By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Even the people who have surfed with him for a long time don't know Walter's last name, and they don't bother to ask. He is the only Walter in these parts of consequence. He says he's "in between" jobs at the moment and instead passes his time on the beach. Originally from Argentina, he's been here five years. Why here? Texas women, waves, and occasional marijuana use--that's Walter's life.
"Dude, there's been some killer waves out here these last couple of days," he says. "When there's a storm, you hang around and surf until all the waves are cashed out."
"Fuck, yeah," echoes Mike, 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds. He looks like a nightmare when he catches a wave, a behemoth with all kinds of weird, red facial hair and several iron-cross tattoos. He and Walter are here almost every day, and while they welcome the company of the storm chasers who only show up for the big stuff, they ride without limits.
Walter is a genuinely good guy who looks like Anthony Kiedis, and Mike is probably nice also, but he's too scary-looking to talk to. They say that most of the time not many people surf South Padre waters, though windsurfers come down to take advantage of the calm water. Walter says he likes the crowds because he wants people to get involved with the sport locally. He surfs even when the waves are 2-footers, because he says he's drawn to the ocean--like Allen and Brooks and anyone else who's ever caught a wave and walked on water. The storm was a payoff for so many days and hours spent riding scratch waves. Walter squints as he paddles out into the deep, trying to block the direct rays hitting his face with his long black hair. This is Texas Gulf Coast surfing. The sun, rising in the east, is in your eyes as you paddle out, and at dusk, cowboys surf into the sunset.