Playa Grande Played Me (or How I Learned to Surf)

I grew up in a small town in a large province very far away from any ocean.  Two days driving in one direction would get me to the Atlantic.  Four days driving in the opposite would get me to the Pacific.  However, I did grow up surrounded by water.  Rivers, lakes, puddles, ponds, pools….swimming, canoeing or just playing around.  I love water, and every time I hit an ocean I’m reminded again of just how much.

While in Costa Rica, I decided that I needed to take a surfing lesson.  I had wanted to in Hawaii, but didn’t find the time.  There would be no excuses this time.  I contacted Point Break Surf and booked a lesson for January 2.

There were two other women 9sisters from LA) taking lessons with me.  We started with a how-to demonstration on land – how to paddle, how to stand, how to stay safe.  Afterwards we hiked our boards down the beach to an empty stretch where we wouldn’t hit the real surfers with our beginner bumblings.

The first time on the board in the water, we just body-surfed the board to the beach.  The second time, we rode it on our knees.  On the third try, we were to try to stand up.  Standing up proved not to be the problem for me – staying standing is where I needed to put in a little practice.  The next try, though, I managed to ride the bunny-wave (borrowing some ski terminology here) to the shore.

We were just riding the white water – small waves that wouldn’t prove too much for our meager abilities.  Hey, everyone has to start somewhere right?  Gotta learn to stand before you can ride.

I did not too bad – every other wave I fell off, true, but I rode as many as I floundered.  It’s a learning curve – learning when to start standing, learning how fast (or slow) to do the litany of steps towards standing (ok, so….on my knees like a table, check.  One foot between hands, check.  Start standing and turn body, check.  Eyes on the beach!  check.  Knees bent, check.) But I (somehow, someway) managed to stand on a few waves.

A quick break for water that wasn’t salty, and a new application of sunscreen, and we were back in the water.  I was given a different board – one that was a little more stable than the others.  I got to ride two or three waves when suddenly, I pearled.  (That is to stay, I dived nicely off the front of the board, as if I were diving for perals).  The board flew out behind me, and I hit the water, with a sharp pain hitting my knee.  I looked down, and it turns out I had gashed it pretty good.

The new board had a mount in it for a camera, and that mount hit my knee, cutting it pretty good.  I was lucky – my instructor, Matt, was cool and calm.  He grabbed his med kit, bandaged up my knee, and took me straight to his doctor.  She took a look at my leg, and set to fixing me up.

6 stitches later, Matt drove me back to my hotel, and made sure that I was ok and didn’t need anything.  I’m a little bummed that I didn’t get to surf more.  I had a fantastic time, and Matt was a great instructor.  It’s definitely something that I’ll be doing again, regardless of the accident. 

Once my leg heals up, I’m getting “Playa Grande, Costa Rica” tattooed around the scar.  It’s an awesome souvenir!

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