Pictured: Emma, Gabe, and Avery en route bearing delicious gifts.
It was the week of Thanksgiving. Gratitude and generosity enveloped the atmosphere in Ocean Beach, San Diego. I was living in a two bedroom apartment located three blocks from the beach with my friend, Emma, and my other friend and coworker, Lula.
Lula came home from work at Bravos, a Mexican restaurant and tequila bar where we both worked, saying she met new friends. Curious, I listened attentively. She explained that her Canadian friends were back in town, they got kicked out of Mexico where they were living in their van. Even more curious now. Feeling generous, she offered for them to crash in our living room.
[Side note: Since even before I moved in, this apartment had always served as a beach hostel; whoever needed to crash after a long day in the sun was more than welcome, me being one of those people for a duration of the summer. I finally paid my dues come September; when my friend Emma moved to San Diego from North Carolina, we both moved in to the available bedroom at an affordable rate.]
Come to find out, Lula’s friends consisted of two Canadians, brothers Curtis and Corey, and one Swede, Tom. They had driven their van down the coast from British Columbia. Sympathetic to the fellow urban camper, we became fast friends.
Pictured: Film photo of Corey driving their van in San Miguel, Mexico.
We spent Thanksgiving together, a dysfunctional family of vagrants, if you will. But that’s what holidays are for right? Bringing together a group of people in love and kindness, especially those who are a long way from home. So there we were: Me, Avery, Gabe, Justin, all from Maryland. Emma from Ohio. Curtis and Corey from Canada. Tom from Sweden, with Lula serving as the sole native Californian. The whole of us together created quite the mix. The night ensued, filled with Swedish meatballs, Sangria, and laughter, and ended with full bellies and stick-and-poke tattoos.
A day later, a plan for a trip to Baja California was in the works. The boys wanted to sell their van, and figured they would have better luck south of the border. Without contest, we all hit the road, chasing the sun, waves, and tequila.
Our first night was spent at the Rosarito Beach Hotel. We decided since there were so many of us, we could splurge and get a suite (which is about the same cost as a thrifty hotel in the States, so it really wasn’t splurging at all). We ended up with a two bedroom, two bathroom suite which consisted of three double beds and a balcony facing the ocean. Life was tough. The hardest decision I had to make was if I wanted a Corona or Pacifico.
Pictured: Corey, Emma, and Curtis on the beach in Rosarito (Photo credit: Lula Medina).
It proved to be a long night, exploring Rosarito (minimally), while most of the evening was spent in the outdoor jacuzzi with a few Mexican cocktails. The next morning we ventured out, gathering ourselves and trying to soothe our aching heads. We headed south on Highway 1D in search of San Miguel, an infamous surf spot on Baja’s coast.
While Gabe and Avery surfed, Emma and I handled the video camera, posing mock surf-reports and occasionally recording a wave or two. Lula and the boys went to sell the van, and we all would reconvene later in the evening.
Pictured: Film photo of Emma, myself, Avery, and Gabe on the beach at San Miguel.
We stayed in Ensenada that night, at a hotel which cost $12 a room. Yep, $12. Well folks, you get what you pay for, considering the hotel beds were covered with mismatched comforters which looked like they had once belonged to a 12-year-old boy, decorated with footballs and helmets.
Pictured: Curtis with the van, at the thrifty hotel in Ensenada.
We survived the night at the sketchy hotel by means of the Gabe and Corey duo, a guitar and ukelele jam session. We even ventured out to find a well-lit skate park alongside the highway, and for dinner scored an interesting baked potato-based authentic Mexican dish.
In the morning we made our way back across the border, Avery itching to get back due to the video release of John John Florence’s new surf epic, “View from a Blue Moon.” As we all sat in the living room watching this high-definition video, the first surf movie to be filmed with a 4K camera, I recollected on the past few days, filled with gratitude, in awe of the unexpected turns life can take. Thinking also how thankful I am that we live in a place where we can one day be in San Diego, enjoying our Thanksgiving meals, and the next be lost on the beach somewhere in Mexico, disconnected from the modern world. The Thanksgiving of 2015 was one worth mentioning, and considering how disheveled our group of miscreant friends may seem to outsiders, I believe we encapsulated the true meaning of the holiday quite well.