You may remember that last week I injured my knee after half an hour of surfing, which was just fantastic. Since then, it’s become clear that the knee will not be making a hasty recovery and so instead of moping around about it for too long, I have turned to another method of having fun in the water: the boogie board, or body board. Body board sounds a lot cooler, but I’ll leave that term to the professionals who do not mess around. Let’s be clear: I boogie board on a $65 dollar piece of foam, so there’s no point in getting too excited. Or IS there?
I was feeing a little sheepish about resorting to boogie boarding when I’m living and working at Dreamsea Costa Rica, a surfing camp. I came here to add another awesome sport to my list of things I can do, try something new, and become more comfortable with the ocean. (I grew up in the mountains with lots of freezing cold lakes and streams where you only need to be careful of the frigidness of the water, not ten foot faves that want to pulverize you on the rocks below and the many horrifying creatures that the ocean likes to breed). I knew my fear of the ocean to really stem from lack of experience, just the same way that fear of rock climbing is eased by experience and skill. So, in my never ending pursuit of being able to do everything (hahahahah!) I decided to just throw myself into it.
Fate, however, has once again asked me to reconsider. So I have embraced my destiny as a boogie boarder for now. If I only have another two and half weeks on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, I sure as heck am not going to spend it sitting around, wishing I was surfing. No way. After a day of feeling bad for myself I realized that if I am playing in the ocean, then my goal is being met.
Yesterday, I joined a Dreamsea crew to go to another beach to the south of Playa Tamarindo, which is our home base, called Playa Avellana. Here is map to give you some perspective:
We are on the Northwest coast of CR, in the Guanacaste province/peninsula. The drive to Playa Avellana was about 45 minutes of some pretty hardcore dirt roads. Even the drive there was an adventure. Even so, people still make their way to the beach!
Unfortunately, it was a bit cloudy and rainy, but that didn’t stop the waves from being pretty sweet. See? Look! In just about a week, I’ve gone from being terrified of the waves to thinking they’re “pretty sweet.” I’m so proud of myself.
In terms of my boogie boarding skills, I’m still getting the feeling of balancing on the board, especially while waiting for a wave to arrive. Once on the wave, however, my little piece of foam has some get up and go. I’m able to use my legs to kick in addition to paddling, so I’m able to get a bit more momentum on my boogie board and have had some success catching some waves! I’m still at the stage where I pretty much just ride the wave straight in as far as I’d like, but I’m figuring out how to steer myself along the shape of the wave to get more of a ride the way a surfer might.
I knew that I had really made some progress after lunch when the tide came in. All the surf instructors were out catching some great waves that had started to show up. I was out there with them, mostly trying to keep myself safe. Suddenly, I found myself in the perfect position for a pretty big looking wave. I started paddling and kicking hard, then looked forward to see Glen, an experienced Australian surf instructor, paddling towards the wave, looking at me with a huge grin on his face.
“Okay,” I said to myself, “If Glen is smiling at me like that, this wave must be a large as it feels.” In that moment, the same kind of focus that takes over me when I’m climbing appeared, and I rode this huge wave all the way into shore. Bonus: I didn’t get hurt!
Later that night, while talking to my friend Maddie, I looked to Glen to ask him if the wave was really as big as I thought it was. He looked up from his phone, nodded, and said, “Oh, yeah. She caught a bomb today.”
You hear that? I caught a bomb. Next time you see me, I’ll look like this:
P.S. My first piece written for the Dreamsea Costa Rica team is now up and published on their website! It’s a profile on one of the main residents at Dreamsea. I’ll be profiling more of Dreamsea’s family as the weeks go on, so be sure to take a look HERE!