SUP Magazine - - Frontside - –SAM GE­ORGE

SAN IG­NA­CIO IS EV­ERY OA­SIS that has ever been dreamt of. The Je­suit mission town is lo­cated only 80 miles south of the 28th par­al­lel that di­vides Baja Norte and Baja Sur.

The way there is a road of the damned, how­ever, where even the yucca and cardón cac­tus keep their dis­tance. To the east: roan cin­der cones of the ex­tinct Tres Vir­genes vol­ca­noes mark desert ci­ca­trix. The sun burns but has no color, leech­ing away ev­ery shade not sandy or tan. Then sud­denly, like driv­ing off a cliff, you drop into a wide ar­royo and a mirac­u­lous pool of green—a for­est on the moon—san Ig­na­cio’s date palms. An un­der­ground river rises in this canyon, form­ing a tran­quil spring, sus­tain­ing life. In the cen­ter of San Ig­na­cio, as much a fruit of the spring as the dates, lies its 18th-cen­tury mission. Be­gun by in­trepid Je­suits in 1733, the church was fin­ished by the Do­mini­cans in 1786, with a columned façade carved from lava stone, four-cor­nered steeple and mag­nif­i­cent dome. Across the road, dense, hoary fi­cus shade a wide plaza, framed by tien­das and restau­rantes. Nearby, hill­side caves house pre­his­toric art—long-gone an­i­mals and strange hu­man shapes—whose ori­gins are still un­known.

To ar­rive at San Ig­na­cio from out of the De­sierto Vizcàino is the essence of travel. I think of the time, not so long ago, driv­ing home from an epic week at Scor­pion Bay with my broth­ers Matt, Michael and our friend China from Cape Town. Four- to six-foot at Third Point and un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally empty; the ex­pe­ri­ence of surf­ing per­fect waves in the desert, bridg­ing the lit­toral that sep­a­rates the arid land from the vi­brant sea, is one of surf­ing’s most re­ward­ing para­doxes. On the jour­ney home, smug in our sense of at­tain­ment as we rolled into San Ig­na­cio from the south, we dis­cov­ered that the Rio de Ig­na­cio had flooded the road just out­side town. We ap­proached the flood as the late af­ter­noon sun soft­ened its blaze, and rib­bons of golden light haloed the fronds and cast thick, dark shad­ows across the wa­ter. A gang of kids splashed and swam in the makeshift wa­ter park where we joined them for a swim in the desert.

Then a skinny six-year-old jumped onto my back from be­hind. His lit­tle hands wrapped around my face, his lit­tle fin­ger, like a gouge, caught my left eye socket. The harder I strug­gled the tighter he gripped, com­press­ing the eye­ball, scoop­ing it like an avo­cado pit. The pain was, well, blind­ing. I sub­merged, forc­ing him off, then stag­gered back to the car with the heel of my palm pressed to my face. Lay­ing in the back of the van, I took the hand away: noth­ing. Blank. Blind. Shit.

“Play­ing with kids,” I’d say, ex­plain­ing the pi­rate patch and the pro­saic man­ner in which I lost my eye. Two hours later I started to see light; by ten o’clock, blurry fig­ures. At mid­night we stopped to pee and I looked up to see the stars through a blood­shot eye and wanted to kiss some­body.

Now when I drive through San Ig­na­cio I see it with both eyes and think, “Al­most.”

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