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Stealing Sunset Surf

sunset surf paradise in playa escameca nicaragua

We have been waiting in the water all day. Everyone sitting quietly on their boards,

scattered in the sun, dotting the ocean like freckles on a redhead in the summer. No waves for this lineup today. And we are hungry for a wave. ¿Hola olas? ¿Dónde están?

The wind picks up and wicks the last moisture from my skin, leaving a slight grit of sea salt

that I can taste on my face. Here we are. Over a dozen of us,

sitting in the ocean and dry. Every one of us is facing the fading sun,

as it begins its attempt to turn

the Pacific Ocean gold.

I can sense the entire lineup drift further

into their meditative state,

staring pensively into the blue expanse where ocean meets sky. I almost forget my purpose while bobbing in the water,

when I feel something change. Along the horizon,

something is changing.

A distant swell ripples differently,

heightening the sun’s reflection within it.

Something is finally coming in!

Instinctively, like a school of fish,

the entire lineup drops chests to boards

and starts paddling out,

away from shore.

Further crests of water become visible.

Their tips now outlined in white,

like the Rocky Mountains emerging from the sea.

Waves! Olas!

Gracias Pacha Mama!

The incoming swell is about to peak. Before anyone can sit back and spin their board around

to catch our day’s commute,

a flock of locals swoops in from nowhere,

and starts snagging every wave.

Thiefs! Banditos!

Five of them,

circling around us,

with ease returning to the front of the lineup

to reposition,


for another wave.

They ride fully outstretched

to reach out and almost touch the wave,

but leave the slightest distance

as if to prove they don’t want to get too wet.

Damn locals. So confident,


and smooth.

They take every wave with a straight face,

revealing an intrinsic inability to smile. So, is this for pleasure?

Or just a statement of skill and territory?

Not a word is said between the rest of us surfers in the lineup,

besides a few shared laughs of disbelief.

We all know we are surfing their favorite break,

their natural habitat,

born to be one with the ocean.

And we all continue staring

as the last wave of the set is masterfully ridden.

The crescendo of the swell passes its peak.

The five locals immediately vacate the water

without looking back,

already knowing they caught the waves of the day.

And the ocean returns,

to a flat,

suspense of still thought.

Damn pelicans.

And I couldn’t be more content to have witnessed five birds,

so beautifully

stealing our sunset surf.


John Early February 6, 2016 ~Playa Escameca, Nicaragua~

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