I arrived at Popoyo this morning at 6 am. There were three surfers out. Sets were head to overhead. A group of three more surfers arrived, and sets were plentiful. A group of five more surfers arrived and hit the water. One of the group of five was just about to make it out to the lineup when a surfer dropped in and ran him over. He immediately started paddling in with one arm, holding the other hand out of the water. You could see blood dripping from the surfer’s hand. The surfer who ran the guy over quickly ran to get his bottle of water and clean out the guy’s cut. The rest of the group of five quickly gathered up their friend and headed back across the rivermouth, hopefully to take the surfer to the clinic. I noticed a fisherman with a rod and reel had hooked up with something shortly before the collision. He battled with his catch for more than half an hour, often raising his rod in dramatic displays.
It became apparent that he had hooked into a ray. He finally beached it with the help of two local fishermen, and they cut off the large stinger. I asked the fishermen if I could have the ray, as it is fine eating if prepared correctly. He said he was going to drag it back across the rivermouth.Last summer, I wasstung by a ray while paddling out to Popoyo. The pain is extreme to say the least. The poison from the ray can be cooked and negated by placing your foot in boiling water. The locals say gasoline also works well. Just a few days ago, a couple of my local fishermen friends stopped by to share some shark and ray tales from Popoyo over the past 30 years. They said the barb of one huge ray had completely passed through the foot of one local fishermen a few years ago, and the ray carried the poor man out to sea, never to be seen again.
After watching a few nice sets hit the reef perfectly with the falling tide, I decided it was time to walk home and grab my board. I walked back to Popoyo and paddled out. At this point, the waves were really good and only 4 guys were out. After about half an hour, the four guys went in and the waves continued to improve. I was having a blast all by myself for about 5-10 minutes when my new friend Meur paddled out with a friendly Australian buddy named Steve. The three ofus traded super-fun peaks for about another hour. The water was about 70 degrees and super clear. After catching the long lefts, the morning sun was shining through the almond-shaped barrels. The clear, dark blue water created a strong contrast with the white, falling lip of the waves. It was one of the more memorable sessions I’ve had the entire month of April. I eventually tired and headed in as another group of 5 was just crossing the rivermouth.