Sri Lank(brah)

We got to Sri Lanka just in time for the New Year.  Landing at 12:30 AM on New Years Eve meant that we had to stay the night in Colombo and we tried to make our lives easier by using Hotels.com to arrange lodging and a shuttle to the hotel from the airport.  We were expecting the good ‘ol dude with our names waiting for us at baggage claim.  We wanted to arrive in style like stars at Colombo Airport but the Sri Lank(brah) wasn’t there!  After catching a cab to the hotel we found out that Hotels.com screwed up and didn’t let them know we needed a shuttle even though I had confirmed a shuttle with them.  Lesson?  Screw Hotels.com.

Mix of random rolls and buns filled with curries and meats.  You only pay for what you eat.

The next day was New Years Eve.  We caught a mini-bus to Midigama from Colombo which took around 6 hours.  The drive cost about $100 USD, but on the way back up only $70.  On the way down we stopped at a local eatery where they spoke no english and just asked them to bring us what they thought we’d like, using charades.  The mix of pastries was good and they just charged us for what we ate.  Sri Lanka is cheap and if you like curries you get cheap curry!  They also let me plug in my camera charger or at least we thought they did.  When I asked the Sri Lank(brah) if I could, using charades, he gave me a head waggle.    The most confusing thing a first time visitor to Sri Lanka will run into is the way they answer questions.  It is this weird head waggle which makes them look like bobble heads.  You’re not sure if the are saying yes or no because its a head gesture mixing the two.  We took it as a “kind of” or “maybe” and I’m pretty sure it means “ok”.  It takes some getting used to and frustrated us at times but overall it made us giggle.  Read this blog about it that we found.  Also this little vid kinda explains it too.

This is an example of the waggle:

After our feed we were back on the road and every few kilometers we’d (or at least I) see a fireworks stand and I couldn’t help myself.  We stopped at one and I went ballistic buying as much as I could!  I bought a bunch of rockets and home-made bombs!  Midnight would be explosive.

On our way down we got to see a good portion of the country.  The devastation of the tsunami is not fully apparent until you see a boat washed far inland or look closely at the homes left near the ocean.  The foliage has grown back and overtaken a lot of the destruction.  Nearly 40,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka alone.  The coastal zone is pretty flat allowing the tsunami to track inland pretty far.  Despite the destruction and ongoing civil war the people still seemed to have a pretty happy go lucky demeanor and were really nice.  The war with the Tamil Tigers in the press seems to be all but won and we witnessed no hostility, but we did see many many road blocks with sand bags surrounding big guns just in case.

When we finally got to Midigama we found that the place where we wanted to stay was almost fully booked.  They only had one room left and it was really close to the road.  We decided to look around a bit but Rams place remained the best choice so we went back.  Rams is situated right in front of the best break in the area and came highly recommended by our friends Rainbow and Lot from Holland.  We met them in the Philippines and when we were traveling so were they.  After spending months in Sri Lanka they said we had to go check it out.  They liked the place so much that they were actually on their way back to Rams place a month later!  The food is great, the surf is perfect for the beginner to intermediate surfer, its cheap, Ram and his staff are great hosts, and its fun.

Curry Rice Plate for breakfast, lunch and dinner!  The stuff was the bomb!

If you go to Rams, try to get a room as close the ocean as possible because the noise from the road is drowned out by the lapping of the ocean on the shore and the breaking waves out on the reef.  But the rooms near the road had the ocean filtered out by the crazy busses and cars honking their horns and using their close to non existant brakes.  Sleep was not peaceful unless you had earplugs in and with the heat, if you did have your earplugs in, your ears sweat and you got that nasty wet earplug feeling.

After unpacking and jumping in for a quick surf it was time to figure out what to do for the New Years.  We decided to go to a beach called Marisa down the coast a bit where there are a bunch of hotels and restaurants on the sand.  Our taxi drivers were locals from across the street of Rams and were hilarious.  When they found out that I had fireworks they promptly grabbed a few and started throwing them at cars and buses on our way to Marisa.  They were lighting them in their mouth like they were ciggarettes!

When we got to the beach we just had to decide what party to go to.  We crashed a Russian party and after a giant Lion beer we were asked to leave.  I guess we didn’t look Russian.  The Russians congregate to this beach and the locals seemed to speak more Russian than English.  Anyways we just hopped to the next party and had a great time.  Our drivers were getting a bit tipsy so we bid them farewell and enjoyed the rest of the night party hopping without them.

Lion Beer best served ice cold and with a roar of attitude.  That white bracelet I have on was from a Buddhist monk that came by Rams during a parade.  It stayed on for two months and it was just a piece of string!

Our tuk-tuk drivers

We found a sober taxi to catch home because the roads here are deathly.  Two days before we got to Rams place a bus crashed into their wall.  Accidents were an hourly occurrence and when you traveled on them it was easily to understand why.  Of all the places we traveled I think the bus drivers here were the worse.  They pack the buses to the brim, the roads are only two lanes, and they just pass and if you are the smaller car you are expected to pull over or be mowed over.

Our sober driver, we think.

The next few days we spent surfing fun Midigama rights.  It’s the only wave we surfed while in Sri Lanka.  The reason was that this was pretty much the only wave we found worth surfing.  The other waves in the area we found were slopey and slow.  At least this wave had a bit of consequence, was hollow, fast and fun!  Louise got tossed on one wave and landed on the reef butt first.  She now has a nice scar on her ass crack.  On our first surf some of the visitors thought we were crazy for not wearing booties, but you don’t really need them.

Getting some shade, Sri Lanka is hot!  So is the water which is barely a relief.

The wave has a fun barrel section on the beginning and the end. Really easy to make it out of them.

The little local kid was surfing with a board missing a fin, I hooked him up and he was very thankful.  They don’t get much in the way of surfing materials down there.  Bring and share.  He was surfing the best out of any of the locals and was only 14 or so.

The beach at Rams.

We got kind of antsy while in Sri Lanka.  With only a month left in our travels we had planned to spend 3 of the 4 weeks here in Sri Lanka.  But the surf was just mediocre and our sleeping arrangment was lackluster and the nice rooms weren’t emptying out for another week.  We found some internet in someones living room down the street and you paid them what you felt was fair, no set price.  There we spent our time trying to arrange how to get back to Bali.  We found really cheap tickets from Colombo to Kuala Lumpur then KL to Bali on Air Asia.  For $150 USD each we pulled the trigger and were leaving in two days.  We had spent 4 days in Sri Lanka and were headed to one of our favorite places in 2 more.

With just two days left in Sri Lanka we decided to make the most of it.  We surfed our brains out in order to get ready for Bali and to do some shopping to practice our bargaining.  The locals were really inviting and we got to visit many locals houses.  They would invite us in, offer us food and drinks, show us pictures, and ultimatley take pictures of and with us.

Taking pictures of Louise.  Everyone had camera cell phones.

Hanging out on Rams little beach was nice and some of the guests did just that.  Many of the visitors at Rams were from the UK and were on tanning missions.  Check out this lady, she was lobster red but didn’t give up.  I think they were looking for the first sign of blistering and then they would stop.  A perfect tan.

We spent some days just reading our books on the beach.  I was rocking out to Speaker of the Dead, I’m a small time Sci-Fi geek.  Louise also honed in on her coconut frawn hat making skills.

Don’t know what these fruits or nuts were but they had all kind.  I think they were called the swollen left nut.

On our last night in Sri Lanka we decided to try out Marisa one last time but thats not what happened.  While walking around the locals area of town a man approached us and asked us if we spoke English.  When we responded with a yes he became ecstatic.  He bought us some bread that we were trying to buy and then insisted that we go to his house and have dinner with his family.  We were a bit timid because we didn’t really trust him.  When traveling you have to have your guard up and trust is something earned.  This has kept us out of a lot of trouble but at the same time makes you miss out on opportunities.  Its a fine line to walk but on this occasion we decided to take the risk and it was well worth it.  We jumped into a tuk-tuk with him and we stopped at a vegetable stand where he bought some veggies and then we stopped again at a fish stand on the beach where he had us pick a fish.  Then we went to his house up a dark dirt road.  I had my guard up just in case but the more we learned about him and his family the easier it was for us to relax.  His kids gutted the fish and his wife cooked it in curry while he took a shower.  His drunk buddy enteretained us with his attempt at english and his infatuation with Bob Marley.  Bob is a huge influence here, ganja is easily available and cheap although its shitty weed.  Reggae music blares from stereos and all the young kids sing Bob songs for you.

His drunk buddy:

Dinner was served but they refused to eat with us.  They just sat there and watched us eat.  With no utensils we ate as much as we could.  When our plates were emptied our host placed more food on them.  Finally we were allowed to stop and I was just waiting for the drugs inserted into our food to drop us but thank god they didn’t.  Our hosts were honest to goodness great people and we really did have a good time.

Our host in the market showing us a pic of him and a giant sail fish he caught.  He just randomly carries this pic around.

We left Rams at midnite and arrived at the airport at dawn.  There was a lounge open that accepted our Priority Pass card so we waited for our plane in style.  While walking to our gate we snapped these two photos of ads that looked just like my sister.  If she came to Sri Lanka or to India she’d be a movie star, or at least a billboard commercial model in Colombo airport.

My sis getting her hair done, now compare to the shots above.  She just got married!

Lou passed out early morning in the lounge at Colombo Int’l.

Sri Lanka was a cool country but it didn’t rate up there with our favorites.  I think our biggest gripe was the fact that the main highway followed the coastline therefore degrading the laid back beach lifestyle it could have.   We kind of felt bad leaving Sri Lanka without exploring more, but we did score Midigamas Right really good, met a bunch of locals, had many laughs, and were now on our way to Bali!  If you are an intermediate to beginner surfer this place is perfect for helping you step up to the next level because there are very easy waves and then some that a bit more difficult but not very life threatening plus we didn’t hear of or see any sharks.  We will go back……..when they make a highway inland away from the beach, or we’ll go to a different part of the country.

Look closely, they sell SMAK right on the street here.

Check this kids head bobble action!


Bangkok Powershop

Tiny street market near Khao San Road

On our way to Sri Lanka we had an 8 hour layover in Bangkok.  To some this would be an annoyance.  Who wants to spent 8 hours cooped up in an airport?  I on the other hand was looking forward to this 8 hour opportunity to shop till I dropped in Bangkok.  Follow these simple steps to make the most out of your ridiculously long layover:

Step 1: Take any belonging that you don’t want to drag with you through the city to the Baggage Storage area on the second floor of the terminal.  They’ll keep your bags safe and sound while you rummage though the city.  It cost around $3 a bag for 24 hours.  Or check all your bags through to final destination.  We did that with our surfboards.

Step 2: Head down to the ground floor and buy a ticket at the Airport Express counter for the shuttle bus, number AE2.  This bus will drop you off a block away from Khao San Road and near the large open markets.  Keep in mind that there are many shopping areas thoughout Bangkok but of the ones we visited the Khao San Markets had the best selection.  Remeber where you got dropped off because this is where the shuttle will pick you up to take to back to the airport.  The bus ride into town takes ~45 minutes and cost ~$5 one way.

Airport Express, AE2

Step 3: Now that you’re in the main shopping area you have some options.  Walk though the streets and shot till you drop.  Remember to negotiate.  Take whatever they say and cut it at least in half.

One of the street markets

If you’re not into shopping there are many famous sites within walking distance from Khao San Road.  Check out the Grand Palace (Wat Phra Kaew), Wat Pho, Sanam Luang (Royal Grounds), Wat Rajanadda and the Golden Mount (Phu Khao Thong).

Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew

Golden Monument, Phu Khao Thong

You can also go for a ride down the Khlong (canal) ferry which is a great way to see more of the city.

Kahi and I spent the first couple hours walking though the steet markets buying all sorts of goodies.  Here I am like Santa Claus.

These little ladies try to get you to buy everything and anything watchout they’re really good at sales.

Kahi made a new friend, her name was Frank.

Step 4: After shopping for a few hours its time to unwind.  Enter one of the many spas in the area and treat youself to a $5-10/hour long back and shoulder massage.  These spas are everywhere and offer a wide range of services ranging from full manicures and pedicures to full body massages.  They’re very affordable too!

So cheap the whole family can afford a little pampering

Fish foot spa, all the rage throughout SE Asia.  Sit back and relax while these little fish nibble the dead skin and bacteria off your feet.

There are also quite a few dental clinics that offer a wide range of dental treatments.  While I continued to shop Kahi got is his teeth whitened.  It was $150 for the whitening treatment plus a free cleaning.  The treatment took one hour and the results were great.

The lovely ladies that took great care of Kahi’s teeth

Original tooth shade on the right and the whitened on the left.

Step 5: Now its time to head back to the airport to mail out your box of newly purchased goodies and catch your connecting flight.  The Airport Express shuttle picks you up where they dropped you off.  At the Airport Express kiosk they have a list of departure times.  The ride is ~45 minutes back to the airport.

Airport Express kiosk near Khao San Road

Step 6: Once you get back to the airport head to the fourth floor of the terminal.  There is a post office in the far right back corner.  I want to say its open 24 hours but I’m not 100%, check with them before you leave the airport to begin your journey.  They have boxes for sale or you can try to get a free box from one of the vendors.  It cost us around $70 to mail 20K or 40lbs to the US.  They don’t take credit card so make sure you have enough cash, there is a cash machine right next to the post office.  Now all you have to do is catch your flight

You no longer have to pay the 750batt airport departure tax at the airport, they have included it in the price of your ticket.

In the end we were able to make the most out of our ridiculously long layover.  A little sight seeing, a little pampering, and a whole lot of shopping.  Everything got shipped off and we still had some time to relax before boarding our connecting flight to Sri Lanka.  Now we just cross our fingers the box makes it to Hawaii.


Happy World Environment Day!

SCH is working hard to highlight the ever-present problem of marine debris… Can you help kokua our coastlines by using reusable water bottles, avoiding Styrofoam, and picking up rubbish you see when you go beach? Mahalo to Star Advertiser and columnist Nina Wu for the recent Memorial Day article:



Hokule’a training begins

Louise and I have been chosen along with an epic crew by Kamaki to take the Noa Noa on a 6 day sail. We are planning to go to Moloka’i, Lana’i, and Maui.
Using Jenn Ishii’s iPhone we are going to try and send out an update each day.



Dubai is plastic

Layover: Turkey sandwich in Turkey, had to do it.

One of the difficulties of planning our journey around the world was choosing destinations, but I always knew that I wanted to check out Dubai.  Luckily Louise had no qualms and we were slated on spending a week there in order to find out what it was all about.  But as our traveling progressed, we realized how much we preferred destinations away from large cities where we could surf good waves at a relatively low price.  We also took advice from other travelers that had visited Dubai and slowly our week was trimmed down to a simple 2 days and 1 night.  The main reason I wanted to check out Dubai had to do with my Developer background, but as my past work faded into the past, so did my desire to relish in concrete.

The second most iconic building in Dubai, the first (The Burge, tallest in the world) opened to the public a few days later.  This hotel is stupid expensive and ironically not worth talking about.

We got into Dubai at around 6 AM and had no sleep on the plane.  We checked into our hotel and passed out.  Louise actually found affordable accommodation.  Don’t be fooled, you can do Dubai on the cheap!  Although our room wasn’t cheap, we could have gone the couchsurfing route or stayed at shadier accommodations for around $40USD/night.  The room was actually an apartment with a kitchen, living room, and even included breakfast ($72 USD).  We slept pretty much the whole day and then got up in time to do some exploring.  After a much needed rest we took the metro which is extremely efficient and headed for the Dubai Emirates Mall.  We had a nice meal and then decided to go snowboarding.

Thats right folks, probably as far as you can get from a legitimate ski slope, we found SKI DUBAI.

It’s an enclosed climate controlled setting that actually snows……..artificially.  It’s freezing in there and since the slope isn’t long enough for you to break a sweat and the lifts are not high speed quads you get pretty cold.  We were dressed up in our rented snowboarding outfits and many of the people in there were locals in their own gear.  Its funny because on a real mountain the people in the rented gear look silly, but here it was the people in their own gear.  I can only imagine what a season pass must cost and is a season pass a whole year?  They didn’t rent you gloves so if you do ever go, bring extra socks for your hands or look on the ground and you’ll find some gloves. 

We had never snowboarded together.  One of the things I have witnessed teaching and working for two seasons in the mountains as an instructor is to never teach your girlfriend/spouse how to snowboard.  It will turn into a fight guaranteed!!!!!!  Luckily for me Louise already knew how to snowboard and was actually very good with a smooth style much like her surfing.  We had a great time that night and rode till they closed down the place.  It was too late to catch the metro back so we caught a cab and surprisingly it wasn’t too expensive.

You can see Lou’s trademark smile!  If you didn’t know, she smiles when she surfs too.

I couldn’t find a toilet.

The next day we got back on to the metro and headed for the water park.  We had heard that there was a flowrider (an artificial wave) and we were anxious to give it a go.  Before we went we decided to walk around a bit and check out the beaches.  We knew that people surfed but we were glad we decided not to break our boards out.  The waves we saw were what I expected, knee high ankle slop.  We’ve surfed worse, but taking boards on the metro is never easy.  After hanging out around the beach we made it to the water park just in time to get the afternoon discount.  We ran to the flowrider and to our disappointment, it was mega-gay.  They didn’t let you stand up and the barrel was tiny.  When I tried to stand up they yelled at me and in this part of the world you don’t want to get in trouble.  Especially at a water park.

Wild Wali Waterpark……weak sauce.

We got back to the hotel which we had checked out of and stored our bags.  They had no problem allowing us use their facilities still, so we took nice hot showers and got ready for our next flight to Bangkok.  We got to the airport with plenty of time which allowed us to kick it in the lounge.  The lounge at Dubai is great.  The food was more like a full buffett, the beer freezing cold, and the service immaculate.  We had a good time in that lounge and I boarded the plane nicely lubricated.

The Lounge Open Bar.

Dubai was what I expected.  Similar to Las Vegas without the gambling.  The cultural aspect is pretty non-existant but it is cool to see the locals in their outfits.  The men wear white robes with a sheet looking thing on their heads and a rope looking type thing around that.  The women are all in black but they are allowed to expose their faces.  In order to differentiate themselves they accessorize.  The add Gucci purses, jewelry, and lots of make-up.  It is an extrememly materialistic place and we were glad to be moving on.  Its definetly worth checking out but no need to set up your second home.

We only have 12 hours in Bangkok so our next post is all about the best power shopping mission in History!

The bus stops are air conditioned

They rake the beaches for big rocks from the imported sand.

The surf is epic.

They serve BJ soup!  Heard its creamy.

Posing in a parking lot.

We rode horses in the city.



Another amazing swell was predicted to hit Morocco in a couple of days.  The Fiz knew it was going to be epic and a road trip to the south was our best chance of scoring.  We packed our bags, piled our boards on the roof of the car, and began our journey south.  The Fiz drove the whole way, around 5 hours, to Essaouira where we stayed for the night.  As you enter the city guys jingling keys at you, this is their way of asking you if you’d like an apartment for the night.  Traveling with Fiz was so easy.  He spoke the language and knew all the ins and outs.  He had a guy find us an apartment for a good price and even found a guy to watch our car overnight.


The first camel we spotted.  It’s eating the little fruits from the argon tree which are used to make oil and this awesome stuff called argon butter, similar to peanut butter.

Our guest house was within the walls of the Medina.  The Medina is the old city and is enclosed by walls.  There are usually no roads for cars but only narrow alley ways filled with all sorts of shops, restaurants, and guest houses.  I loved the medina.  The vibe is very different from the newer parts of town.  You are free to wander down the maze of allies while browsing the different vendors selling a variety of Moroccan crafts and goods.

The walls of the medina

Our little room in the Medina of Essouira

I would have liked to spend more time in Essouira but we were on a mission to surf so we continued our journey south.  Stopping at a tiny village to check out a wave but in order to reach the break you need to have a four-wheel drive vehicle, which we did not have.  Luckily we met up with Karim  and Sylvan, the Fiz’s friends.  We squeezed the boards and ourselves into Karim’s truck and made our way to the break.  It was about a 10 minute drive over sandy rocky roads, no way our little car could have made it.  When we got to the point it was a little disappointing.  The swell wasn’t as big as predicted and was barely breaking.  The set up was perfect though and we’d keep our eye on the radar for a bigger swell..



We spent a night in this tiny village at one of the locals homes.  It was a very simple accommodation but thats all we needed.  It was Friday and in Morocco, Friday is couscous day.  Our hosts prepared us a delicious feast consisting of a huge mound of couscous covered in a heap of vegetables and chicken.  This was one of my favorite Moroccan meals.  It is tradition that meals are served family style and you eat directly from the main dish.  It’s also a rule of thumb that you only eat the portion of the dish that is in front of you.  Think of it like dividing the dish into slices like a pie, one for each person.  Meaning if there’s a really nice piece of meat on the opposite side of the dish, it’s not proper to reach around and help your self to it.  Unless that person is done eating of course, then you are more than welcome to treat yourself.


Karim, Sylvan, Kahi and the Fiz feasting on Friday couscous in our humble room


The next morning Karim took us to his secret surf spot at Rock Beach.  It was a beautiful bay with what seemed to be an abandoned fishing village.  We set up a little tent to protect us from the sun and spent the day surfing, and kicking it in the shade.  The beach break was fun with a few small hollow barrels but the point break wasn’t working.  It was nice to surf with only our buddies and to kick it on the beach all day.




Rock Beach


The Fiz, Sylvan, Karim, Kahi and I kickin’ it at Rock Beach

Rock Beach chill spot.  This is where we’d hang out after surfing, have some lunch, and maybe even take a nap.

Rock and clay homes are built into the hill-side with tiny verandas overlooking la Catedral at Immsoune

Beach side bungalow Moroccan style

Kahi catching a few waves at the point on the alaia

Later that evening we continued heading south to Insouamme, a long right-handed point break.  The wave wasn’t as hollow as J-Bay but it did have some really rip-able sections.  The Fiz and Kairm reminisced on the good old days when there was nothing out there except for a few fisherman houses.  This little town is stating to buzz.  Thanks to the internet this place is no longer a secret and people pour in from all over the world to surf this wave.  There are still many unknown waves in Morocco but the locals are trying their best to keep it hush-hush.   Throughout our travels we have seen what happens when a good surf spot is over exposed.  The hoards of people, followed by those who want to make money off of them.  Some argue that the exposure is good, bringing money into the town.  Sometimes I think it ruins the town turning them into tourist havens, stripping away the culture.


A nice wave at Insuamme

A little tube

Crazy scary slab at Insuamme.  We didn’t get to see any one surf it but heard stories about a few guys who towed into some insane barrels.

While in Insuamme we stayed in a little guest house called Chez Hassan.  It had a mellow vibe with a relaxing outdoor lounge area.  Conveniently, next door was the only bar in town.  The point break only works at low tide which was early in the morning, leaving us time to get another session at Rock Beach in the evening.

The owner of our hotel, Hasan, is a fossil finder of some sort.  He hooked us up with a couple fossils from the surrounding mountains.

These are all pieces of fossils.  This is where they clean them up and put them back together.  Then they ship them to France and sell them for $10,00o+ a pop.

We went for a walk along the ocean cliffs.  There were quite a few tiny fisherman shacks built out of rocks along the coast.  The guys fish out there all night sometimes days then return to the village in the morning with their catch.

During our walk we spotted a camel and decided to get a closer look.  She was very friendly but a little intimidating because she was so tall.

The bar was conveniently located next door to our guesthouse.  We spent a lot of time here.

Who needs a worm bin where you have a couple of goats

The next day the swell was picking up again and it was time to head back to that small village to see if we could score that wave.  It was late in the night when we arrived and the local family wasn’t expecting us.  Luckily they had a room for us but they were preoccupied with a wedding and weren’t sure if they were going to be able to provide dinner.  Since there is nothing in this village, we began eating our snacks which consisted of a few bananas and chocolate cookies.   When we were finishing up with “dinner” our host walked in with an entire chicken on a silver platter.  It was so good, we ate the whole thing.


A super secret surf spot somewhere in Morocco


The Fiz is an amazing photographer.  He was just messing around and took these cool pics.

Early in the morning we packed our surfboard bags and began walking out to the surf break.  It was about a 20 minute walk, but totally worth it.  At first the break wasn’t working, but an hour later it started cleaning up.  We did two surf sessions and barely made it back before the sunset.  The spot was unreal reeling along the point sideways.  Hollow sections with quick breaks for a few turns then more barrells.  This secret spot wave was almost as good as the other secret spot wave in the previous post.  It was getting late quick and we, or I should say The Fiz, still had to drive 5 hours to Casablanca.

The next couple days we kicked it with our buddy Sammy at his house near Bouznika.  There was a fun looking left right in front of his house and a scary looking slab just around the corner.  The surf potential in Morocco is insane.  You just need to know the right people or be motivated enough to do some real surf exploration.



Sammy and Sadd battling it out at ping pong

An average day at Da Point

A strange and surprisingly delicious egg, ham, cheese, tomato and onion omelet thing.

Mrs. Zniber invited us over for lunch at her home in Rabat, so we took the train.  It was easy.  Sammy dropped us off at the train station and an hour later we were in Rabat.  Beef and vegetable couscous, prune beef tajine, zaalouk (a delicious eggplant salad), and tuktooka (tomato and bell pepper salad) followed by fresh fruit and chocolate for desert.  The food was delicious and we ate way too much but it was totally worth it.  I have to say Moroccan food is definitely one of my favorite foods.  I absolutely love it.   Always beautifully presented and so full of flavor, you just can’t beat it.

















On our way back home we got on the wrong train.  It was one of those express trains that didn’t stop at the Bouznika train station.  We ended up in Casablanca then had to catch another train back up to Bouznika.  We met some cool people on the train heading north.  They didn’t speak any english, we didn’t speak any french or arabic, but we all spoke a little spanish.  People in Morocco rock!  They are some of the most friendly people and are filled with aloha.





Our new friends


We had a few days left in Morocco so we rented a car and decided to head south.  There was a good sized swell about to hit, but a huge storm was also predicted to hit the country in a couple days.  The car we rented was through a friends company and was only around $20 a day.  We first stopped back in Essouira for the night, then continue Insuamme in the morning.












Overlooking the medina in Essouira

Fresh seafood spread.  Pick what you want and they grill it up.

Moroccan pottery,  intricately painted and gorgeous colors.  I wanted to buy it all, pack it up and take it home with me.

Shops and food stalls in the medina

Berber (Moroccans from the south of Morocco) musicians playing Gnaowa music, slaughtered the spelling I’m sure.

Argon butter and oil from the fruits of the argon trees.  Argon butter is similar to peanut butter but has a rich nutty flavor.  I love the stuff.  The oil is extracted from berries collected from the shit of goats and camels after they are digested and pooped out.

It had just started to rain when we were pulling into Insuamme.  This was the first big rain in a LONG time and the debris that had collected over the months began it journey down the river beds into the ocean.  As soon as we got there we unloaded our bags and headed straight for the surf.  The surf was fun but challenging.  The current was very strong and after catching a wave it was almost impossible to paddle back out.  You would have to paddle in, run back up the beach, and paddle back out.  Talk about exhausting!  There was a brown waterfall that began flowing down the cliff and into the bay and a rim of chocolate brown pooh water formed along the beach.  There was no way to avoid it when getting out of the water.  All you could do was keep your head above the water and keep your mouth shut.  it was nasty!

Insuamme after a crazy rain storm.  You can see the light blue/dark blue gradient caused by the influx of fresh water.

The next day the wind was totally wrong for Insuamme, so we headed further south in search for a surf-able wave.  There was a part of the coast that faced north and was sheltered from the stiff south wind.  The waves were massive and we were very under gunned.  We stopped along the coast to admire a few insane slabs that were absolutely crazy.  Further south the winds were back on shore and messing everything up.  We decided to pack up and drive back to Bouznika..




As we were leaving Insuamme we could see the massive storm moving in.  The roads in the south are windy, muddy and prone to flooding.  Not the safest in a rain storm.  We were about 30 minutes ahead of the rain storm and were spared from the rain while driving the most dangerous roads.





The crazy rainstorm moving in on the left.


All the rain turned the road into a swampy muddy mess and our entire car got covered in mud.

We spent the night in Bouznika and the next morning we were off to Chefchaouen, a city in the north of Morocco.  Chefchaouen is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful handicrafts but is also renowned for its kif.  Kahi and I wanted to go on a tour of the fields in the surrounding countryside but it was raining cats and dogs.  One of the parking attendants helped us find a nice place to stay fin the medina and watched our car during the night, for a small fee of course.  Since it was raining we didn’t get to experience the town as much as we would have liked.  The power went out in the city while we were eating dinner and it was difficult finding our way back to the hotel in the dark allies of the medina.  Since it was still pouring rain the morning we decided to head back to Bouzinika so that we could spend our last couple of days with our friends.

The fancy hallways of our guesthouse in Chefchaouen

Flooded fields in northern Morocco

Our friends Saad, Nashla, Damya, Omar after eating a fabulous meal prepared by Nashla.  It was nice to spend our last couple days with our friends.

A cool tortise we found in front of Saad’s house

On Christmas it was our friend Maha’s birthday and they threw an amazing birthday.  The food was unbelievable and the people were too funny, we had a blast.

Yummy sushi at the party!  We love love love sushi!!!

Kahi and I in front of the giant mosque in Casablance.  It’s huge and the mosaic tile work in unbelievable.

Our time in Morocco seemed to fly by.  We could have spent more time hunting for waves in the south and explorting the mountains in the north but the clock was ticking.  Morocco has been one of our top destinations.  Not only did we score some of the best waves here, we also got the opportunity to spend a lot of time with friends.  The people in Morocco are amazing.  Caring, loving, and friendly.  They are filled with what we call the Aloha Spirit.   I want to give a thousand thanks yous to The Fiz and his beautiful wife Maha for opening their home to us and making our time in Morocco so special.  We couldn’t have done it without you.  Also to all of our other friends who showed us such an amazing time.  It was so hard to leave and say good bye, but we’d be back.  We love Morocoo.  Plus i still need to ride a camel.


Moroccan Love

I visited Morocco three years ago and it was till that time, the best surf trip of my life.  It was the mix of epic waves and the Moroccan people we encountered that truly enchanted our trip.  The endless perfect right hand point breaks complimented with the open armed hospitality of the Moroccans will make any Western surfers perception of a Muslim country quickly spin towards the positive.  Getting back to Morocco has always been on the forefront of my mind and getting the chance to return on our around the world trip seemed destined.  Considered the Western pillar of Islam, Morocco is part Africa part Europe.  To other places of the world I have visited I would most likely make a geographical connection to Baja California, rugged desert on the coast with the occasional big city every few hundred kilometers.

My First Moroccan Surf Trip in 2006.  L to R: Fiz, Magic, Younez, Donny, Me

My last trip to Morocco was with Donny Boy Beaucage and a bunch of Moroccans we met along the way.  It was a non-stop journey of laughs, hunting, and scoring.  The three Moroccans that were with us the most were Tarik “Magic Johnson (he looked just like him)”, Younes Fizazi, and Younes Zniber.  The connection made between us all would/will remain unbreakable.

Half way through our journey around the world, while we were in Thailand, I felt that hesitation in the desire to check my emails as if I knew I would open my inbox to bad news.  When I finally did open my inbox I had a bunch of emails from Morocco but none of them were from the person I hoped to hear from the most.  The emails from my other good friends alerted me that my best Moroccan friend Younes Zniber had passed the day before in an avalanche while snowboarding in the back country in Morocco.  It was hard for me to fathom, I didn’t even know there was good snowboarding in Morocco.  Younes was good at it and rode with the similar smooth style of his surfing.  He loved snowboarding almost as much as surfing and wanted to take me since I used to live up in Tahoe and in the Rockies.  While doing what he loved, hooting in excitement as the slope gave way, Younes glided with grace into the next realm.

Younes with his trademark hat-style

Stylish and smooth in critical sections

Style Bandit in the Jilaba on the slopes.

The news hit me hard, because a man that I saw as almost immortal was shown to be very much mortal by forces greater than us.  It really made me more aware of the risks I take while searching for the next adrenaline rush.  But most of all it made me realize how powerful an individual can be on a group of others.  Throughout our whole trip in Morocco, Younese Znibers presence was felt.  People are still mourning but people are also now moving towards the next phase of realization.  They are happy to talk about the stories of his life and everyone that was influenced by him opened their arms to us as though we were an extension of him.  He had more best friends than anyone I knew and it was humbling to realize that I was considered to be one of his good friends even though it may not have been one of his best.  The rest of the community of his family and friends took us in as kin and opened their hearts to share in the pain in his passing and even better, the joy of Youness life.  Tears of happiness linger with smiles, I miss you brother.

Here is Younes ripping with style during his last surf at ………..

We stepped into his shoes and lived in his place in Bouznika.  I felt it would be kind of creepy at first but it was actually quite comfortable.  Younes had been through a lot in his life, lived all over the world, traveled to exotic places, been married once, and after all that had settled right back here in Morocco.  From the place where he lived there were 7 GOOD surf spots within walking distance and 1 of them is his secret we (or maybe just a few of us) now call Znibers.  A fickle but epic right-hand barrel that works only on certain tides with certain winds, don’t bother looking, you won’t find it.  On our first session there I scored one of those unbelievable not possible dream barrels.  Everyone had already caught a wave and mine was the last in the set.  Dropping in backdoor behind the peak and weaving for 40 meters through a cavernous passage only to pop out to the amazement of everyone (all 5 of us, all good friends, me included).  It felt like a gift from Younes and I took it as something spiritual.

Living close to the ocean allowed Younes to observe the winds and to know which of the seven waves to hit.  There was never a crowd at any of the spots we surfed yet we were right between the two populace centers of Casablanca and Rabat.  He had his life wired living in his paradise with his beautiful lady.  He lived his life to the fullest and realized that his paradise was right back where he started.  In his home country of Morocco, a few kilometers from the house he grew up in, he found his solace.  He knew how to appreciate what he had and knew that each day deserved appreciation.  Evidenced throughout his life with his living life to the fullest approach.

We also were given the opportunity to stay with the other Younes. Younes Fizazi.  THE FIZ.  Zniber had offered to host us and even give us some work if we came and stayed with him in Morocco, but since he was now gone we had to rethink our visit.  “Hem du Allah” (Thanks to God) The Fiz adamantly requested that we still come to Morocco and that the invitation for  a place to stay was open at his place in Casablanca.  Fiz’s place is unreal, it was a huge, mansion like, beautiful condominium in Casablanca.  All I could think was, “Fiz is a baller!”.  When I met him on the surf trip he was in surf trip mode, dirty clothes, no showers, naughty words, stink, etc.  I did not see the elegance and panache he usually rolled with in the cities.  Since I had last been to Morocco, Fiz had gotten married.  His wife Maha is absolutely beautiful and has a heart of gold.  Fiz hosted a great party with his new Wife Maha where we got to see a bunch of my friends from the last trip.  The spread of food prepared by Hafida, their part-time help, rivaled any Thanksgiving table.  The food was superb and the night was a riot ending in a round of shakefaces.

The Fiz, Magic, and Me

We were in Morocco during a very Holy time.  It was the Aid Mabrouk (Big Holiday), which celebrates the story of Abraham when Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his son to God in order to show his loyalty and faith.  When Abraham, through much consternation, brought the knife to his sons neck, God exchanged his son for a ram.  His son was safe, the ram not so.  Abraham had proven his loyalty and God had shown his benevolence by sparing the son of Abraham.  I found it eye-opening although slightly obvious that the Old Testament is the same in the faiths of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.  In Muslim culture this day is celebrated by, every household that can afford it, a ram being sacrificed at your home.  We spent this day at Mahas families home where they sacrificed two rams.  1/3 of your ram is supposed to be given to the less fortunate.  Mahas family gave 1 whole ram plus much of the other one to the less fortunate as well.  The sacrifice is quite gory to the sensitive.  A healthy ram is slit by the throat in one motion which is supposed to bring immediate death.  As it bleeds upon the ground the rams nervous system sends its final tremors throughout the body.  In the case of the ram we watched get sacrificed, the nerve twitches were translated into the ram attempting to run lying down headless.  It was gnarly.  After the sacrifice is over and the twitching has subsided, the butcher guts the animal and then skins it.  He then hangs the carcass and moves on to the next house.  If you drive around the country on this day you will see butchers with bloody butchers outfits on, big sharp knifes in their hands, and big smiles on their faces.  The butchers make good money this day.

Another activity that pops up on this day is the roasting of the ram heads.  All over the streets, especially the less fortunate areas (the ghettos), the people set up makeshift barbecues and begin roasting ram heads for you.

The day is also an opportunity to go around visiting relatives, with the most common meeting place being the grandfathers house.  At Mahas house we asked whether we could wear traditional Moroccan outfits in order to celebrate properly with the people.  We were given authentic outfits that made us fit right in.  They were called jilabas, I think.  Donning the jilabas we went to visit Fiz’s family.  This truly Moroccan style house was one storied and open in order to accommodate large groups of visitors.  We had tea and cookies with his family and really enjoyed meeting them, especially his grandmother.

Unfortunately during this time I was also suffering from the worst toothache of my life.  It was a non-stop pain that I thought would go away but wouldn’t.  I visited the dentist and his office was immaculate.  I was scared of the horror stories of doctors abroad but the dentists I visited were better than ours in the states!  His x-ray machine and process (my worst nightmare, I almost always gag) was quick, painless, and immediate.  We saw right away what the problem was.  I had an infection in my molar and would need a root canal.  I’d never had one and I figured I should wait till I got home so the doctor prescribed me some anti-biotics and asked me why when I got the crown the dentist had not also given me a root canal.  He was shocked because roughly 90% of all crowns will need a root canal within 12-18 months after getting the crown therefore it is silly not to get a root canal at the same time.  In Morocco they almost always do the two procedures one after the other.  You can infer what I’m trying to say about our medical system in the US.  The cost of my consultation and x-rays?  $20 USD.  I am guessing the same thing in the states would have run me at least $150 USD or more?

This time of year provides some of the most consistent surf of the year.  Storms far away from the Northwest create large swells that once reaching Morocco are finely groomed into often perfect swells.  One place that receives these swells the best is **@#$@@.  Although the spot is no longer secret, out of respect for the locals and my friends I won’t divulge too much.  The conditions were perfect for this spot and when we arrived we couldn’t put our wetsuits on quick enough.  The following surf session was perhaps the best one in my life!  This wave was at that time, better than Jeffreys Bay.  J-bay is way more consistent and the actual wave is similar, but the one in Morocco was so much more powerful, hollow, and overall more scary.  I sat way up the peak away from the pack on the inside to the locals delight.  The surf was 6-8 foot Hawaiian, triple overhead so I was riding my 6’6″.  To run you through the wave, it went like this.  Giant swell approaching, paddle up the point to get into position, turn and paddle ass off.  Then drop in, sweeping bottom turn, then run like hell.  Set up for first barrel, get stand up tube for 5 seconds as you roll through the main pack watching you, come out and do 2-3 turns, then run a bit again in order to set up next tube.  Get slotted in smaller but still big barrel.  Come out, do 2 turns, then get ready because wave gets bigger again and bowls up on the inside shelf.  Get thick throaty barrel and then come out in front of the amphitheater (the community has built a concrete sitting area like an arena that faces the wave, the last barrel section is right in front of it).  Keep riding wave with a multitude of roundhouses and kick off with burning legs and smiles from ear to ear.  The whole wave lasts on average about a minute.

This occurred 5 times for me and it happened so quickly that it really emphasizes seizing the moment.  As the tide got too fat the wave completely turned off and almost everyone left.  I paddled in to take a quick break.  As I was walking up the cliff the lineup looked lonely.  Everyone was out of the water and leaving the parking lot.  They had given up or were content with their days take.  But the ocean winked at us and sent in some more fun waves.  The swell had dropped so Louise, Fiz and I grabbed our shortboards and shared the evening session alone with one other traveling Aussie!  One of (if not the best) waves in Morocco and here we are surfing it alone.  The wave on a fat tide goes like this……Easy take off, sweeping bottoms turn, snap, run, snap, run, roundhouse, etc……..till the inside barrel section.  The barrel on the fat tide is right in front of the amphitheater and is just as heavy as during the low-tide.  Get out of that one, its a bit harder, and you have another 100 meters of open face on a wave that gets bigger as it goes.

The days surfing was unforgettable and we never scored that place again.  It went down as the best session of my life.  This wave was one of Younes Znibers favorite spots and was also the last place he surfed before passing away.  During his last session there were photographers in the water and as you can see, he scored it too.

1 year since his passing we are all still trying to emulate his style with little luck.  Rest in Peace Brother.


CURRENT: Washington State

NEXT: Idaho


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