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Feeding 5,000

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Feeding 5,000 by Joshua Host

As humans our collective experience during the pandemic spanned the gambit of tragedy and triumph. On March 19th, we were ordered to close and Shelter in Place. Within a few days the first voices of hunger panged loud and starvation lurked in neighbors faces. In the absence of clarity generosity can be the shining light that clears the clouds.

We organized a fundraiser that produced resources to distribute over 12,000 pounds of  food to families at risk of starvation during the shelter in place orders.

 Imagine the faces of relief, that held no hope and by grace and goodwill their prayers were answered. The response was heartwarming. As the quarantine extensions rolled in, so did our distributions. The community was beaming with good vibes and a sense of hope. 

Then one night the hurricane hit. Two large trees damned the river and the resulting flood crashed the walls of the resort. The horses were floating, the animals were frantic. Tables and chairs all washed away. The trees gave and the water levels fell, leaving us with 6 inches of mud and waste. When the storm cleared we found our neighbors gathered in front. They had come to help us repair the hotel. They had come to repay the favor.

Life has a beautiful way of spinning tragedy to triumph, connecting humans through shared strife. There is still tremendous uncertainty that clouds the air, but our mission remains ardent. To provide a life changing experience for guests, so that we can tell the real story of El Salvador.

SERENDIPITY [ ser-uh n-dip-i-tee ]

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SERENDIPITY [ ser-uh n-dip-i-tee ] / an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident
A Story by Pepa Ivanoff

80 days (and counting) in Mizata, El Salvador…  

The story of the most Serendipitous adventure I have experienced in all my years living a nomadic Life Less Ordinary in the pursuit of Surf and Art…

One of my goals for 2020 was to visit 3 new countries. I travel constantly for work (I’m an Artist) and in pursuit of waves (I’m also a Surfer), and wanted to add some new destinations to my ‘visited’ list…

New country #1 would present itself in March: That country would be El Salvador. I’ve lived in Central America for almost 9 years (I’m based in Costa Rica) and despite being regular foot, and having built my lifestyle around surfing, had never visited El Salvador. It was my time to discover the Land of Rights and Pupusas!

I was painting murals and surfing in Guatemala at the time, and I had connected online with the owner (Joshua Host) of a magical-looking hotel named Mizata in El Salvador, about the possibility of working together on some Art. After communicating back and forth, we decided to meet at the location and discuss a creative collaboration. It’s noteworthy that we were complete strangers who crossed paths by way of the Internet (Thankyou, Instagram) and impeccable timing…

I didn’t have a lot of time between projects and neither did Josh, so I packed my board, my dog and a few clothes for a ‘quick 3 day roundtrip’ (ha!) from El Paredon to Mizata and back, excited to discuss a new creative project, explore a new country and surf a new wave. 

I took a shuttle from Antigua (where I spent the night with another client who I planned to paint with “upon my return from El Salvador” – ha!) and made the 3 hour journey to the border. It was a typical Central American shuttle ride, filled with groups of excited backpackers half my age, who were chatty and happy in a way that only fulfilling one’s wanderlust can bring. And although we were in different stages of our lives and our travels, we had the common goal of discovering special places on this beautiful planet and cultivating memories of our experiences through doing so.

It wasn’t until we crossed the Guatemalan border and entered El Salvador that things became a little odd. Medical professionals with full hazmat-style suits, face masks, gloves and thermometers boarded the bus, taking our temperatures and recording the origins of, and details held within, our passports. It became apparent that this ‘flu-like’ Virus by the name of Corona had infiltrated this part of the world, and precautions were being taken. We laughed and joked amongst ourselves as the medics pointed temperature guns at our foreheads. We recorded videos on our phones and posted stories to Social Media about how silly and slightly inconvenient this was. Hazmat Suits? Face Masks? Surgical Gloves? Seems a little OTT, right?

We spent an hour or so at the border, but eventually entered El Salvador, and the Corona Incident was soon forgotten. After an hour or so of driving, I was left on the side of the road in what appeared to be a tiny, undeveloped little beach pueblo in the middle of nowhere. There was minimal development, very few people and the odd scrawny chicken scuttling about. The energy was unpretentious and inviting. There were palm trees everywhere. Mizata in all her understated glory. I loved this place already.

I walked down the road to discover a long, empty black-sand beach, that culminated in a cluster of stately palm trees and stunning piece of architecture I later came to learn was Nawi, Mizata’s Beach Club, complete with an oceanfront infinity pool with inflatable flamingos (!!!) floating in it. The sun was shining, waves rolled in, house music gently drifted through the ocean breeze, and there were horses (!!!) saddled and waiting under the trees near the entrance. This cannot be real, I thought to myself. It’s all my favourite things in one place…

And I hadn’t even seen the real wave yet.

I made my way past Nawi to the hotel, and was greeted by the amazing Erika and her staff, who were eagerly awaiting my arrival with huge smiles on their faces. I was pleasantly surprised by how engaging and genuinely happy everyone was. The energy of the place and it’s people exuded a harmony that immediately made me feel welcome and, despite never having visited before, at home. 

I was given a tour and I walked, in a dream-like state of disbelief that this utopia was real, through the property. A jungle filled with all my favourite plants, including decadent-smelling plumeria of various hues, surrounded the 8 ocean-front Bungalows that comprised the hotel. There was another pool – complete with a swim-up bar – which sat directly in front of the Point, offering an unobstructed view of a perfect pebble-rock-bottom, uncrowded Right. The wave ended by crashing into the infamous Point, an ominous-looking cliff that gave the place a just-a-little-bit-dangerous edge. This place was Paradise. 

I watched my first Salvadorian sunset from the pool at Nawi, sipping a cocktail in gratitude that I was here, in this dreamy location. My meeting with Josh was setup for the following day, so I enjoyed an early but deliciously nourishing dinner with ShonJovi (who had no idea who I was and in hindsight, probably assumed I was just another Cougar trying to hit on him) before retiring to my room for my first night of Salvadorian sleep. Life was so very, very good.

The Corona Situation, which I had already forgotten about, began it’s rapid escalation into Pandemic-Of-Shut-Down-The-World-Proportions the next day. The President declared a national emergency. Restrictions were starting to be placed on domestic and international travel. I awoke to a message from the shuttle company, (my scheduled ride back to Guatemala) informing me that the service has been suspended indefinitely due to the Virus. 

I (incorrectly) chalked this up to people being overly cautious, and assumed that within a few days, things would settle down and go back to ‘normal’. 

Global Pandemic or not, I was determined to surf, so I made my way over to Nawi to get some coffee and check the waves. Some of the guests were loading boards into a car to check out another spot. They said it was ‘too big’ to surf here. I liked the sound of that, so I grabbed my board and made my way to the point to check the waves. ShonJovi was there watching too, and to my delight, the waves were a decent size and there was NOBODY out surfing them.

The energy of the ocean was electric. Big, long right-handed waves rolled in and crashed into those magnificent cliffs with a boom, sending spray high into the air. There was something about this wave that was so raw and alluring – yet precarious. I couldn’t wait to get out there.

“So are you going to surf” I asked, perhaps a little too enthusiastically, as I set down my pink 9’2 Takayama single-fin log. Shon didn’t answer me right away. He looked at the waves. Then he looked at my board. Then he looked at me.

“Uuuuugh… It’s pretty big out there. This isn’t a beginners spot. There’s a lot of current. You need to be a very strong paddler to make it out there on a day like this, it has the potential to be one of the most dangerous waves in the country. Someone died out there… “

“Noted” I said, my froth-factor being heightened, rather than diminished, by what he had just said. Let’s go!

He reluctantly obliged. However, after watching me paddle out and gleefully catch a few of Mizata’s gems, he relaxed and realised that this old lady and her pink longboard weren’t going to be a liability. I was stoked. He was stoked. We had an amazing session, hooting each other into perfect wave after perfect wave in warm water, glassy conditions and a stunning backdrop of untouched nature. The moments that surfers live for.

After an incredible morning in the ocean, I finally met with Josh after breakfast to discuss our artistic collaboration. Despite the chaos that was unfolding around us due to the pandemic, I immediately resonated with his calm demeanour and the enthusiasm he exuded when we spoke about Art, Architecture and Design. There was a lot of uncertainty in the air, but we agreed that I would create a small Mural in each of the 8 Bungalows at the hotel. I immediately got started on some sketches, and I will never forget that feeling of sitting there in Nawi, creating in that dreamy space, whilst listening to the Beatles. It all just felt so right.

I was due to leave for Guatemala the following afternoon, but as the hours passed, that was becoming less and less likely. Guests were leaving early. Staff were going home. Friends in Guatemala were sending me alerts and updates from the Government on that side warning that I wouldn’t be allowed back across the border. Despite my attempts to stay positive, the situation was becoming dire. I felt helpless. I couldn’t leave, and even if I could, I had nowhere else to go… Now what?

In an act of kindness and hospitality that would define the next few months of my life, it was agreed that I could Shelter-In-Place on site until there was more clarity around what was next. We decided that I would start making some Art around the hotel, which felt like a balanced exchange for the generosity that was being bestowed upon me, a stray Australian Artist and her Hairless Peruvian dog, in a foreign land. 

As an Artist, I believe that magic is created through the collaboration of like-minded individuals, therefore living and working with Pia, Josh and Shon (the Quaranteam) has been such a rewarding experience. It has been a dream project for me to create bespoke Artistic pieces that contribute to these beautifully curated ocean-front Bungalows (all of them unique), nestled in this tropical paradise. 

The Lockdown and Shelter-In-Place order has presented challenges regarding accessibility to paint, supplies and other resources, so we got very creative with materials. I created a collection of Murals and Art using 100% recycled and reclaimed materials. Wood, canvases, books, frames, burlap, photographs and other items were upcycled right here on the property.

Geometric symbols adapted from the Indigenous Piple people from this region are featured throughout the work. I combined stencil and collage techniques to create textured pieces that complement the existing wood and stone finishings in each room. 

I am writing this on my 80th (!) day here in Mizata. So much has happened and it’s been a very transformative experience. Like most of us around the world during this unprecedented time, I have had my highs and lows and moments where the uncertainty of life and the future felt overwhelming. But I’ve also had some incredible moments of clarity and the overarching sense that I am exactly where I need to be. I am surrounded by nature, waves, creative inspiration and an incredible Quaranteam who have become my family.  

I could never in a million years have articulated everything that unfolded on my journey to finding Mizata, but I am so grateful for everything that has happened to me and for me over the past few months – Global Pandemic and all. Mizata has a magnetic energy that cannot be described with words, you just have to experience it for yourself to understand. In all my years of exploring the world, I have never found a place quite like it…

 

Feeding 5,000

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Feeding 5,000 by Joshua Host

As humans our collective experience during the pandemic spanned the gambit of tragedy and triumph. On March 19th, we were ordered to close and Shelter in Place. Within a few days the first voices of hunger panged loud and starvation lurked in neighbors faces. In the absence of clarity generosity can be the shining light that clears the clouds.

 

We organized a fundraiser that produced resources to distribute over 12,000 pounds of  food to families at risk of starvation during the shelter in place orders.

 

 Imagine the faces of relief, that held no hope and by grace and goodwill their prayers were answered. The response was heartwarming. As the quarantine extensions rolled in, so did our distributions. The community was beaming with good vibes and a sense of hope. 

 

Then one night the hurricane hit. Two large trees damned the river and the resulting flood crashed the walls of the resort. The horses were floating, the animals were frantic. Tables and chairs all washed away. The trees gave and the water levels fell, leaving us with 6 inches of mud and waste. When the storm cleared we found our neighbors gathered in front. They had come to help us repair the hotel. They had come to repay the favor.

 

Life has a beautiful way of spinning tragedy to triumph, connecting humans through shared strife. There is still tremendous uncertainty that clouds the air, but our mission remains ardent. To provide a life changing experience for guests, so that we can tell the real story of El Salvador.

A Beginner Gets His Legs

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A Beginner Gets His Legs by Mike Kentz

‘Agachate!”

The Spanish command is coming from over the back of my right shoulder, just over the top of a wave I am about to drop in on. I’m surfing at Mizata Point, a smooth right-breaking El Salvadorean wave that points towards a large cliff to its right — one that kind of forms the shape of a human face, if you cock your head to one side and squint. The sun is rising behind the cliff and there are only about 4-5 surfers out – most of which are employees of the adjacent Mizata. It’s about 7am and everyone is trying to get a few waves before heading in to start their workday. For me, this is my workday. I came here from New York City for my week off from work as a Middle School Teacher to surf, or to practice surfing – I should say. I’m tired of sucking and want to get my s— right, once and for all.

Hence the Spanish command over my back shoulder. It’s coming from my surf instructor, Erick, a local surfer and one of those Mizata employees. He is prodding me in his native language as I paddle into a wave. He has been drilling me to “Get lower! (Agacharte!)” since we started practicing together three days ago. This is the number one most important piece of feedback I am getting on my surfing fundamentals, and he will not let go.

“Agacharte, Mike! Agacharte!” He continues to yell, as I plant my hands on the board and begin to pop-up.

I hear him, but my muscle memory is not quite there. I get my feet on the board, but before I can gain my balance, I slip backwards as if I’ve just stepped on an over-sized banana peel. The board shoots out in front of me and my feet fly up sky-high like a character in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. As my head and back fall into the breaking wave I brace myself by covering my head — I am worried I am going to slam face-first into the skegs of my own board. This would not be a fun way to end the trip, with a bloody face and stitches to boot.

The wave is not terribly powerful though, and I am able to emerge unscathed. This is one of the benefits of the Mizata wave – not only is it uncrowded, but I am learning that I can handle several of these wipeouts without getting too shook. The wave still flips and tosses me side-to-side a few times just for good measure – as if the ocean is letting me know what it could do, if it really wanted to.

“Ahhhh! Haha – almost, man! But you need to get lower!” Erick says with a smile on his face as I paddle back out.

I am beginning to get frustrated, but he is as positive as ever. Like the great teacher he is, he gives me feedback in bite-sized equivalents – and is sure to include a bit of praise to keep me going. “Your paddle is getting much stronger,” he says, with sincerity.

~~~

My surfing experience is shoddy, at best. I grew up as a “Benny” along the New Jersey coastline. For the uninitiated, this means I visited the Shore from Northern New Jersey or New York (‘up North’) during the summertime and annoyed the locals by crowding their beaches and bars, stealing their waves, and sometimes stealing their women.

(‘BENNY’ stands for Bergen, Essex, and North of New York – to represent the counties of the tourists who are most annoying to Jersey Shore locals. Think of the MTV show ‘Jersey Shore’ – except this name originated decades before the TV show ever existed. I’m from Morris County, which means we have less-spiky hair and are generally less annoying than the others — and my family spent three months down there every summer, so I was not a Weekend Warrior — but the rule still applies, generally.)

I body-boarded and body-surfed a ton. I got to be a decent swimmer. But when it came to surfing, I was terrified. It was too hard and I was too afraid of getting hurt. Beyond that, the best waves came in the hurricane season of September and October, after I had already left to go back ‘up North’ for school.

Later, at age 27, I took a trip to Costa Rica with friends. Not a surf trip per se, but a chance to take a lesson and practice anyway. I took out a softie and dominated the slow-rolling two-footers that came in at the main Tamarindo beach. I felt like a king. This was it, I thought. I can do this now.

I came home and bought a board and a wetsuit. A 7’3 sniper with not a lot of float that I was told would be great for hurricane season. My plan was to head out to Rockaway Beach in Queens throughout the September-November season and practice that way. Easy as pie, I thought.

Not so fast. Over the next five years I went out as much as humanly possible. I had some moments – the type that keep you going when you’re on the verge of quitting – but on the whole I was a shoddy mess. And on top of that, I found myself battling with super-experienced locals amidst crowds of 40-50 surfers on the regular, whenever the swell picked up. Sometimes I angered people with my inexperience, other times I just wasted waves. I was beginning to think the whole gambit was a mistake.

Fast-forward; December 2019. I’m sitting in my apartment on a Saturday morning, scrolling through social media. I am becoming increasingly alarmed at how well Instagram seems to know me. My advertisements are bizarrely catered to the things I care about – or even more creepily, the things I talk about with friends. Lately, I’ve been talking about a vacation with my girlfriend. We are considering Belize for some sun and surfing.

This morning though, Instagram has other plans. It has placed an advert for a surf trip from an account called visitmizata. The pictures are absurd, but the deal is even absurd-er. A week-long stay that includes daily surf lessons and photography, unlimited horseback rides, all-inclusive meals, and a choice of three different breaks right in front of the hotel (and two others nearby if necessary).

I’m pretty sure this is too good to be true, but I soon find out its not. Shon, a rep from the hotel who works with me on my package and later surfs with me in the same Point line-up, lays out the terms. It’s real, and I’m going – even if my girlfriend has to bail at the last minute and I have to go solo, a la ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall.’ I’m going to practice and learn. I’m going to get my s— right, and I’m going to get a damn good photo to boot.

~~~

It’s now Day Three of my trip, and I have no good photos. It’s not Mizata’s fault, I just suck worse than I thought. For me, as a solo-traveler, this trip is only about getting better though (and relaxing in the off-hours). So when Erick (and Josh, the owner) propose that I should practice my pop-up on the beach first, I realize they are right. We walk to the beach, where Erick traces out my board in the sand. He demonstrates the fundamentals of a good pop-up and we begin to practice.

Things start to click. It begins to make sense to me why I fall every time. Obviously, if I don’t swing my front-leg through with speed – and actually ‘pop’ up, as opposed to ‘meandering’ up – I’m going to fall. Obviously if I’m just casually standing tall with my feet close together, hands at my side, and knees locked straight, I’m going to fall! I begin to see what Erick is talking about.

But it’s not enough just to know, you’ve also gotta ‘do.’ He and I work for 20-30 minutes on a traced-out board on the sand and with old boards on the grass before we paddle out together – every time. We stay in the water for 3+ hours at a time (thank god for multiple breaks!) working to get it right. Each day, I’m logging 4-5 hours or surfing ‘work,’ and I’m beginning to see results.

I start to catch the small ones. I start to catch them on my own and – even though the pop-up is ugly – I stay up and hang through the whole wave. I’m feeling good – ‘better’ is probably a better word – and enjoy celebrating with Erick every time a new success arises.

“Esta surfeando con mucha mas consistente, mas confidencia, Mike,” Erick tells me. It’s times like these I’m glad I paid attention in High School Spanish. Who wants to miss a compliment like that?

~~~

It’s Friday morning, the last day of my trip. In front of the hotel are arguably the best waves of the week. My body is sore. My knees are scabby. My face is sunburnt. I bend my knees on the traced-out board on the sand as Erick says “Lower” in Spanish — and feel my entire body holler in pain.

No matter, this is why I came. I’ve essentially got 3 more hours of surfing left in my trip, and at the rate I’ve been catching waves, we might only be talking about 10 good ones before the wind switches on-shore and sends us packing. I still don’t have my photo. It’s time to buckle down.

We paddle out over the top of the rocky ocean-bottom and find our spot. Erick is like a wizard – a nephew of Poseidon himself. He sees currents that no one else seems to see, calls waves that others think are nothing (and vice versa), and generally gives me the confidence that I won’t be wasting my time out there if I have him at my side. He knows this break better than anyone, having grown up and surfed here all his life.

He keeps me a little inside, for various reasons – one being that the steep faces of the bigger waves have been giving me problems all week. Slightly smaller will be better for my confidence and practice.

A wave comes. It’s good, but not mind-bendingly good. It’s not “gordita” like some of the other fake-out waves that I have wasted my paddling strength on. It’s got a decent-sized face, and I’m in the perfect spot. I begin to paddle.

“Vale! Vale! Vale, Mike!” Erick will not let me miss this wave.

A few others watch on and offer encouragement. Soon, I feel the momentum of the wave start to pick me up and I know it’s time. I pop up. It takes me a second to get my bearings, but luckily this wave is gentle at the start. I drop in backside (I’m a goofy-foot) and peer down the line. Plenty of wave. This is good.

I get low. As low as I can, at 6-foot-3. I feel the difference immediately. I have a lot more control and feel myself picking up speed. My feet are planted and I feel the wind blowing across my face. I hit a bump after a few seconds and feel a little shaky, but I hold on – and as I do, I see a little barrel forming. Time to get lower, I think to myself.

I am under no illusion that I will make it through this barrel – not with my lack of experience and know-how. I’ve tried before and I know that this is not within my stage of development, not just yet. But I’ll be damned if I’m not going to try. I crouch as low as humanly possible and see it shape up in front of me. I dip my shoulders and try to lean in. The sunlight on my head is suddenly shaded out as the wave begins to purl over my head. I am devastatingly close to being “in” the barrel. So this is what they’ve been talking about all this time, I think to myself…

Unfortunately, I didn’t get high enough on the face. The wave lands on the back of my head and takes me down. When I emerge from the water, Erick is hooting and hollering. A couple of employees give me a shout, too. As I paddle back out, a fellow hotel visitor tosses me a compliment.

I’m feeling pretty damn good, especially for the first wave of the day. But it is nothing compared to how I will feel when I see the photos later on. The wave did not feel that big to me. It was fun, yes, but it felt medium-sized. When I check the tape though, I am shocked to see the wave jack up overhead as I moved through the first section — making me look like a pea. I’ve never surfed a wave that big, and I am as stoked as stoked can be.

[Insert photo from Section 1]

Then, in the second section, I caught a nice little look on what the difference is when I “agacharte” as opposed to standing straight up like a stick figure. Hint: it makes a world of difference. I also got a chance to see how close I was to attaining that barrel. Really good stuff for future goals.

[Insert photo from Section 2]

I surfed for 2 more hours that day and caught several small “olas,” but nothing compared to that wave. In the end, I had experienced legit improvement from Day 1 to Day 6. Erick had fixed my bad habits and helped me build a foundation of strong fundamentals for the future. I knew I had gotten better, but I couldn’t even quantify how gratifying it was to have the photo evidence. Without it, I would have come home and only had my word. This way, there could be no dispute!

Afterwards, I laid on the hammock on the front porch of my bungalow – overlooking all three breaks that had first humbled me and then later given me so much that week. I was exhausted, but I couldn’t fall asleep. Electricity was still running through my veins, and I caught myself involuntarily smiling a handful of times. I had gotten what I came for, in more ways than one. Mizata had delivered.

I can go home now, I thought to myself. I can go home.

A Break From Reality

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By Riane Nesper, a San Clemente California native that visited Mizata in December 2019.

A break from reality. Pulling out of the rat race. Getting off the treadmill.

You never really realize how much you need it until you take time, mindfully, away from it all. I needed it, bad. I so easily get caught up in constantly going going going. In every aspect of my life. Feeling the continuous need to up level myself in some way or another. On one hand, it’s a great characteristic but man, it’s exhausting. Sometimes you need to take a break from all the noise to appreciate the beauty of silence.

This trip was exactly what I needed, what we needed. We booked our flight to El Salvador in search of perfect waves and some serious downtime. Despite me being terrified to leave my little one, it was hands down one of the best decisions I’ve made. Our stay at Mizata (FKA Point Resort) was nothing short of amazing. No joke, it was absolutely perfect. We booked the 7 Day Surf Trip. The name itself sounds like a dream. And it was. The staff at the resort made our stay completely effortless. Everything from transportation, every meal (the food is absolutely amazing), housekeeping, entertainment, massages, WiFi, in unit AC, and more was all taken care of. Without question. The hospitality at Mizata is unlike any other resort or hotel I’ve stayed at. I left feeling like I gained a family. The vibe at the resort is the perfect combination of your coveted 5 star hotel meets jungle safari. It’s like the Hilton and an epic surf hostel made a love child and placed it in a breathtaking remote location unlike any other. Our bungalow was nestled away surrounded by beautiful greenery. The only view from our sliding glass door was the ocean and cliffs. Not to mention, one of the best right hand point breaks I’ve ever surfed in my life was in my direct line of sight from my pillow. Literally, could it get any better than that? Nope.

 

 

Our days were spent surfing and soaking up the sun. Each morning we chose to rise with the sun, because the sunrises from Mizata are not to be missed. You can feel the power of beauty seep through the cotton candy sky onto your sun kissed cheeks and straight into your soul. Deeming it breathtaking would be an understatement. Truly captivating. The sunrises and sunsets were my favorite part of our days.

 

We had the option to have our days packed with fun adventures and excursions (all included by the way), but we opted for surf and chill mode. We will most likely, almost always opt for surf over anything. We found our love in the ocean, but I’ll leave that story for another day. We did choose to go on the waterfall hike because it was highly recommended.

I was hesitant to miss out on any waves but this hike was so beautiful and so much fun. We were accompanied by the best guide, Rocco. He was half the reason we had such a good time. Remember when I said the staff is amazing? I really mean it. Anyway, Rocco drove us to a location I could not tell you. Because I have no idea. I was so focused on the beauty around me, I don’t remember anything else. The hike itself was a thrill ride. Literally. It was challenging, fun, exhilarating, sweaty, and I’d do it ten times over. I can’t even begin to describe the magnificence of this waterfall. No pictures or words deep enough give it justice. I know standing there, at first sight, my heart was in my stomach. I was speechless. For a moment, I felt tears welling in my eyes. Like when you hear a beautiful voice sing a song straight to your heart. That feeling, it’s so good! Hearing the water rushing to the pool below, feeling the mist hit my hot sticky skin, and looking up to a green lush treetop canopy above me. Priceless.

I could spend days, even weeks, writing and telling you about Mizata, but for now, I will wrap this up. My last words to whoever is reading this: if you are looking to fill your cup and nourish your mind, body and soul. Mizata is for you. If you’re looking to reset and replenish, Mizata is for you. If you’re looking for thrill seeking adventure and adrenaline rushes, Mizata is for you. Whatever it is your seeking, you will get your fill at Mizata. I plan to re visit over and over because, well, I have to. A piece of my heart is in Mizata. Happy travels party people. Keep scrolling to peep some more photos from our stay.

Until we meet again, Mizata.

 

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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