Day 3 in Nicaragua…. Mother nature still on top

Matt Oberman getting slotted into the inside section.


Day 3 was the start of our last day on this quick trip to Nicaragua.  As usual I was up at 4:30 a.m. to wake everyone up to head out for dawn patrol.  Matt wanted nothing to do with it and said we all needed to sleep till 5:30 a.m.  I warned him of missing the magic hour in the morning but he was back to bed.  I wasn’t complaining though, as I quickly fell back asleep.  Round 2 came and it took 3 tries to wake Noah up.  The third time I came with a little bit a water to cool him off.

JJ weaving.
We headed out and there was only one other guy at our spot.  I swam out with my housing since tot take advantage of morning front lit light with my blisters on my feet a reminder of all the shooting I have been doing in the water on this trip.  It was a bit better than the day before but within 5 mins I got tagged on my neck by a jellyfish.  Painful especially when you never see them coming.  I had to rip the tentacles off my neck while it also got me in the leg and wrapped around my chest.  By this time the boys were getting some good waves  and I was not in position for one of them.  Just as the piercing pain started to fade I was hit again as it had floated onto my back.  It felt as though I was being electrocuted.  Beyond frustrated by all the pain I said, I was going in.  The pain kept escalating as I swam in and even got a little shortness of breath.  Just as I hit the beach after a long swim in just 1 hour after I swam out, I noticed Noah coming in as well.  As he came out of the water you could tell he too was hit pretty hard, on the inside of his leg.  He and I were covered in stings from the three days and looked to be infected by some gnarly disease.   But…. the waves were good.


Noah getting his latest jellyfish sting looked at by JJ.
After a bit rest from the frustration of being kicked out of the water by jellyfish and the still constant stinging feeling.  I went back to the truck, got my long lens and scoped out some spots to shoot Matt from the shore.  Of course once I went in Matt started to score some barrels.  I was not about to swim out again fearing another sting to one of the few spots left with one but was able to get a couple shots from land.  Somehow Matt didn’t get stung and eventually finished the session while we all went back to the house and then decided to go to a little market shack to get food to make breakfast.  After breakfast we went back out to the beach break and arrived just as the wind switched and went onshore.  Noah and I paddled out and surfed for about an hour.  The wind killed it the rest of the day.

Afternoon rest and chess match.

We made it over to the surf camp to hang out while I shot some promo images for Isaac’s Los Cardones Surf camp.  A toast to the trip and some good stories then it was time to head back to the house, pack up and start the drive back to civilization and the airport.  We only got lost for 10 mins which isn’t too bad for Managua.  Returning the car before 9 p.m. put us at the airport 4 hours before.  With 3 days under our belt of non-stop missions to surf the best waves we were all pretty worn out.  Back home I head before my next adventure next month to hike Half Dome in Yosemite and possibly a little hurricane action in the nearer future.

Noah mind surfing.


All photos copyright © 2012 Ben Hicks

Day 2: Uneventful day in Nicaragua (relatively)

Noah about ready to land.

Day 2 started off with the chase starting at 4:30 a.m.  We all arise itching from getting stung by jellyfish the day before.  Somewhat of a compromise since everyone was unscathed from the reef or lightning for that matter.  Matt went to grab the boards to load them into the truck that morning and a scorpion tagged him on the finger and he acted like it bit his finger off. Good start!

Upon first check it was much smaller but still fun and rippable.  I swam out for the first session with my usual setup.  Canon 1d Mark 3, Canon 8-15 lens and aquatech DV4 housing.  There were about 11 guys out, which was a pretty busy morning for the spot.  We ran into and surfed with JJ, a florida transplant who owns a bunch of property down south.  After a solid 2.5 hours out we headed in to eat breakfast, which we skipped the first day since the waves were so good.  While waiting for breakfast I had to school the boys in ping pong and then we headed back out to surf the beach break, where we were the day before.

Sunset capping off a long day from dawn till dusk of surfing.

Wave size was smaller again so I ended up shooting for a while in the water and then went for a surf myself before we left to go search for more waves.  About this time we got the news that the two guys struck by lighting the day before were ok, with one of them going home from the hospital today.  Throughout the day we were thanked by many who found out we took the guys to the hospital.

Noah in the shade at the beach break.

Each session we go out we get more and more jellyfish stings.  Noah and I are now covered in what looks to be some disease that we have.  We finish the night eating some food out at the restaurant and going to bed pretty early.

All photos copyright © 2012 Ben Hicks

Day 1 in Nicaragua: Don’t mess with Lightning

As Noah and I landed at 12:15 a.m we headed through the airport to find our ride to the coast.  A bumpy 1.5 hour drive to our host house meets us up with Matt Oberman whom had just traveled up from 4 days in Southern Nicaragua.  I finally lay my head down about 2:15 a.m and set my alarm for 2.5 hours of sleep later at 4:45 a.m.  We arise and charge it a dawn and find it firing.  We get in a solid 3 hour session and scored some water shots on the first day, which doesn’t always happen.  Noah got his taste of a couple barrels on his first trip to Nica.

As the tide gets too low for our morning session we head over to a different spot, providing a punchy beach break that can handle the low tide and a few punts from Noah.  I shot long lens from the beach for a while before we were all ready for a break.   We headed back to the house to eat and take a nap before the adventure of the day really started before our last session which never happened.

A huge rain storm moved through the area waking everyone up from their nap.  Isaac our host recommend a wave check since it might get glassy after the storm passes by.  Just as we pulled out of the driveway and started down the dirt road, a huge bolt of lighting met the ground no more than 100 yards in front of us.  It hit just at the curve ahead of the side of the road at a construction site.  As it hit we saw smoke rise from the area and were all in amazement of what just happened.  We passed 3 locals riding their bikes by the area that got struck.  As we passed a couple of us peered back at the lighting location and we noticed the guys on the bikes suddenly started running into the construction site.  Jasmine, Matt’s fiance and I immediately had the feeling something had happened back at the site.  We turned the truck around and headed back the site and the guys we had passed were now in the middle of the road flagging us down.  At that point we all new it couldn’t be good as the lightning had most likely struck something or someone.  Pulling up to the scene we went from a surf check to a rescue mission as there were two men being carried out from the site.  One looking conscious but not good and the other being carried out lifeless.  I jumped out the the truck as they were speaking in spanish, Hospital, hospital, hospital.  Took out the boards in the back and they loaded up the injured men.  One looked like he was in critical condition (nearly lifeless) and the other seeming to be in serious pain and unable to walk.  We left the boards with a residence next door and immediately headed off to the  hospital (3rd world clinic).  The foreman was in the back of the truck checking on the vitals making sure they still had a pulse.

It was intense.  Noah, asked to drop him off at the house as the blood and lifeless bodies in the back was too much before we make the drive to the hospital.  We raced to the hospital (20 mins away) on the dirt road before hitting the paver road for the last 5 mins.  The men were both still breathing when we got them to the clinic .  Matt and I helped carry the men into the open air ER.  Hospitals in Central America always make me realize how lucky we are to have such advanced medicine at our finger tips.  No windows or air conditioning.  The staff put them both on IV’s and at that point there wasn’t much else to do.  The three of us were pretty shaken on what just went down, but also felt really grateful to be at the right place at the right time.  Headed back to the coast to Isaac’s to tell stories and hear that they were his workers and he knows them personally.  At the time I write this, the guys were then taken to Managua Hospital an hour away to more modern medical care facilities and were in stable condition.

All photos copyright © 2012 Ben Hicks

Time to search for waves: Nicaragua! 11:45 a.m August 20, 2012.

About a week ago I got the call from Matt Oberman that we were on alert to pack and go to Nicaragua based on the swell models.  With my schedule, I was not able to leave when they did on Friday of last week, so I am waiting a few days to catch my flight down there.  As Matt and crew were in the Southern Region until yesterday we are all meeting in the northern region late tonight to meet up to chase it.  Look out for a post on our first day chasing it on Tuesday evening!  Coming along with me is mini grom, Noah Flegel, who just came off winning the Jr. Pro World Wakeboard title yesterday!  So this is gonna be a littlecelebratory trip for him.  Congrats Noah.  Below is a shot from our February trip to a similar spot on the map.

All photos copyright © 2012 Ben Hicks