Other Peoples’ Money
by Terry French
Imagine being on a trip that you didn’t have to think about how much you spent… that was my mission about 8 years ago when four New York stockbroker friends of friends asked me to hook them up a rager surf mission to Panama.
They were time short but cash rich, loved surfing and getting loose. ‘We want to rage and get toobed’ they told me. I had some experience arranging big budget surf trips so they asked me to organize everything, with a free trip as my payment.
Surf consistency: 6 Wave variety: 6
Climate: 8 Radness: 8 Budget: 5
Our first night set the tone, expenditure-wise. The swell was on its way, excitement was in the air. The hotel hooked us up with the a taxi driver/fixer called Jesus, who spoke perfect English. I gave him the position of ‘head of entertainment’, since we had no idea of where we were going. Jesus promptly took us to The Elite. The Elite was your archetypical Central American high end strip/ nite club. I won’t go into too much detail but needless to say, imagine four surfing Wolves of Wall Street in a Panamanian den of sin. I was playing the role of straight guy, but there’s only so much you can do. Anyhows, everyone made it to breakfast, if a few grand worse off.
Jesus was waiting to drive us some 8 hours north to the surf. We got out of the city, crossed the Panama Canal via the Bridge of the Americas, tumbling north into the wild, headfirst into one of Panama’s infamous storms. After a harrowing 8 hours on the road, we arrived at a rural outpost and slept in fits in spite of the effects of Jesus’s evil medicine. The next morning we checked the spot we came for… tide too low, big ugly close-outs, brown water, shit, the stockbrokers ‘wanted to get stand up barrels’, and the fact that we hadn’t was apparently all my fault. One of them, who talked often about being Irish (but sounded rather American to me), looked like he wanted to punch me in the face.