“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.
We 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!
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.