Monday, 27 October 2008

where a small hole became a big problem. Main house roof crumpling in... Mid October, Paulo standing on the wee back terrace, which we'd cleared a few days before. Glorious sun all day, it has to be said. Cool air, hot sun.
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Monday, 13 October 2008

Waters of Ancora

This weekend we headed for the coast. Partially to overcome my gloom at being more than a stone's throw away from the ocean, from the moving mountains of transition that provide so much energy, fear and well, distraction...
We made it to the first surfable beach within 35 minutes: a definite record. And not a bad spot either, always slightly smaller from Ancora and Afife to the South. Quite small ish looking, till we paddled out (me and Nikita) and got sucked out in some current, spooked by looming faces, and freaked by booming noises coming from the mouth of the Minho, as all those thousands of tonnes of river blend into their salty cousin, the sea, every second. (The quanitites involved make the mind boggle, and, clearly, large rocks move under water with large booms).

Vila Praia de Ancora (its full name) is the next beach town. Kind of a new-town of Portuguese sorts - lots of concrete apartments overlooking a vast arch of a beach - bay, with a fishing marina at one end. Also the end point of the river Ancora, but no potential here for a rivermouth surf spot...

Swell was good, chunky indeed, but locals bemoaned build up of sand in the bay, wrecking the waves. They predicted big winter swells soon, that'll clean it all up, plus river flooding changing the silt buid ups. I suppose they've seen it all. Still, there were some fine looking lefts in the middle of the bay, if you could make the epic paddle out past masses of whitewater for about half a mile... With a dropping sun we decided against in favour of finding our spot for the night.

The spot is way at the end of the beach, out of town already and heading south, turn off the main road and drive through an odd mini-community of lived-in houses near the train track, and the sea appears in sea mist and spray. Wind still hardly a flicker, land still warm from the days sun. There's a cafe there run by a Spanish guy and his Portuguese wife. He likes to talk about life and Spanish guys who zoom down from Vigo to surf after work, about his son who goes to school here, about the mad new construction planned round the corner...

There's nothing else around there, sand dunes and an out of place play park. We like it and park there, feast out at the 'Spanish bar' and return to Cora (our van) to make nests in the back with our collection of blankets and soft things. They say it rained in the night - sure didn't wake me.

Low tide was around 6.30am; i'd heard that the waves work best at mid-tide, so i couldn't sleep too long. By 8.30 i was in the water, the beginning of a pretty epic paddle past all sorts of hectic white water, rogue sets and swirling currents. Morning rays blocked by sea fog and early cloud. A prolongued dawn almost. Nobody about, eery, but also familiar, assuring in a way. After thinking I was out back, then getting pummeled by another big set, I paddle out further still, in good view of the town now, starting to loose site of the shore i'd paddled out from...

A set (of waves) looms into my bit of middle-of-the-ocean that's not going to land on my head. But not far off, I think as I paddle frantically up the face, thinking this is way bigger than it looked from shore. This being my first day out of proper surf since my foot broke itself, feeling all better now, I don't want to be making too many mistakes...

After a while i catch a slightly less spooky left hander, make the drop- to my surprise - and turn to see a long overhead glassy smooth transition running away before me, but not closing out. Not too steep (no barrels there). It lasts a few turns, but they last for hours in my head. They need to too, as it's pretty much the only decent wave i catch that day. Later i paddled over to the other side of the bay where a couple of locals had - finally- woke up to come out. Any other place would be stowed out with way too many other riders, here it seems not. I need to keep this quiet. Good thing nobody will read this. Makes me wonder why i write it, get in habit I suppose.

It takes about half an hour to walk back around the bay, back to the van. The wind is still slight, and offshore, but there's still a bit of sea fog, obscuring the eager mid-morning sun. Out of this fog I see the oddly familiar shape of two girls - my lady and my daughter. Out of focus like this it's like I see them for the first time, with all the familiarity we have built up after months and months in each others company. A few steps more and Kira takes off, running towards me charging along the sand, i can see her grin now, her joy and flow. She just runs up to say hello, give the wet-ish seal dad a mini-hug. She doesn't waste time with pleasantaries such as how was the surf or whatever, just goes straight into her near-continuous natter about life around us, why the sand is just so, or what would happen if we didn't have ears. We reach Monica and walk back together, in the warm day. Our life warm with each other. Nikita, groggy from sleep and reading appears and grins. We get to the Cora, uncover our stores and feast on the playpark on fantastic fresh cheese, figs, tea, local tomatoes that taste of tomatoes, olives and quince jam. No hurry, nowhere to run to. We enjoyed. I'm still enjoying now.
Kira venturing into mystery waters of the river Ancora
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Wednesday, 1 October 2008