I am a legendary body surfer and well known boogie boarder, at least in my family. However, I cannot say that it has always been my dream to be a surfer. This past Christmas, knowing we would be in Costa Rica together, Jason bought me surf lessons. In his words, so he would not look foolish alone.
Now I have watched hundreds upon hundreds of people surf, big waves, small waves, big boards, small boards, and for the most part it looks pretty easy. Catch a wave, jump up, balance and ride to the shore. Sure I knew it would likely take 2 or 3 times before I got the knack of it, but I am old and that is expected.
It was a gusty day on Tamarindo beach, blowing along the shore line perpendicular to the surf. The sun was hot, the spray was pelting and the flying sand stung those stuck on shore. Tracy stood by on the beach guarding our things and armed with a multitude of cameras. There were several schools of surf, all identified by their color of surfing shirt and their very close proximity to the shore, like me, Jason, Jrew and Jace, in our awesome surfer blue shirts. Further out, in the big surf breaking out 100 feet past us were the pros, with their wooden short boards, wild hairdos, dark skin, long shorts, taking turns catching the big waves. I knew soon, very soon we would be out there with them.
After our repetitive on shore session learning how to jump up onto the board, we were ready to hit the waves. Our teacher, Cairo, a thin tall dark Tico lead us out into the beginner surf and was soon holding our boards and shoving us one by one into the onslaught of waves. Now some of us were much quicker to grasp the concept of balance and foot position, unfortunately I was not one of them. Eventually though, I was able to stand up, and I think I actually surfed. Most of the time, by the time I was standing the ride was already over, but it still looked good in a quick photo.
Jace really seemed to get the hang of it, riding several waves all the way into the shore. Jrew also caught some great waves, and he even did a couple tricks, unintentionally, but they still looked cool. Jason caught a couple nice ones, but he injured his hip early on ( during the on shore session) and was suffering throughout the class. Yet he pressed on, and kept his word accompanying me in looking foolish. Me, well I can’t say that I became “one with the waves” but I can say that I became “one with the ocean bottom” several times. I never did make it out deep with the pros, but I was content to hang in the shallow surf with the other blue shirters, attempting to catch wave after wave. Will I ever surf again? Let’s just say I bought a brand new surf shirt today, but you won’t see me in Cook Inlet anytime soon.
What we learned:
The reason you wear a surf shirt is not for warmth,or to look excessively cool, but to prevent rashes, of which I now have many.
Not only is surfing much harder than it looks, sitting on the board is harder than it looks, swimming on the board is harder than it looks, and getting to the surf is harder than it looks.
Balance is key, and it is not a given.
If you surf once, you will almost always surf again.
Pretty much anyone can look cool holding a surfboard on the beach.
My wife can take some awesome surf pictures.