Zuma Beach or Bust for International Students Who Stare Down Storm

"They're going to hit the 'bu and have fun."

On the heels of a disastrous wildfire, it's the wet winter that shows no sign of relenting, and yet, Malibu locals and visitors have found ways to cope, dodging rockfalls and splashing through muddy runoff, grateful to have largely avoided more serious debris flows--knock on wood.

"I don't want to speak too soon," said councilmember and mayor pro tem Karen Farrer, "but I'm happy to get a little bit of rain at a time and get our green back."

But what if you're with a group of visiting college kids far from home, savoring your first visit to world famous Malibu only to be greeted by relentless sogginess?

You go for it.

"We've come a long way," said Alvaro Gonzalez, one of five Loyola University Chicago students now on break visiting a friend studying at Pepperdine University in Malibu. "This is like a dream for us."

Perhaps, they were still a little groggy from having driven down from San Francisco the night before.

Actually, as poor as the weather was by Malibu standards, it still beat the sub-zero, polar vortex the students have been enduring in the Windy City for the sake of their education.


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"We have been so cold in Chicago," said Alberto DeSoto. "So here, even though it's raining, it's much better than Chicago."

Gonzalez, DeSoto, and two of their fellow traveling students, Juan Chaparro and Daniel Hinojosa, are from Spain. Another, Cesar Cantu, is from Mexico. Michael Brian from Michigan is the only one of the group who grew up in a climate with frigid winters.

"We're going to hop into the water even if it's cold," vowed Brian.

To prepare, they paid a visit to the renowned Zuma Jay's Surf Shop, where the proprietor is Jefferson "Zuma Jay" Wagner, who currently also serves as Malibu's mayor.

Citing the poor shape and size of the waves Wednesday, Wagner advised to pass on the surfing. What's more, he informed the crew that during a storm, the water gets dirty and polluted from runoff. Also, it's pretty cold this time of year-- 55 degrees.

Unfazed, they agreed going for an ocean swim would still be a worthy goal.  Some, but not all, invested in wetsuits.

"They're going to hit the 'bu no matter what," observed Zuma Jay, remembering what it's like to be young. "They're going to hit the 'bu and have fun."

With that, they set off for Zuma Beach, filled with enthusiasm, but a little taken aback to find the main parking lot closed and hardly anyone else on the sand. It was raining again and even chillier than back in town.

No matter. They raced to the surf line, got wet and then, retreated back to the beach. They had accomplished their goal. It was time to warm up and clean off the turbid saltwater.

But no regrets.

"It was very worth it," they said, re-setting their sights on their next stop--Las Vegas.

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