It's midday and the swaying hammock sticks to salty skin. The ocean never truly washes off here. Surfboard leashes drip dry on the porch, electronics don't last, and the people of Esterillos adopt the schedule of the sea and sun. It's a 600 person paradise, free from bellowing news anchors and neck ties, hot water and occasionally electricity.
Esterillos Oeste, or simply "Oeste", is run by the Salazar family. Abuela Margarita runs the soda, camping and baños, Jairo runs errands to Jaco, Minor fishes, and Lito fixes everything from tile floors to welding dilemmas. All while the niños run ruts in the ground between the major family members delivering messages in colloquial spanish: que mae, todo bien? - yo dude, all good?
The men of the family fall into three camps. Those who fish, those who surf, and those who talk. Strangely, the fishing is the most fun to watch. The angling is done by hand, meaning that every taut inch of line is being fought over between a 100 lbs roosterfish and the weathered hands of the man on shore. After 20 minutes of battle, in which the fisherman has uttered every swear word I know in Spanish and taught me countless others, the fish is nearly run-out. The fisherman then dives into the surf, wrestling the massive animal into submission before dragging it onto the crashing rocks. It should be televised.
Meanwhile, the surfing is world-class. Glassy waters with 3 breaks to ride, some overhead, some low and slow, and never more than one friendly face per wave. While the local kids surf beach breaks, doing aerials and all the tricks they learned from their padres, the ex-pats and tourists surf the deeps on broad longboards. But the king of them all is Jairo (age 22, pictured). He moves in the water like no one else. A soul surfer who could have gone pro, Jairo chose to work in a garden and surf his home waves on his schedule. His motto is "live simply" and he's true to it.
And finally, there are those who talk, but that's simply because they are too old to fish or surf. But now is not the time for talk. The breeze under the hammock is only just cooling enough to allow me to drift off. Abuela Margarita is squeezing the lemon on a piece of spear-fished fried snapper I am about to be woken up to enjoy. Jairo, Deandra and I brought the pargo back not 30 mins ago, and it will rest in our bellies shortly.
This evening, we will surf the sunset, waves cresting between a rising moon and setting sun with Orion overhead.