Miles and worlds away from the high rises, Señor Frogs and the Club Med of Ixtapa, Mexico, down a dusty dirt road, lies a closely-guarded secret. It’s an endless stretch of beach with a surf break that delivers a consistently beautiful left-breaking wave.
Just how guarded is this secret? Well, the topic of its anonymity has been known to turn a blissful yogi into a whirling dervish. A yoga instructor, who teaches about half an hour away from “the beach” was expounding on my energy and how in balance with the earth I am … in rhythm with the ocean… at peace with the world. I happened to mention where I was staying, which caused her to miraculously switch channels. “I can’t believe some jerk face wrote about that break in Surf Magazine and now everyone knows about it! … Way to ruin it for the rest of us.”
I figured if anyone had the right to complain about the number of tents, trailers and homes that have appeared as permanent fixtures on the beach, …if anyone could say “I was here first” it would be Lourdes… the owner of Lourdes Bar & Grill …and a native to the beach as well as a local celebrity. Catering to the surfers with a hankering for “comida gringo” (burgers and fries), Lourdes has experienced firsthand what happens when news of a good wave breaks.
KR: Lourdes, was your family the first on the beach?
Lourdes: Yes, and we were the only ones on the beach for the longest time. Growing up it was just my grandparents, my parents and us (her ten siblings).
KR: You guys were here for a long time too without electricity, right?
Lourdes: Yes. Electricity only came to the beach 11 years ago.
KR: When did the first surfers discover this beach?
Lourdes: There was this guy who sailed down here from South Carolina. He actually helped deliver my mother’s first baby. (almost 50 years ago). He came down to surf and became part of our family.
KR: Did you start surfing when you were little?
Lourdes: How could I? There were no boards. No, I didn’t surf until I was 27 … when some surfer left an 11-foot wooden board down here to use when he came back. I taught myself on that.
KR: Were you the only woman out there in the waves?
(Just then surf-legend, Corky Carroll (Five-time United States Overall Surfing Champion, three-times International Professional Champion, International Big Wave Champion, World Small Wave Champion and named the Number One Surfer in the World by SURFER magazine.) walked into the restaurant to check on his order)
Corky: Yes, if not the only, she was certainly one of the few. Many times in the early years, Lourdes and I were the only ones out there.
Lourdes: Corky gave me my favorite board. It had flowers on it.
Corky: I shaped that board myself. In fact it was the last board I shaped.
(Another surfer walks in to remind Lourdes that the customers are waiting for their burgers. She tells her that she knows and turns to me for the next question)
When did your Mom open her restaurant, Jacqueline’s?
Lourdes: Thirteen years ago. She opened it to feed the fishermen who came to the beach to catch sharks for the oil from their livers and turtles. (She wasn’t sure why they wanted the turtles). Then she started to make breakfast for the surfers.
KR: And when did you open your restaurant?
Lourdes: In 2007.
KR: Aren’t you in competition with your Mom.. only a few yards down the beach?
Lourdes: Oh, no. Mom serves ocean food and I serve gringo food… land food…hamburgers and fries.
(The surfer comes back a third time to add more burgers to the first orders. Clearly, we need to wrap this up, but Lourdes is completely unfazed… )
KR: Lourdes, last question… when is your baby due?
Lourdes: In July! This will be my Mom’s 28th grandchild.
(With that, she fired up the grill)