Of Surf and Ceramic Monkeys

Rob Gilley

Previously in denial about his photographic past, Rob Gilley now rummages through his trove of mediocrity.

The recent act of driving down a dirt road brought back memories of Baja. Memories of surf, but of other things too. Of campfires, washboard ruts, Federales, questionable taco stands, close calls, tarantula hawks, trippy-looking cacti, blistering heat, watery feces, fly swarms, flat tires, sandy tents, hospitable locals, lobster for trade, rain squalls, bribe strategies, panga rides, and ceramic monkeys.

Like warm urine in a fresh wetsuit, it all came flooding back.

The welcome delight of these peripheral, non-surf memories made me realize that for a California surfer, going to Baja is less about finding waves than I thought. It's more about finding an alternate universe. About the possibility of getting into a vehicle and driving yourself and your friends from one world to a very, very different one.

It is with this new balanced nostalgia that I recently dug through my files and selected some lesser and non-published photos to post on this blog. Maybe not the best photographs, but treasured moments just the same.

Despite the up-front knowledge of kidney and suspension-jarring endlessness, a dirt road leading to a Baja surf spot is always a welcome sight. Photo: Gilley

Micah Anderson and Saxon Boucher explore the euphoria index in Central Baja. Photo: Gilley

The best laid plans: Dan Malloy and Steve Barilotti discuss the wisdom of a hunkered down wagon circle. Photo: Gilley

On a big day at Todos Santos, the moments can be pretty diverse--one minute you can be a giant killer, and the next moment you can be killed by giant Killers. Photo: Gilley

Dean Pinsak and the quiet contrast of a post-beating board rescue. Photo: Gilley

The best Baja moment of all: the "holy shit, there's a new swell" moment. Photo: Gilley