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The K38 1/2 Story

November 19, 2021

When I surfed decades ago, we often would head for the beaches in Mexico to escape the crowds of Southern California.

One such trip was made in 1966 for a surf contest. Our surfing club, The Rising Sons, was to match off against a rival at a favorite point break called K38 ½. The name was garnered because of its distance from the U.S. border. I remember that it was an important contest and that my teammates were counting on me to do well.

The contest was set for Saturday morning so we all went down the night before. In our little group, I was the only one who was fluent in Spanish, so I was sort of the guide. I did know the territory pretty well as I’d been going there since a kid with my parents. I could also bullshit my way through most situations in Mexico including purchasing beer as a minor.

As the night started to get late, we reached the town of Rosarito. Of course, everyone in our merry band wanted some beer. I was elected to do the purchasing and I entered a small store that was just closing and asked the owner for a case of Corona beer. He stated that he was out of stock but suggested Tecate instead. I agreed as beer was beer back then and I returned to our car with a case of Tecate and a couple of bags of stale potato chips. We immediately began to guzzle down our new stock as we headed south. When we finally reached K38 ½ to sleep for the night, everyone in the car was sick. There’s this thing called “green beer” and I’d purchased a case of it. Green beer is a beer that has not been properly fermented; it tastes earthy and like the raw ingredients.  Only two bottles remained of this vile brew and we all started to throw up. I had the worst of it as I’d drunken the most. After vomiting into the early hours of the morning, finally we all went off to sleep surrounded by the stench of beer and puke.

Morning came very quickly and we needed to get into the water for competition. My friends had recovered well but I was still feeling really oozy. Thankfully I was in the last heat and I tried desperately to heal my stomach with potato chips to no avail. When my heat was called, I paddled out and my head was spinning. The waves had picked up to 5 or 6 feet but every time a swell passed underneath me outside the break I vomited just a bit. I caught a few good waves and tried to make the best out of it. That damned green Tecate just kept coming back up to haunt me. In the end I came in a very distant second. I forget who won the contest but at the time it made no difference. I finally drank some sea water and that seemed to do the trick. My stomach finally settled down, avoiding a costly trip into town for medicine.

We decided to spend the night there at K38 ½ after the contest, in no small part to settle my stomach. By nightfall I was in excellent shape so we roasted some large muscles over and open fire and went to bed, sans the remaining two beers. I remember being so thankful that my stomach had finally settled down that even the rocky ground felt good to sleep on.

When morning came, we caught a few waves for about two hours and decided to head back up the coast to have a late breakfast at Rosarito Beach. In Rosarito, after a long dirt entry road, we entered a little eatery that had arched Mexican doors. It wasn’t touristy as it was well of the beaten path. What do you suppose surfers would order for breakfast? Tacos and beer of course! As I piled through my second taco, I pulled something out of my mouth. WTF? It wasn’t a hair; it was a mouthful of fur! We immediately started joking about eating dog meat tacos. As we polished off a few beers (the good stuff this time), we continued eating the tacos and joking all the while.

When we were finally done, we paid and exited the long dirt road that lead to the place we had just eaten. About twenty yards on one of my friends called out, “Stop!” We pulled the car over and all stared at a dog carcass that had definitely been recently butchered to remove most of the meat. We all immediately agreed, albeit reluctantly, that we had indeed eaten dog tacos. The fresh carcass was proof enough!

I tell this story whenever I or someone I know is heading to Mexico for vacation. It’s not fantasy but rather the cruel reality of what it was like in Mexico back then. It’s the K 38 ½ story that I cannot ever forget and that I love to share. This and several other stories can be found in my book: Fifty Years Ago – A Surfing Trilogy: And Other Surfinf Stories from the 1960’s.

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From → Surfing, Travel

  1. I lived on Long Island and we had the same idea. To avoid the crowds at Jones Beach, we kept going east till we hit Gilgo Beach!! I understand it still is for surfers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great story, Allen!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s awful!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yo quiero Taco Bell!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Robert kittel permalink

    I remember sleeping on the sand, Rosarito, Ensenada and places below and inbetween. Something would bite us all night, feet and hands. I was told it was sand fleas. Never saw one but whatever was biting was horrible. Rosarito back then was a turn off the main road where we could buy beer and cherry bombs. Sometimes the locals would shake us down for a few bucks claiming the beach was theirs and we had to pay this fee. We did and they would leave us alone. Never had Tacos outside of Tijuana and the place back then was a street stand called La Especial, best Tacos ever. Had breakfast somewhere below Ensenada and the flies were so thick and relentless we gave up swatting them and just ate.

    Liked by 1 person

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