Monday, July 26, 2010


I had my first surf lesson on Sunday! We took a taxi to Porta Chino, on the other side of the island, almost an hour drive. We had bought food and drinks for a picnic lunch and I was very excited. For the three days since making the plan, up until we got into the water on Sunday, I had nothing but the Beach Boys in my head: Surfin' USA, Surfer Girl, Catch A Wave, Surfin' Safari...

The path from the road to the beach has been paved with smooth stones and cement, making the trek with our gear super easy. Before, the trail was just lava rock and some smaller gravel. The walk took much longer, especially if you were carrying a cooler, surf board or other gear, and, as is common anywhere on the planet, a screaming child who DOESN'T WANT to leave the beach and go home yet.

We had the entire stretch to ourselves when we arrived, which was great since the beach isn't very long to begin with. We set up at the lone picnic table available and pulled on wet suits, since the water is so COLD from the Humboldt Current during this season. The sky was grey, but not misting, and the waves were rhythmic, foamy curls approaching every few meters.

The lesson began on the sand. We traced the outline of my long board (for beginners) in the sand. We laid on our bellies and my teacher showed me where I should be on the board (not to close to the tip, not too far from it), and then practiced the stroke. Cup your hands, extend arms fully, pull from the front, not the side. Next we practiced jumping from our bellies to our knees, in one swift motion. This took me a few tries to get quick: I have quite a lot of leg, for starters, and second, the stretchy wet suits are a little restricting. Then we practiced jumping from our bellies to our feet. Same problem: quickness is not my forte, and making sure my feet land in the right position on the board was a little tricky.

After this crash course, we stretched. We stretched our arms, and necks, our backs, and legs, our knees and wrists. Finally, we strapped the leashes to our ankles (so the board always stays attached to us), and headed into the water. The current was very strong, but Porta Chino is prime surfing (especially for beginners), since there are no rocks on the sea bottom, only very fine sand and seaweed.

I had several runs, guiding the board out, then sliding on, finding a little balance, paddling a little further out, and then gliding on the crest of a small wave, successfully hopping onto my knees, unfortunately, I never got to my feet before I fell off. Small victory.

Things I learned: always have balance and have fun. Don't think about it too much, be tranquilo.