7 marzo, 2017

I write this sitting in a friend’s living room, listening to the rain beat some ancient rhythm outside as it has been for the past few days. Jack and I are staying here at Kike’s tonight because the room we’re living in has leaks in the roof and we’d prefer not to wake up again to a floor that resembles one of the surf spots here, Piscinas. My feet are itchy with dried mud from making the trek over here and all my clothes smell like saltwater, surf wax, and sweat. A pretty common joke here is that the other volunteers and I are the “sobrevivientes del norte,” landed in a desert scorched with summer sun (Peru’s verano is January – March) about an hour from the nearest town and most of the time the roads are treacherous due to the rain. I’ve acquired a stippling of bugbites due to my sangre dulce and a half-decent tan that earned me the nickname “Colorada,” and I’m due to get the infamous 24-hour stomach bug within the next little while as I’ve gotten it consecutively every two weeks since I’ve been here. In summary, I look exactly as I am: a gringa in a strange land, sometimes homesick for my own bed and waking up to a brick patio adorned with my mother’s flowers and a view of the LA sunset.

And yet, Lobitos has my heart.

There’s an indescribable magic in this place that emerges after about a month of being here. There’s nothing to do and no time to do it all. The whole wide desert and the endless sky remind me of everything boundless and free and thriving in the world come evening, and the mornings spent taking photos of surfers or getting myself in the water are tranquil with the soft grey clouds and waves forever pounding a song in a language only the locals know. There’s murals everywhere and art in the strangest spots – proof that anything can bloom from things formerly abandoned, be it on buildings or stadiums or oil rigs. We all talk about it, you know? And the only word we use to describe it is magic. Old, old magic. The kind that keeps people here in a sort of sunkissed sueño.

Maybe I’m being sentimental because of the rain; maybe I’m just tired and should probably go to bed as I’m taking surf photos at 5AM tomorrow. But what Lobitos has brought me is a home.

10 marzo, 2017

I write this sitting in Kike’s hammock; it’s just noon and a perfect day. The rain has cleared up spectacularly and Jack and I will likely move back into our little shack within the next few days, affectionally called “La Cholsa.” I went surfing for the first time at Piscinas instead of La Punta and only caught about three waves within the span of an hour and a half as all the pros were busy shredding anything I even thought about taking off on. No matter – I graduated from a longboard to something still too tall to be considered a shortboard but is still at a happy medium about a week ago, so my ego’s alive and well.

The beginning of my stay here in Lobitos was marked by photography classes three times a week with the kids at the school right next to WAVES land, dressed with a beautiful mural depicting a kind of psychedelic marina that the niños helped paint. English classes on Thursdays include some of the funniest games of pictionary I’ve ever played with the adults and teaching the basics of my native language, though a majority of the class still needs to be taught in Spanish for the sake of clarity. For my first two weeks, I was staying with the parents of Henry, whom is notoriously one of the best surfers in Lobitos and a wonderful poet and photographer. His mother, Santos, took care of me while I was sick and woke me up every morning with the same playlist of Peruvian music – “DAAAAAME MAS CERVEEEEEEZA, MAAAAAS CERVEEEEEESAAAAAAAA” was what I usually woke up to; worked just as well as coffee. Work now has consisted of repainting the WAVES office with a few other volunteers, preparing to reconstruct the skate ramp on WAVES land, surfing with the local kids on the weekends with the man who taught me to surf as well, Jhonny (¡gracias!), doing a bit of graphic design in Photoshop for an upcoming project with panels being constructed throughout town (though most of what I did was inevitably useless as the conversion of documents to Illustrator proved to be a complicated task that almost resulted with me frequently swearing in Spanish at my computer), cleaning out La Cholsa and dodging the giant beetles that live in the ceiling when they come out to pester me around midday, and constantly trying to improve my broken Spanish. I spend most of my free time surfing; making art; playing music with Luchito and Fidho in the makeshift band “Mañana Mejor” while they jam and I attempt to sing Two Door Cinema Club or Laguna Pai; watching movies with Luchito even if we spend most of our time slapping away mosquitos; making friends with the hairless and hairy dogs alike; practicing Muay Thai on the beach and trying not to get sand in each other’s eyes; surfing; enjoying shade in a hammock; making surf videos and playlists for the locals; conversing with Lobiteños, los monstres, and other travelers; and trying to nap but to no avail as it’s difficult to sleep when you start sweating the second you lie down and it’s still 85F. Did I mention I’ve been surfing?

In the coming weeks, school will start up again for the kids and I’ll start teaching an art class. We’re also going to try and pimp out La Cholsa so it’s slightly more habitable for future volunteers. It’s been nice having time to just “be” here. I haven’t done that in a long time – more than anything, I think Lobitos is good for my head and has given me the space I need to re-evaluate my concepts of self and understanding of the world. I’ve been taking photos every day for the first time since last summer and have had space to cultivate inspiration for other projects I’d like to begin. As always, travel requires growth, and I’m excited to see what other shards of my soul I discover here in the waves and green desert by the end of my stay in Lobitos. I am so grateful for the hospitality and connections I’ve made in the past seven weeks and always remember this paradise where the clock stops.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a siesta.

Save your soul – go surfing!