” The Lengths” PJ Tartak.
“The lengths you’ve gone to” is our new series where we plum the depths of all of the crazy, funny or hectic stories that the everyman booger has endured on the hunt for waves.
First up, Puerto Rican based PJ Tartak describes the horrors of a gastro outbreak while chasing tubes in Mexico.
Where were you heading to get waves and why?
We went to Pascuales in northern Mexico. Beach break similar to Puerto but with heavy ripps and less crowds. The old school Puerto Rico crew had been going there since the 90’s, the stories we heard from this place seemed like paradise. But it’s far away from that.
Did you have other crew with you?
We were a pretty big crew, like 6 of us flew in first to Guadalajara and partied for 3 days down there. Then another crew of 4 joined us. I think there was a moment when the entire crowd was composed of 13 guys from Puerto Rico, 4 american guys and a few of the local boys who were super chill.
What problem or issues did you encounter allow the way?
Of the full month we were down there, and the hundreds of stories I could write about this trip, I believe the worst we went through was getting Montezuma’s Revenge, also known as travelers’ diarrhea.
Ok, it may not seem that bad at first glance but just imagine this: the entire crew(8 guys) gets sick in a span of 3-5 days, while being crammed like sardines into one room with only one toilet. Basically just imagine the exorcist movie, multiply the vomiting by 8 and add diarrhea. I can still remember the look on the face of the cleaning lady, she must still have nightmares. There was puke on the walls, shit on the shower and the toilet was unbearable, fully clogged.
During those days there are countless funny stories of how it all went down, but I guess it would take a whole book to tell them.
Oh and we lost like 90% of the footage on a damaged laptop.
How did you overcome them or did they defeat you?
We all went through it for 1 or 2 days, some for 3. But with some Pedialyte and lots of water we survived. But this definitely can destroy a trip if you don’t hydrate, one of the younger kids couldn’t even intake water and for a moment we thought he was done for. In the end everyone survived with a few less kg’s and a new lesson: no matter how much money you want to save, it is better to split into rooms with more toilets.
Did you still end up scoring waves?
We scored pretty much everyday, the place was pumping for 3 weeks straight, didn’t go below 6 feet and basically surfed every day non stop. In terms of surf is an amazing place, not much crowd, glassy every morning, but super strong ripps, it’s really hard to be on the right spot on the bigger days. Accommodations and food are pretty bad, at that time we didn’t really think much about it, we just wanted to have a good time and score sick waves. But nowadays I rather be in Puerto Escondido with a hundred guys out, staying in a nice hotel with amazing food everywhere.
Reflecting back now, what did you learn, and what would you do differently?
That was 10 years ago when I used to wing it when going on surf trips. Now I’m 35 and a bit more conscious of my aging body so I really take care of it each time I travel to countries where you know situations like this one may arise. Vitamins and the right medicine can save you days of pain, do some research before traveling. Travel with good friends that would stick their neck out for each other if anyone goes through a bad situation. A little first aid kit back goes a long way when on these trips. Never wash your mouth with sink water and avoid it getting into your mouth while taking a shower.
Eat well, avoid junk food and drink lots of water (electrolytes come in handy too).
Any other comments or information you’d like to include feel free here.
In my years of traveling around Mexico and Indonesia, I’ve learned that no matter how healthy you are, getting sick(which includes infections from reef cuts, insect bites, ring worms, sinus infections, etc) is going to be a part of the trip, not attacking it early or correctly may have some dire consequences for your travels.
Keep in mind you’re far from home and you don’t want to end up in a local hospital where hygiene may not be at the top of their list or where cutting off a limb is easier than some antibiotics(definitely exaggerating a bit here, but who knows). Do some research before traveling to a new location, ask around to some of the guys that have already been to those places and always pay for the trip insurance.
I’m starting to sound like my mom.On a side note: This trip actually inspired the Mexican Mirage video from a few years ago. We spoke to Jared about the place and they ended up going there the next year… they weren’t too happy about our recommendation. I think he called us the Puerto rican spice merchants!
On a side note: This trip actually inspired the Mexican Mirage video from a few years ago. We spoke to Jared about the place and they ended up going there the next year… they weren’t too happy about our recommendation. I think he called us the Puerto rican spice merchants!