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Long Points and Jello Legs

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Here’s a capture from one of our all-time epic guests, Ross Cauvel.

Long Points and Jello Legs

I’m an intermediate surfer at best. Born and bred on the East Coast, I cut my teeth in Ocean City, New Jersey. I drooled over watching Rob Kelly and Sam Hammer shred the peaks down the way. I shot shaky camcorder footage in ‘99 of Rob destroying—alone—one of the longest rides of anyone in town.

That moment—seeing Rob extend a wave so much further than I could—I knew I wanted that feeling.

That’s why I get so amped to head down to El Salvador. The place is a training ground. Without it, I’d still be a feeble kook, flopping around, getting pitched over the falls, and pulling back on waves I should go on (which I still do).

A lot of guys are tube guys. Not me. I like to throw as much spray as possible. Spray the shit out of everything is what I live by. Basically, my goal in life is to get my board to 12:00 and throw buckets. I know that sounds retro or mechanical to guys who’ve done it a million times—but I haven’t, so that’s the vibe I chase.

Don’t get me wrong, Mizata offers nice tubes. It’s easy to dip into a nice cover up on the smaller days with an outgoing tide. But rarely does someone thread a big one. Will you, my dear reader, be that lucky guy or gal?

I like the point wave at Mizata because it’s steeper and has more power than other points around. It’s actually easier to do more critical maneuvers than on weaker waves. I salivate to throw my full weight and torque into my snaps and carves all the way down the line. Airdrop back in. It’s freaking mental.

I also go down there for the food, comfy beds, chill crowd, and to practice Spanish with the locals. I also love shooting photos of surfers and the area (check my insta: @SessionStories), blah, blah, blah.

I took physics classes in college. I believe the equation for fun is the same as the equation for momentum. (Taylor Steele knew this; that’s why he named his big breakout film Momentum.)

Momentum = Mass x Velocity

Add that to the equation for Centripetal Force. Centripetal Force is the feeling when you torque out your turns to the max.

Force(fun) = Mass * (Velocity2 / Radius)

I’ll translate that for you. It means to go into a turn with as much speed as possible and create the tightest arc and it’s the funnest shit ever(which you can never do in snowboarding, by the way—the turning radius isn’t as tight). It’s quite literally the equation for fun. Science, my dudes! (Sorry to nerd out on ya.)

Maybe I’ll see you down there, and I can shoot photos of you too (which I do for cervezas and high fives). I love to shoot from both the water and land. I also have plans for an improved camera housing, specifically to capture point breaks. You can be my guinea pig, I hope! There’s also a sick local photographer named Daniel who’ll snap your shots as well.

Till then, I’ll be dreaming of that next perfect equation to make a lip explode.

Caption: Eric Imsland at the Point.

Caption: Eric Imsland bottom turn clinic.

Caption: Eric Imsland laying into a tasty section.

Caption: Ross, the author aka Session Stories, looking for that fun equation.

Caption: Eric Imsland finding a long boi.

Mary Kay Murks Mizata

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A peek into the personal journal of Mary Kay Dwyer:

Day 1: Thursday, March 21st

Arrival, 1.5 hour drive through hills, 5 tunnels.

Relaxing, taking in views, mas cerveza de suprema, soft touches (rum drinks with a topper of kettle one late night). Ate snacks of steak avocado toast, quesadillas. Walk with Orshi to find beach, hopping along large black rocks. Dinner was el tune, with mashed potatoes. Gigantic full moon rose over Tortuga cliff (tiny mouth shaped crack in side of cliff gives turtle like appearance). Met a cute soft white cat, we wooed with shrimp shells. Curled up next to us with cutest meow. Jim tries to get  el gatto to sleep on our porch. She does not follow. Early to bed, sounds of waves right outside our door are a consistent roar to fall asleep too. In another room: Amberly forgets we’re two hours behind and sets a ‘5:30am’ wake up call, gets up brushes teeth, heads to yoga, walks outside to realize it’s actually 3:30.

Day 2: Friday, March 22nd

Early rise today – sun comes up around 6am (we are 2 hours behind Florida time). More relaxation; delicious breakfast quesadilla (eggs, refried beans, cheese) with the most amazing green sauce (lime, cilantro, jalapeño, crema). Drink of the day ‘paperizca’, no sugar. Then a swim down the beach with the ‘beginner waves’ about 4 foot and strong. Took a bit getting in and out without panicking. Hot black volcano sand burning the feet. Lunch was quesadilla and burger with sautéed onions. Then back to the porch for some porch drinks, virgin passion fruit smoothies topped with our own 1800 Silver Tequila (bottle gone in an hour). We lose track of time. Sun sets in 7 minutes, we desperately need cerveza for sprint to top of tortuga cliff. Edwardo accommodates and we’re off. Literally running across the river rocks and up the red dirt path to catch sunset at the top of tortuga cliff, half in the bag. Amazing view lasted about 3 minutes before fear of heights kicked in and back down we went. Checked out hermit crabs and the lot for the house on way back down. Then the papusa walk with chef eric and second guy, Jim is down for count still and doesn’t join. Best papusas yet, way better than belize. Rice flour is used instead of corn maze. Red ‘marinara’ condiment is delicious and also makes for a good mixer with more tequila. Garlic papusas tasted like if fettuccini and a Crunchwrap supreme had a baby; amazing. Walk back along highway (2 lane road) where insane 18 wheelers were charging down narrow dark road at 70 mph. Back at the mizata with 3 extra papusas, two for Jim, one for the local dog, Nipple as we named her. Then one last night cap at the beach bonfire – trying to stoke fire without a stick means throwing rocks at it (it kind of worked). 

Day 3: Saturday 3/23

Woke up at 4:30am and hugged jim that he didn’t fall off the cliff the night before. I told him I would jump after him. A bit of a rough feeling from papusas and finishing bottle of vodka and 1800. Slept in til 7:45. Breakfast was another delicious quesadilla and chiquiles (spicy chicken nachos) and always w green sauce. Some laid back lounging before our horse riding session. 12:30 Pm – horseback riding for Amberly and I. We try connecting with our horses. They seem uninterested in this. Finally after what seems like minutes Amberly is up on her horse, Cow, and I’m set to get on mine. However, due to short legs I am unable to ride Rusty. So I am given the dickhead horse with short stirrups (name possibly Delante? Not sure but he’s a sassy asshole). There is no time for connection. Our guide, Senor, speaks not a word of English. We communicate ‘no rapido’ and set off, Senor walking and us on horseback. We walk through the back roads of the village, turkeys gobbling, mangy chicken bobbing. An occasionally yard dog barking. We cross a stream and my horse almost eats shit, slipping on slimy rocks. Not super confident in el dickhead. We end up coming out of the path by tortuga cliff, Senor plays photographer. We walk back past Mizata and Senor gets Rusty, who’s stirrups have been adjusted for him. Off we go to the beach where the 3 horses proceed to go poco rapido. I enjoy this. Amberly does not. We slow it down, heading to walk up a montania. Sketchy walk up to top where we have another photo shoot. No mas and head back down. I don’t look at edge of giant cliff sitting on giant sassy horse. And then we’re back on sandy ground, and mucho rapido we’re off. Amberly is screaming. Senor helps take her reins. We are then attacked by dogs. They’re trying to bite the horses legs. On a final note, I heard these horses were rodeo horses but can not confirm. That was fun. Paul and Egan are up next. Mucho rapido through barb wire and tree. Both are almost killed. Paul comes back shaking. Un disparo de Jose Quervo. They both had fun. Then some lunch. More relaxing, yada yada yada. Dj sets up and starts strong but then devolves into songs to slit your wrist by (Radiohead creep). He leaves. Dinner is served. Jim hits the tequila hard. Highlight of the trip so far is blowing out the candle on our puking unicorn cake while jugs of gasoline being thrown in the bonfire explode in the background. The brave & crazy kitchen staff are pros at outrunning the chasing fire. The fire peaks quickly, so Paul goes in search of a stick for stoking, no rocks today. In the meantime Egan and I move some logs around, causing another explosion resulting in my dress catching fire and his having a stroke. Late night (around 10:30pm) – travel Disco light is on point, lights off lounging at pool. We come to find out that Nipple is actually Booby Macdougal and her daughter is Tits Mcgee. Goodnight.

Day 4: Sunday, March 24th

Awake without hangover at a leisurely 6:30am.  Have a shower and breakfast (quesadillas for life) and caffe negro (my Spanish is growing). Out of nowhere an abuela appears with tamales on her head. We ask for cuatro. She gives me a big hug out of nowhere her silver teeth gleaming in the sunlight. She is soft and doughy. The tamales hit the spot. Back to the porch for a hammock lay. Cow, Rusty and Senor come to say hi. We give Cow and Rusty some grass. They still don’t really like us. Who knew the sass horses had. Our next adventure is to the waterfalls, tamerique falls. Depart at 10am El Salvador time. Egan is nowhere to be found. We drive by the hostel he’s at down the road and out he stumbles into the sunlight, still drunk from the night before. Dance party with edwardo and Kate til 4am. On the road, about an hour journey on the highway. Stop at gas station with macho machine gun guy and strawberry cheese ice cream. Then Mango flower sticks on side of road. Back on the road and then this sketchy dirt / rock road downhill. We come to a stop upon a slightly wider section of dirt to a shack bodega and large work truck where workers are shoveling gray gravel. After the workers finish shoveling the gravel they dig an enormous boulder out of the dusty brown earth, roll it across the road and casually chuck it down the steep cliff all leaning over to see. The sound of clonking and cackling ensue. Their job is complete, the giant truck now starts it’s 10 minute uturn. Forward, backward, forward, backward, until the truck slams into the short barbwire fence, which is the only thing separating it from the steep cliff dropping off behind it. Shovels come out to break the wires or detach the truck, we’re unsure of how this helps. Finally they make their turn and are on their way up the dusty dirt road. Rocks and pebbles kicking back down the hill as we finally set off off on our hike down the steep dusty cliff. The first 15 minutes are hot and rough on the knees, which seemed pretty tough. Little did we know what was to come next. Our guide Carlos recommends no phones, bottles, nothing in your hands, basically so you don’t die since the second part of the climb down showcased a telephone wire repurposed as a guide rope down the deathly cliff. One slip and you fall hundreds of feet (well maybe not hundreds, but point is you die). Carlos waits to help everyone down the initial step and then we’re on our own, Jim leading the way, followed by me, the two people most terrified of heights in the group. We man up, keep our tears to ourselves and put one foot in front of the other. Jim is having a panic attack but somehow managed to keep moving. Another fun moment includes when anyone behind / above you slips, a dust avalanche begins. We finally make it to the stick ladder and climb down to the rock valley below. A few more steps and we’re all face to face with a hundred foot waterfall. Overall an 846 ft descent, and 932 ft ascent – according to the Jade. Quesadilla lunch. Back up the mountain. Jim and I lead the way again. On to the second waterfall where I proceed to almost kill children jumping off the 20ft cliff, and Thomas saves a kid that jumps off and then realizes he can’t swim. LJ murders life by jumping off the cliff after only one chicken out. The boys all jump off even bigger cliff and then have to scale 30 ft vertical rock soaking wet to get out. Many pale Europeans and Wisconsions surround us. One of which was wearing fluorescent white shorts that somehow had not a spect of dirt on them. I on the other hand look like I have been living on the streets of San Salvador for 5 years. We head back to the van, this sounds easy enough until we start our 80 degree vertical ascent for a half hour. Butts are on fire. Jim sprinting up the hill, so he could drink a beer and smoke a cigarette. We finally get back to dirt road, where we climb some more. Gloriously reaching the bodega where we chug some agua e el Gatorade. We pile back into van. Conversations about robots and CIA. Many naps without headrests. Back in the tunnels turn us all into nocturnal slothes. Back at Mizata, eat cheeseburgers pour vodka. More hammock. Then one final peach colored sunset, best of the trip. We head to cabanas for cards and tequila, starting with a game of strfkr rattlesnake. Then some more chilaquiles and fish tacos. Being the only people at the resort, we now take over the spotify for some Steely Dan to ease into the last evening. As I leave the florescently lit kitchen where the Spotify sits, the chef is sautéing and dancing to our new musical selection. We then head into an ‘easy’ game of bullshit, which disintegrates into Paul and I drunkenly and aggressively shouting at each other about the rules until we throw the cards and say we’re not playing anymore. Better to go look at the Milky Way and get back to being friends. And off to a final intoxicated slumber.

Day 5: Monday, March 25th.

Awake at 5:30am and one final sunrise. A breakfast tipico; scrambled eggs, refried beans, plantains, 2 giant rolls. Mid breakfast the power goes down, no more majestic covers of Katy Perry.

On the drive back to the San Salvador airport we whip back and forth on the swerving two lane road, dodging potholes back and forth. Orshi sitting middle in the back starts looking pale and el bano is requested. No el bano in sight, we pull over abruptly so she can get out. She loses her breakfast. All back in the van again we head off. Paul realizes he’s flying back on the Boeing 777 Max, we all have a laugh and oh shit. We get on our plane after a second extensive security check, me carrying thomas’ 4 foot backpack so we can use the carryon. The bag is almost my size and weighs about as much. Filled with all dirty men’s clothes, the security woman doesn’t seem to notice or care. We finally get on the plane and the pilot comes on the loudspeaker – he seems drunk, slurring worse than me our first night. We give each other concerned glancing looks and then start laughing. Time for a glass of wine! Due to our big seats we get served first. 

Ahh, wine and a cup-o-noodle salt bomb ease the nerves.

Pupusas & Twin Fins

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Twin Fins & Pupusas
by Ian Meizoso

5:45am.

Snooze.

I fall back into my pillow, sinking into a position that somehow makes everything feel less sore – just go back to sleep, your body needs it.

Well, it was too late for that, because I had already committed the same mad fuckery as the day before and somehow found my half-naked self walking towards the window, pulling aside the curtain and… bingo. Self-torture. No force on Earth could make me unsee the 5ft glassy sets rolling in through an empty lineup. Immediately, the possibility of jumping back into bed for much needed recovery time was discarded, just like it was the day before, because, hey, when in Rome.

It would be an understatement to call Mizata Point a wave magnet – that would require a minimum swell on tap for something to actually unload unto the reef. So when the entire Salvadorian coastline greets the new day with the look & feel of a fishing lake, but the break steps away from your room keeps somehow firing 4ft right handers, you know your dealing with a whole new animal. Oh Mizata, you really are the most consistent wave in all of the country.

Located in a relaxed and dusty town on the western part of el Salvador, Mizata Point Resort lies between the towering cliffs that make El Salvador a dream place for photographers, drone pilots and surfers whose stoke depends on epic views as much as wave quality. Walking distance from the hotel, you’ll find a fast and long point break, and a bit further down the road, a punchy beach-break. Within a 40 minute drive, a myriad of world-class waves, including the venerated Punta Roca (as well as softer, mushier waves for beginners), can provide a change of scenery and wave type if you want to break the “monotony” of surfing the crowdless, beauty of a wave right in front of the hotel. If a 5 person lineup still doesn’t sit well with you, a boat trip will get you a wave all for yourself, and the resort has you covered on that.

Now, before I go on, I’d like to address the bump in the road we all face when planning surf trips to pretty much anywhere: Safety Concerns. El Salvador, infamous for gang warfare and violent streets, has taken a pretty hard hit on its global perception since its civil war. The fact it’s been branded level 3 threat advisory (reconsider travel) doesn’t help either. And neither did the VICE documentary on MS-13 I watched a few days before boarding the plane. Now – I did my fair share of research before travelling, and like many countries in political turmoil, the same general rule seemed to apply: stay in the coastline and you’ll be fine. I can’t say I didn’t entertain any doubts about it, but once I landed, however, and until the  very end of my trip, I felt no threat whatsoever, especially around Mizata. Quite the contrary in fact, I felt pretty safe treading the brick & dirt roads during the day and walking at night to the nearby Sea Bar, (which I highly recommend for Pupusas and beer). This isn’t to say you shouldn’t exercise proper caution, El Salvador definitely has place’s you should avoid, but I’m driven to share a discrepancy I felt between the global optic and the reality of the country – tourism is much safer than we are told, as long as you properly inform yourself of where you can/can’t go. I’d also like to mention that we didn’t rent a car, since we chose to rely on the hotel for transportation, which I’d recommend for first timers.

Now, on to our days and nights in Mizata.

We stayed at beachfront cabins –  cozy, neat rooms nestled in a palm tree forest.  Ours was perked with air conditioning (thank god), a queen bed, mini fridge (came in surprisingly handy), a fully equipped bathroom and an exquisite wooden terrace where much time was spent wavegazing and debating whether our bodies could handle another session. For indulgence in higher-commodity, SPA-ish delights, the resort’s infinity-pool, cabanas and wide selection of beachy cocktails offered to relegate any remaining scrape of stress to some faraway speck beyond the horizon. My grand tip? Don’t shy away from booking a massage – it’s well worth it. Sixty minutes with the resort’s masseuse are bound to leave you in a state of inebriated euphoria in which everything in the world becomes fine and dandy for the next few hours.

You could say our “we nailed it coming here” revelation came as soon as we realized that every meal on their on-site restaurant, Umami & Cantina, was just as good as the previous: fresh, healthy and seasoned to the fine point. Our expectations were already hanging to a high edge, given we spent a fair amount of time hovering over all the Tripadvisor 5 star kitchen reviews, and yet, we were still very impressed. Everything on the menu was darn exquisite, but our personal favorites were the breikeebowl and the Chilaquiles, which we shamelessly ordered every other day. You can’t go wrong with the seafood either; and by god, make sure you treat yourself to those crème brulee french toasts, even if you’re going for a green n’ lean vacation. As for practicality, I highly recommend the all-inclusive meal package,  because if, like us, you’re going to be burning calories like a madman/woman, a deal of the kind is nearly invaluable.

As for our schedule, our days were spent dawn patrolling (surfing by sunrise) the point break until our arms gave out, and the rest of the afternoon, either slothing or turning pages on hammocks all day long until we got hungry (first time I’ve actually come close to finishing a book in a single trip). If conditions played nice, we went out for a second session– glass was an assurance until 10 am. After that, it was up to nature’s whim and hence, usually windy.

 

Initially, we were a bit worried about the resort’s wave because the bits of information I could scavenge online deemed the point break as “one of consequence”. It’s definitely not a beginner wave, but if you’re duck-dives are in order and your paddling muscles don’t give out easily, you’ll be fine. Despite having our asses kicked and being rag-dolled underwater quite a number of times, the wave wasn’t as gnarly and thick-lipped as I had thought – it’s more of a quick-breaking, steep wall that will occasionally open up for a barreling section. If you’re used to mushy, weak waves and not that good of a paddler, however, you should perhaps consider booking for summer months.

To see what else was on the menu, we booked two surfing trips; the first one was a scenic boat ride along the cliffs that dropped you off in an open ocean spot. Despite the nice lines coming in, the swell direction wasn’t all that favorable, so unfortunately we didn’t catch the spot in its true splendor. Our second trip was a short drive to a mushier point break near some cargo ship port. Not the most picturesque view, but we had a great time going left all morning in an all but intimidating crowd of 3.

Given that surfing was our main priority, as you’ve probably noticed by now, we only booked two hiking adventures, and god bless my non-surf-freak girlfriend for it. The first, a one hour hike to the peak of Santa Ana Volcano, which even though mother-nature decided to lay some thick clouds over us, was shockingly spectacular. Once you’re done with the slightly strenuous climbing part, you’re met by a giant, gaping crater that takes your brain a few minutes to digest due to its sheer size and bubbling, turquoise sulfur lake: a sight to behold, even for the typically unimpressed.

For our second hiking adventure, mighty Roco, the resort’s surf instructor, driver, photographer, bartender, waiter etc…, took us to the great Tamanique waterfalls. Think of a massive jungle-gym, laden with cliffs, swimming holes and a series of interconnected waterfalls ranging from from 6ft to an epic 150-footer. Picturesque? Duh; challenging? You can say that; Fun? In every direction; worth it? If you want to regress to your 15 year old self without a care in the world, then most definitely.  We spent a few hours horsing around, climbing, jumping from ledges and simply dosing our systems with the refreshing delights of Salvadorian backwoods.

We passed by the El Tunco on our last day, mostly under the pretext of a quick stop to grab souvenirs for our family. Then again, It wouldn’t hurt to see el Zonte, Salvador’s most popular wave, only if too scratch it of the checklist. I’m glad we stayed for a bit. If you’re aiming for a spring-break vibe, streets rattling with festive spirits and people with all the accents in the world bar hopping in flip flops, then you couldn’t have it any better. Tons of hostels, restaurants, acai bars, juice bars, bars, and surf shops make el Tunco a colorful & charming small town where getting a few beers by sunset felt like the right thing to do. Only we didn’t, because hell was breaking loose in our stomachs thanks to the inordinate amount of food we merrily shoved down our throats all week long thinking there’d be no aftermath (either that, or the fresh oysters we picked from the local fishermen weren’t so fresh). Anyways, if you’re looking to party with other surfers, surfer-wannabes like myself, and non-surfers in a proper surf town, don’t skip out on El Tunco.

All in all, we had one blast of a time with a week-load of amazing waves, stunning hikes and stellar cuisine. Now, back in Puerto Rico, our beaches bewitched by a looming flatspell, it’s not hard to miss Mizata. That place is mesmerizing. I don’t know if it was luck that struck its chord for the duration of our trip, but there was something about those sunsets, something about the dusty winds from faraway shores that soaked the skies in a tangerine haze making  everything feel like a dream that should never end. It’s safe to say El salvador left its beauty mark on us.

 

Anyway, that’s all I’d like to say about our time in the Pacific jewel, and I’d gladly sign a recommendation certificate for Mizata Point Resort if such thing existed. I send my special thanks to the resort’s staff, Joshua, and Mizata’s kind people for giving us such a warm embrace and a great time in El Salvador. Will see you soon.

 

Ian

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