There is a headland in deep Chile that is still relatively inaccessible. Many years ago it was a popular camping spot for surfers who would set tents up on the hill, surrounded by the thickest, deepest forest of trees. Through the trees along the edge of the headland, you could see the lefts peeling off forever. One of the rarest of gems to get these days, this left is one of those waves that can and does literally change lives.
More and more surfers found out about this left, the long sand bottom, the ridiculously easy tubes, the tranquil setting and the incredible odds of it ever getting crowded.
Access was a real mission that used to include a full one day hike along soft sand with your boards and your food and water. Along with the surfers finding out about the wave, so did a few of their friends. Under Pinochet's rule, many of the Chilean people were repressed and lived in fear. They had no manner or means of expressing themselves or of cutting loose. So instilled a rebel nature amongst a large section of the youth. They found that drugs were often great outlets, and a scourge of acid took over a generation.
Young Chilean people, girls and guys, would congregate on the headland, bring wine and acid, tune in, drop out, and play bongo drums for weeks on end. They were very far out of harm's way. They never really bothered the surfers except for keeping them awake with their bongoing. His wasn't really a problem, because the surfers were usually beyond exhaustion after paddling up the point all day.
One fateful weekend a group of students from the capital city of Santiago, came out to have a party on the beach. At the same time, a large group of surfers gathered at the headland to surf a fresh spring southerly swell. All was good, and the waves and the parties went on for a few days. Then a few more party people arrived including one strange cat from the south of Chile who had come up to see what these city people get up to. The south was more rural, farmlands, even slightly uncivilized. This guy was a wild Chilean cowboy, and he brought with him some acid that he had scored along the way and handed it out to everyone.
The party people started hallucinating heavily from the onset of the new batch of acid. Bad hallucinations of death and devils, of snakes and goats heads. They were all convinced that the headland was haunted. They thought that evil spirits had taken possession of the woodlands. Spirits were now trying to get hold of their minds, of their souls. Mass hysteria took over, and the crazed people set fire to the headland. The headland was massive; a thick forest that went back about twenty kilometres, and these giant trees started burning furiously.
Trees that were hundreds of years old and stretched into the sky all started burning, and the surfers ran for the safety of the beach. There they found crazy gibbering fools dancing in circles on the beach and shouting at the forest, as they tripped hard on the bad acid and freaked out. The wood burned for days, and 90% of the trees were levelled or burnt down. Due to the inaccessibility of the area, there was nothing the authorities could do except saving the villages in the danger line further inland. When the partygoers came around and realized what they had done, they fled before they could be held accountable for one of the most significant fires in Chile. As a result, the surfers got blamed.
That was the story Matiaz told us as we sat around the Hotel Chile watching a giant south swell grind down the Puntillo. We were looking for a place that would get the same swell, but that would barrel over a sandy bottom as opposed to soften and fatten and tease as the Puntillo did. Los Lobos had provided us with moments of terror and pleasure. The secret spots down south had also thrown some great barrels. The weirdness of the people and the wildness of the terrain rattled us after a few days. We heard people screaming from their tiny huts at night, we had been robbed, and a drunken cowboy had threatened us one morning.
The people living near the best spot, in a deserted farmyard, were alcoholics of the finest degree. They were continuously sipping on some kind of brown barley whiskey and mumbling foreign dialect at us through toothless gums, living on the beach in front of perfect waves.
Chile was a wild trip, but we needed to get into this last area to call our trip done, so we agreed to Matiaz's deal and got ready to head into the reserve. We drove through the night, along sand roads and over loose gravel. We stopped a few times to lift trees out our path, and we arrived in the morning on top of a massive cliff. The headland was there, just as described, but all that remained were the blackened stumps of giant trees. The entire cape stretching back as far as we could see was black and levelled. Bits of shrubs and bush appeared here and there, but on the whole, it was a dead landscape. But that took us all of a millisecond to take in as our eyes wandered back the ocean.
A six-foot set was coming around the corner and heading for the bank. From our vantage point, we could clearly see the line of sand that sat perfectly alongside the jutting rocks. The set started feeling a bit of a warble off the top rocks, before steadying herself and setting up for what looked like a mile-long barrel section. "This is going to be good." I thought out loud as we all stared and started mind-surfing together.