Mexican Powder Keg — Part III: 'A Session That Reminded Us Why We Started Surfing'

Matt Rode

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Updated 17d ago

While everyone was heading right, MSW's Matt Rode, Raquel Heckert, Tyler Reid and photographer Sarah Lee turned left during Mexico's biggest south swell of the season so far. They uncovered this remote slab, dubbed it the Mexican Powder Keg and pitched up for a few days while the likes of Puerto Escondido were bombing. Read part I HERE and part II HERE.

I’m exhausted. We all are. Tyler Reid, Raquel Heckert, Sarah Lee, and I have been going nonstop for the past 14 days. Most surf trips have a few down days—chances to rest and reset, to catch up on sleep and let the muscles recover. But we haven’t had a down day since we arrived. Obviously no one is complaining—a run of swell like this isn’t something you turn your nose up at, even if when you can feel your body falling apart—but the lack of rest is starting to take its toll.

First light around here is at 6:30am, and it doesn’t get dark until nearly 9:00pm, which means we are up at 5:00 every morning and never get to bed before 11:00. In between, we are surfing numerous sessions, battling treadmill currents for hours at a time, putting in a minimum of eight hours in the water each day and spending the rest of the time driving, exploring, and trying to eat enough to sustain our activity.

Raquel's broke most of her boards...

Raquel's broke most of her boards...

© 2021 - Sarah Lee.

... no frowns here though.

... no frowns here though.

© 2021 - Sarah Lee.

Everyone has lost weight. None of us have seen our partners in weeks. Most of us have some sort of injury—the normal tweaks and tears that come from day after day of packing barrels. Half of Raquel’s boards are broken, and she’s given the other half away to local kids who have less than she does (which isn’t a lot, considering she lives in a church and has no major sponsors). She has nothing left to ride, but she doesn’t seem too concerned.

Matt Rode.

Matt Rode.

© 2021 - Rick Avena.

Her heart “told her that giving her boards to the kids was the right thing to do,” and that’s not the sort of sentiment that you can (or would even want to) argue with. Plus, the four of us brought something like 20 boards in total, so there are still enough spares to keep her in the water.

Tyler Reid.

Tyler Reid.

© 2021 - Sarah Lee.

Most places we go, we see the same people—little groups of crusty, sunburned, surf-obsessed addicts with the same glazed eyes from living the same, endless groundhog day over and over. Every conversation revolves around the same question—“When are you going home?”—but no one seems to have a good answer. We’ve already extended our trip twice, and with the forecast looking the way it is, we’ll probably do so again.

Mike Seible.

Mike Seible.

© 2021 - Sarah Lee.

What we need to do is just stop for a few days—lie around, catch up on work, respond to emails, eat until we hate ourselves. Maybe even fly home. But after a morning like today, that’s the last thing any of us wants to do. It was one of those sessions that reminds you why you started surfing to begin with

Today was one of those magical days when everything comes together, when you finally sniff out a secluded point that everyone else has overlooked, with an amazing backdrop and an endless supply of overhead barrels. It was one of those sessions that reminds you why you started surfing to begin with—that let’s you rediscover for a few fleeting hours the unbridled stoke that hooked you when you were a kid, before experience and cynicism turned surfing into whatever it is that adults do in the lineup.

Tyler Reid.

Tyler Reid.

© 2021 - Rick Avena.

We traded boards and barrels for four hours, until the wind came up and told us it was time to stop. That’s when we should have gone back to our hotel to rest—to lie around and eat, and maybe even book our flights home. Instead, we drove straight to the main point that everyone else surfs—the one that’s protected from the wind, and that the world tour will invade a few months from now.

When we arrived, the same people were there, surfing the same endless waves and asking the same tired question. How much longer are we staying? When are we going home?

Not anytime soon.