Story written by Robbins Thompson, 2012
“I have to Pee.” “Hold it.” “I can’t.” “Jesus Robbins your such a girl.” “My dick is bigger than yours, Scott.” “ Fuck you Robbins.” “Wait I think we already passed this Grave yard. I recognize the old lady sleeping by the gate. Oh my god maybe she’s dead?” Here’s cup. Pee in that.” “What! I can’t pee in a cup I’ll get it all over myself.” “That’s because you’re a girl.” “My Dick is bigger… Both of you shut the fuck up and help me find a way out of this fucking town.”
This was the conversation that began our first surfing road trip to Mexico, and pretty much covers the last conversation before leaving Mexico. I was 14 with two friends from school. Scott 16 and Steve 16. We had all lied to our parents. We told them we were going camping in the mountains in California. It was Thanksgiving Holiday and now it was Nine o’clock on a Thursday night. We were lost in the hills of Tijuana trying to find the “Free Road” to Ensenada circling a mortuary becoming more insane at each passing.
We could have very easily taken the Pay road. But that would have meant paying a $1.00 toll and would have given us instant access to the coast route. But $1.00 paid to a toll was one less for beer. This had been carefully explained to me as we finished the last of our pot just before crossing in the border. Steve was our Mexican expert, for no other reason than he’d been once before when he was five and was taking Spanish in high school. He explained the intricacies of going to Mexico as we drove down the freeway towards San Diego and the Mexican border. “No pot across the border so roll up those dubbies and lets get smoking” said Steve. “I got my bong so we don’t need to roll anything.” Said Scott “What? We can’t take a bong into Mexico.” “Why not all the weed will be gone?” “Oh good point ok load up the bong.” “Can we stop I want something to eat?” I asked “We brought a shit load of food for the trip. Eat some of that” “I ate it all.”
“That was supposed to last us four days.” Scott barked. “I was hungry.” When wasn’t any fourteen year old not hungry? “ There was like 20 sandwiches back there.” “Was there that many?” “Scott get your hands off his neck and pack the bong. We only have ten miles to the border.” “I swear Robbins, if your mom hadn’t given us money to go back packing I wouldn’t have brought you on this surf trip.” “I’ve got to pee.”
We decided to smoke all the weed with the windows up so it would look like we were driving in a smoked out car. That was until Steve decided that maybe going across an international border trailing a cloud of marijuana might not be a good idea. As it turned out he was right and wrong. The guards barely looked at us as we crossed with a cloud of smoke billowing out. , But the grease build up on the windows that came with the smoke led to our missing every turn and ending up in the hills of a grimy section of the Tijuana circling a mortuary.
With surfboards strapped on the roof of the old Buick four door that belonged to Steve’s parents we looked, well like exactly what we were gringo surfers. Surfboards on the roof of a car in Mexico was like saying “I’m a stupid gringo and I probably have pot. If I don’t have any currently I probably did. I’ll give you everything I have as long as you don’t butt rape me, kill me or throw me in jail.”
We were trying to get to San Miguel outside of Ensenada Baja California. A mere 70 miles from the California /Baja border. Not a long distance in terms of miles but about a lifetime from posh Newport Beach, California.
The Baja Mexico peninsula is an area rich in surf. Close to the boarder are the beach breaks of Baja Malibu, Spitters, and Rosarito. Cold crisp beach breaks. Good all year around. Offshore throaty peaks October –March and long winding left barrels June-September. These beach breaks rival the best in the world, usually surpassing them all, and always, have waves. Further down are a collection of reefs and points with names like K38, Calafia, Popotla, Salsipuedes and Todos Santos Island, home of the original largest wave ever ridden. Legendary spots all in surf lore.
In those days it was San Miguel that we dreamed of. A right hand point break that bends back in on itself for 200-300 meters. A campground with a little tienda “Store” that would sell alcohol to minors and had things like tacos and what not if you actually wanted to eat. A little further down the road was the smoky port town of Ensenada. With bars called Hussong’s and Papa’s and Beers and strip joints and whorehouses of every ilk and for every taste. Transvestite Bars, donkeys shows, only the imagination limited the possibilities- at least in our perverse little minds.
“Steve just pull over and let the little shit get out and take a pee.” I looked out the greasy window into the dark night of an unlit street. A row of grungy little houses encircled by low walls and high rod iron pickets lined the dirt road we had accidently driven on to. Dogs barked in the distance and every dark alley held some weird creatures native only to the back streets of Tijuana maybe even the blood sucking dog beast-Chupacabra. I slowly opened the door“But there are houses someone could see me.” “You wanted to pee so pee.” Can’t we go to a gas station?” Scott turned around his face turning colors, “have you seen a gas station in the last two hours since Steve got us lost?” “I didn’t get us lost. You’re the expert dickwad.” “Just take a piss Robbins so we can get the out of here.”
I got out of the car into the cold Santana wind. The smell of dirt, smog and fire swirled around me in dry acrid gusts. I looked carefully for a place to pee. “umm, maybe I’ll just pee here.” “Fine hurry up and close the door it’s cold.” I slowly unbuttoned my jeans while trying to not to be too conspicuous. “Hurry up It’s cold!” “I can’t pee when you’re watching.” “I’m not watching.” You are.” “If you don’t get this over with I swear we’ll leave you.” “Ok I’m trying.” With great effort I finally got a stream going. “Quick stop peeing there’s a car coming.”
“I can’t stop now that I’ve started.” “Oh my god it’s a cop. Stop peeing.”
“I can’t.” “Stick it back in your pants or we’re all going to get arrested.” I looked over my shoulder and sure enough a Tijuana Police car was coming up behind us. I tried to cut it off mid stream. “I peed in my pants and down my leg.” “Get in the car you little shit this isn’t the time to be worrying about that.” “But I need to change my pants.”
The cops seemed only mildly interested in us until they searched the car and found some roaches in the back ashtrays of the car. Then things got exciting. Scott and I were hustled into the Police car and Steve had to drive the other cop down to the police station. Back seats of cop car are not very comfortable and generally smell like vomit. At least that is the consensus of my rather limited experience.
“It smells back here, and my pants are wet.” Scott looked at me like I was a space alien. “We’re about to get butt raped and you’re worried about wet pants?” “Robbins you were in the back seat why didn’t you check the ashtrays for roaches?” I smirked at Scott and explained the obvious. “You said to make sure I got rid of “our” pot baggies, well I did. That was Steve’s dad’s weed. No one said anything about that. Scott struggled against his handcuffs. “I swear to god I’m going to strangle you if I get out of this. Do you think cops in Mexico are going to care who’s pot they found in the car we’re driving?” yelled Scott. “Well we’ll just explain it to them and they’ll understand. Scott banging your head into the steel grating is only going to make you look crazy.”
The Cop station was a four story affair which included the city jail. It was in an old colonial section of TJ. With broad streets and intricately designed buildings that spoke of a time when people were proud of this neighborhood. Now it looked like what it was, a place well past it’s prime. Where time and interest had both given up. For all that there was a lot of activity for ten o’clock at night. We created quite a stir upon being dragged in handcuffed. I suppose it wasn’t everyday that three long haired blond kids got led into the police station- one trying to kill the other.
The police station was like most I suppose. Smelling of urine, sweat and disinfectant. Cheap furniture, peeling walls that had gained a yellow patina from time and cigarette smoke gave it a lonely feeling regardless of the crowds. Voices and ghosts echoed in the bare halls. We were led into a back room and made to wait. For some reason Scott and Steve were left in handcuffs. But in reflection that might have been for my benefit. They were not happy with me. I hadn’t bothered to clean out the back ashtrays. Thinking for myself wasn’t a particular strong suit of mine then and I invariably did exactly as I was told by pretty much anyone that wished to issue orders.
Finally a Policia came in and sat down at the desk lighting a cigarette. His English was fairly good though heavily accented. I smiled and in an attempt at both taking responsibility and initiative told him that the pot wasn’t ours. That it belonged to my friend’s dad. Scott and Steve caught off guard by my sudden and unusual initiative made only weird moaning sounds. When he asked if we had any pot? I told him no we’d gotten rid of it in the US. “What about the bong? He asked “Oh we didn’t want to roll joints. So this was all a big mistake.”
The federally gave me a perplexed look. His lips reforming the words I had just spoken trying to see if he’d gotten anything wrong in the translation. “So you are telling me the pot is not yours. It belongs to the other boys father?” he said glancing at Steve, who had turned very pale. “Yes that’s correct.” I answered giving him my patented “No mom I did not clog the toilet up again look.” He regarded me thoughtfully. “And your marijuana was finished across the border?” I smiled “Exactly.”
The Federally barked something in Spanish and two officers came in and grabbed Steve by the arms and dragged him off. “Everything’s fine Steve, relax” I called as he whined helplessly. In the next room we heard scuffling and more whining from Steve. Scott sat head in his handcuffed hands moaning of butt rapes. The federally offered me a piece of candy which I took, only to be polite.
Soon Steve was brought back un-handcuffed this time and led to a seat. The chief barked another command and Scott was brusquely led away. This time the door was left slightly ajar. “See this isn’t so bad Steve. We’ll be on our way in no time and I’m sure they’ll give us directions.” He only moaned louder. I looked over at the room where Scott had been led saw a very naked Scott being bent over while his umm orifice was inspected. “Oh my this is not going well for Scott.” I said to Steve’s hunched form. Steve only moaned louder and continued to stare at the floor. The inspection was quickly concluded and Scott was brought back into the commandants office. Shakily he took a seat and like Steve simply stared at the ground. I thought it best not to say anything to him.
I smiled at the Commandant and suggested that since this misunderstanding was all cleared up maybe we could be moving on. He studied me for a long moment then waved over one of the officers. They talked for a minute then he turned to me and told us we had to pay a fine of $2.50 for going down a one way street and we could leave. He gave me directions and quick as that we were on our way.
It was a quiet car that pulled away from the police station at eleven. The police chief had given us an escort so we quickly got to the highway leading south.
“Well that wasn’t so bad now was it?” I asked trying to cheer everyone up. It took Steve pulling over to the side of the road to get Scott off me. “I don’t know why your mad at me it wasn’t my fingers up your butt.” I said trying to fix my torn jacket. “Shut up Robbins.” “Did he do the same thing to you Steve?” “Shut up Robbins.” My efforts at consolation were met with continued hostility so I decided to eat. “Is there any food left?” I must have walked for a half hour before they came back for me. It was very cold that night on the side of the road in deepest Mexico.
They let me back in the car only after assurances were given of my never speaking of said incident again and not talking for the rest of the trip.
Our next stop was in Rosarito only ten mile from Tijuana but a lifetime in terms of experience. Of course we decided to buy beer. Rosarito in those day was a side trip off the road to Ensenada. Famous mostly for the Rosarito Beach Hotel and hidden enclaves of wealthy Americans. It also boasts miles and miles of beach breaks ranging from good to epic. Depending on the time of year and the bars. This is a wave rich coastline. The beach breaks here will rival anything you will ever see. Puerto Escondido has nothing on this place, except warm water and bigger crowds. It has it mellow days as well when peaky little 3-4 foot swells create miles of glassy waves. Just walk down the beach and find your own peak.
Scott picked up a couple of six backs of Corona and we continued on down the coastal road to San Miguel. The winds were dry, crisp, offshore and the air smelled of fire, manure and salt. The moon was full and the stars sparkled. It was a beautiful night. By 12 am we were well into to the beer and our federally experience was all ready being rewritten in our under developed adolescent brains.
“I don’t like the taste of beer.” “We told you not to talk Robbins.” “I know but I’m just saying beer really isn’t very good tasting. Why couldn’t they make it taste like a chocolate shake or something? Hey what are you smoking?” “It’s a donkey shit cigarette.”
“ewww! Umm can I try one?” “Only if you promise not to talk anymore.” Scott lit me a donkey shit cigarette and I puffed away with the enthusiasm of a nonsmoker trying his first cigarette. “I don’t feel very good” “Ha, that’ll teach you. ” “No seriously this beer and the donkey shit are making me feel sick.” “Stick your head out the window we’re not stopping until we get to San Miguel.” “I can’t get the window down. You better stop I’m going to get sick.” And then I did.
The car careened off the road and foot high drop off plowing into something soft and lumpy. Scott was thrown into the front window cracking it with his head. I was thrown hard against the front seat. Tire smoke and dirt swirled around us as we came to a halt on the side of a cliff. “Oh my god I’m bleeding. There’s blood running down my back” said Scott.
Steve, who was driving moaned “I think we hit something.” “That’s not blood I threw up.” I said helpfully. Scott threw the door open and stumbled into the dirt. “Oh fuck, oh fuck, you little fucker you threw up all over me.” “Sorry I didn’t mean too.” Scott jumped around hysterically trying to clean the barf off his back. “This is the worst night of my life. Oh my god I have puke all over me.” I opened the door and fell onto the ground or rather the mound on which the car was now parked. It was soft and a bit squishy and I curled up next to it and vomited again.
Steve got out and stumbled around in the dark. “Oh my god I think we killed someone. There’s a body under the car. Scott coming here and help me pull it out.” Steve was on his knees looking under the car. “What every it is it smells.” I said helpfully. Steve walked around the car to where I lay huddled against the furry thing we had stuck the car upon. “Of course it smells. You threw up all over it.” Scott came running by taking off his hoody and shirt, throwing them over the cliff into the water below. Steve helped me up “You Ok?” “umm” was all I managed. Steve looked under the car. “Well it looks like we hit a cow or something.” Scott was now hopping on one leg as he tried to remove his pants.
I stood unsteadily whipping my chin. “It a horse and its been drinking. “ “What?” asked Steve. Now naked Scott was trying to find the keys to the trunk so he could get his cloths. I watched him for a moment as his butt glowed brightly in the darkness. “Red headed people sure are white.” I observed. “Fag.” Said Steve halfheartedly. We turned our attention to the horse.
“See the horse has a bottle of Tequila in its mouth. So it wasn’t our fault.” I said. Steve studied me for a moment. “You do realize that horses can’t drink out of bottles right.” I scoffed, “Of course they drink out of buckets. All I’m saying is it has a bottle shove in its mouth so I don’t think we killed it. Of course I don’t know Mexican horses maybe they feed them Tequila or something. Oww! Why did you hit me in the head?” “Because you’re an idiot.”
Steve walked around the car studying the damage. I studied Scott who was naked and dumping a water bottle over himself trying to get clean. “Robbins help me get this horse out from under the car. It looks like the head is stuck under the front tire and the car is resting on the stomach.” Indeed the back tires were off the ground. Because of the smell we decided to study the car from several feet back. Finally Scott joined us having changed his cloths. I suddenly found it important that Scott like me for reasons I didn’t really understand. So I thought to try a little diplomacy. “I’m really sorry I puked on you.” “Shut up.” “I’m also sorry you got your butt well you know by the police.” “Shut up!” This wasn’t go as well as I had hoped. I didn’t really feel like it was my fault but I was trying to be nice.
I walked to the edge of the cliff. Leaving Steve and Scott to study the car and dead horse. I could hear waves below and See the tiered platforms of the Calafia bar leading down the water. I would later learn that Calafia is the queen of the Mexican coastline on south swells. It is a headland where the largest southerly swells unload on its rocky reef. Because of its extreme angle the prevailing winds are offshore. And when it’s on it’s an intense double section barrel that slabs over several shallow rock outcroppings. It has a deep blue color to it and in a way reminds me of Shipsterns.
If you get it on it’s not something you’re likely to forget. Draw your first bottom turn out and wait for the wave to hit the first rock slab. The barrel can kind of surprise you so it takes a bit of practice. Pull in and stay high as likely the rock will expose while your in the tube, but only for a second. Then drop low out of the tube and go right into the next one. The kick out is small dip in the rocky coast that you don’t want to miss. There is no safe exit here. One of the coolest things about Calafia is the bar which has decks built in to the cliff faces and a dance floor tuck in tight right at water level where the waves can’t get at it.
You wait for the set sitting off the rocky outcrop maybe ten meters from the deck and on the weekends they’ll have a band playing. So while your surfing you can listen to live music.
But this first night in Mexico I only saw the lights on the decks as they cascade down the cliff. It fascinated me. Steve came up as I stood there in the dark. “What you looking at?” I pointed out the lights “Those lights are really pretty.”
Steve studied me for a moment “You need to stop using words like pretty and staring at naked dudes.” He said quietly to me. “I was just surprised on how white Scott was and what’s wrong with Pretty? It’s just a word?” “Robbins you’re a nice kid, but people are going to think you’re a homo if you keep doing stuff like that.”
“What exactly is a homo anyway?” I remember asking. Behind us we could here Scott bitching about the horse. “It’s a dude that likes dudes.” Scott informed me. “I like guys. Scotts a guy I like him. What’s wrong with that?” “Ya but homo’s like to act like a girls, have sex with dudes, and you’ve got to be careful around them cause they’ll like rape you.” “Oh. Well I’m not a homo then I don’t want to act like a girl, I don’t even like girls that much, and I don’t want to rape anyone.” I answered following my own adolescent logic. Of course thoughts of Scott chasing my down and doing things I wasn’t really sure of, conjured feelings I hadn’t really felt before.
Steve studied me for a moment, “I like you Robbins, your weird but ok. I’m just telling you to watch it.” I sighed “Thanks.” He walked back to the car and I followed slowly. Scott was digging around in the car. “Where is that big knife? I have a way to get us off this horse. See it’s filled with gas and I’ll puncture it so it’ll deflate then we can just drive off it.” Steve and I looked at each other. Somehow this didn’t seem like a good idea but I wasn’t sure why. Steve shrugged and got the knife out. “Umm where are you going to stab it?” Steve asked.
They crouched down by the back tire and studied the distended belly of the horse. It was decided that Scott would stab the horse next to the belly button that was now and outy from all the gas build up.” I watched from a distance. Something was bothering me about this scenario. “You know it kind of looks like a balloon.” Steve and Scott gave my perplexed looks. “I mean you know it all blown up and stuff.” Scott gave me a sour shut up look so I back off. Steve crouched next to Scott as he took a couple of tentative stabs- nothing happened. “You need to stab it really hard.” Said Steve as he inspected the weak attempts. I backed up further. “I don’t know about this maybe we should just wait for morning.” I suggested. Scott laughed “Ya then we’ll get arrested for killing some farmers horse.” With that he took the knife in both hands and rammed it into the belly of the horse. There was a loud whooshing sound as the belly deflate quickly excreting bodily fluids in a rather large stream all over Scott and Steve.
There was lots of screaming and yelling, dancing and cloths being flung off. I quietly got in the car and watched. I had been the blame for enough this night and I was determine not to be the blame of all Scotts misfortunes. I must have fallen asleep, as when I next opened my eyes we were on the road again. Scott and Steve were sitting in the front seat and the car had a slight putrid smell.
“Can you roll down the window it smells in here.” “Shut up.” Said Scott but his heart wasn’t really in it. “I’ve got to pee.” They ignored me. So I searched around and found something that seemed ideal and peed- in the car. “Hey I peed in the car.” I was quite proud of myself. “Here” I said as I tried to hand it to Scott to pour out the window. “I don’t want to touch your pee pour it out yourself. “ I can’t the back window doesn’t work. I didn’t spill any just pour it out or it will get in the car.” Scott sighed turned around as I handed him… “You little fucker you peed in my bong. I swear I’m going to kill you.” There ensued an altercation where by the bong was spilt over the seat and Steve’s pants. We both stopped fighting and watched Steve nervously. “Sorry Dude.” Said Scott. Steve just looked straight ahead . “ I don’t care I don’t care I’m not stopping until we get to San Miguel.
I quietly settled back in the car trying not to make any noise. There were large cliffs right out of the window and at that point I didn’t put it past Scott to throw me out. When next I woke I was buried under a blanket that one of the guys must have thrown over me and I could see the red and blue dawn of a Mexican sunrise out the greasy window of the car. It was very cold but I was cozy under the blankets. Scott and Steve had set up a tent and so were not in the car. Slowly I got up and looked around. San Miguel has a large dirt parking lot of a camping area. It abuts a sandy beach. Though the break is all rocks and cobblestones. The waves breaks off a slight indent then push’s into the rocks as you ride. The wave is beautiful. A classic little point break. The waves generally bend in make for a nice shoulder and occasional barrel. It’s what we call an ego wave in that it makes everyone look better that they are. If its over 8 foot faces it will wrap around an outcrop at about the 100 meter range then drop off and curve into a bigger bay. If you make the rounding the wave peals for another 200 meters.
Periodically localism can be a factor but when it’s on there is lots of waves and it’s generally surfable all day. At this early stage in my life it was the most beautiful morning of my life. I was on a great adventure the sunrise was amazing and the waves were about four foot. There was a scattering of other campers in the area but this early no one was awake but me. I climbed out of the car and rapped in my blanket I huddle down behind some rocks out of the wind. I watched perfect empty four footers peeling out of sight. Finally I could wait no longer so I went back to get my wetsuit on.
“Umm guys the waves are really good.” “Go away” I hopped around anxiously. “Umm can I have the keys so I can get my stuff?” The zipper came down and keys were ejected. I grabbed one of my two boards off the old style hard racks and worked my way into the water through the very rocky beach. I surfed for hours and slowly people came out to join me. The waves got better as things warmed up. It was to this day one of the best surfs I ever had.
I went in several hours later. Scott and Steve were milling about looking like they had just woken up. The night was behind us and they seemed in a much better mood. We talked about the surf and dug out our gallon jugs of peanut butter and Jelly and four loaves of bread that was our food supply for the next three days.
Once they had consumed ten or twelve sandwiches they pulled their boards down to go for a surf. “Something smells funny Steve.” “Smells like Shit.” “Oh man someone rubbed shit on our boards.” Scott howled. Apparently while we were sleeping someone had taken Steve and Scotts boards down and crapped on them then stuck them back on the racks. “This is fucked up.” Scott bellowed again.
“Hey I think its human shit.” I offered helpfully “the smell is…” “Shut up Robbins.” “I’m just saying that’s nasty.” “Shut up Robbins.” Scott bounced around cussing at the world while Steve simply went and sat in the front seat of the car banging his head on the horn. I decided to quietly remove myself from the scene. I figured I was going to be blamed and then told to clean the boards so retreat seemed the best option. I walk up to the little store see if there was anything to eat.
The Mercado was a small place with a wiry little Mexican guy sitting behind the counter watching a TV mounted on the wall. I wandered around picked out some pastries and a coke then spied beer in the back cooler. I dawdled hesitantly thinking maybe the guys would not be mad at me if I brought back beer. Nervously I grabbed a six pack of Corona’s and put them on the counter with the other stuff. The cashier studied me for a moment. “How old your you?” He asked in fairly good English. “Fourteen, I mean twenty one, err how old do I have to be to buy beer?” “Eighteen.” “I’m older than that.” He gave me a blank stare and I got nervous. “It’s not for me it’s for my sick mother.” “Your sick mother?”
“Yes she needs beer or she’ll die.” “She’ll die?” ‘Yes it’s a umm blood disorder if her blood doesn’t have beer in it she could get pregnant and die.” “She could get pregnant and die?” “Yes she hates kids so if she has another one she said she’ll kill herself.” “So she hates you?” “Absolutely!” “Do you have ID?” “What’s ID is that Spanish for something?” “License, something to say how old you are.” “Oh ID no I lost it when we hit the horse last night.” “You hit a horse? That is very bad. We hang people here if they kill our horses.” “It wasn’t our fault it had been drinking.” “The horse had been drinking?” Yes it had bottle of Tequila in its mouth when we hit it. So it wasn’t our fault.” “I see. Well I can’t sell you alcohol you must have ID.”
“Look my friends are mad at me. Someone took a crap on their surfboards and if I don’t come back with beer they’ll probably kill me or worse make me clean the crap off the boards.” “So your mother won’t really die without Beer?” “No but I’m pretty sure she hates me if that helps?” “So how old are you again?” “Umm eighteen years and thirteen months.” “Did someone really shit on their boards?” “yes” “That’s fucked up. Ok I’ll sell you the beer. Do you want to buy some pot?” “Pot? You can sell me pot but beer is a problem?” “Pot is illegal for everyone so it’s no a problem. How much?” We quickly complete our business and I walked down the hill with a six pack and a baggie of weed. When I got back to the car and showed them the beer and weed Scott and Steve seemed to almost have forgiven me for everything. The crap had been scraped off the boards and Steve broke out the bong. There was still a little liquid in the bottom of the bong. Scott proceeded to fill it with water and I contemplated telling them that I had forgotten to clean it out like Scott had strenuously told me the night before. But at this point I wasn’t going to rock the boat. They were finally not mad at me and I figured it was only a little pee. Scott took a big hit and coughed it out I watched him critically. “Umm how is it?” “Taste a bit funny but better than nothing. He handed it to me and I passed it on to Steve. “umm I think I’ll wait a bit.” Scott laughed “pussy.”
Soon we were all surfing and life was good. But there was still the return trip to be made. I tried not to think about that.