My live feed...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Prologue - A Rant on Indian weddings, Delhi Belly, A Couple of Surprises Too

Even coach in Thai Airways is extremely comfortable. The attendants are earnest and warm manner and the seats recline farther back then you'd think. They welcomed me with my favorite snack of late - roasted cashew nuts, commonly found in Asia but somehow rare in the US. I'm now anticipating a delicious lunch that is sure to follow. Pity that this trip from Delhi to Bangkok is a quick one at about 4 hours. I'd have gladly chosen this carrier over United for my rather long but drab trip coming to Delhi from San Francisco - The service and the amenities are tolerable at best. There is a lot that Asian carriers can teach their Western counterparts. 

The service and this relaxing flight is more to be appreciated as I realize that the next chapter of my travels is bound to be grittier as I plan to economize with overnight buses and budget accommodations. I can hardly complain - I'll be posted up in some of the most decadent environs the climbing world has to offer - warm sunshine, sandy beaches, karst cliffs and some downright fantastic seafood. I'm thrilled to bits actually. 

Leaving Delhi is always a mixed bag. As content as I am about returning home to the US or alternately for my current adventures, overflowing love from the family can leave me feeling ja bit sad and empty. Despite thirteen years of adjusting to life abroad, saying goodbye is still hard. 

I traveled to India to relax with my family and prepare for the journey ahead and was fortunate to be able to schedule in two weddings. My cousins Shubhi and Anshuman were getting married in back to back festivities in Jaipur and Delhi. I flew into Delhi in the wee hours of Thursday morning on Dec 7th and we immediately hopped on to the Shatabdi to Jaipur. Indian train journeys can be fun affairs as my friend Monisha Rajesh wittily alludes to in Around India in 80 trains. After 24 hours of travel I was only too happy to pass out over hot chai and biscuits. The Jaipur wedding was a lavish do at a resort hotel on the outskirts of town with liveried staff, overflowing buffet tables and a open bar from morning to night. Two days in Jaipur left me drained. I realized how much I acutely dislike big wedding affairs. Love catching up with family and of course glad to wish the newleds good wishes, I am chagrined though at the soulless display of excess - comical extravagance that amplify the class differences between the guests and the benighted staff. To me these fancy affairs are emblematic of the class divides in India and the indifference of the privileged classes. I was secretly looking forward to the main wedding procession where the groom was supposed to lead a cavalcade of a dozen elephants and horses! We unfortunately had to catch a night bus back to Delhi and missed the finale of this Bollyhood glitzier :( We came right back to Anshuman's wedding in Delhi - a smaller, simpler affair but equally vibrant with milling cousins who I danced with till the wee hours. I've known Anshuman and his family my whole life and was quite glad to be with them.

Coming down to earth after 4 days of partying was painful, literally so. I had neglected some basic principles of acclimation, in my greed to partake in the delicious food on offer. That and travel fatigue left me with a bad tummy and a sinus infection that has snagged me for the last 2 weeks and kept me from anything too wild. I hit some bureaucratic snafus with my Thai visa with a  result that now I may have to constrain my stay in Thailand to only 15 days instead of the intended 6 weeks. I'm sure I'll find some fun alternatives. 

Delhi does always have a few highlights. I was thrilled to bits at the small but friendly climbing scene at the dilapidated outdoor climbing gym of the Indian Mountaineering Federation facility in South Delhi. These kids love to climb and train with passion! I was inspired and reminded me of how much I love small and tightly knit climbing communities. I was in for a similar surprise when I managed to locate a couple of salsa parties in town. These salseros are good! The level of dancing could rival any club anywhere. Pity that they focus on the LA school of salsa, less rhythmic and exuberant than Salsa Cubana (in my opinion). Still a bundle of fun regardless and luckily I found a few partners who were happy to follow (or tolerate?) the unfamiliar moves I had to offer. Man, if I ever move back in India I'd have to kickstart a dance studio and arm twist some of my Cuban friends to come over and teach! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Gap Year

I think this term was coined for European (or maybe British to be precise) students who often take a year off after their school diploma and before entering college or beginning work. I think the general idea is to take a break from school, and do something radically different than accustomed lifestyle. I’ve come across kids undertaking various endeavors, the most common being traveling to new countries, often in the developing world – easier on shoe string budgets. I think the vast majority accomplishes a combination of charity work, vocational training and more typically sightseeing and partying at exotic locations worldwide. The India-Nepal circuit is a popular passage offering a seductive combination of the radically exotic and of a dirt-cheap lifestyle (at least for Western pockets). I learnt and was seduced by this concept while befriending friendly Europeans while backpacking in the Himalayas as a wide-eyed adolescent. Having lived with my parents for all of my young life and with little travel outside India, I was entranced and awed by these kids who were my age but had been living on their own and traveling everywhere with their vacations seemingly infinite. The idea of taking this kind of interruption away from family and the path (school, work, family, yada yada) was rather strange and mythical in India 15 years ago –and I suspect remains mostly unchanged despite recent socio-economic transformations. Nobody, nobody in my network far and wide in my knowledge had ever taken time off like that to travel, or leave a well-rewarding job for a non-professional interest. I was entering college and was already beginning to love travel, and the time spent trekking and camping in the magical Himalayas. Thank you Mom and Dad for instilling in us early a love for exploration and adventure – through the countless family trips to fairy-tale forts, wild animal parks, temple cities and the exhilarating snow-clad Himalayas.
Triple Crown at Hound Ears (North Carolina) - 2006
That influence, and a burgeoning love for the outdoors is a chief reason that drove me to seek an education out West that would allow me the means to undertake something similar in my life. Though as a 21 year old arriving in America for graduate school, I had no idea when or in what manifestation.

I started rock-climbing in earnest when I was about 25, after the grad degree and passing through a short-lived career in consulting that involved heavy travel and work of the spiritless mind-numbing variety. Fortunately I found better work-life balance with new employment that kept me in town and with free evenings and weekends. I was hooked to the sport immediately. My initial motivation to rock climb was to acquire the skills to progress as a mountaineer, for as a teenage I dreamt of ascending big peaks. However I found rock climbing, the sport of moving over vertical stone, completely fulfilling – offering me intoxicating physical challenges in utterly scenic surroundings in the company of good friends. Over time my circle of friends changed and so did my goals in life. While excited about solving problems at work and seeking that path up the corporate ladder, I was just as buoyed about training for climbing, voyaging to amazing locales and of progressing to new levels of challenges and grades with the sport. I was fortunate to find a very diverse group of friends. While I knew hard working weekend warriors like me who juggled work, and family, and climbing, I also began climbing with full time climbers or seasonal climbers who devoted enough time and passion for the sport to let it occupy the primary place in their lives. They’d often take long breaks from work or school, spend months on the road living out of vans / trucks and would take trips overseas as well on small budgets supplemented with strong intentions towards their love for climbing. I was climbing furiously at that time point while living in Charlotte, with the odd 80-100 days of climbing outside each year – basically every weekend and vacation time thrown in. The funny thing about climbing is that the more you do it, the more you love it and the more you want to keep doing it. As my friend put it – you are psyched before the trip, psyched during, and definitely psyched post-return! The New River Gorge in Fayetteville, West Virginia was (and remains) my favorite climbing area, and a home away from home. I moved to California about 6 years ago and miss the ‘New’ more than Charlotte or any other part of the South-East.
One of my favorite climbs of all time. Narcissus, Summersville Lake, New River Gorge
Slowly the impression of journeying around the world for a while gained shape and morphed into the plan of climbing full-time and chase extended stays in familiar and novel climbing areas; to realize the goal of being the best climber I could be, and to live simply, away (for the most part) from the callings of mainstream life.

Over the last couple of years, things began to fall in place. In 2010 I received the long awaited US green card – as a permanent resident I’ve the right to be independent of employment to reside in the US. My professional career also came a full circle this year – having progressed and grown immensely where I now felt the confidence to take a sabbatical and be able to secure similar employment after. The other catalyst is definitely the pressure I feel with growing older, and of finding other interests, which may be just as compelling - dancing and surfing (as you guys know). Towards the fall of this year I found myself in this sweet spot where I knew I could quit work without significant professional or financial setback. Additionally, I was unattached, and finally beginning to train hard for climbing again after a long period of being sidelined with nagging injuries and other activities.

Pretending we are one of the sponsored athletes at the Petzl Roc Trip at the Red River Gorge in 2007
While I could just as willingly take the time off to chase the surf swells across the globe, or to move to somewhere in Latin America and pursue mastery in the salsa, rumba, samba or Afro-folkloric genres, nothing would give me more satisfaction than achieving a new level in climbing. For I’ve spent the last 10 years, training my ass off, making professional and relationship sacrifices, and dreamt of breaking new barriers in the sport.  And while I’m a bit older now, I’m close to the fittest I’ve ever been, and I don’t have any stopping injuries. This is my chance, for I may never find this sweet spot in my life again.

So what is this obscure ‘climbing goal’ that I keep reiterating? Simply put, I hope to be able to solidly red-point 5.13 this year, towards my long-term or 5 year goal of red-pointing 5.14 and on-sighting 5.13. Time to take these objectives off the back-burner! For you non-climbers, these are grades at the very high end of the difficulty spectrum in rock climbing. If I ever get to this level, then I’d probably be in the 99th percentile of the sport. I also recognize that I may never achieve these lofty ambitions – life may certainly get in the way. However the process is just as enriching and I will learn much about myself and gain tremendous satisfaction during the journey.

After a long couple of weeks of packing mayhem, unhealthy eating (!) and saying goodbyes to my cherished San Francisco community, I relax enough to be able to compose my thoughts on this flight towards my first destination. I intend to keep my itinerary for this period focused but simple. I intend to visit some of the best climbing spots in the world and spend extended time learning and internalizing the local rock and push towards new limits. Here’s a rough itinerary:
1.     Dec 6th – Arrive in India for a couple of weeks of family and weddings. Please don’t let me get fat J
2.     Dec 20th – Depart for the Krabi peninsula, for about 6 weeks of climbing in and around Tonsai
3.     Feb 1st – Find myself somewhere in Vietnam headed towards Ha Long Bay, for more climbing on limestone sea karsts and hopefully become comfortable with deep water soloing
4.     March 1st – Head straight to Yangshuo, China. Should be warmer and not too wet yet. This is the main focus of the Asia leg of my trip and I hope to be fit to tackle the long and dreamy lines of Moon Hill White Mountain, Peng Shen and other sublime crags. I hope to be here for between 6-8 weeks. Maybe even visit Getu Valley, made famous from the recent Petzl Roc Trip
5.     Mid / End April – Head back to India to relax with family and evaluate psyche. If all is well then,
6.     May 15th – Leave for Northern Spain.  The numero uno destination of my entire trip. Spent a couple of weeks climbing here a few years ago and have been vowing to return. The plan would be to spend 4-5 months being based somewhere near Barcelona, becoming a regular at the world class crags that surround. I also hope to achieve greater fluency in Espanol and even find outlets to dance (Cuban Salsa is apparently quite popular). Side trips may include Mallorca, France (Ceuse etc) and even Kalymnos in Greece.

This is it! Forward and onwards!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Breakthrough (part II) - Dancing

This is the story of how dancing became a beloved part of my life.

It is a hot night, one particularly warm for San Francisco. The elusive Indian summer is upon us this October and for once we wish it was cooler. The air seems to be still and heavy as a bunch of fit and sweaty bodies gyrate in unison to loud thumping beats. They writhe in close contact, with miens animated in focus and in joy, and their torsos, hips and limbs amply express their gratification of the moment.

This is not quite a scene from the sequel to Eyes Wide Shut. It is in fact salsa night at Baobab Lounge – the 'go-to' place for salsa Cubana mid-week here in San Francisco. It's not a fancy place – just a big room with waxed wooden floors, a bar, and with some of the best musica Cubana and accomplished salseros around. This is a dedicated bunch of Bay area salsa aficionados reveling in their weekly musical fix. They dance in couples. Men lead and women follow – mostly, but since this is San Francisco conventions are often challenged, nothing wrong with defying gender norms (makes the scene more fun). They execute complex maneuvers with their bodies connecting in intricate patterns but always in harmony to the beat. Outsiders have a hard timing believing that this is not all rehearsed beforehand. In fact a dancing couple may be complete strangers before they find each other in a close embrace at the beginning of a new song (not by accident though as the guy will request a dance from a girl as per social dancing mores)

Salsa by the lake - a regular Bay area summertime event.
A starting position will consist of the couple facing each other with the guy's right arm in the center-high region of the girl's back and the girl with her arm around his shoulder ,and the other pair of arms come together in a high-five like position. Beginning basic dance vueltas that build confidence will lead to more complex choreographies. Staying in sync with the clave is key and what helps everything in looking so fluid and effortless. The hardest and most under-estimated part of learning to dance is surprisingly not the actual movement but training oneself to listen to the music and identifying the 7-count (un, dos, tres, cinco, seis, siete). Catching the beat is paramount and once lost things are apt to get a wee chaotic and can result in little accidents on the dance floor. This Norwegian guy I met in Cuba joked that he played so much timba at home in his quest for rhythmic acclimation that even his dog started tapping in tune! 

I'm cooling off at the bar having just finished this joyful dance with somebody I just met. She was a treat, following my lead effortlessly and also endorsing my desire to be creative in mixing up patterns. We both knew the song and our mutual pleasure was clearly evident in our smiles and goofy expressions. When I go dancing I don't rest much, but I've been dancing non-stop since I arrived and I allow myself this break and savor the high from the last one over an icy cold Sierra Nevada. As I relax my thoughts drift back to my journey as a dancer. 

I've always enjoyed moving to music. My body seems to naturally animate and I have loved dancing for as long as I can remember. Dancing is a part of mainstream culture in India with a tradition that goes back millenniums. In the modern context Bollywood music provides a popular outlet and most parties will have some of the living area cleared up for folks to dance. Perhaps unlike the US, dancing is enjoyed equally by both sexes and social mores allow for men to be just as uninhibited in expressing their revelry to the music. I've taken formal lessons a few times in the last decade. A few with tango back in Charlotte about 7 years ago, a few classes in Cuban salsa about 5 years ago and then some Bollyhood and Bhangra classes intermittently. While I never quite caught the groove with the Latin genres in those first forays, learning the Bollyhood choreography felt vastly easier and pleasurable. Analyzing now, it was clearly because Latin music was new and hence difficult, but Indian music easily coursed through those veins. And when one knows the music and relishes it, dancing is merely an expression of that pleasure. My philosophy at least :)

Beautiful, majestic limestone cliffs, the excuse to visit Cuba!
And here we are scaling that beautiful stone
My thoughts were far from salsa when Max and I decided to plan a trip to sample the forbidden limestone cliffs of Cuba during Christmas for 2012. Climbing fueled vacations in exotic locales is an exquisite reward as a rock climber. The trip to Cuba was unlike any climbing adventure. Climbing in Cuba is off the beaten path with access made very difficult because of the US embargo. Consequently we arrived at the small village of Vinales where we quickly became family with the small group of local and foreign escaladores. After a full day of climbing, we would all walk over to the one of two bars around the town square which would have a live band jamming salsa, cha cha cha and meringue  every night. It was quite astonishing that the small population of a few thousand could support so much live music. Everybody in this impoverished island country seems to know to dance and play music. (My theory on the ubiquity of music and dance (and booze) rests on Castro's apparent ploy to subsidize such leisurely sustenance to the masses so as to distract them from any notions of revolt). It was indeed fascinating to see men and women, young and old, dance with joy and abandon and invite us into their midst. They were only too happy to teach us the basic steps and we quickly made new friends. This was a great atmosphere for us to start appreciating fundamental rhythms in timba (the Cuban variant of salsa music) and the elemental footwork. A great lifestyle of climbing and dancing ensued for our 3 weeks in Cuba. 
Making friends and learning salsa (in Cuba)

The seeds were hopelessly sown and coming back to San Francisco I spent no time in hunting down salsa schools and enrolling for lessons right away. Fortunate to live in this beacon of art and music, I found great classes in vicinity, in quick walking or biking distance from my home in the Mission. Shout out to both ODC Dance Studio and Dance Mission, two absolute standouts in the SF Bay Area dance scene! About 5 years later and second time around the classes and the dancing felt very different and I daresay, much easier. 

Having been exposed to the music at length in Cuba, I had started to trust and gain familiarity with my body's response to the music. 'Feeling' the music is really the cornerstone of excelling in dance. Not a secret but hard to appreciate by newcomers. 

My decision to take classes 2-3 times a week and also dip my toes in the social dancing scene was not too hard. I had some time freed from climbing with a nagging finger injury. The dance classes were a perfect respite and I was experiencing  rapid progress and forming new friendships in the salsa scene. 

The other realization is that complete immersion is the key to unlocking this new skill. Going to class once a week isn't quite enough and with more frequency comes greater muscle memory and confidence. 

Being accomplished at social dancing is still a long way off from learning distinct patterns to rote. The latter is just the tip of the iceberg with excelling as a dancer. Besides an innate appreciation of the music, honing skills takes rhythm, improvisation and, well, the appetite for risk -  one needs to be daring to not only experiment with new moves but also to ask strangers to dance. Ha! I certainly had my fair share of trials in the club scene as I dove in the deep end. I'm glad though that I stepped out of my comfort zone early in the process and early in my dancing career – I'm a much better dancer as a result. I notice many promising dancers in studio classes who may be a bit shy of losing face at a club and consequently have a hard time taking their skills outside of the familiarity of the dance studio. 

As luck would have it, I had the chance to go back to Cuba a second time. I had earned a sabbatical at PayPal (after 5 years of service) and I decided to spend part of a vacation overseas in Cuba to take more intensive classes in dance and to really experience Cuban salsa at its place of origins. This time back I decided to spend the entire time in La Habana taking classes, exploring some of the local culture and then throwing myself into the social dance and music scene with full gusto. I saw some truly enthralling dancing, both on-stage performances but also locals who had me spellbound with their grace and profound artistry of movement. One of the discoveries of this Cuban trip was the exposure to the allied dance forms of Afro-Cuban and Rumba. The latter in particular really inspired me and I vowed to start learning this dance form as well. After Cuba I found my way to Colombia to meet a friend for some rock climbing and for generally exploring the country for about 3 weeks. I was of course excited to sample the local dance scene and promptly found myself in the local salsa clubs in Bogota and Medellin. Colombian salsa is of a different variant, though very beautiful and is characterized with a generally relaxed torso but furiously thumping footwork. Pretty cool stuff.

Salsa, anywhere, anytime (my living room!)
Coming back home I felt a bit re-born, having gotten a taste first-hand of the vast possibilities in the world of Latin dance. Since then I'm made fast strides with regular social dancing to complement the variety of classes. Besides salsa and some Rumba classes, I've also experimented recently with Reggateon and Samba. San Francisco is truly blessed with an incredible dance scene and world class instructors of all genres. One bit of serendipity I've had is of the relative ease in exploring new dance forms now that I'm studied in another. For I found that the training to both recognize beats aurally and bodily in one genre helps everywhere. And while the moves may be different, the muscle movement is often similar.

Here's some renegade street salsa that took place in Berkeley recently! 

If not completely life-changing, my second wind as a dancer has certainly taken my lifestyle in a new direction. I love the opportunity to express myself through dance and know that this passion is here to stay. I've also found a great community of dancers we are blessed that this convivialism is universal. Wherever that I may be in this world I will always have somewhere to go dancing!

I come away convinced that there is a right time in life for everything. Perseverance, and a bit of opportunity and luck can change everything.

There's one more post remaining in this series - as soon as I find that elusive breakthrough to progress to the next level with rock climbing!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Breakthrough (part I) - Surfing

Breaking through - this phrase has been on my mind lately. I experienced radical progress in two disciplines in my life this year that made me reflect. 

Per, A breakthrough is defined as any significant or sudden advance, development, achievement, or increase, as in scientific knowledge or diplomacy, that removes a barrier to progress: 

Surfing and dancing are two keen passions where I've invested much energy and effort and the rewards are manifold. 

I was introduced to surfing by my dear friend Josh roughly 3.5 years back one sunny day at Ocean Beach. Not a natural water baby (with a childhood spent in landlocked Delhi), I was jubilant to merely  make it out 100 yards in the ocean and learn to balance on the board in a sitting position and admire the bits of marine life around me - I think we saw at least a seal or two and several birds, and the bright sun radiating off the rippling waves - enough to bestow a shit-eating grin that I wore the rest of the day.

I started off slow but did get my own surf board eventually and started making it out to the local breaks – chiefly Pacifica, beautiful Bolinas up North, and the occasional forays to Ocean Beach and Santa Cruz. The learning curve was painstakingly steep for me. A combination of inconsistent beginner surf in the Bay area along with climbing that took me away on the weekends  meant that I couldn't really devote the extra amount of time to master the basics. Consequently my 'surf stoke' ebbed and flowed. I'd do well on those annual trips to warm waters in Latin America (Costa Rica, Mexico and El Salvador so far) but coming back to icy cold water (brrr!) and junky surf would deplete any drive I had for the sport. The nail on the coffin on my nascent surf career could have been the loss of my board when it flew off the top off Greg's car as we were going down on 280 towards Santa Cruz last year. Sans board and psyche, I barely made it into the water at all last year. The handful of times I went (to just hang out with friends), I'd get in the water, make half-ass attempts to catch a wave and basically count the minutes until I was back on land. Loser-talk right?

Well, let's move ahead to this year – the summer of 2012 where Manav decided to marry his sweetheart down in El Salvador and a bunch of signed up to go. Tropical climes, a new country, tasty pupusas and friends! But of course there was one slight problem – Manav's a hardcore surfer and so were a lot of the wedding posse. We were after all going to stay at a surf hotel in El Tunco, the epicenter of surfing right by two famous breaks – Sunzal and Punta Roka. In preparation of the trip I went looking for a new surfboard – after all I was hardly going to get that elusive stoke up if I surfed sporadically and rented crappy boards – the 8 ft fiberglass board I procured has proven to be perfect for me at this stage.

Lesson: Procure the right equipment. Learning a new activity, esp something as demanding as surfing is daunting enough, you owe it to yourself to get the best equipment that can help ease the barrier to entry. Hey, if you have the time and money to  make it to the beach, then find the cash for a good board and wetsuit!

I went out in the water a few times in advance and started to feel better about the upcoming trip. Packing my board shorts and rash guard I even started to feel a bit of excitement. 

The waters in El Tunco were deliciously warm and the conditions so very clean that I immediately felt transported back to the my early days in surfing where I ecstatically relished every bit of the adventure – the beautiful landscape, the friends, the vast ocean – foreboding yet inviting, and then the majestic olas. Shrugging off any expectations of my ability to surf, I started slow, often catching white water and riding that successfully to the beach. Those rides thrilled and gave me confidence to start tackling the shoulders off the bigger waves on the outside. 

Lesson: High expectations place a heavy burden. Finally learning in my 30s to keep the ego at bay and learn to start small. Begin with easy steps that help build the foundation to tackle more substantial goals. 

One of the days the surf got really big in Punta Roka (I was watching safely from the beach!). This guy is shredding though. 
This happened to be high surf season with big swells coming through. The wave height ranged from 4-5 ft to 10-14 feet. HUGE! I apprehensively went out on some of those big mornings too - while Daniel, Tanji, Jonny, Evan were out there charging the big faces, I was out there hanging out with Ian and Furqan, enjoying the easy camaraderie but also dodging the bigger sets that came our way. Some of the waves were massive and plain scary – like staring down a blue wall the size of a small house about to implode on you. I was righteously mauled by those monsters a few times, got dragged under, drank the requisite amount of agua con sal, but survived fine. Glad of my climbing regimen, and the hard work in the gym and outside that has kept me fit. Ian has good wave sense and following him around saved me from more furious water boarding :) He wrote a great recap of the trip. 

Lesson: Learn with amigos! Go out with buddies and the social engagement is very rewarding and can offer a ton of learning. I'm lucky to have some amazing friends without which my adventures (in climbing, or surfing, or otherwise) would pretty much suck. 

My paddling as well as my wave sense was improving towards the end of the trip. I was in the water my first day back home. Just pure excitement. One aspect of the sport that has held me back a bit was my lack of 'pop-up' finesse, which is the act of jumping on to our feet from a prone position upon catching a wave. While in other popular board sports (snowboarding, skateboarding etc), one begins from an upright position, in surfing getting up consistently can be a major part of the learning process and can take years to master. Unless you are not standing up you are not surfing, but rather wakeboarding. Ha. I was finally starting to see some progress with popping up quickly after catching a wave. This can mean the difference between opening up to further skills with turning and carving, versus spending the majority of a quick ride fumbling with the stance  Many a times I had accepted defeat in my inability for dropping in and immediately popping-up but I feel the progress and know now that it is a matter of time (and many more fun sessions in the water) before I master this basic but crucial skill. Break on through!

Another beautiful sunset in El Tunco
Lesson: Try, try and if you fail try yet again! Such a basic lesson but one easy to forget. Really it is true. We humans are an amazing bunch and well if man can walk on the moon, and a blind person can climb Mt Everest then getting good at surfing ain't impossible for anybody. 

The fall season is upon us in San Francisco. The water is getting colder but the conditions are clean and winter swells are on the horizon. I'm excited about getting in the ocean and for future plans for more warm water surf. Enough writing already, gotta get back to Craigslist to continue shopping for my next board - a shortboard!

Next up, the journey towards becoming a salsero!