Learning how to surf

For a long time, I thought that I did not like water sports. Until I met Cristina and found out about the pleasures of snorkeling around the islands of San Blas (Panama), scuba diving in Nosy Bé (Madagascar), or snorkeling and scuba diving in the Mediterranean sea. Three totally different places with one thing in common : warm water. I now also know why I like taking showers so much. After swimming, snorkeling and diving, now is the time to learn and enjoy some surfing!

You may understand that for this sabbatical, learning how to surf was on my wish list. On the fourth place, I should add, but it gathered some interest since it ended up on the header of my wish list.

The beach that we have been visiting in the past weeks happens to be teeming with people who were learning to surf. We read that it is perhaps the best beach in Costa Rica for it: the waves are very good for beginners virtually all the time and there are hardly any unsafe places with a rocky sea floor. However, the first few weeks, I didn’t feel like it somehow. Lacked the energy, I guess. This week I realized, that it is the last week at this place. So today I took my introductory course.

T. my instructor explained me the basics about how to get on the board, get your balance and stuff, some safety instructions. We did some stretching and off we went.

The waves were good for beginners, the wind off-land which is good for all surfers, and the water nicely warm! All lights green. We spent about an hour in which T. would select the right wave, give me a push for speed when one was coming up and shout ‘up’ to make timing more easy for me.

Getting on the board.

It turns out that I am not a natural, but I do okay, as T. led me to believe. The hardest bit for me is to get from lying flat om my belly to standing on the board. The board was a bit too short for me, so getting my feet on it takes a second or two, whereas ideally the whole move is done in half a second – after all the wave does not wait. Once I am standing, keeping my balance is not too hard. I managed to reach the beach a couple of times.

It’s great to master the skills, I imagine, but a hell of a lot of fun sits in the trying. Again and again and again. I noticed that it is really a sport that requires muscles and cardio. Arm muscles to paddle and get up, leg muscles to squat to keep your balance and cardio for getting back to your launch position as quickly as possible for the next wave. After one hour, I proposed to quit. Hopefully, tomorrow my muscle ache will not be too bad, so I can have another go at it.

In the meantime and while my muscles recover, I will be listening to Surf music. As Quentin Tarantino rightfully stressed in his Pulp Fiction movie, surf music does not come from the Beach Boys, but from Dick Dale and the Del Tones. I have been listening a lot to their music, and more recent – but meanwhile also old – surf music from two unlikely places: the Dutch band The Treble Spankers and the Swedish band The Langhorns from Lund, ‘a city without beaches’. Even though those two countries cannot be claimed to have a thriving surf culture, the music is great. For your entertainment, I have added some YouTubes at the end of this post.

6 thoughts on “Learning how to surf

  1. Thanks! Nieves, Guille and Cheli! Sorry for my late reply. We have been without internet for a couple of days and after that too busy traveling and birdwatching for a few days more.


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