Cuyagua Trip

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A story about my surfing adventure at Cuyagua, Venezuela. Told from the first person perspective the story recounts my experiences on a three day trip to the beach with my friend Gordo.

Submitted: August 13, 2010

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Submitted: August 13, 2010

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Cuyagua Trip
 
Wednesday afternoon, around 12 o’ clock PM, it seemed at the time that my friend Gordo had fallen through on his promise to take me surfing. He had texted me the night before saying that we would go right after he got something done early the next morning. It now being around mid-day, I had mostly given up on going surfing that day. I was sitting around watching a T.V. show on the top 5 surf locations in Latino America, although I tuned in late and only caught the top two locations, which were Puerto Escondido, Mexico and Witches Rock, Costa Rica. Once they showed the top location, they showed a quick recap of the top 5 locations, and I saw that the number 5 location was Cuyagua, Venezuela. I thought, “Man, I wish I was there right now surfing, instead of sitting here in this apartment cooped up like a goldfish in a bowl.”  I then said a little prayer to God in my head, first of all thanking Him for everything that He provides us with, and secondly for Deliverance from all dangers, even the unknown, then ended it up by asking Him to provide me with something to do outside of that dreadful apartment. Sure enough, the Great Lord being all that He is, I got a text from Gordo not 30 minutes after my viewing of the Top 5 Latino Surf Locations. It said “having a rough day, want to go to Cuyagua, can you go?” I of course was ecstatic and hastily replied “heck yeah”. He then said he would pick me up around 2 o’ clock, and we agreed that I needed to bring around 100 bolivares. I got the permission and 100 bolivares from my Dad and then I started to pack.
I decided to bring 2 surfboards, another blessing from God, to put that idea into my head, which I will shed light upon in its proper place. I brought my regular shortboard, a 6’0 Sharp Eye, and my fish/shortboard hybrid type board, a 5’8 Rusty Piranha. I also brought a few t-shirts, a pair of board shorts, a towel, sunscreen, a toothbrush, my passport, and several other little essentials for such a trip. I put all of this into my backpack and shoved both of my surfboards into my board bag. After I did all of this, I looked at the time and it was around 1 o’ clock. I still had a while to wait. This little waiting period felt like forever to me because I was so anxious to go. I made a little cheese sandwich and watched T.V. with my Dad for a little while. It was around 3 o’ clock when we got finally a call on the wall phone from the guard saying that Gordo is downstairs. My Dad accompanied me downstairs because he wanted to ask Gordo about Cuyagua and make sure I was going to be safe. Once we got downstairs we greeted Gordo and then he and my Dad started talking, in Spanish of course. Now I am nowhere near fluent in Spanish, but I can speak a little and understand a lot, so I did retain a little bit of their conversation. My Dad first asked him about the trip, and then they went on the talk about business, because Gordo’s parents own a medical clinic, and my Dad is looking for contacts in that certain field. This conversation felt like it went on for hours, I was so anxious to be off on this surf trip. Finally we bade my Dad farewell, I threw all of my things into the car, and we were off.
It was around 3:30 PM when we finally descended the hill, upon which my apartment complex sits, in Gordo’s Toyota Landcruiser.  Inside the car we listened to Gordo’s favorite band, Bad Religion, as Gordo started telling me all about Cuyagua and how he hoped we would get there in time to surf that evening. Cuyagua is about 3 hours away from Valencia, without traffic, and it gets dark around 6:30 PM here in Venezuela. Once we got outside of Valencia and onto the highway we ran right into a fairly heavy traffic jam. Yet our spirits were not to be dampened so easily. We made it to the toll booth which lightens the traffic a bit by 4 o’ clock. Here we made a short pit stop. After about 5 minutes we were off, moving much more quickly without the heavy traffic. While on the highway we came upon a single man who seemed to be pushing his broken down car down the road. I deducted that his engine wouldn’t start and that he needed to get some momentum going so he could start it. Other cars were just passing by him like they couldn’t care one bit. Gordo stopped and asked if he wanted a push. Naturally, I went to get out of the car, but Gordo stopped me, saying “Dude, what are you doing?” Gordo then backed up his car to get behind this man’s car, it then dawned upon me what Gordo was planning to do. My first thoughts were “This isn’t going to end well.” Gordo slowly approached this man’s car with his own car, bumped slightly into the back of it, then started moving forward so as to push this man’s car with his own car. It worked well at first until the man shifted into first gear which made his car halt for a split second. We rammed into the back of him with significant force, but the man just kept driving and so did we. Around this point of our journey I changed the music in the car to The Beatles. Listening to the tunes in the background, we maintained steady conversation on subjects ranging from travel plans to stories of the history of Venezuela.
It was around 4:30 PM when we arrived at a large tunnel cut into a mountain. There we exited the highway into a city called Maracaibo. The city seemed a lot like Valencia except for that it looked to be a little bit less industrial. Here we stopped at a gas station. As we were turning into the gas station we heard a loud grinding noise coming from the front of Gordo’s car. We got out of the car to check on it and saw that the bumper got bent from when we crashed into the back of the man’s broken down car, though it was not bad. Gordo yanked on the bumper with sufficient force and it popped back into place. We had to wait in line at the gas pump, and the man in front of us wasted a good 5 minutes because he was too lazy to get out of his car to retrieve his change from the gas pump attendant. Finally the attendant came over and gave the man his change. We moved forward and gassed up Gordo’s truck, and then we were back on the road. We drove through the last little part of Maracaibo, which still looked a lot like Valencia, and I couldn’t help but feel at this moment that maybe this trip wasn’t going to be all that I thought it was going to be. Though right after I started thinking that, the scenery changed. We were now driving through something like a forest at the foot of a mountain. Gordo told me to get ready because we were now going to be driving over 3 different mountains for the next hour and a half. Also, about 5 minutes after this, he suddenly told me that I we were coming up on a National Guard checkpoint. I said another little prayer to God here asking Him to grant us safe passage through this checkpoint, of course the Almighty delivered and the Guard let us pass without even stopping us. After passing the checkpoint we passed through a small town which reminded me a bit of Costa Rica, and then we were at the foot of the first of three mountains.
It was around 5 o’ clock when we started to ascend the first of the three mountains. Here we remarked that we needed to make haste in order to get to Cuyagua in time to surf that evening. I thought that the scenery from the winding mountain road was quite beautiful. As we came around the corners, we could see all the way down into a lush green forest of huge trees, vines, and all sorts of plants. We also came across a donkey walking on the side of the road, which provided us with a bit of a comical anecdote; the details might be too grotesque to make apparent. We passed through another small town on the first mountain, and it seemed much like other towns in Venezuela, with people living in danger of criminals and savages. I did not like this, and my thoughts were that a place like Costa Rica, where there is not much crime, and much better waves, would suit me better. It took about 45 minutes to get over the first mountain. After we came upon the opposite foot of the first mountain, we rode down a flat road for about another mile, and then crossed a bridge over a river. I thought that the river looked quite tranquil, with very clean water and smooth, grey river rocks. After we crossed the bridge we came upon the foot of the second mountain.
Gordo remarked that this was the shortest of the mountain roads, and I was glad to hear it, because I was very eager to get to Cuyagua in time to surf that evening. Nothing of much significance happened while crossing this mountain, for the exception of the scenery being quite beautiful, with the mountain once again overlooking the large forest. Once we came upon the opposite foot of the second mountain, we came into a town called Ocumare.
I had of course heard of this town before, because I had planned to go there with Barbara, whose father has a house there. It was nothing like I expected it to be. It was fairly small, there was no ocean or beach in sight, the streets were dirty, and the walls were covered with graffiti. It was like most other towns in Venezuela, nothing modern about it, about 10 years behind anything in the United States. Most people in towns like theses have never even heard English being spoken before, besides maybe those who are fortunate enough to own a television. Everything was made of concrete bricks. There were half way completed houses all over the place. You can’t even see the houses that are completed from the main street because there are 6 foot concrete walls on each side of the street to protect people from thieves. In these towns structures are built almost on top of each other, so that the small area of the town is crammed with many small residences. As we came into the center of the town, Gordo pointed out to me a crude concrete structure that was covered in graffiti. He said, “All I know is that if you get hurt in Cuyagua this is where I have to take you. So don’t do anything stupid.” Apparently this was a medical clinic, and it was beyond shabby looking. Finally we reached the end of the town of Ocumare, crossed a bridge over a small stream, and came to a straight rode which lasted for about a mile. On both sides of this road were small farms, but when I looked to the left side I could see the horizon so I figured the ocean must be that way, and fairly close. This straight, flat part of the road went on for about a mile, and then we came upon the foot of the third mountain.
By this time it was around 5:45 PM. The scenery from the road of the third mountain was truly spectacular. The road went more around the edge of the mountain, rather than through it like the other winding mountain roads did. With the ocean on the left, it would be around the north edge of the mountain. Once we started ascending the mountain, we were bordered on both sides by great rocky cliffs, so as if we were in a sort of canyon. After we started rising in altitude, we began to be able to see the ocean from the left side of the road. The effect of the ocean was truly breathtaking. We were so high up, and the ocean so vastly immense, that you had to turn your head nearly 90 degrees in each direction to see the whole thing. We could see several small rocky islands from this vantage point. I couldn’t help but wonder how many untouched point breaks and reef breaks there must be hidden by the shadow of huge mountain cliffs or peeling off the edge of one of these desolate rocky islands. From here we could also see the town of Cata. The sight of this town surprised me, as it looked fairly modern, at least from the perch upon which I perceived it. Right on the beach there was a line of modern looking condominiums that I am sure my Dad would have liked to investigate. Each one was around 10-20 stories high and had balconies overlooking the ocean. Gordo told me a little history about the town, saying that it was a pretty rich place, although in the recent years the market value of its assets had declined significantly. After a few more miles of traveling on this delightful mountain road, we came upon a point where we could actually see the beach of Cuyagua. It looked fairly pleasant, with many palm trees lining the dark sand beach. I saw that there was some swell in the ocean, and I saw a few nice looking waves breaking on the beach. Although, I was not sure how big the waves were, because the point was still fairly high up on the mountain and also at some distance from the beach which I was now seeing. After about another mile of descending the mountain, we came upon the town of Cuyagua.
 It was around 6 o’ clock when we arrived in Cuyagua. My first impression was that it looked like all the rest of the towns that we passed on our way, but then Gordo told me that this was only the central part of the town and that we still had a little ways to go to get to the beach. While riding through this part of the town we came upon a large group of villagers participating in a Santeria ceremony. I heard sounds of loud bongo drumming and the villagers chanting in Spanish words that I could not make out. It was an interesting scene, but being a Christian I was a bit repulsed. We passed the street where this ceremony was going on, and then turned left down the next avenue. Gordo told me this avenue would take us all the way to the beach. Though the road was bumpy with many potholes, we made haste. Riding down this road, I saw that a river flowed on the right side. The water of the river was crystal clear and it truly looked like a refreshing place. Gordo told me this is where we would shower off after surfing. On the left side of the road there were several small stores, something like convenience stores. After a few minutes there were no more stores on the left side as the road went into a little forest, but with the river still on the right side. I saw a few small streams flowing from the forest, across the road, and into the river. There were also a few paths cut into the forest that you could access from this main road. Gordo told me that one of the paths were the way to get to the public bathrooms, something I had not thought about up until that point.  This road went on for about a mile and then finally opened up to the beach.
The first thing that caught my eye was that there was a little restaurant right on the beach to the left of the river mouth. It was obstructing the actual view of the ocean at that point. Once we got close enough we could see the ocean from the opening of the river mouth, and there didn’t seem to be too many waves. As we continued to look right, on the other side of the river, Gordo showed me a flat area where he told me all the “hippies” camp out. After we looked around for a moment we turned left and started driving down the length of the beach. Now the ocean was to our right. Just past the restaurant there was another small area where several tents were pitched. Past that there was a fenced in area where a small forest of spread out palms trees grew, and past that another fenced in area where younger palm trees were beginning to grow. Gordo explained to me that these areas are called “Restoration Zones” and eventually, once the palm trees are fully grown, the fences would be taken down and they would be used as additional camping areas just like the first area that I mentioned. Gordo said that they planned to continue to do this on this whole stretch of beach inside the bay of which Cuyagua sits, which is about a two mile stretch. After we passed these areas we finally got our first view of the open ocean. I saw that though the waves were small, about 1 to 2 feet, they looked ride able and had pretty good form.
 By this time it was about 6:15 PM, so I wanted to make haste to be able to get a least about 15 minutes of surfing in before it got dark. Gordo drove all the way down the beach, explaining to me the 3 spots, or points, where people usually surf. The first being the river mouth, a slower but longer wave, the second being called Juecos, or Holes, which was a very critical and fast wave, and the third being up against the cliff on the far end of the beach, where it was much like a reef/point break. Gordo told me that the most consistent spot was Juecos. After the little tour I told him I was ready surf, but he told me that he thought the waves were too small and he didn’t want to surf, that he would rather go get food from the restaurant before it closed. He said that he would drop me off to surf while he went to get food. I didn’t like the idea of staying behind alone to surf, the beach being deserted, so I went with him back to the restaurant. Once we got back to the restaurant, Gordo asked the man, who was at the counter, what time they stopped making food. The man said he would stay available until around 8 o’ clock. So we resolved that we would go back to Juecos, surf until dark, and then come back to the restaurant to eat. Once we arrived at the surf spot, Gordo said that he didn’t think the waves were good enough to paddle out, but that I should go out first and if he saw me catch a good wave he would join me. I said that was alright, took my Rusty Piranha out of the board bag, put on the fins, strapped on my leash, and paddled out.
Once I paddled out, I saw that the sun had actually already gone down under the mountain upon which was the road that brought us there. My feeling towards this was that of nervousness, because I knew that it is during this time, dusk, that sharks like to feed, and I was the only one in the water, in fact the only one on the whole beach besides Gordo, who was now lounging on his beach chair watching me. So with that in the back of my head the whole time, plus the waves not being so great, it was quite an uncomfortable surf session. Though I did have one exceptionally fun wave, a right hander, where I dropped in late (which means standing up on a more critical part of the wave, where it is very steep) and did a heavy bottom turn up into a hard backside (me being goofy footed) carve. I heard the spray from the maneuver falling behind me on the back of the wave, a very pleasing sensation, and then I kept pumping down the line of the wave to get speed. At the end did a small turn against the whitewater of the oncoming section of the wave, feeling my fins release slightly. My surf session lasted only about 15 minutes, and then it started getting too dark so I came in. Once I came in, dried off, and put my board into the back of Gordo’s car, we decided to return to the restaurant to eat.
By the time we arrived back at the restaurant, it was nearly dark outside. The sun had partially set, but it was completely out of view because of the large mountains behind us. We approached the man who was at the counter before, but who was now sitting at one of the three tables that were on the patio of the restaurant, and asked him what kind of arepas (a traditional Venezuelan food, made of corn, but turned into a bread like substance, which you ate like a sandwich with meat, cheese, or eggs in the middle) he was serving. He said that he had Queso Amarillo, or yellow cheese, and Carne Mechada, or pulled meat. We ordered 3 of each, so that we would have food for later that night, and also for the next morning. We each ate one at the restaurant. I had the pulled meat and Gordo had the yellow cheese. While we were eating at the restaurant, several locals came from the town and sat down at the tables next to us. Around this time Gordo and I saw a storm coming from the east, and we saw great lightening strikes coming out of the storm clouds. Then, shortly after this, the locals who were sitting at the tables next to us got up and went onto a boat that was docked on the west bank of the river. They started up the engine, and went out of the river mouth and into the ocean. I thought that surely they weren’t about to venture far out into the ocean with that storm coming on, but shortly after I observed them heading out to sea and eventually they made the cape of the east cliff of the bay and were out of sight. I turned to Gordo and asked, “Where do you think are they going with that storm coming?” Gordo replied, “No idea.” Gordo then asked the man who prepared our food, and he told us that they were heading to a place about 45 minutes away, called Choroni. Gordo replied in Spanish, “What about that storm? The ocean is going to be pretty rough.” The man then replied, “No, it’s not going to rain, look at the red on the horizon.” Gordo and I looked at each other, a bit baffled by the man’s reply, but shrugged our shoulders. We then paid for our food, and also bought some bug repellent because the mosquitoes were attacking us pretty badly. After that we decided that we would head back up river to the convenience store to buy some water.
We bade farewell to the man at the restaurant, got into the car, and started drive back up river towards the convenience store. Here we bought a 1 liter bottle of water, which was essential. After we departed from the store we decided that it was time to find a spot to camp for the night. We headed back to the beach, which was deserted, and chose a spot not so far from the Restoration Areas. We were more to the east side, but Gordo said on a normal day there are hundreds of campers here, so he usually camps towards the west end of the beach, right in front of the Juecos surf spot. I was glad that the beach was deserted. I don’t imagine that I would like Cuyagua very much with hundreds of campers partying and playing loud music all night long. I enjoyed tapping into the pure natural beauty and tranquility of the place.
We didn’t pitch the tent right away after we found a good spot to camp at. Gordo took out his two beach chairs and we sat down in the near pitch black dark and enjoyed the peace and quiet of it all. We must have sat there for 2 or 3 hours, and we talked about all kinds of things. Well, Gordo did most of the talking like usual, I just sat back and listened to his stories intently, and put in my opinion or comments when necessary. I am really not much of a talker, but I do fancy myself as a great listener. Some might say I have the gift of silence, others might say that I am just shy, I really don’t know. He told stories of his time in the United States, we both exchanged childhood stories, we talked of girlfriends past and present, among other thing as well. As we talked we watched as the heavens opened up in front of us. The storm had moved out into the ocean, so that we had a clear view of the stars right over our heads. Without the poison of city lights, the stars in the sky are a truly magnificent thing. There were thousands of them, some as large and bright as a Saturn might be, others as minute and dim as you would imagine Pluto to be. To add on to this wonderful display of raw nature just above the horizon we watched as lightning bolts slashed and struck through the storm clouds and every once in a while touched down in the ocean. After a while we started getting drowsy and decided that it was time for us to pitch the tent. Gordo had what is called a roof tent. At the time I didn’t know what that was. I saw that it was folded up into a square box on the racks of the roof of his car, but I thought that it just folded out onto the ground. So I had quite a surprise when he took the cover off, unfolded a ladder from the top of it, then pulled the latter down which in turn made a full heavy duty two person tent open up onto the roof of his car. It was really quite a remarkable contraption, one that I had never seen before, and Gordo could tell by my reaction of “What the heck!” He then replied, “What? Did you think we were going to sleep on the ground? You’re crazy.” After the tent was fully pitched on top of the car, we got all the blankets and pillows that Gordo had brought out of the car, and we put them inside of the tent. Then we each climbed the ladder and got in. I then observed that the floor of the tent was actually a soft foam mattress, comparable to one of those therapeutic back mattresses that are so expensive. This was another pleasant surprise for me. Also, I thought that the inside was going to be hot, but once I was inside I saw that the four mosquito net covered windows created a nice air flow that made it delightfully cool. I grabbed a pillow and a thin sheet, and then lay down on the soft mattress. Before I went to sleep, I of course said my nightly prayers, asking God to watch over all of my friends, family, and loved ones, asking for Forgiveness for any sins that I had committed that day, thanking and praising Him for the opportunity that He had so subtlety given me, for Deliverance from all dangers, and just for all the comforts in life that he gives me, then I asked Him to use me as a vessel to have His Good Will to be done. After saying my prayers, I fell into a deep slumber within 30 minutes, and woke the next morning before the sun had risen above the horizon.
The first thing I noticed when I woke up was that the waves looked to be slightly larger than the day before, although how much bigger I was not quite sure. Gordo was still asleep, so I quietly climbed down from the ladder to check things out. I looked out to the west, towards the Juecos, and I saw a point where the waves looked to be breaking better than anywhere else, so I resolved to walk over there. Once I looked down the beach, I noticed a large gathering of something some distance away, although I was not sure what it was. Once I came nearer, I saw, to my great surprise, that it was a herd of cattle. I further observed that there were two large bulls in the herd. This made me a bit nervous, so I decided to walk far around them, in the cover of some palm trees farther inland. Once I had passed the herd of cattle, I continued on to the point where I saw the waves were breaking best. Once I arrived there I observed that the waves looked fun, with good shape and about 2-3 feet high. I went back to wake up Gordo, passing around the herd of cattle, this time by walking close to the water, below the sand bank that sloped down into the ocean. Once I returned to the tent, I saw from the mouth of the tent that Gordo was still sleeping. I decided to sit on the sand and watch the waves until the sun had fully risen. Once the sun had fully risen, I woke up Gordo. After he had woken up, he wanted to walk down to the point where the waves were breaking good, so we walked back down there. Once he had seen that the waves were good, we hurried back to the tent to get our surfboards, locked up the car, and walked back to the point, ready to paddle out.
By the time that we had walked back to the Juecos, the point where the waves were breaking best, several other cars packed full of surfers had arrived at the beach. They were all preparing to paddle out at the Juecos as well. Gordo and I were the first ones out into the ocean, and the waves were awesome. They were about 3 to 4 feet high, super clean conditions with a light offshore wind, and breaking hard and fast on a shallow sand bottom. After surfing for about 30 minutes I had already gotten several good rides, but there were also quite a few other surfers now in the water. Gordo knew one of the surfers, his name was Luis, but we called him Negro (which literally means black in Spanish, and is in no way racist) because of his heavy dark brown skin. This guy turned out to be our savior, as you will find out later in my tale. We continued surfing for nearly 4 hours, even after the onshore trade winds started blowing, which made the ocean choppy and a little rough. So after 4 and a half hours of surfing, we finally decided to go in to shore and take a break. Once we were out of the water, we slowly walked back to the car, the sun beating heavily down onto our backs.
Once we got back to the car we realized that we were starving, so the first thing we did was ate the left over arepas from the night before. They were a bit soggy, but they still got the job done. After we finished eating, we decided to head down to the crystal clear river to rinse off the in the cold refreshing water. So we threw our boards into the back of Gordo’s car, and then folded the tent back into the box on top of the car. We then made trip down the beach past the Restoration Areas and the restaurant, then turned right at the mouth of the river and drove about 2 miles upriver until we found a good spot to jump in at. The water was delightfully refreshing, although at first sensation it was a bit cold. By the time we got out of the river we felt fully refreshed. We then decided to head back down to the restaurant, get a few sodas, buy some more food, and check to see if the surf at the river mouth was looking any good. Once we got there and sat down at the table with our sodas, we saw that there were nearly no waves breaking at the mouth of the river. We ate a few more arepas, this time with scrambled eggs stuffed inside, which were served steaming hot. After eating we were feeling a bit lazy, so we decided to head back over towards the Juecos and rest for a few hours.
It was about 2 o’ clock when we got back to the Juecos. There was a little hut about 100 yards inland on the beach, and here we set up our 2 beach chairs and rested while we watched people surf. While lounging there in my chair, I accidentally dozed off into a light sleep. It couldn’t have lasted for more than 15 minutes, for I was woken up to Gordo calling my name, and then was startled almost to the point of a heart attack. A large cattle bull, six feet tall in height, was approaching me from not 10 yards away. I was at loss for words or thoughts about what to do in that situation. Gordo had already backed away to his car, where he had climbed in the back and was peering out at me laughing nervously. I slowly rose from my chair, and then started backing away. After I had gotten about 10 feet away, I turned on my heel and ran as fast as I could towards Gordo’s car, where I jumped into the back clumsily. Once I had gotten my wits about myself and looked out of the back of Gordo’s car, I noticed that the large bull had only wanted to get into the shade of the hut, and he was now lying down staring at us with an unmistakable look of confusion. Gordo and I had a good long laugh about that string of events. After we had gotten back out of the car and gained a bit of composure, we turned toward the ocean and observed that the waves still looked exceptionally good. We decided that it was time to have another surf session.
It was around 4 o’ clock when we decided that it was time to paddle back out. We grabbed our surfboards from out of the back of Gordo’s car, put sunscreen on our faces, and started walking towards the water. Once I paddled out I noticed that the ocean was much more rough and choppy than it was in the morning, but also that the waves were somewhat bigger. We surfed for about another 2 hours. The waves were good the whole time, and I had a blast. This surf session was almost better than the morning one because there was almost no crowd to speak of; where as in the morning session many people in the water, making for a stiff competition to catch a wave. We were enabled to catch many more waves in due to the lesser crowd. We surfed until we saw that the sun was once again falling behind the mountain, upon which the rode we came was. Once the sun had set below the mountain, Gordo and I both caught our last waves and returned to his car.
Once we were back to Gordo’s car, we decided to go back to the river to rinse off and get refreshed. So we packed up the car, drove past the Reservation Areas, past the restaurant, up the river and back to the same spot we had gone before. Once we had gotten refreshed, we returned back to the Juecos. There were now five or six cars on the beach, most of them filled with surfers. Gordo’s friend, Negro, was not on the beach, he had rented out a room in town. Once we had found a good spot to camp at, we parked the car there and then returned to the little hut where we had been earlier that day. There were now a few surfers hanging out there, and we started a conversation with them. One of them was from Caracas, where he owned a company that makes bean bags. The other two were younger kids, about my age, that were from a town called Barquisimetro. After about 30 minutes of talking to these guys, I looked to the east and saw a huge dark rain cloud approaching. Before we knew it, a huge storm had blown upon us. It was raining so hard that it was hard to even hear each other speak, and the wind was blowing at about 20 miles per hour. We were, for all intents and purposes, stuck under that hut until the storm decided to cease. So here under this hut we spent the rest of our evening. Thankfully the guy from Caracas had several beach chairs in his car, which was parked right next to the hut. So we sat there in his beach chairs and talked about surfing and others things until the storm stopped, which took about 3 hours. I was getting increasingly tired during all of this time. Towards the end of those 3 hours I was falling asleep in my chair. Once the storm stopped, I was the first one to bid everyone goodnight and announce I am going to bed. So I got up, walked back through the soggy sand to Gordo’s car, pulled out the tent and climbed in. Once I was inside the tent, I opened all the windows, said my prayers and fell asleep almost immediately.
I awoke the next morning to the sound of waves crashing in the ocean. As soon as I heard that, I knew that the waves were going to be big. I got up and looked out of the mouth of the tent and sure enough, four to six foot waves with a light offshore wind and breaking with perfect form. I lay there at the mouth of the tent and watched for a few minutes as four sets of waves rolled in, all of them breaking fast and hard on the shallow sand bottom. After this I climbed down from the tent to look around the beach to see if any other surfers were up yet or getting ready to paddle out. I quickly perceived that I was the first one awake, or at least the first one out of their tent. Right awake I yelled to Gordo to wake him up, and grabbed the key chain to open up the car. Once I grabbed the key chain, I noticed that though the remote lock opener was there, the actual key that starts the car was not. I resolved that Gordo must have taken this off and put it inside the car, so I didn’t let it bother me. I opened the car, grabbed my board from the back, and put sunscreen on my face all before Gordo was even out of the tent. Since the waves were big I decided to do a few stretches before I paddled out. So by the time I was getting into the water Gordo was already getting his board out of the car. Once I was only about waist deep into the water, I heard a faint voice calling my name, “Andrew!!! Andrew!!!” It was Gordo calling my name all the way from the beach. So I turned around and walked back up to the car. Gordo asked “Where is the key to the car?” I said “I don’t know, you had it last.” So began the scare of the lost key.
Gordo and I first started by searching all inside of the car for the key. We looked under the seat covers, in every compartment, crack, and slot you could imagine, under every seat and every rug. The key was simply nowhere to be found in the car. We then searched the tent, under the mattress inside the tent and inside the zipper compartment inside the tent. The key wasn’t in the tent. We then started searching the area between the hut and where Gordo’s car was, kicking up all of the sand in between these areas to make sure the key wasn’t buried, yet still the key was nowhere to be found. About halfway through our search, Gordo’s friend Negro arrived at the beach. He held off on surfing to help us search for the key, saying “I am good at finding things.” Our reply was “This key is just nowhere to be found.” Gordo had already called all of his family and had told them that they might need to get ready to make the four hour trip to bring him his spare key. After about an hour Gordo and I gave up on searching for the key and were sitting on the back of his truck trying to figure out what to do next. Negro comes around to the back of the truck and says in a conversational sort of way, in Spanish of course, “Hey Gordo, when is your birthday?” Gordo answered with a confused tone, “July 25, why?” Negro replied, “Happy Birthday my friend, today is your lucky day.” Negro revealed from behind his back the little silver key and flipped it lazily into Gordo’s hands. Gordo and I went ballistic. Jumping up and down and whooping, we each gave Negro a huge embrace and shouted out, “Let’s go surfing!!!” We got our surfboards from the back of Gordo’s truck, Gordo secured the key in its proper hiding place, and we headed to the water.
By the time the whole lost key conundrum was resolved, all the other surfers who were on the beach were already in the water. The grand total of surfers was somewhere around 30, all converged into an area in the ocean about one hundred yards wide. This was a little disheartening, but nonetheless we paddled out because the waves were looking amazing! I was the first of the three of us to paddle out into the lineup, and I caught a beautiful left hander right away. I dropped in, did a sharp bottom turn and pulled right into a perfect hollow barrel. Then the wave closed out and I got slammed against the bottom, but still I came up smiling and eager to catch some more. Gordo, Negro, and I surfed nonstop for the next four or five hours, catching as many waves as the crowd would allow for the first three hours. After the first three hours nearly everyone left the water and we had the waves almost all to ourselves, and we each caught a plethora of nice rides. The session ended on somewhat of a downer for me. I caught one of the larger waves of the day, a left hander, did a big bottom turn and went to do a maneuver on a very critical part of the wave. When I came down from the maneuver, the nose, or point of my surfboard submerged into the water and slammed right into the shallow water. I heard it crack as soon as the board met with the sand. When the board popped up to float on top of the water, the nose was almost completely broken off, the only thing holding it to the rest of the board was a thin sheet of fiberglass. There was nothing I could do except swim in to shore and walk back to Gordo’s car with my head held down, for I knew that that was probably the last time I would ever surf on that surfboard. Now it becomes apparent why it was such a blessing from God to put the thought into my head to bring an extra board, because if I had not I would not had been able to surf the rest of our trip. Once Gordo saw me by his car, he too came in and we realized we were completely famished after our long surf session. So we resolved to head to the restaurant to get something to eat.
As we were making our way to the restaurant from the Juecos, Gordo and I changed our minds and decided to go to the river first to rinse off. So we drove past the restaurant and up river to the spot that we had gone the other times we went into the river. We jumped in the cold, fresh water and lay there for about 30 minutes, just getting refreshed. Once we had had enough of the river, we jumped out, got dried off and headed for the restaurant. At the restaurant, Gordo ordered 2 egg filled arepas and I ordered two filled with meat. As we sat waiting for our food, we noticed that there were several people surfing at the river mouth break, and the waves looked very good. Since Gordo had to be back in Valencia by 6 for class, and it was already around 2, we decided to eat our arepas first and then see how we felt and if we had time for another session. Once they served our arepas and we started eating, we noticed that the waves started to look increasingly better and better. By the time we were done eating, there was no doubt in our minds that we were going back out surfing. We ran back to Gordo’s car, I took out my Rusty fish board since my other board was broken, and we ran towards the beach hooting and hollering because the waves looked so good.
The waves of the river mouth break broke over smooth river rocks that lay on the bottom of the ocean floor. This factor makes for a slower type of wave than that of what would be seen at the other break, Juecos. I just so happened to be in luck because my Rusty fish board was made to surf this kind of wave. Once I paddled out into the lineup, the first wave I caught was about a 5 foot right hander, and the wave went on for about one hundred yards. I did 4 maneuvers on this one wave, and from that point on I knew it was going to be a good session. Gordo and I surfed at the river mouth break for about 2 hours, and I had the time of my life. The waves were breaking so long, and my board was so perfectly fit for the conditions, that I thought there could be no better session than this one. At around four o’ clock Gordo paddled over to me and told me that we needed to go, that he was already going to be late for his college class in Valencia, which is about three to four hours away. So we both caught our last waves and headed in to shore, marveling at what an awesome last surf session we had at Cuyagua.
Once we were back at the car, we noticed that it was a complete mess! We resolved that we needed to take a few minutes to clean it out and organize everything. So we drove to our spot at the river and rinsed off one last time, and this time put on some dry clothes for the car ride back. Then we started to take everything out so we could clean the car a little bit. I went to work getting all of the trash out and also putting the surfboards into their cases while Gordo secured the tent and organized the inside of the car. In thirty minutes time, the car looked as good as new. We took one last drive down the beach, savoring our last sweet moment in the beautiful bay of Cuyagua, and then we were off. We drove through the little town, got onto the mountain road, and the rest is history. Our drive back was a pleasant one, no accidental fender benders or large traffic jams. Gordo and I talked the whole way back, mostly Gordo telling me stories about his high school days. We also talked about all of fun times we had just had at Cuyagua. I just sat back and listened to him, going over in my head the spectacular last two and a half days I had just spent. It was truly an experience that rendered memories that I will cherish for years to come. Gordo and I finally arrived at my apartment at around seven thirty. He said that he was just going to skip his class, and go home to go to sleep. I said I was going to do the same. We gave each other a high five, and bade each farewell. I walked upstairs to my apartment, greeting my Dad and my brother Alex, took a shower, and then fell asleep almost immediately. I dreamed all night long of all the wonderful adventures I had just had.
 
THE END


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