The Good With the Bad
When it comes to surf travel, we typically only see the glitz and glamour—the tubes and triumphs, the waves we score and the cultures that we are immersed in. What we don’t often see are the speed bumps along the way—the mistakes and misfortunes that are part and parcel of the travel experience.
This week I was reminded first-hand of how difficult travel can be. As the run of south swell in Hawaii trickled to a close, I headed to San Diego with a buddy’s 15-year-old son—a frothing grom who had never been on a surf trip before. He’d been waiting patiently for this trip, and the right conditions had finally popped up. Perfect swell size and direction, good wind, good tides—all the elements you need to score in Mexico. We were heading for a quiet, often-overlooked zone with a high-quality point break, a pair of slabs, and a hollow beach break, and the kid was absolutely stoked.
The border crossing at the CBX terminal in San Diego went smoothly, and with an hour before our flight we were checked in and ready to clear security in Tijuana. But that’s when things went haywire. Unbeknownst to anyone in our group, the grom left his passport in a tray at the security check. He and our two travel companions headed for the gate while I stopped into the bathroom. I hit up a coffee shop afterwards to get a few snacks for the flight, then boarded and headed for my seat
As I tossed my gear in the overhead bin, one of my buddies walked down the aisle with a concerned look on his face. He told me the kid had lost his passport and was frantically searching for it, and had been trying to call my phone. I got him on the line and told him to run down to security, since I was already on the plane and they wouldn’t let me disembark. But he didn’t speak Spanish, and when he got down there he couldn’t convince the agents to let him look for his passport. He was getting frantic, and things were getting tense on the plane too, as the flight attendants told me I had to either get off the plane or leave him in Tijuana. I obviously couldn’t leave him, so I walked off the plane and watched the gate close behind me, then headed to security to find my buddy’s son.
I calmed him down and we ran back to security, where we found the passport waiting in the helpful hands of a security agent. Then we ran back to the gate as fast as we could, but could only stand there and watch as the plane sat idle for another 15 minutes before taking off, the gate agents unwilling to let us back on the plane.
Around 12 hours and a thousand dollars later, we have new tickets booked for tomorrow morning, and find ourselves holed up in a hotel two miles outside of Tijuana Airport.
This definitely isn’t the way you want a surf trip to start, but these things happen sometimes—and at the end of the day, it’s only money—well, that and an epic day of waves that we are likely to miss tomorrow while we travel! Here’s hoping there will be a few leftovers when we get there!
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