a 15' hold down. The regular collection had some nice work by El Greco, Velázquez, Murillo y Goya; Rubens and Van Dyck. Flaming June was a particularly nice piece (by Fredric Leighton).
We dined on those great Kaplash empanadillas on the return trip home.
Thursday, January 17, 2008. Surf Check at Wilderness. Hoped to catch some early fill-in at Wilderness earlier today but the rains along the north coast made the road impassable without a 4WD. Coming out of a several day flat spell with two back-to-back swells on their way... first one should fill in nicely overnight. Swell #2 peaks on Mon/Tue, 5-10' (7' swell/13-14 sec) out of the N/NNE/NE, so there should be plenty of fun if the wind cooperates. Grabbed some lunch at Panaderia Borinquen - roast chicken and turkey plus arroz y habichuelas, and headed back to Villa Cofresí. Tomorrow is dawn patrol as the surf fills in overnight:
PR NW Forecast of 1/17/2008
Night and Day. 4 to 7 foot, doble session, first at a very crowded Domes (30+?) and later in the morning at one of my spots, one of the hardest breaking rights, with only 5 of us. Did manage to get a nice cover up at Domes but otherwise it was uneventful there. TdR was a whole different story :) Caught and rode some great waves and likewise some wordl clas hold downs ala snow globe. Life is good. Grinds: Stopped by the new location of the Paradise Restaurant but apparently they have not opened for business yet. Found a good panaderia on the plaza for a good cubano and pollo, arroz y habichuelas. Need to find the name and take a picture to add to my area restaurant list.
Turbo Thrusters. Almost achieved dawn patrol today! Hit the road at 7am and drove straight to PdP where one person appeared to be checking it out (later id'd as Edwin). Drove into town to pick up a café con leche and check out the other spots. Headed back to PdP, waxed up and paddled out. The bodyboarder, Edwin, grabbed his board after I made it to the line-up and joined me about 10 minutes later. The waves appeared to be around 4 to 5 feet from the road with some larger sets rolling in. Indeeed, it was a couple of feet larger with picture perfect overhead lefts pitching and breaking steep and fast. The water was beautiful with the throwing lips lit up brilliant white by the sun from the east. Like yesterday the waves were breaking powerfully. It seems that towards the end of every wave I was being hurled out of the pocket and spit off my board and thrown into the washing machine. I am lucky to not have hit the reef today. Half the time the succeeding waves pushed me in over the shallow inside reef resulting in a couple of fin grinds on my 5" carbon fiber center fin. After just over two hours we were both beat between the northerly current and the inside poundings. But completely stoked. Edwin was so tired that he was driving away he noticed that his board and fins were still laying against the tree stump! Grinds: tbd.
Day Off. Took the day off with a drop in the swell in preparation of waves on Monday and Tuesday. Read the Sunday paper, breakfasted at the Villa, watched some football, and dined on filete de chillo ajillo at the Villa and Beth had churassco, all very tasty. It rained most of the day so we spent a leisurly day mostly indoors.
MLK Day Surf. Up just past daylight, I checked the indicator point. There was definitely some swell but it was hard to tell how much the forecasted 5-10' NE was wrapping. Bypassing Maria's and Domes, my first surf check was PdP, which I watched for a couple of minutes and then went to get a cafe and pan frances. Drove back, doused myself with sunblock, waxed up and paddled out to be the lone rider. The water was super glassy the first hour - you could see every ripple from fish or turtles swimming underneath the water surface. Ended up having my best riding session of the trip. The waves weren't the best but were plenty good. However, I felt much more confident riding and started do many more maneuvers and challenging sections. Very good session overall including some fun tubitos and sideslips on the inside section.
Checked out a very crowded Domes and Marias, both of which were very crowded. Domes was showing consistent 4-5' surf with some bigger sets while Maria's looked about 2-3' and packed. It is really depressing to see so many softtop riders who think they can ride 1st and 2nd rock! Dogman's looked very clean on the drive south and Tres Palmas was showing some minor swell capture as it is about one half mile out and better situated to catch the NW 14 sec swells.
Day of Rest. Did not surf... swell is out of the NE today and not wrapping. Looks like 6' on the north coast. Checked a few spots in. my neighborhood for the hell of it but took a pass to save myself for tomorrow while the swell fills in overnight from the north. Walked around the town of Rincón during the afternoon.
Ay, Bendito, Thumpers Bueno! Twilight surf check from the porch confirmed the sounds from the waves pounding during the early morning - the north swell has arrived. Went straight to my favorite spots for a check. PdP didn't look to be the spot but the swell was showing. TDLR didn't seem to be working either. Time to grab a cafe and see what happens. Back to PDP which now looked more ridable. Applied the sun block, secured the car, waxed the board, put on the fins and just as I was about to walk down the cliffs I saw a couple of clean-up sets roll through and said to myself, "I don't think so." These sets also indicated that TDLR ought to be working so back there for another check. Stopped to check Little Teapoo first and watch TDLR in the distance. Yes, it looks in play. Back on go the flippers and I paddle out into glassy 5-6' surf that approaching 9am increased to a healthy 6-8'. The waves were thumping good and being the only one out I mostly played around the first peak. Later in the morning I found myself lining up at second peak where some nice smackers rolled through. However, I also realized why riding first peak was the same thing to do. After a nice 8 footer ride I found myself in a precarious position at this reef with a 10' set heading my way. Somehow, I pulled myself out of trouble, barely. Back towards first peak, but couldn't help drifting over to second every now and then, just to pay the price once again. Had a couple of memorable crash and burns this morning along with some memorable rides and cover-ups. Third peak looked muy bonito, but "no way, Jose, today" was the sane call. Felt highly intoxicated walking back to the car. All smiles. :) :)
In the evening we dined at El Galleon which was as good as ever.
The trip to the airport in San Juan was mostly uneventful. However, we ran into lot's of traffic during rush hour due to our late flight departure (9pm) -- guess that is the tradeoff if you want the option for a full morning surf. Timing was right for a late, casual lunch at El Buen Café. Check-in was hassle-free even with a couple of bags on the weight margins. No more duty free liquor at SJU International <sad>.
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