Roxel Perez: a fearless Mexican big wave bodyboarder

She's a 40-something big wave mom and a big wave wife, and a bodyboarder for life as a lifestyle. A beach lifestyle.

And she's now a team rider for Kpaloa Fins in Puerto Escondido, Mexico.

The first time I ever saw Roxel, we were at a beachfront restaurant, and seven-meter bombs dropped on Playa Zicatela.

The sky was grey, and late afternoon off-shore blew mist up the beach.

She sat in the back, and I sat up front to the left of Don Angel Salinas so I could translate the meeting to make certain safety was crystal clear for all.

It was the rules meeting for the 2018 Tube Riding Contest.

There were 25 big dudes in the audience from Cali, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, and Hawaii.

Hitmen all, and humble, except for the Argentinian delegation - humility is neither valued nor encouraged in the culture.

And Roxel Perez was the only woman.

She was representing her husband, Don Jose Ramirez Rito, a waterman, big wave surfer, and founding father of the Puerto Escondido lifeguards.

And that tells you a lot about Roxel Perez.

Right now, they are both awaiting the green light for The Puerto Escondido Cup, a big wave competition sponsored by the Surf Open League of Mexico, where Jose will test himself in the water and Roxel and I will hold our breath on the sand and wait for heads to appear in white water after wipeouts.

We didn't meet until eight months after the rules meeting when she commented on a piece of my writing.

I was beginning "The Women of Puerto Series," and she was the first I went to. But it wasn't until the third time we met that I realized she was that solitary female voice I heard at the meeting.

It was the voice of a woman respected by everyone in a crowd of "scary men."

She's a mom, a wife, and a bodyboarder. Not necessarily always in that order.

Challenging Puerto Escondido

She came to Puerto Escondido, Mexpipe, when she was 12 and began bodysurfing at Playa Marinero, the cradle of bodyboarding in Puerto.

And although she wouldn't call herself a big wave bodyboarder, I would. You can judge for yourself from the pictures.

But one thing pictures don't tell is how heavy the wave is at Puerto Escondido.

Here's a quote from a big wave surfer:

"I've surfed Mavs at 30 feet with no problem. It was just over head-high here, and it snapped my board and scared the hell out of me. I almost (insert expletive) drown. I'd rather fall off 30-foot Mavs than double overhead here. Any day."

Roxel has been falling off these waves for more than a couple of decades.

Roxel Perez: not afraid to challenge Puerto Escondido

The wave here teaches humility. And it teaches strength.

The women of Puerto aren't exactly the shy and intimidated type. They're waterwomen themselves and married to big-wave watermen.

Because powerful people need powerful people around.

These women are "guerreras" (warriors) in every sense and represent the feminine in every other. The best sense. They ain't afraid.

Like they ain't afraid to walk into a meeting filled with big, intimidating men.

I was, and even though I did it, I was embarrassed, nervous, and intimidated.

I was by far the physically weakest in the room and surely the least competent waterman within 200 yards. These guys have gladiator bodies and strong minds.

And they pick warrior women who ain't afraid of them physically or mentally. They don't need a woman who tells them they're Jesus.

They need a woman who tells them they're not. That's Roxel Perez and the women of Puerto Escondido.

The Narrative of Oppression vs. The Story of Love

I was reading a Lincoln biography recently.

It was just days before the start of the Civil War in the United States - 1861. President Lincoln is in the most intense moments of his life.

His decision will tear the fabric of the country, and hundreds of thousands of people will die. And he knows it.

Jose Ramirez Rito: competing at the 2017 WSL Puerto Escondido Challenge | Photo: Hinkle/WSL

And he's meeting with the wife of a General who is stationed out west. The person who could best represent the thoughts of the General? His wife.

The second to the last person Lincoln debated with was a woman. Lincoln finished that conversation in the late night hours.

And the last person he talked to was his wife.

The one person who knew all about the secret fears and self-doubt that he couldn't reveal to the rest of the world.

So, don't believe the narrative that the history of the world is one of the oppression of women.

Because I don't believe it. Because it's not true. It can't be.

Because if you believe that, then you're denying the Story of Love. And I believe in that. I've seen it with my own eyes.

Roxel Perez: mom, wife, bodyboarder, and team rider at Kpaloa Fins. She represents the best of the feminine ideal, in and out of the water.

Roxel Perez is the voice of Beach Break Podcast, Puerto Escondido, Mexico.

Words by John P. Murphy

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