PHOTO: Blake Myers
Watching Creed McTaggart cruise across the planet is a beautiful thing. In Panama he'd walk the streets shirtless, shoeless, shades on, pile of ratty blonde locks on his head, getting energy from the sun. He interacts with the world around him. He feels it all. The warmth. The laughs. The commerce. He's a throwback surf dude. Sipping a tin of Balboa beer he high fives local kids and laughs with the local men and harmlessly flirts with the women. When he's tired he lays down and rests. If there's a guitar, he plays it. If there are waves, he's first in last out. It's good to be Creed.
We chatted with Creed about this jaunt down to Panama for some warmth and fun. And remember, the short film of the trip, FAR GONE OUT is out Thursday right here at What Youth.com.
What Youth: What’s the first thing that comes to mind about Panama?
Creed McTaggart: The first thing that comes into my head about Panama is [long pause]… afternoon beers. Afternoon beers and beach breaks...no, sick shories. Beach break shories.
(Interview continued after the jump)
Break down the first day in Panama.
Yeah, well we got into Bocas pretty late at night. It took us forever to get there from Australia so it was like we got there and we woke up at like 3 in the morning and we were just real frazzled. It was raining and really stormy and we were like, 'Well, this is probably going to be a lay day or whatever.' So a couple of the boys went and checked this beach here just down from where we were staying and they came back and were like “it’s pretty much pumping” and we were like “Really?” and we went down there and by the time we got down there, the weather had cleared up and it was this little beach here that was 2 to 3 foot and it was breaking right on the shore, but just little drainers. It was the dreamiest thing ever. It looked so pretty and there was no one out. It was Jack [Freestone's] birthday, like his 21st or something, so me and Jack just spent the whole day surfing out there, getting birthday barrels and high fiving. Yea, it was epic.
CREED MCTAGGART, PANAMA. PHOTO: PAT STACY
Have you ever had a day like that with those kind of dreamy condition, but with not one other surfer in the water?
Not really. Not like that. It was pretty cool because it was like you’d take off and you were 10 feet away from the shore and by the time you’ve finished the wave you were running up the beach, you know? It was super fun, you know, like wearing no leg ropes and no one out and talking about Jack’s relationship and stuff. The boys.
And what about the beach?
It was kind of like a postcard, like there were hammocks and one little hut that was serving ice cold beers, it was pretty magic. Like, we surfed for a couple hours and then we’d come in and sit on this little log just watching perfect barrels, drinking Coronas or whatever. It just sort of stayed like that all day and we ended up surfing all day. The wind didn’t change really and the swell stayed the same size. It was fun, good first day to kick off the trip. It was epic.
PHOTO: BLAKE MYERS
What’s the culture and the people in Panama like?
The culture was really cool. Bocas was such a pretty place. I couldn’t believe it. When we got there after that first day of having really fun waves and then when we sort of cruised around the town, everything was so colorful. All the houses and shops were all painted yellow and orange and rainbow colors and little kids playing soccer of the roads. Everyone was just so happy and smiley and mellow. I could picture myself going down there and hiding out for 4 months and losing myself and getting super spiritual and surfing. It's pretty cool.
What about when we cruised past the school kids and that one kid was getting egged?
Oh yeah! That was pretty funny. It must have been the end of school or something, end of semester. All these kids were having a muck up day or whatever and there was this one kid who was in the middle of this pack and everyone was throwing eggs on him and flour and chicken feathers and shit and he looked super ruffled, it was pretty funny.
PHOTO: PAT STACY
You’ve kind of been on a mad travel program over the last 12 months. Does it help when you get you get skunked to enjoy the days of fun waves more?
Yeah for sure. I’ve been traveling heaps in the last 6 months or whatever and even to just get 1 or 2 days where the conditions all shape up and you’re having one of those little high five sessions where everyone’s just having fun and there’ s not a care in the world. It makes all those hours and hours of traveling that you do to get there and all the sacrifices just to drop everything and shoot off to somewhere. If you score something like that, it just makes it all worthwhile. Yea, it’s great, it’s why we do this for sure.
PHOTO: BLAKE MYERS
Did you have any preconceptions about Panama? What sort of place did you think it was like before you went there?
I'd been there once before, but not to the Caribbean side. It’s just so pretty and everything was really convenient surf wise, food wise, party wise and it was a bunch of fun.
PHOTO: PAT STACY
It kind of has that, not stereotypical, but the Caribbean vide, you can kind of feel it.
Definitely, it felt like it was something from the Rum Diaries or something. I felt like I was in a movie, it was crazy. Just walking down the street and something would just happen. I’ve been living a little bit in Byron and it reminded me a little bit of Byron. Stuff sparking up all the time and there were a few backpackers there and it was just a really happy, good vibe energy the whole time we were there, it was cool.
PHOTO: BLAKE MYERS