Nicaragua Field Trip
It was a surfboard but it might as well have been a character too. The board had moods and style and a certain a personality that each guy on the trip got to know in their own way. An ingenious, underground shaper from San Diego named Jeff McCallum brought the board to life. Jeff started with a piece of foam, and with his hands, it became a living thing. A four-finned character with a hint of jade that would join the cast on a trip — and come back with a story.
The cast, as it happened, landed in Nicaragua and each guy flew from somewhere very different. Bryce Young came from Australia, Cam Richards from South Carolina, Derrick Disney from California and Mason Barnes from North Carolina. The four of them, with bags full of exotic, trippy boards — along with that four-fin too, of course — squeezed into the Hilux pickup truck heading toward the greatest direction there is on a compass: a la playa. In Nicaragua, the roads were bumpy, local men wore cowboy hats and the buses that passed them were of a psychedelic hue. Herds of cattle crossed roads when they felt so inclined to and in the distance howler monkeys called them toward the sea.
And oh, the sea… Warm, lime-green and very, very hollow. Thumping peak after peak, the boys pulled up to countless overhead beachbreaks and then into countless wedging barrels. Bryce and Derrick arced and contorted and slipped into lurching sand-bottomed right bowls. Cam and Mason did the same on the lefts, punting frontside rotations off crumbling sections to punctuate their tubes. The four of them walked through dusty brush in the south and through buzzing, steamy jungles in the north to these peaks. They had sessions that lasted a handful of hours and left them delirious with hunger. Or crazed with stoke. They slid upon asymmetrical fishes, bonzers, sleek shortboards and Jeff’s strangely sentient four-fin. A board that turned on the gas through a few seemingly impossible sections. That seemed to have a mind of its own, a vehicle of travel even more useful than the Hilux. In the night they traded stories of other trips like this one, which by year’s end, would also become another tale traded over beers in the night.
By the end of it all, they returned home, sated, sunburnt and shacked-out. The beaches of Nicaragua had been gracious hosts and the howler monkeys had called them toward riches. Jeff McCallums four-fin came back with them, too. It had other journeys in store, other lines to take in mysterious, foreign lands. But many of their boards did not make it back — snapped in two by the powerful Central American peaks. In some stories, the characters don’t always return home. But the broken ones — the countless snapped and buckled boards — are usually mended and live on to entertain their hosts in their new, distant homes.
Photos: Kenny Hurtado, Damian Davilla, Corban Campbell