STRAIGHT, NO CHASER CACHO IZQUIERDO, 50, JIMBARAN
Read the back of the menu at Cacho's and you will learn that his place, Sunset Grill, was the first restaurant to open in the Uluwatu area 13 years ago. Look at the framed photos on the walls and you will see that Cacho tackled big Pipe with guys like Ronnie Burns and the Ho brothers during the eighties, and later became a fixture at Outside Corner on nearly every giant swell to hit Bali since '95. And if you stick around after the last customers have paid their bill and the staff has closed up for the night; and Cacho is in a good mood and invites you upstairs for a margarita... or two... or three... well, now you're in for an education. On a recent Friday evening, Bali Belly met with Cacho at his restaurant near Padang Padang. The blended margaritas and unfiltered conversation flowed late into the night. Following are selected excerpts from that conversation.
PUERTO RICO It's a mini Hawaii. It has the power, but it only gets good twice a month. The Puerto Ricans? They make sure their car is always sparkling clean. Meanwhile, there's trash all over their front yard. I left my country to run away from the growth. It was getting too packed and too violent.
DRUGS In Puerto Rico we were the port where every drug could be brought into America. The fishermen would go out at night in their boats and drop off little boxes near the mainland. I grew up near La Perla, in Old San Juan. You go down there and little kids come up to you with five different types of heroin and cocaine.
Red Devil? Blue Demon? Champagne? Which one you want? Because the cops wouldn't arrest the little kids.
HAWAII When I was 11 years old I won a surf competition in Puerto Rico and they gave me a ticket to Hawaii for two weeks. It was my first airplane ride. I thought that Pipeline was going to be right in front of the airport. I had nobody to pick me up from the airport and I didn't know a word of English. I didn't even know how to read the ticket. When it came time to go back to Puerto Rico, I went to the airport and they told me, this ticket is expired. So I never came home. I ended up staying in Hawaii from '79 until '95.
NORTH SHORE When I moved to the North Shore it was a totally different culture. I could eat bananas and papayas off the trees, and marijuana was drying on the dashboards of cars. There was only one cop on the whole North Shore: Mr. Woodby. And Mr. Woodby wouldn't pull you over for marijuana. He wouldn't bother making a report for that because the grandmas used to grow marijuana over there. It was a local tradition.
Christmas together. Later on, guys like Eddie Rothman, Bryan Suratt and Junior Moepono took me under their wing too. I got to know them through surfing, and because I was traveling alone and I was so little. I grew up in Hawaii with them. That's why if you ask me right now where I'm from – it seems wrong for me to say, because I am Puerto Rican – but I'm Hawaiian according to everybody in Hawaii.
PIPELINE FAMILY I used to sleep in abandoned cars until I started meeting people like the Ho family. Derek Ho took me in, and then I moved in with (his brother) Michael. We used to celebrate every
I was 85 pounds and as tall as a mini fridge. The first time I paddled out at Pipe I was on a 7'6” Gerry Lopez that Michael Ho gave to me. I got caught inside and I let my board go – I was so small I couldn't duck dive it –
and my leash got tangled around Marvin Foster's neck. I thought I was done. But he looked at me and just laughed. He was blown away that this tiny little fucka was trying to surf out there.
MARGARITAS We use a secret family recipe. I can't tell you the secret, but we always use real ingredients. The other day I went to a restaurant in Kuta and they had the worst margaritas. They gave me heartburn. In Indo right now most people are using fake booze; adding methanol to get more money out of it. The mentality of a lot of the locals is, “What can I get today?” But if you do stuff like that you're not gonna have any business tomorrow.