‘Surfing’ at La Ticla

We spent an entire day reaching La Ticla. The roads were slow and winding in many places and in other we crawled through the large cities of Tacoma and Manzanillo. We also stopped off for a detour to a cash point and at a beach that was supposed to have crazy big waves. Not for us you understand, just to watch. Yet again, the sea was pretty flat, so we got back in the cars and continued south. 

At one point we had several police cars interested in us. I noticed them first in the rear view mirror, and promptly obeyed the 60km speed limit. They stayed there a while, before eventually overtaking. We continued on. Then as we drove past them parked down the road a little way, they pulled out behind me again. We decided this was the perfect time to pull over and buy some fruit from a roadside stall, letting them drive past us. Three cars in total seemed to be patrolling this road, and while they didn’t actually do anything, it’s not pleasant to be tailgated by the police. The people at the fruit stall were delighted however, and gave us a large bag of starfruit for free, a bit of a win win.

We had chosen to avoid the tolls again, maybe that was why. It’s always hard to be sure if they are there to protect you, or rip you off. There was an interesting moment on our way into a town as we parked a partial road blockade with a stinger lying in front of it, manned by the locals. Not something that was there for us though, as they moved the solitary traffic cone out of the road, smiled and waved us through. 

We had nearly arrived, which was good as I was getting pretty bored of driving. As we chugged up the last major hill, we came over the ridge and saw a large bay laid out in front of us, waves rolling across it. This looked like good surf. We still had to come down the hill, and go another 10 miles or so to reach the camp spot. 

We had changed the engine oil that morning for a thicker grade, and the oil light seemed to be behaving better which was a good sign. On the bad side of things, as we freewheeled down the last big hill I noticed a puff of blue smoke out of the exhaust. This is not good, blue smoke is never good. On this engine it can only indicate the wear of an internal part, which requires a complete rebuild. However, I was pretty sure it was the stem seals, because of when it happened, and this isn’t the end of the world as long as it doesn’t get worse. It’s still pretty annoying on an engine that you have just paid quite a lot of money for and that should have been in a better condition at that low mileage. 

Trying not to think about it too much, we continued on, turning off the main road. La Ticla is small and unspoilt. There’s a few local restaurants and houses, and it was quite busy as the Sunday we arrived was a national holiday. We enquired about camping, and were told it was 50mxp per person per night, we pulled up right onto the beach, with a large palapa and the river to our right.

After a long days driving, we were happy to see the local restaurant sold beers for 22mxp a bottle. As we sat at the table we saw some familiar looking spray out in the ocean, and we turned and watched as several whales went past out to sea, as if it’s that time of year again. 

River mouth from the campsite

After a couple of beers, we went to look at the waves and watch the sunset. They were indeed big, hopefully there would be some we could manage. We headed back to the restaurant for dinner than night as none of us could be bothered to cook after 7 hours of driving.

We were in fact ready for an early night, but decided to do a quick check of the beach in case there were turtles. It appeared we were parked right in front of an enclosure to keep the eggs safe, so maybe we would be in luck. I could barely believe it when Lee waved me over, just a few metres from Ruby a massive turtle sat in her nest, digging. 

We pulled our chairs over to watch, and I put on our red light so as not to disturb her too much. We sat and watched for at least two hours, while she dug and dug. Then she laid her eggs, and spent a long time covering them up. She must have been tired for every few seconds she stopped to rest. Then, she began to leave her nest.

At this point, she seemed confused. I remember something about bright lights being bad, but wasn’t sure if they attracted the turtles or put them off. She started heading in completely the wrong direction, ending up at the campers.

It seemed she was attracted Bruno’s outside light, so we turned it off. Then Kikki grabbed a torch and the turtle turned, she began to follow the torchlight. Slowly we led her back in the right direction towards the sea, getting some pretty cool photos on the way. 

It was a surprise to see just how much the light affected her, and it was pretty incredible to lead a turtle back to the sea with just a torch. It’s sad to think in some places with the bright lights of sea front houses, that some turtles get completely lost and can’t find there way back to the sea. We watched as a wave washed over her, and then she was gone. It was a pretty magical experience, and incredible that we were the only people there to see it, she was our turtle. We put a marker on the nest so that we could tell people the next day that there were some eggs buried, hopefully they could move them to the enclosure. Now past midnight, we headed to bed. 

Chico had fun with this one

The next morning, was a lazy start. Due to a late night and a long day before. Normally the best surf is early morning or late evening. The sea is smoother and the waves cleaner. We were up a bit late, and observed the waves. They were still big. It was hard to tell how big until a surfer caught one, then you could see that the waves were bigger than the people. Still, we had come here to surf, so we got our boards and headed across the river and further down the beach towards the bay. Here the waves seemed a little smaller. Here’s someones else, catching one of the small ones.

The shore is unpleasantly rocky and also shallow. Meaning you have to time getting in the water right otherwise you simply smash your surfboard on the rocks. Normally, it’s nicer to walk out a little way or the beach shelve more steeply, eliminating this problem. Having cleared the initial rocks, we suddenly realised the strength of the current. We were being dragged down into the bay at quite a speed. It took a lot of effort to get out to the waves, and avoid being annihilated by one crashing over your, but eventually we all made it. We bobbed around a bit, these waves were huge. 

Lee moved over a bit and ended up catching a broken one into the shore, for a moment I was worried when I couldn’t see him, but then there he was on the shore. He had got out the water. I stayed for a while, letting the green waves pass me with increasing horror at the size of them. Hanno and Kikki had a go, but it was just a bit much for me. When one broke far out and a sea of white water came towards me, I went in with it. Catching up with Lee, it appears he had managed to stand on another sea urchin, so we got our boards and headed back to the van. 

Back at the camper I spent a good hour picking large pieces of sea urchin out of the depths of his foot. Fortunately, I managed to get it all out, it’s not easy to remove as it snaps and breaks easily and the spikes are barbed. I’m getting good at it now, practice makes perfect. 

Hanno and Kikki returned. We agreed that the waves were absolutely massive and that maybe if we went earlier in the morning they would be smaller, despite the fact that they were supposed to be bigger tomorrow. We decided to try again tomorrow. 

The cats loved climbing the palapa, with varying degrees of success.

Tomorrow came and the waves were still massive. In fact they were always massive. Our surfing week at La Ticla did not actually entail much surfing. We tried once again to go out, this time from the mouth of the river. Hanno and Lee made it, but me and Kikki were unable to get past the break on our boards and gave up. We ended up sitting on the beach watching Hanno, who although he was out there wasn’t doing much surfing either. 

On a daily basis we went to the restaurant for a beer to use the internet as I still endeavoured to find out what was happening with our clutch. We did some van jobs, including the monthly toilet clean. We read our books and wrote out blogs. The weather was hot and sunny, every day was a bikini day. We bought fresh tamales and quesadillas from a lady who came down the beach selling them out of a bucket. It was the first time we had got to try tamales, which was nice. We also gave some food to the aptly named ‘Skinny dog’. A nice enough boy, but covered in a lots of fleas by the look of it, still we had bought Aimee dog food as none of the local shops sold cat food and obviously she refused to eat it, Skinny dog was our new best friend that we try to keep at arms length.

It was just frustrating not to be good enough for the waves here, they were great surfing waves, just too much for us beginners. It had definitely been worth the trip though, as a few nights in we spotted baby turtles hatching in the enclosure in front of us. It’s a long hard walk to the sea of you’re a baby turtle, over mountains of driftwood and sandy hills. We gave a couple of them a bit of a head start so they didn’t join the odd dead ones that could be found on the sand. 

That evening, even more hatched. Some people came over and put some wood around the wire so the turtles couldn’t escape. He said it was better that they were released in the morning, I always thought it was the opposite but who am I to question them really. I assumed that they had the best interests of the turtles in mind, and by the time we got out of the camper the following morning they had all made it to the sea. 

Having arrived on a Sunday, it wasn’t until Friday that we decided to leave. On Thursday, knowing this was our last chance, we tried the sea again. We went back to our original spot. We had come down here several times to watch the surf, last time we saw someone getting swept way down into the bay and that was enough to tell us that we weren’t going to have much luck. The current was so strong it was visible, the sea in front of us definitely flowed from left to right. 

This time, we sat and watched. It seemed that timing was important. There were calmer moments every now and again. Me and Lee got their a little later, just in time to see Hanno and Kikki attempt to get out. There’s no way to really say it apart from that Kikki failed almost instantly and got washed up on the shore further down. Hanno looked good though, he was nearly there. Then a huge wave broke on top of him, and another and another. He managed to get back on is board and catch the next one in. He hopped from rock to rock back up the beach towards us, he was done for the day. It hadn’t been a great start, and I know I’m a slower paddler than both of them. Still we were here with our boards, we had to at least try. I had a go, and ended up very much like Kikki. Then we both had ago and ended up in the same place, much to the amusement of the locals. Clearly this just wasn’t for us, I would love to come back in the future and say that I conquered this spot, but it wasn’t happening now. Leaving was a bittersweet thing, it’s always nice to see new places but we wished we could have done the surf more justice. Maybe next time. 

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