Quotes

Eat. Surf. Sleep. Repeat.

 

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“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

-Neale Donald Walsch

 

LIKE A KID ON CHRISTMAS

I woke early the next day and packed my bags for surf camp! Jet lag? What’s that?! I was pumped and excited, and my whole room (3 Dutchies who later became my closest and most adored friends) knew how excited I was. I woke up at 5am because I couldn’t even contain my excitement. Do you remember being a little kid and waking up on Christmas morning the second the room lit up from the morning sun’s first rays of light? That’s me. 28 years old and still so excited for the morning and new adventures or surprises. So the Dutchies, not so much. They slept through 2 hours of their alarms going off and I had exited the room by 6 am because I’m also like a little kid when I try to be quiet- I make a TON of noise. So I came back to the room after eating and having coffee and trying to contain my excitement. I finished packing my bag and glanced at the time..it was 8:25 and there was a knock on the door. Another Dutchie poked her head in and after realizing they were all still sleeping began waking them up. Those three- Lisa, Tijmen and Bas flew up out of bed, began what I assumed was cursing in Dutch and packed their bags in a fury. At one point I remembered where we were all going and I yelled, “OH MY GOD I’M SO EXCITED GUYS, WE ARE GOING SURFING!!” This of course was the beginning of our long friendship as they were all grumpy and sleepy and I brought some excitement and light into the mix. I ran downstairs to do the only thing I could- a coffee run! And I made sure the bus didn’t leave without them.

I stuck by my new friends and said goodbye to Natasha, promising to keep in touch with her while I was away. The bus ride consisted of me chatting with another woman from Holland and getting to know her better. I was too excited to sleep even though we had a two hour drive south to a small town called Gerroa. I was amazed by the gorgeous sights, winding hills, ocean roads and small towns. The Surfcamp was situated perfectly in a small camping town on Seven Mile Beach. Which now that I am thinking about it, is an odd name because they don’t even use miles here, it’s all metric.  Introductions were necessary and we sat through about an hour of surfer dudes explaining how things worked, where things were and what we could expect while at camp. I adopted the surfer lifestyle and decided that I would not be stuck to my phone while I was there. I quickly sent a message to my friends back home letting them know and set off to experience everything surfing had to offer. I realized on my last day that I didn’t get more than 5 pictures and I felt slightly upset by this. I was reminded that this was a good thing because it meant that I was really enjoying every moment and not worried about capturing it on film.

12491953_10207547353217846_6813224074094232489_oWe were fitted for our wetties and then shown the way to the beach! And oh wait, it’s a mile walk to get to the beach, then another mile to get to where our surfboards could be picked up, then again back down to the beach. It’s funny how my excitement never wavered and as people were complaining about the distance and how heavy the boards were, I was ready and excited. Felix and Tom were our instructors and cracked me up the entire lesson. Our first surf lesson consisted of learning how to paddle, jumping up and where to look while riding the waves. We practiced on the beach for an hour before we were allowed to go out into the waves to test out our skills. In my excitement, I paddled my happy ass out too far and got yelled at (I blame that mistake on Victor and my first surf lesson in Santa Cruz). I was using a shorter board so it took me a few falls before I was able to stand up on a wave. What a feeling! I love how it feels like you float and glide across the water. I caught about ten waves that first day but wanted more. The next day was fun because I rushed out ahead of the pack to ensure that I got  a longer bigger board. Such a fun day of surfing and the weather was perfect!12307477_10153215094096931_4078972120264973918_o

MAKE THE WAVES YOUR B*TCH!

The next day was a devils wind. What the french toast does that mean? It means the waves are choppy and they throw you around like a washing machine. It’s the kind of surf you try to avoid as a surfer because not only are the waves hard to catch, they are messy and break unevenly.  You expend a lot of energy trying to get out past the break, you eat a lot of sand and saltwater and use every muscle in your body trying to stay on your board and your head above water. I know, it sounds like a load of fun, right?

No matter how hard I tried (a good hour) I had a hell of a time catching an actual wave. Even with the help of some of the instructors, I only managed to stand up on one or two waves. Defeated, shivering from the cold and sore as hell I fought my way back to the shore. I hurt everywhere and slept like a dream that night. I woke up with a swollen heel that I could hardly put any pressure on. Great- a pulled Achilles! I tried not to focus on my disappointment or the pain and enjoyed spending some down time with Lisa at camp while the other campers went out to catch the waves. The connection we built that day has been really important to our friendship. We spent pretty much every moment together and I never grew tired of her. I also became close with Tijmen (known as Pino) and Bas and in the last few days of Surfcamp, Bernd.

LESSON #2: WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU LEMONS, SEARCH FOR HILARITY

I’ve discovered that it’s really important to look for the positives. Not just when you’re feeling down, but even when things are going well. I could have hidden out in camp and felt sorry for myself, but instead I took my time gimping down to the beach with my towel, coconut oil and worked on my tan. I got to watch my friends ride waves and soaked up the sun which improved my disposition.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a tough 4 weeks of backpacking afterwards (you don’t realize how much you use your Achilles until you injure it), but I still had a great time! My pace was slower, and I had a cankle for a few weeks but all in all, it wasn’t too bad.12401643_10207547353377850_3707137337034492773_o

 

 

Australia or Bust!

 

“There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

-Nelson Mandala

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I have been in Australia for one month today. It’s amazing how much I have been through in such a short period of time. When I landed in Sydney it was 11am. I was amped from flying for 14 hours, really sweaty and feeling slightly lost. I was able to get through the immigration line very quickly and miffed because I never got my passport stamped. They just scanned my face and sent me on my way. I haven’t been to very many places, so believe me when I say I want that stamp! I earned that sucker after 5 months of planning and saving, I feel like it’s a symbol of my dedication to get here, a badge of honor if you will. Enough of that now- I will revisit this stamping business when I’ve formulated some sort of plan to get it! The airport was surprisingly easy to navigate and I quickly found myself seated and waiting for a shuttle to my Wake Up! Hostel.

I cannot even tell you what I was feeling in the moments while I waited for a friendly airport staff member to direct me to the correct place…mostly contented, slightly nervous and a whole lotta lost. After being told to follow a tall guy with chicken legs who thought it was a sick joke to run through the airport with 20 lost souls desperately running to keep up, I met a woman named Natasha. She was from New Jersey and we quickly became fast friends. I spent all of that night hanging out with her and getting comfortable in my new home away from home.

The Wake Up! hostel
The Wake Up! Hostel in Sydney’s CBD.

I HAVE TO SLEEP WHERE?

Hostels are an interesting breed all on their own. I quickly learned that my naive little American mind was going to be broadened hella fast! Had you told me ahead of time what it would be like, I’m not sure I would have been so up for them. The communal kitchens are a GF girl’s worst nightmare! Hello cross contamination, I’d like to just make a reservation now for feeling like shit for the duration of my stay. In all seriousness, I had gotten used to managing my allergies by buying and preparing my own food, so this was a hard one for me to wrap my brain around.

The Wake Up hostel is set on a busy intersection in the middle of downtown Sydney. It is constantly bustling and there are numerous people going in and out/ waiting to be checked in/ using the Internet or waiting for their transportation. I am not a city girl, so this was quite a shock to me. So many people everywhere I looked. I was checked in and quickly figured out why it is titled a “hostel” instead of hotel. In my brain I thought that was an Australian equivalency to a hotel in the US. I was shocked to open my door and see three sets of bunk beds, and only one bed available. A set of lockers allowed for me to secure my laptop, passport and wallet. I quickly went in search of my new friend who was one floor above me, staying in a ten person room. Natasha and I went for a walk in search of some dinner. My gluten and dairy allergies have been a huge barrier for me and a constant struggle. Every open door we walked by had different food smells pouring out. We were in China town near the Haymarket. The thick and aromatic smell of curry stuck in my nostrils and steered us in the direction of Thai food.

It’s amazing the connections you get with people while traveling. It’s hard to explain it, but it’s almost like you cut through all of the bullshit and immediately utilize new people as your supports. Over dinner, I quickly found myself spilling my guts about the last five years of my life, my failed relationships, what brought me to Australia and what I wanted for myself while I was here. It’s amazing how being all alone and traveling by myself, I craved the support and comfort from home, even though that’s exactly what I was running from. I was so thrilled to have met Natasha and we quickly were what each other needed to feel safe while in a foreign city.

Now I must say, my first impression of Sydney was not so great. Call it jet lag or exhaustion, but I really thought to myself: what’s all the hype about? To be fair, I grew up in the country. By country I mean, we only had 4 neighbors close enough to walk to and only one of them had kids to play with. It took us an hour on our school bus to get to and from school because everyone’s homes were spread so far apart. And we never locked our doors growing up. I literally have no idea if my parents’ house has a key to it or not. Our protection has always been German Shepards and my dad has shotguns. Life was slow and easy where I grew up. We had vegetable gardens and played outside in the dirt as kids.

So it was an incredible shock to me to be in Sydney. The traffic is loud, the streets are busy and the buildings are tall. I was surprised at the amount of people on the sidewalks and the vibe of the city itself. It’s almost electric. By day you feel the frenetic pace of everyone bustling to and from work, shops, sightseeing, and running to catch the buses and trains. By night the city feels like it is vibrating with energy. People are dressed up and ready to party, with too much makeup and too little clothing. There is sound everywhere you turn and music bumps from bars, clubs and people’s vehicles.

I remember how nervous I was that first night. I craved any sort of familiarity to feel safe in my new “home.” My only saving grace was knowing that I would be heading to Surfcamp in the morning.  I crawled into bed exhausted but ready for the next week of fun in the sun ahead of me.

A WORD OF CAUTION TO MY FELLOW GF WANDERERS:

Just a side note to any of those other gluten intolerant travelers like myself- if the person you talk to about their gluten-free options can’t pronounce the word or doesn’t  know what it means, RUN! It’s not worth it…trust me there will be a place two doors down that you can discover with options to accommodate you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been seated with water and left after realizing there aren’t any suitable GF options. Ain’t no shame in my game ;0)

LESSON #1- LET GO, YOU NEVER HAD ANY CONTROL ANYWAYS.

Traveling alone is hard. Especially when you are an attractive American female. Traveling alone as an American female with food allergies, slight control issues and a dash of neuroses on top of an overwhelming fear of getting sick in public- was hard as hell! I had to basically trust that people scrubbed their dishes enough, trust that I would find a bathroom before impending doom and also let go of the idea that I had any control over anything anyways…No big deal right?