Maria's A Surfing Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Maria's is a Surfing oriented story set in the present that flashes back to the past with a satisfying arc of remembrance and realization. Please leave some comments so I can plan for my next surfing chronicle.

Submitted: November 07, 2016

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Submitted: November 07, 2016

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Maria’s A Surfing Story

 

Maria, Maria, I just met a girl named Maria hummed through my head.  My earworm formed as I thumbed through the Continental Airlines inflight magazine and suddenly came across an article about a resort in Rincon, Puerto Rico.  West Side Story was the first musical that caught my attention and Rincon will be etched in my memory and soul forever.  Rincon, Puerto Rico and West Side Story seem to meld together just like the Jets and Sharks but actually it couldn’t be further from the truth. 

I was on board a 737 Boston bound for a business meeting. The bumping and thumping of the push back wakened me.  When you travel a lot you need coping strategies.  I like to get into my seat, belt in, and promptly go to sleep.  I’m good at it.  Sometimes I have the presence of mind and courtesy to apologize in advance to my seat mates for the snoring and drooling.

I had fished around in the most germ infested part of the plane, the seat back pouch and extracted the magazine that had kicked off my Maria reverie.

Maria as it turns out was a very elderly woman who lived on a beach located on a promontory of the Puerto Rican coast called The Puntas.  Maria’s small shack was surrounded by a rather nice low picket fence.  Everything was a bleached white and had seen a lot of sun and mist.

How did I come to make the acquaintance of this old lady who lived in probably one of the most obscure coastal villages in Puerto Rico?Rincon is as far away from San Juan as you could get. 

It was relatively easy.  I got on a rural bound bus at the San Juan airport.  The cavernous bus surely dated from the 1950’s.  I was able to stash my surfboard on a broad shelf that ran across the rear window.  I joined a motley collection of locals who were headed back to their respective villages from some overseas civilization.  I settled in for the 4 hour trip.  We stopped, we started, we stopped, and occasionally we drove along for a while.  It seemed to go on all day.  It did.

Last Stop, the village of Rincon.  I collected my knapsack and board and headed east.  About a half hour later I arrived at Maria’s shack.  It was well known in the NJ surfing community that you could reliably find someone to watch your gear while you hit the waves for your first go out.  Surfers have a lemming like quality. We are driven to get to a good break and if it is, that is breaking, we drop everything and go out.  That played right into Maria’s business model. 

Maria eyed me suspiciously but I trudged forward and offered my hand.  Maria laughed and slowly shook her head.  I held up my bag and she held out her hand.  I offered her a dollar but she just shook her head.  I added another dollar and now she looked disgusted.  I dug in my pocket for more money and came out with a load of coins.  Maria selected 3 quarters and the deal was struck.  Maria would watch my stuff and apparently a couple other guy’s bags for the princely sum of 75 cents.

Every island seems to have its own bouquet and this was no different.  The water was a light blue and the breeze held a spicy smell that was over laid with the faint whiff of burnt sugar cane.  I didn’t realize the burnt aroma was sugar cane until a lot later.  As I stated to get into the water someone on the beach hollered out, watch out for the sea urchins.  Looking closely in the shallows you could see the red spinney creatures.

Paddling out in dangerous, shallow water.  I turned my board upside down so the fin was pointing up and gingerly slipped into the shore break effecting the fingertip paddling I would use for the next 3 months.

Maria’s as the break was known is a point break and today we had 4-6 foot waves, glassy smooth wrapping around the point with machine precision.  The tide was going out which introduced a double edged state of affairs, exposed, sea urchin infested coral and incredibly hollow, fast waves.

The rides were epic and soon it was time to find some like-minded companions, a place to stay, and some dinner.  Fortunately I ran into some of my pals from Belmar, NJ in the water.  I moved into a small house with a bedroom jammed with 5 surfers, one on each wall and me in a hammock across corners of the room.  Excellent sleeping conditions.  We caught and released small lizards in the room for mosquito control.

 I remember the day I left Rincon.  I walked down to the beach to check the surf.  Surf that would go on without me.  Maria was outside so I went over and gave her a hug.  I think she smiled but I’m just not sure.  That was the last time I saw Maria.  I returned to Rincon a number of times for the excellent winter surf.  Maria’s house fell into disrepair and I couldn’t find her anywhere in the village.

I was thrilled and horrified to find our surf paradise, a new destination, a new high end resort for people who will never have to dig a sea urchin spine out of their foot, never get to enjoy the Friday evening cock fights, swill local rum, or gorge on flan.


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