Tuesday, October 9, 2007


La mas larga izquierda del Mundo.
(the longest left in the world)

As a distraction, we used to doodle pictures of impossibly long, faultless waves back in afternoon English classes when we knew the waves were pumping but the teacher insisted on keeping us in the classroom to babble on about yet another irrelevant subject such as verb varieties, gerund or some such curricular guff (who knew that, years later, that stuff would come in handy when trying to make sense of a foreign language). Anyway, the subjects of these scribblings actually exist, at a place midway along Peru's desert coast. It's called Chicama, and it's where they just about finally nailed the art of making waves. Here, dusty brown waves peel unnatural distances down the point, those bored schoolroom sketches come to ice-cold life. The prevailing wind is offshore, and it's far away enough for not many people to make the surreal journey. The wave is so long that a couple of locals run a taxi to ferry people from one end of the wave to the other. It's a bright yellow dingy, and you pay them about $8 for an afternoon free from the horrendously lengthy paddle back out.

I managed to arrive for the tail end of a fairly decent swell- it wasn't great by Chicama standards, but anywhere else in the world it could safely be called epic. I took off on my first wave and froze at the incomprehensible sight of the wave stretching out so far ahead of me. Instantly the dust was being blasted from my hair as I cartwheeled underwater. Not a fairlytale start to my experience of this mythical place, but on my second attempt, I rode the longest wave of my life. Then I rode one longer. There were about 6 of us out, and with waves of this extent, everyone's usually occupied with either riding one or making their way back out, so it was no different to having it all to yourself. It really was ridiculous.

The hotelier tried his best to make us pay less and less, but my abysmal ability to haggle assured that we paid plenty more than necessary (when we paid and he didn't have change, he finally forced us into paying less).