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sample chapter

UNEDITED excerpt from

pony up or eat it

by nora o’malley

part II

costa rica (buena mota, sabor como piña)

chapter 3
Andre Marlon was the first local surfer I met. He intercepted me on the muddy path as I was heading down for round two.

“Where you from pretty girl?”


Andre was a big Tico. Like Olympic weightlifter big. And he had a head of long, wavy, thick hair. He looked about 35-years-old.

“I live here with my momma, behind our souvenir shop,” he said proudly. Then pointed out their home business located on the corner of Playa Carmen‘s main dirt road and the muddy path. Close-knit hammocks, beautiful tapestry, and tropical printed towels hung out front.

“What’s with this town?” I said obnoxiously. “Why wasn’t anyone out early this morning?”

“Last night was reggae night at Coco Loco. Everyone is still sleeping, mi amor.”

“Such lazy asses!” I scolded.

But I was secretly so stoked. Playa Carmen was a party town, which meant no dawn patrol and waking up way too fucking early unless you’re actually fucking sessions that those Californians loved. Taking it slow and easy was the norm here in Tico town. I was happy to adapt.

“You’re so beautiful, mi amor. Your skin, I just want to – ” I cut my new Spanish Casanova off there. Damn Latinos. They didn’t hold back nada.

“Andre! Can I call you Andre?”

Si, mi amor.

“Just show me where to paddleout!”

chapter 4
Sometimes I get lucky. Like REAL lucky. In this particular case, I somehow got the entire Hostel Tranquilo to myself for 10USD/night, plus coffee and pancakes for breakfast. I don’t know why or how exactly… It shall remain a mystery.

Now, I know for a fact that Tranquilo was the best hostel on the dirt road strip because I did recon on the other ones before committing to a full week. Tranquilo was it. It had hammocks, a nice big kitchen, clean bathrooms, a fan in the room, an open courtyard with a mango tree, and a pool table. I mean, as far a third world/small Spanish jungle town hostels go, this place was a Goddamn Fairmont.

But for some reason, I was the only guest. I had a room which slept eight all to myself. Not to mention the entire compound, which probably could sleep at least 150 people, to myself as well.

The most hilarious part of it all was that there were these two Tica girls on staff cleaning up the place and making me coffee in the morning. It’s like I was the queen of the fucking manor.

I tried to make friends with the Tica girls, but my Spanish sucked at this point. And they weren’t interested on working on their English either. Fair enough.

So after day six of having no house guests, I was considering packing up my bag and moving to another hostel. Tranquilo was beginning to feel a bit like The Shining. Too quiet. Too lonely.

chapter 5
“You’re the hot girl at surf camp. You could really do some damage,” Shara said.

We were catching up over Skype. It was the eve of my 29th birthday.

“That’s true. I spotted at least three shortboards over at the Mini Hostel next door,” I said.

“There you go! As a birthday present to yourself, go out and get laid.”

Read excerpt from part I: california

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vomit draft

UNEDITED excerpt from

pony up or eat it

by nora o’malley

part I

california (is a good kisser)

“That right there’s a surfer girl,” another said.

Instead of turning their way, I kept my gaze on the waves. There’s only one thing a pro surfer wants from a pretty girl anyways, and it ain’t her company in the water. Let me assure you.

When the pot wore off, I made my way back to San O to suit up for a longboard. But oddly enough, I was thinking about shortboarding the entire time.

chapter 21
Dating when you’re living out of a campervan is hard work, but I was trying. I picked up this one surfer boy at Blackies named Andreas. He was from Greece, studying Physics at the University of California. He surfed and he climbed, which was a bonus since I was hoping to find someone to go to Joshua Tree with. I also liked the fact that he was a gorgeous nerd with an unruly head of curly brown hair. I was a sucker for messy locks.

Our first official ‘date’ was coffee and a boiled egg (I kid you not, he made me a boiled egg) at his place on campus followed by a mission to T-Street in San Clemente. T-Street was definitely a level or two up from the waves at San O. Like Trestles, it broke faster, meaning YOU had to be faster.

We parked just up the hill from the beach where the parking was free. Andreas took his shortboard, I waxed up Patience the longboard. His dark eyes widened as I awkwardly changed out of my red jean shorts and black tank top into my 3/2 wetsuit. I already had a blue bikini underneath my clothes in anticipation for the moment.

As we approached the shore, we scouted the lineup for a spot to sit.

“I’m gonna sit on the outside,” I said and pointed to a vacant lot just left of the pod of surfers. There were some decent surfers out there. I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way.

“Well, I’ll be around there,” Andreas said and pointed to the middle of the lineup.

“OK! Maybe see you out there,” I said. Clearly this surf date was off to a great start!

It wasn’t easy getting out past the break. The white walls were much more powerful than San O and I got spit back to the shore a couple times before I finally made it out. Then I spent about an eternity trying to catch waves, but missing. Or getting tossed.

When I eventually got out of the water, Andreas was already waiting for me by the showers. He had already changed and had something to eat.

“Fuck, sorry about that! I didn’t realize I was out for so long,” I said.

“Where were you?” he said.

“I was sitting on the outside the whole time. You didn’t see me?”

“Nope,” he said.

“How could you not see me! I was the only one out with long hair,” I said.

We drove back to his place exchanging uncomfortable dialogue. He invited me up for a joint, I accepted, but in hindsight I should have just kept cruising. After the joint I stood up to leave.

“You’re going?” he said.

“Ya, I’m gonna go find a place to park the van for the night,” I said. What did he think that just because I was living out of a van that I’d put out on the first date?

Andreas desperately tried to hold my attention by offering up another joint.

“Nah, I’m tired. Gonna header,” I said. “Gimme a call if you want to go surfing again!”

I was just being polite. I knew he wouldn’t call. Surfing is an innately selfish sport, and we both weren’t willing to compromise our own ocean agendas just yet. Oh well, there’s always climbing… Only if there’s no swell or I have a flesh wound that can’t get wet, of course.

chapter 22

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