My Costa Rican Surf Experiment: Part II
A while back, I shared the first half of a glimpse into my recent 30-day surf experiment. The challenge was to move to Costa Rica, live at the Blue Trailz Hostel and Surf Camp, and catch as many waves as humanly possible in that time. With the professional help of a surf instructor, of course.
Because self-teaching hadn’t served me so well in the past.
Well, now I’m back and I feel like a new person. A better version of myself. Dare I say it, a surfer even? Maybe that’s getting ahead of myself, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Day 16: After just two weeks at the camp, I’ve managed to fall into a routine that feels so natural I could have been doing it my whole life. Wake up around 4 a.m., work during the quiet mornings, check the surf as the sun comes up, head out on the water for those perfect, glassy waves before everyone else has rolled out of bed, and then come back for a nap in the hammock before picking up work again for the day.
This particular morning, the waves looked really great, so I hurried out the door with a little extra spring in my step…to be quickly humbled by the fact that the waves WERE great. Too great for me and my still-beginner skills. I decided not to fight with the waves on this one and instead save my body and spirits from any further damage than I had acquired in the previous weeks.
Day 17: Aside from the fact that yesterday’s waves were a bit much for me, this is the first time I’ve really noticed that I’m actually improving. I mean, of course you’ll get better at something if you practice every day. But it can be hard to measure. Well, remember that board I accidentally grabbed on Day 3? I’ve officially graduated to it (on purpose) and standing up is more consistent and less a luck of the draw type situation.
Day 18: The waves are still pretty big. Despite my better judgment, I bravely paddled out this morning, just to be met by a giant barreling wall of water. I watched the wave collapse right in front of me, crashing powerfully on the line of surfers who tumbled into the white wash. I quietly thanked my luck for not being one of them. And then I just sat and watched in amazement.
The ocean really is a powerful force of nature. Each day, I gain more respect for how it can both give life and take it, calm your nerves or give you an adrenaline rush that lasts all day. I’ve never lived near water, but now I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to live too far from it. There’s just something about it that pulls you in (and no, I’m not talking about the riptides).
Day 20: I went out to find a flat horizon and a shoreline that looked more like a still lake than the thundering waves from earlier this week. Still, I have a challenge to hold myself to, and a new-found love for a newly-acquired skill that must be honed. So, I spent an hour or so riding the wash in and just having some fun. No pressure, just fun.
Day 25: My mom was in town for the weekend and we went inland to hunt for some monkeys and hanging bridges in the jungle. The mission was successful and the cloud forests and volcanoes of Costa Rica are on a level of their own, but coming back to Tamarindo was like breathing a sigh of relief. We drove into town as the sun just started dipping toward the horizon and I practically hopped out of the moving car toward the water to soak up the last few minutes of sunlight.
Being with my mom meant I finally had someone to hold the camera for me. Photographer mom happily obliged and now I have proof of this little 30-day surf experiment.
Day 27: I’ve officially been in Costa Rica for a month. Wait a minute – a month?!? Yea, I guess that’s right. I know it seems like the ocean and I had a rather rough start, fueled by a daily love/hate battle with a 7-foot surf board caught somewhere between us. But, I think we came out as friends. Really.
When I set out on that first lesson with Juan, I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical – and even a little nervous. I was pretty convinced surfing was for the far-more balanced and much-less clumsy people out there. But I’ve since changed my mind. I’ve learned that, most days, there’s always a wave that’s perfect for you. I’m much more confident now that I’m armed with some tips on how to gauge for oncoming waves and avoid collisions (thanks, Juan). My arms and body have become stronger. And I’ve learned the art of patiently waiting for the right moment.
And I’m not even finished yet.
Day 28: Remember how I said I knew how to avoid collisions? I guess I spoke too soon…
No man, woman, board or fish was hurt. And now I think I can say I’ve officially been introduced to all parts of surfing.
Day 30: The last day, and we decided to make it a great one. There’s a small group of people here at the hostel and we’ve kind of become like family. Before we all part ways, we decided to take a day trip to a secret beach for spearfishing, surfing, and stand-up paddle boarding. While half of the group set out hunting for their dinner, the rest of us set up a fire, grilled up veggies (the one thing we DEFINITELY knew we’d catch), cut open some coconuts and shared stories about traveling and how we all ended up on this secluded beach on a dirt road in Costa Rica.
As the sun went down, the rain started. But we kept a fire going, anyway, and danced in the rain as a proper goodbye to this magical little country. A chapter of a story – fueled by a simple quest to learn how to surf – that won’t soon be forgotten.
Ready to learn to surf under the guise of an expert, bilingual instructor? Blue Trailz offers surf lessons and surf packages for surfers of every level. Our surf packages include accommodation in either Blue Trailz Hostel (as part of the Surf Camp package) or a local, boutique hotel (Luxury Surf Vacations)