Luckily I got to reunite in San Diego with my cousin Alison and her family, before they re-locate to Boston, a fabulous 24 hours spent sightseeing and catching up on years gone, eating delicious healthy food and enjoying their family home. Oliver took me to his favourite non-fat yogurt place where you choose your flavour and even fill up your own container, lethal and delicious. Thanks Braders, xxxx. Then it was on the Pacific Surf linertrain heading up to San Juan Capistrano to meet up with the Paskowitz family, up to Rancho Carrillo. This is whom I have come over to do my internship with. A wonderful remote Ranch with horses, dogs, cats and wide – open spaces. After months of correspondence it was so nice to meet Danielle, Israel and Isaiah in real life. They were extremely welcoming and took me in with open arms. The following morning early we hit the highway headed for Malibu beach for my first experience with Surfers Healing, www.surfershealing.com
Heading up to Malibu on the highway was an overwhelming experience as it registered just how insignificant we are in lil ole NZ, Los Angeles and surrounding areas is enormous to say the least. Oh my Gosh, I feel privileged to know people here else it could be a big lonely place.
What an eye opening, day I experienced, meeting some fabulous people and watching such a wonderful group of people give these kids and their families a chance to go surfing and experience a day at the beach was amazing to see. My job was fitting the kids with life jackets, then they were handed to the water volunteers then onto the surf instructors who personally took each kid for a ride on a surfboard, mostly the bigger stand up paddle – boards. There was a varying degree of Autism within each child, but they all suffered from learning and general normal function as a human. The families are so supportive as to live with a child with autism is an ongoing daily experience to say the least. The team of volunteers and surf Instructors travelled for the day some as far as Hawaii and Puerto Rico. One of the autistic kids families travelled from Las Vegas especially for the day, four and a half hours by car. Their son was so cute, tiny wee boy with a big heart, lots of cuddles and holding hands from him and all the kids.
After we cleaned up the beach from our long day we all headed up the road to a Fish Restaurant to sit and have a meal and a well-earned beer, over a casual de-brief and discussion. Comradery Laughs, friendship and teamwork were all on the menu too! I’ve have been taken in by all these people with open arms and I can see I will make friends for life in the months to come. A lot of the surfers come from surfing from professional backgrounds or surfing royalty families. The skills needed to take the kids out in the water surfing are large and strength too!
Thanks to Arty I was safely dropped at Penny and Max’s house in Marina Del Ray, this was followed by a night of swimming, venturing around Venice beach on our bikes tasting the many delicious beverages at the local bars. Oh what fun we had!
Sunday was sightseeing Venice beach, and oh my I have never laughed so hard, I have been once before but to watch the ‘all sorts’ of people is something worth seeing in this lifetime. So awesome to catch up with old friends and hit the waves with Max in Venice. Then it was onto Manhattan Beach to stay with Arty. I explored all around the area, found my favourite new shop “American Apparel” and juice bar “Jamba Juice” Gogi berry yum! Sushi great chats and beautiful Manhattan Beach I’ll be back.
After not so much sleep as I was pretty nervous and found it hard to rest my mind, I awoke before the alarm of 0630 to get ready to head to the airport. Having everything all jacked up to go to San Juanico, still didn’t’ stop the jitters as Mexico was a brand new experience and to head their on my own was courageous for me.
The flight was incredible with views over Los Angeles, I actually flew over Arty’s house and could see all along the coastline heading south to the Baja California Peninsula. Two hours and the decent begun. Getting off the aeroplane was like stepping into a fan bake over on 180 degrees, it was hot and I liked it.
Heading into the terminal I was greeted by two smiley Mexicans holding a sign saying Fiona, my new best mates Bruno and Casper, whew what a relief, all going to plan we jumped into their ute and headed for San Juanico which is 4 hours north west of Loreto. This happy gringo got the front seat and soaked up the different terrain on the drive. Massive mountains, to flat desert, giant cactus like I have never seen before, dusty pot holed roads. I tried my best to have a little conversation getting my Spanish phrase books and dictionary out to aid in my poor Spanish. We tried, laughed and sortove got some chats happening.
On arrival into San Juanico we headed for Rancho Verde which is my new home for the next 25 days, great spot (many thanks to my friend Geoff Shutt from Gisborne, who owns the property) with a camper to sleep in and a big covered shed like area with a concrete floor out side, composting toilet and trees and my new mode of transport the quad bike with surfboard racks. This place has a very homely feel with everything needed. It is clear to see a lot of love and hard work has produced this relaxing Mexican getaway.
Then Bruno took me over to meet Laurie and Dave Steibel and their children Jake and Emily. They are so friendly (they are friends of Geoff) and they took me in and gave me some dinner and we chatted, they live here for the past 13 years. A very warm welcome from them which was really nice.
I am very safe in the hands of these wonderful people and I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to come to this magical far away land. It’s the desert dusty when the wind picks up and dry and hot when its not.
My first day in San Juanico and known to the gringo’s as Scorpion Bay, I head to the waves to find picture perfect right hand point break with 4 options. 4th point being for bigger days and then 3rd great shorter board wave and then 2nd point for long boarding and 1st too. A small decent down a rocky face to walk over a few rocks to head out to the Pacific Ocean, I am glad I have brought my 4,3, wet suit as the water is cool. The waves are amazing pretty mellow today, easy take off to a long right hand rippable (can make turns) wave. I am in ore at the potential and set up of the wave. Speaking to other tourists and interesting local gringo’s they assure me that today is pretty bad, ha and already I have experienced my longest right hand wave in my life to date.
So spending my birthday here will be one to remember, dinner at the Burro with the Steibel family, peanut slab for dessert which I had saved from NZ. Thanks Willie.
The next days will be easy to pass, surfing my short board and learning to long board, sleeping, eating, reading, studying, exploring, doing chores around the Camp, talking to the many interesting people around here, practising Spanish and just enjoying having a dream of mine come true, being in Mexico. Hasta leigo amigos.
Love to all.xxx