I think I’m exiting the phase of I’ve been there! and entering the phase of I did this there! Hence, why I’m planning a trek in Patagonia instead of just exploring Chile.
It should be concerning to me that being somewhere exotic no longer gives me that thrill that it used to. Back in the day, I could sit in the hotel room and the mere knowledge that Paris was just a door away was enough to satisfy me. Now I have to actually open that door. In 5 years, I might have to adopt a kitten in each country just to get the same rush.
Anyways, as a start to the I did this there! series, let me begin with “I learned to surf in San Juan del Sur.” More like San Juan del Surf, am I right? They actually sell t-shirts there that say this. I might have a few.
SJDS is probably Nicaragua’s most well-known city, popular among tourists for its parties and waves. Although, if I’ve learned anything about sports, drinking and athletics usually go hand in hand. I already participated in Sunday Funday excessively, so I decided to check out the surf scene one day.
Since the amenities of my hostel was like an all-you-can-eat buffet, I signed up for a surf class. By the end of the day, I was all about that surfer life.
I Took Surf Lessons
If you’ve never surfed before, I highly suggest taking a class before you start. I would’ve been frustrated, miserable, and covered in rashes had it not been for my amazing instructor. I mean, those things still happened, but I was able to feel accomplished at the end of the day.
There were 3 other girls that signed up for the lesson. I was lucky to sign up the day I did because my brother had lessons with 30 other people. Talk about getting more bang for your buck.
I scoped them out. There were 2 German girls that I would hate by the end of the day and one Danish girl. The first hour, our instructor waxed poetry about how much he loved surfing. The second hour, he ran us through pop-up drills. And from hours 3-6, he pushed us through the water like a machine.
What Surfing Feels Like
If you can imagine dragging a huge steel door that’s tied to your foot into the ocean and then laying on this steel door for hours waiting, you’ve got 75% of surfing down. If Rose from Titanic had a few more waves, she could’ve been an excellent surfer.
You wait and wait and wait… until a wave that’s not too big, but not too small approaches. You have to keep watching to see how it develops. Sometimes, you think a wave is small enough for you to tackle, so you get into position. When you look back again, you realize that it’s grown 5 feet since you last looked back. So you let the buff guy beside you take it.
Also, the waves are always coming in from the direction of the sun, so you’re blinding yourself the entire day by watching for waves.
On the rare occasion that there’s a wave for you, there’s only a 20% chance that you’ll catch it. On the off chance that you do manage to catch it, there are a series of steps that must be executed perfectly.
First, you have to be in the right position on your board. Too far up and you’ll wipe out; too far back and you’ll never catch it. Then, you must start paddling with the right force and distance away from the wave. If you catch it, you have to ride it a certain distance on your belly before you attempt to pop up. While trying to pop up, you have to make sure that you’re coming up gently, like a yogi.
Finally, if you’ve done all those things correctly, you have to lean forward to keep the momentum. And balance.
Hopefully, by the time you’ve done all this, the wave is still unbroken. But, as a beginning, broken waves are also equally fun to ride. Heck, just being able to stand is a rush. There were a few times where I just stood with no movement, floating in the middle of the ocean.
During 6 hours of surfing, I probably had 2-5 good runs. That’s less than 1 run an hour!
But, it’s completely addicting. You know why? The best I can relate it to is that scientific study about a mouse pushing a button for reward. The mouse is pretty cool when it knows how many button-pushes to do before getting the reward, but it gets bored after a while. The mouse becomes obsessed with it when the rewards are given at random intervals. That’s how inconsistent I was at catching waves: an addictive amount of inconsistency.
It’s entirely possible to be out there for 8 hours of the day and realize, only when you’re back at the hostel, that you’re suffering from some 3rd degree burns.
I really thought hard about using the GoPro to catch some footage (I mean, that’s what GoPros are for!) but I was too preoccupied by the act of surfing to worry about losing my GoPro in some waves. But here are some photos of us holding a board! That’s also pretty cool, right?
Have you ever tried surfing?
Linking up with Travel Tuesdays!