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 lies down to rest. If there’s a guitar, he plays it. If there are waves, he’s first in, last out. And he’s every trips favorite dude. “Creed is one of the best guys to ever touch the face if this planet,” said Jack Freestone, this trip’s birthday boy and Alana’s boy toy. “It’s very hard to not have a good time with him — plus his surfing is mind blowing.” We talked to them both about this jaunt to ditch fins in the bath-warm waters of Panama.
PHOTOS: Pat Stacey
What Youth: What’s the first thing that comes to mind about Panama?
Creed McTaggart: [extremely long pause]… afternoon beers. Afternoon beers and beach breaks…no, sick shories. Beach break shories.
Jack Freestone: I’d never really heard of Panama and it’s waves, so I never knew there much about what it could offer. It’s really far from Australia. But the vibe was at an all-time high the whole time though. There were a ton of tourists there which was kinda weird to me to see so many. And a lot good restaurants. The people were nice and the buildings were super colorful and rad.
Break down the first day in Panama.
Creed: 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 real frazzled. It was raining and really stormy and we were like, “Well, this is probably going to be a lay day,” or whatever. But a couple of the boys went and checked this beach 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 there, the weather had cleared up and it was this little beach that was 2-to 3 foot, breaking right on the shore — 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, his 21st, so Jack and I just spent the whole day surfing, getting birthday barrels and high-fiving, chatting chicks and relationship shit. It was perfect fun.
Jack: It was the best way a person could spend their birthday. Just a secluded little beach and had a full novelty surf day. It was mental. And yeah I’ve got a good type of distraction at home.
Have you ever had a day like that with those kind of dreamy condition, but with not one other surfer in the water?
Creed: Not really. Not like that. It was pretty cool because you’d take off 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 — like wearing no leg ropes and no one out. Just the boys.
And what about the beach?
Creed: 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. We surfed for a couple hours and then we’d come in and sit on this little log just watching perfect barrels, drinking cold beers. 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.
What’s the culture and the people in Panama like?
Creed: 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 in the roads. Everyone was just so happy and smiley and mellow. I could picture myself going down there and hiding out for four months and losing myself and getting super spiritual and surfing.