Baja Norte Expression Session, Baja, Mexico Febuary 20-22, 2004
Baja California is a wild place, it’s further away in terms of culture and people and standard of living than would seem possible for such a short distance. One could easily see from upscale San Diego suburbs to the squalor of a Tijuana slum. It’s this distance, while not physical, that makes any voyage in Baja an adventure’some more than others.
There has been a recent trend in the surf kayak community towards ‘expression sessions’. Not contests, just gathering where this rare cross of paddler and surfer gets together, cheers each other on, and rips up waves somewhere. Last fall I decided to host one at my favorite surf spot, Salsipuedes, about 20 minutes north of Ensenada, and just an hour or so south of the border.
Between announcing the event and it’s taking place, I found myself a great job quite a bit north of the border, in Reno, NV, so my part in the weekend started with a bit of a drive. I relaxed with my girlfriend Kim for awhile in Newport Beach thurs night. Friday morning we all meet near the border, and headed to Salsipuedes. We arrived to an empty campground, and an empty break.
After building Camp SCSK, we quickly rounded up gear and headed down the steep trail to the cobble beach. Launch out, and spend an amazing several hours surfing. 5 boaters, no boards, and more waves than we knew what to do with, at a super nice break. Not super huge, but big enough. Reluctantly we headed in for nourishment and to rest, but it wasn’t long before Chris Russ and I were eyeing the waves. Back into the gear, he and I head down the hill and surf until after sunset. A little smaller, but so many waves that I feel like my arms are going to drop off.
Friday night we have an amazing potluck dinner, with great Quesadillas by Kristi, awesome tamales from Dennis, Pesto pasta, beer, chips and more. Dessert from Sage and Simone, and most importantly tons of fun stories and great camaraderie.
Sat morning is overcast, and the tide is high. A group of us head into Ensenada, where we visit the fish market, look around, and eat raw oysters from street carts. A lunch of fish tacos, and it’s back to camp for an extended afternoon surf session. Rob showed up and was putting on a good show in his WW boat. Again, our group had the break completely to ourselves. Nice.
For dinner we went to Puerto Neuvo, where we enjoyed lobster. $13 dollars bought you 1.5 lobsters, with rice/beans/tortillas and margaritas. Dinner was great, tons of hilarious stories, much laughter, and good food. Can’t ask for more. Chris apparently knows every junk food spot in Mexico, and led us with glee to his favorite candy shop, where $4 bought approximetly 10 billion calories worth of delicious handmade candy. We left there, and Chris led us to ANOTHER candy shop’.
Back to camp, and people drifted off to bed. I slept fitfully, listening to increasingly heavy rain throughout the night. It wasn’t lost on me that Salsipuedes translates to ‘get out if you can’, nor were the numerous wrecks that scatter the steep hillside. I was out of bed early, and the surf was big, but it was raining and stormy. I watched a 4×4 Toyota truck slip and slide through the mud, and began to wonder if any of us would get out of there. We ended up discusiing our options, and Rob decided to leave when he could. We watched him slide around and around, but finally make the road, and cruise up the hill. Chris tried to head down the hill to the beach, and went sliding. Surfing wasn’t going to happen, so we started to pack up as the rain got heavier and heavier. Dennis didn’t think he’d get out with his small pickup and settled in for the wait. We loaded him up with extra food, and left. We were driving into the pouring rain, in some places rivers ran across the road, and mud and rockslides were evident. Unknown to us, Sage suffered the consequences when hit a rock, flatting his tire and bending his rim. Doh! Meanwhile, Chris, Kristi Kim and I were enjoying yummy lunch in Rosarito.
Tijuana was crazy, flooding had closed many streets, and the open one weren’t much better. Chris used his suburban to push stuck cars out of the way. Baby seats and other random flotsam floated by, crazyness.
And so it was over, the first Baja Norte Expression Session. Some amazing waves, some ok waves, some days with no waves. But we had great fun, great food, good adventure and great friends.