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.She seemed to catch her breath looking out toward the big reef and then she swam farther out.My dad was way down the beach and I saw his footprints going past her yellow T-shirt and white skirt.I knew that my dad had been watching her but I didn’t know if she had let him and only afterward had been surprised by me, or whether she had been surprised that anyone was there at all.I looked for her and saw her splashing halfway out to the reef.It worried me that she might get tired and drown.I envisioned paddling hard and whisking her out of the deep sea and onto my board.She thanked me.You’re safe now, Papaya, I said.My adrenaline was pumping.Then a gaggle of kids rounded the spit, apparently finished with the turtle and ready to pursue some new curiosity.Full of erratic energy I trotted down the beach.My dad was waxing his board and mixing sand into the wax when I finally reached him.He studied me and it seemed like we both were starstruck and speechless and floating in some weird space.Cleaned up nicely, said my dad, glancing at the reef.Totally, I said.The Mexican kids must have thought we really were aliens the way we just lingered there—the heat and the aroma and the girl congealing into an orgy of sensations, and Dad and I laughing like drunken half-wits.I was close to the reef and my dad was behind me for some reason.Coming out of the trance, I realized the waves were twice my size.I sat up on my board.The reef halted the swell’s forward momentum and the swell lurched upward then heaved outward, hollowing out the face of the wave.The leading crest was pointed like an arrow as it knifed down and impaled the surface of the ocean.My dad paddled up next to me.Perfect left-hand tubes.I’ll be damned, he said.I’ll be goddamned.A vein rippled with thumping blood from his bicep to his shoulder and his eyebrows forked down over the bridge of his nose, as if he were a savage poised to attack.I felt ridiculous—these waves were too big and strong for me.A tube like that will change your life, he said.I don’t want to change my life, I said.Another swell bared its vicious claw.You want to watch it for a while? he said.I thought about it.Yes meant that later I would stop watching and actually try to surf it.No could mean that I wanted to surf it now.I shrugged.I’ll test it out, he said.This was a reef wave, a quick combustion of energy that lasted about six seconds, nearly opposite the long reeling point break in Baja.The reef wave dissolved where the water got deep again, where there was an opening in the reef—the channel.My dad paddled through that opening and out past the reef, before cutting over to the take-off spot.In the unlikely event that I would decide to paddle out, I felt that the channel would protect me, and once out there, if a giant set came I could take refuge in its safe harbor.My dad paddled for the next swell.He got right under the peak and a tumult of water gathered from the floor of the wave and shot up the face, loading the lip.The heavy lip stacked over the face of the wave, separating my dad’s board from the coveted arc where a surfer did his thing, and my dad was stuck on the roof.He gripped the rails of his board, sat up and leaned back.Just as the roof collapsed against the reef, the nose of his board ripped free and Dad spun around out to sea.Barely avoiding getting pummeled against the reef.Faintly I heard voices.I turned and the beach was alive with cheering kids.Behind them the dark jungle flourished as if about to gobble them up.Rounding the sand spit came the vaqueros on horseback.One of the boys from the village was in the lead.I looked for Papaya’s yellow shirt against the shells, but it appeared to be gone.The vaqueros made their way along the wet sand and the horses shied away from the lapping waves.The horses stopped in a perfect row and their shadows fell onto the wet sand.The vaqueros looked out at us and waited.It struck me that the vaqueros had left whatever work they were doing because they expected to see something extraordinary.Immediately I paddled for the channel.The channel was safe [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]