"I have a dream" and it also culminates with the epiphany "free at last". 2015 is the year that my partner, bambino and I will circumnavigate the world on the high seas, in search of bounty and adventure. By this stage I will be approaching 40 and as I've been pretty lucky so far in my travelling, I'm looking for a couple of curve balls and sliders to visit.
One area under the magnifying glass of suspicion for world class waves and not a surf logo clad boys 18 -30 holiday camp in sight is West Africa and in particular Guinea and Guinea Bissau. Are you kidding me? I mean if I ever saw a sexier, jauntier angle poised to receive beloved Atlantic swells from the south and west, then I am a monkey's uncle.
Guinea Bissau does seem a little flawed though. As a keen geographer and student of the world, I wonder how the Geba river and more importantly its gargantuan delta have escaped my notice. Anyway with the exception of a small area to the north of the country, the whole place is dominated by an enormous river mouth and sedimentary deposits, I think. It's off the list, unless anyone is going to drop me a message to state the opposite. According to my blog counter, I have a dirth of interest from the West of Africa which I can see is a glitch in the system, so prove it wrong.
Anyway on to Guinea. Guinea is not adverse to enormous river mouths either but does have substantial swathes of beaches and has considerable potential I reckon. Certainly I think beach breaks abound having scanned it on Google Earth. Conarky the capital has some serious offshore islands and they look jungle infested but as of yet I could only find an inhospitable south and west facing coastline. Still good beach breaks in a new and exciting location seem to be well worth keeping in mind. I thought to myself.....best do a little research....not that it is the be all and end all but I just thought have a peak. After I went through the AIDS situation, the world food program data and the IMF report which were all unsurprisingly grim, I stumbled upon the British Foreign Office report:
We advise against all but essential travel to Guinea. The level of security in Guinea remains uncertain. Land borders are closed until further notice but sea and airports remain open. You should carry your identity papers with you at all times.
It went on to add that theft at gunpoint is common on individuals and businesses, which I guess deters investment and tourists alike.
Welcome to Guinea!
Basically the Guineans didn't like being colonised by the frogs but since the garlic eaters abandoned them, they've had a few military coups with violent suppression and the democracy movement is trying to flex its people power wings...things are in the balance. Most of the refugees who swamped the country have departed and returned to Liberia and the the families from Sierra Leone have had their refugee status retracted. On a brighter note the risk from Al Qaeda is insignificant. Things have been in flux for two years and they were worse before, if that makes sense.
A beach scene from the capital, looks chilled and romantic.
However having had a look online and read some travelling blogs, there looks like a thriving culture and some amazing landscapes....hmmmm interesting.
I'm not going to write Guinea off my hit list yet for 2015 as I feel that would be all too easy to do and the whole spirit of adventure lost. So people of Guinea, Spinalsurfer sends you peaceful felicitations and if anyone knows of a couple of handy surf spots don't be shy passing it on.
This photo seemed to sum up what I read but have not experienced of Guinea so far. Suerte.
Thursday January the 20th. 20 foot at 18 seconds....looks like a serious possibility of the Eddie being on.
This year, should it run, there are a few characters who really peak my interest.
Firstly Takayuki Wakita from Japan. I used to live in Japan and whilst there is a considerable amount of Japanese Hawaiians (settling after huge migrations around the turn of the 20th century sugar boom), I believe that Takayuki is the real deal with a reputation for being a Kamikaze type...a word that shouldn't be banded around too lightly. Japanese society is so neat, to be Japanese for so many is to live in a society that can be a straight jacket. But Japanese people know determination, they know dedication, and humility....it's an event for Hawaiian big guns and household heavy weights...lets see how Takayuki goes. Ganbatte ne!
I think the white one is a 4ft 6 inch thruster and the big one is a 6 foot gun.
Ramon Navarro from Chile. One word "Legend". Son of a fisherman, chargers massive Chile all the time with not a camera in sight. Loves big waves. When he was first surfing Waimea he used to make and sell empanadas (sort of sandwiches) on the beach to pay the rent.....as you can probably see by now, I love a yarn and an underdog...oh yeah and he got a 100 perfect ride score last time and got wave of the day. Legend with tache issues. Suerte.
How can you make cheap Chinese laundry tache jokes when you surf waves like that
Chile hit world news with its Conception based quake and miners in 2010. Ramon Navarro at home.
Last but never least is Eddie Aikau's brother Clyde. Anyone whose prepared to paddle out in 30ft plus surf at the age of 61 for his brother who died in 1978, deserves a moments thought. No one would bat an eye lid if he ducked out....hell he's up against Bruce Irons and Jamie O'Brien....hope he makes them stop and think for a second. Pomoikai
I don't have a brother, I can't imagine losing one, let alone one who I surfed giant Waimea with and saved lives lifeguarding with. If I did have a brother I would want to have some lapels and fros captured of us both like this.
Clyde with their dad aka "Pops" by more than just his blood family, after their loss.
Stepping out of a morning whilst the wintry masses sleep. Cold water waking the body with a spasm inducing rush.
The surf looks good, but you can really drag out the moments when the clothes are dropped and the bum exposed to a rasping wind. Taff in such a moment.
Drop Dead Fred after returning from the water, protocol is shunned. Speed here is your friend. Open doors and throw things, the seconds saved between dropping wetty and being engulfed in clothes are vital. Captain Oates last words as he walked from his Antarctic tent were "I may be gone some time."...the most manly thing I ever did hear...... It must have been colder than a dawny in January.
But days when Mexico's is empty, the tide is high and the wind from the south make it all worth while. The day in question a pod of Dolphins did the Lambada through the line up...I couldn't help but think I might migrate somewhere a bit warmer if I were them.....no doubt they were thinking the same.
El Bano, not entirely to the liking of all family members but none the less it's tolerated. Since moving to Cornwall, I've found it the only place I've lived in the UK where the whole community does take heed of the ocean and there is respect for those who celebrate it ardently. A sneaky south swell gains the attention of many who don't revel in Neptune's every move.
I sometimes forget just how lucky we are to be English. England always seems like a place that is riddled with contradictions. It has swell and offshore winds...just not together much. England is so verdant that on a springs morning with the sun out and proud, it is the most beautiful spot on the planet, it's just more likely to be raining though, you have to earn those moments. The lucky couple pictured went for a wedding in December and were greeted by our coldest month on record. Gloucestershire never looked better.
My partner and I have a custom of never turning back when we're lost. You just never know what you might find.
Walking away from a new secret spot...... well... to us at least. When the storms come in to Cornwall and all the different permutations of wind and swell directions ensue....it only seems right to have a gander at what might be possible....six years I've lived on Penwith and there is still food for thought.