The Salvadorian Teahouse

We all know the image of a teahouse in arabian countries. This is the place where groups of men are sitting on the floor in circles, having tea and smoking shisha pipes or cigarettes. Exclusive men conversations, far away from the ears of women, take place in these circles and important issues of the world, their country or their village are discussed.

Well, El Salvador doesn´t have a proper tea culture nor tea houses, but I identified a place where salvadorian men conversation is celebrated in its purest kind: at the famous surfbreak Punta Roca in La Libertad. Punta Roca is known to have a strong local crowd that gives it a special dynamic. In the salvadorian winter, where big groups of surf tourists from all over the world come to Punta Roca, this dynamic is already reflected in prevailing seating arrangements. As a tourist, you won´t be easily able to sit on the outside of the peak, as in a teahouse you can not interrupt the conversation of the village´s oldest men´s circle if you are a 16 years old boy.

I had the pleasure to be an observing participant of a Punta Roca summer surf session, when the peak was exclusively occupied by male local surfers. For me as a girl it was astonishing to listen to the conversations that in an arab country would take place in a tea house, where women wouldn´t be allowed to listen. In El Salvador, these conversations are held in the water between riding one wave and the other.

Some surfers say that they like to be by their own in the water, no talks, only connected with the waves, the sea and the nature…

15 minutes of waiting for a new set of waves at this day in Punta Roca connected me with who had beer with who on the weekend, who´s new girlfriend was cool or not and recent cooking recipes for sushi! Once I turned my head around, I noticed that I was the only person not having a conversation in one of the small circles that had build up naturally along the lineup. This scene remembered me rather on a bar on Friday evening than a surfbreak at 7 in the morning. So this day I gained interesting insights on the day-to-day of male salvadorian surfers and what they discuss with friends. And a couple of good waves because everyone except me was talking about important men issues.

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