On January 29, 2008, after 115 days of uninterrupted paddling along the east coast of Mexico, Abraham Levy has arrived in Baja California where he is paddling in the company of the gray whales that gather in this part of the Pacific during this time of year.
Levy has finished paddling the first stage of his trip, the Mexican Gulf Coast, from the Texas boder to Belize. He is now paddling the next stage, south along the Pacific coast of Baja California. His mission is to become the first person to paddle Mexico’s entire coastline—over 6,000 miles.
Ginni Callahan is taking a two-week break from guiding and coaching in the Sea of Cortez to paddle a bit with Abraham. The following is an excerpt from her blog – kayaktravel.blogspot.com.
On January 9, Abraham (Levy) paddles by the surf camp too far out to see us and lands some miles south at a fishing village where he sets up camp.
In the nearby village, Nacha and Sergio are preparing fish tacos to sell at the surf camp when they notice a brilliant yellow and orange kayak pulled up on the beach across the road from their house. They invite the handsome, travel-worn kayaker in for food, hear about his mission, and bring him to the surf camp, along with their fish tacos that evening, to meet some other kayakers.
At first he doesn’t look familiar, but his journey rings a bell. Yes, the guy paddling around Mexico. He was mentioned in a Canoe & Kayak magazine given to us because of a feature on Ginni. We swap notes on coasts we’ve both paddled, gather information on new places, trace our fingers along nautical charts by the dim light of our headlamps. Questions, answers, English, Spanish. The energy builds like a wave.
“Que remas?” I give him a tour of my Romany kayak. Abraham follows with video camera. Then the interview. Como se llama? Ginni Callahan. Donde estamos? At Rancho San Andres. Que piensas sobre este viaje? Sounds like fun. I want to go!
It was an offhand remark on my part. But a serious invitation followed.
Just after sunrise the next morning, a dirt-encrusted blue pickup lumbers over the rocky road towards the fishing village of Santa Rosalillita carrying one light green Romany kayak on the roof. David has decided not to paddle three days to Guerrero Negro with this ambitious young man, and Ginni, yes.
Nacha and Sergio serve us all a warm breakfast of eggs and beans and tortillas and homemade salsa. Some fussing with gear, some goodbyes, and Abraham and Ginni take to the sea, each with their own style of entry.
It’s a two-foot beach break, dumping all at once onto a moderately steep, scalloped beach. Abraham puts his kayak in the low spot, on the sand, enters, and inches forward with his hands until a wave meets him and he can paddle through the little break. Less traditionally, Ginni waits at the bow of her kayak on a slightly higher hill of surf-rounded cobbles until a medium-sized wave washes up to the boat. She pulls it down with the retreating water, hops aboard on her belly like a surfer to paddle a few strokes past the breaker zone, sits up, and slides her legs into the cockpit.
“Nunca lo he visto eso.” I have never seen that before, says Abraham. It was one of many firsts.
Santa Rosalillita falls behind as we head towards the distant point. The coast between Santa Rosalillita and Guerrero Negro is not a part I’d choose to paddle this time of year. January brings the biggest swell and chance of the worst winds. The route has few landings and miles of steep beaches that are completely exposed to the predominant NW swell. One landing is a surf spot they call The Wall. It’s where surfers go when they want to catch the biggest waves.
Abraham sets a good pace and evidently enjoys having someone to talk to. We drift toward whichever side I’m on as I try to keep the boats just far enough apart to avoid hitting paddles on each others boats at the exit of each stroke. We talk the whole day, and there is much to learn about each other.
He loved beaches as a kid and wanted to know all the beaches in Mexico. What better vehicle than a kayak? He learned to paddle in rivers. Pursued sponsorship of his dream for four years before finally launching his expedition. Continued learning en route along the Caribbean, and the Pacific would teach him even more.
Even more than a paddling trip and a dream, this trip is his business. “If you want to do well at anything, you have to learn how to sell,” an uncle once advised. Abraham learned to sell telephones door to door. Trying to sell his trip to sponsors he discovered that nobody wants to support something little. Make it big; ask for lots of money. His success is grandly evident in the boat he paddles, brightly smattered with logos. The shirt he wears for interviews has his sponsors printed on it. The wall behind him at speaking events is papered in logos. “If you want to do anything badly enough, and you keep working at it, you can do anything,” he declares. That smile doesn’t hurt a bit either, I’m sure.
The sea is gentle with us, and after three hours of sociable paddling we approach The Wall. An old river mouth, a mile in width, forms a NW point which magnifies the swell. Breakers begin tumbling well offshore because of the long rocky reef. Arrecife, in Spanish. The rolling of rr’s sounds like the rumble of surf at a distance.
We take turns being taller than each other on the lifting swell. “Soy mas alta.” “Ya no.”
“I know why they call this place The Wall,” says Abraham. “These are walls of water.”
There are also walls of rock on land, built by surfers as meager protection from the frequent winds, which mercifully forget to blow while we’re there. Ten miles is Abraham’s shortest day yet, but we have plans to surf in the afternoon.
Continue reading at kayaktravel.blogspot.com.
Follow Abraham’s journey at http://www.abrahamlevy.com/abrahamlevy/