Ever wandered what it's like to be a touring surfer? Not just the competition, the hours in the water or the awesome sponsorships. But what they see away from surfing.
Paige Hareb gets to ride the world's best breaks. But what happens when the swell doesn't arrive? Her thirst for travel and intrigue to culture sends her off down the side roads, chatting with locals and trying out local food.
Paige's recent comps have taken her on a journey from Mexico to El Salvador to Cuba to California! Boom! That's a whole lot of fun places to visit. So fun, she had to write her journey down.
Below Paige shares her first leg: Mexico to El Salvador.
Enjoy getting to know Paige and her travels and stay tuned as her journey continues ...
Mexico – El Salvador 2016 by Paige Hareb
What do you think of when you first hear the word ‘travel’? To me, I think of new food, places, culture, friends, experience and everything good apart from those odd moments in the airports where things could go slightly better.
If you hear the word ‘Mexico’ or ‘El Salvador’ do you think of tropical palms, blue water and paradise? Or are you one of those people that instantly think: dirty third world country, gangs, drugs and murders?
Well I’ve just visited both Countries and have now visited both of them numerous times so I guess it’s fair to say I’m fairly confident in both of them although I’d like to point out I think I’m still pretty aware of my surroundings and pretty street savvy.
These last two weeks I have been in both Mexico and El Salvador for competitions but even though I went there to compete as my priority and have been there a few times, I always have a goal in mind to try and explore the area whether it’s to try and open my eyes that little bit more or just incase I never get to go back there ever again. You would think after being here numerous times I would be saying ‘been there, done that’. Nope! Which this amazes me as I look at some people traveling to these same contests as me for only their first or second time and the furtherest they have explored outside their hotel room is straight to the contest area or maybe to the next closest restaurant outside their hotel if their lucky! I’d write a story about them but I have nothing to write about
Los Cabos, Mexico – not your usual Mexico you are probably thinking of. This area is very Americanized and is a destination for a lot of Americans a bit like what Bali is for kiwis and Australians. Big resorts along the beach front and yes there are a couple of Starbucks handy. However, rent a car and venture outside the ‘zone’ of Cabo San Jose 30km to Cerritos, a fun little beach in the middle of nowhere, literally feels like its in the desert with a couple of shack restaurants on the beach. Or head the other direction for an hours drive to one of the ‘famous’ spots there called Shipwrecks where you will find an array of right hand point breaks all along the coast on a windy, gravel, sandy desert road with thousands of Cacti as far as you can see and the odd wild horse.
Unfortunately the week we were there, the ocean didn’t co-operate, giving us minimal waves. If you are there though, a hint is that Cerritos gets the most swell. A taxi to town was about US$30 so on a budget my Mum and I decided to catch the local buses costing us about US$2 and again giving us a first hand view at local life. We headed to a glass blowing factory where they made everything from wine glasses and bowls to plates, shot glasses and statues. We had to leave that factory and Mexico with a souvenir so decided on a green glass cactus ornament. Classic! The guys there were super nice and I was lucky enough to time it in between big groups so he took me out the back and gave me a go at blowing some glass (all recycled). Another priceless experience.
Disappointed with my result in Mexico but still in high spirits as being in a place like Cabo San Lucas you really can’t complain.
Listening to some of the other competitors talking about El Salvador, their doubts and their horrible stories they had heard about the place surprised me a lot. Yeah some parts of Mexico and El Salvador might be dodgy but aren’t some parts of New Zealand or any where in the World? Especially if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. Heading to El Salvador, I was very excited as the swell forecast had a five out five star rating. It’s really consistent there and all three times I have been here, I have scored every time, one year still being some of the best right hand waves and barrels I’ve ever had in my 20 years of surfing experience.
Once again, arriving here for my third time, I guess I felt pretty confident and comfortable with the area but it was my Mum’s first time here so when I was driving her around in our bogan, blacked out local rental car down all the pitch black back streets with not many people around I guess I can see why she was freaking out. The next day I took her to the exact same area in day light and it ended up being her favorite area! Oh how a little light can make such a big difference. This area is called El Tunco, it’s a gated area with lots of restaurants, bars and accommodation. It’s a cute little cobble stone town/street where a lot of the tourists stay and go to eat and party.
Punta Roca is where the contest was held, a big right hander that can hold quite a big swell. It’s definitely my favorite wave and contest on the qualifying series. I would come here for a surf holiday. Now thats saying something since I don’t think I would do that to any other contest area. Two hours drive South of Punta Roca, La Libertad is Las Flores where there is another perfect right hand point break right in front of where you stay or you can catch a boat around to Punta Mango where you take off and can pull straight into a perfect right hand barrel then come out and do a couple of good whacks. I think Punta Mango is where I have had some of my best backside barrels ever! I’ve also snapped a board out there and had my longest drag, most amount of duck dives and longest swim in the middle of the ocean before having to wave half a board around only to be spotted and saved 15-20 minutes later by a jet ski. Still one of my favorite waves!
So if you’re thinking of traveling to Mexico or El Salvador, do it! You could be hit by a car crossing the street to your local dairy or you could get the waves of your life in El Salvador. Adios Amigas and ciao ciao for now! Paige x