As a surfer, I am constantly reminded of the power of the ocean- whether that be through the strength of the sea itself, or the life that inhabits it. We are privileged to share the ocean with the marine life, and it is imperative that we remember that we are simply visitors in the vast space. The sea life is one of my favorite things about the sport. Many times I’ve encountered sleepy otters, playful seals, and a plethora of fish swimming about my feet. (I’ve even spotted a shark in the face of a wave-shh!)
The surfing world was again reminded of the ocean’s absolute authority this week surfing the J-Bay Final in South Africa. An encounter between a shark and surfer Mick Fanning brought a premature end to the competition, and while no one was seriously injured, I’m sure it was a jarring experience. Another thing I love about the surfing community is the support it offers, which was exhibited in the encounter’s aftermath as words of encouragement poured in from around the globe.
There is so much we do not understand about the ocean and its creatures, so it is up to us to respect them and their habitat. That’s not to say don’t surf or swim in the ocean- far from it! Simply to realize we are visitors, not inhabitants.
To read the World Surf League’s report, click here.
What does it feel like to be destroyed by a shore pounding surf?
It feels, at first, like an invisible hand has plucked you from the world.
And then gravity returns with a vengeance
Slamming you into the sand, forcing the air from your lungs.
You’re spun and thrown about until you don’t know which way is up
And your lungs are burning.
(They say Alexandria burned. You wonder if this is how the city felt.)
Finally, you feel your face break the surface.
You gleefully gulp the oxygen down and try to find the shoreline.
You don’t see the next set coming.
(Bigger. Faster. Stronger.)
This time your lungs are full of saltwater
And your chest is on fire.
You feel your body somersaulting as the waves pound relentlessly overhead. You curl into a ball to protect yourself.
Eyes and lips squeezed shut.
For a moment, it’s peaceful.
And then the ocean, after having chewed you up, spits you onto the sand
Where you lie, gasping and gagging.
And when you look back, all you’ll feel is the rush of adrenaline.
What a wonderful end to a fantastic week. It felt like the last two minutes of the game, the clock ticking down, and suddenly, you could believe that anything could happen. Since it was the last day, I think I was more inclined to just try different stuff, more moves that could make me fall off the wave or wipe out. But at that point, you tell yourself, I’ve nothing to lose, so why not?
I’m seriously going to miss this place, surfing every day and eating some really great food. Life is simple and kind here, full of twists that you just roll with. And the land is so wildand free that you just have a different view of the world.
I could go on for pages about the wonders of this place, but I’ll stop here and bid goodnight. On another note, the volcano up by San José, C.R. erupted a couple days ago, closing the airport. How crazy is that?
Tomorrow is a travel day, so I will be returning to the frozen city of Boston, hopefully without any problems.
I’m writing this from my perch next to the pool, watching the stars dance above me, listening to the howler monkeys shout abuse at each other.
Today was rough. The conditions were great, but I just do not have the strength or endurance to put myself in the right position to catch or avoid incoming waves. It was beautiful but very very tough.
It’s amazing how quickly the time goes. There is only one day left until it’s over, and I really don’t want to go. Surfing twice a day, yoga, and good food fills up a day in wondrous ways that certainly cannot be replicated in any other circumstances. Sometimes I find myself wishing Time would just stop where it is, stop in this moment so I could live without cared or worries or responsibilities. Alas, that is not how the world works, and thus we tick ever on towards the end.
One of the greatest pleasures I have is in horseback riding, anywhere really. I don’t get many chances, so when I am offered the opportunity I tend to take it without asking questions. Today was our ‘day off’, though the ‘off’ part shouldn’t be there. The way the program is set up we can choose from different activities like paddleboarding and zip lining, and of course, riding.
My horse, Rio, was rather fiesty today. Every time I would push him into a gallop, he would want to head straight into the ocean, while I was trying to keep him on the sand. Needless to say, galloping was exhilarating. I love the feeling of the horse’s movement beneath me, with the wind rushing around us both, not even focused on anything but the present moment. It’s indescribable the joy I feel pouring through my veins: the colours seem brighter, the noises fade away into the ocean surf, the world goes quiet-save for the beating of hooves and hearts.
Riding also gave me a chance to seem some beautiful tucked away parts of Costa Rica. We ride through a wildlife reserve, a mangrove forest (which looked like a National Geographic setting), and along the coastline.
Since we had the whole day off, I spent the rest of the time reading, sunbathing, and bodysurfing in some hideous conditions. Hopefully by the end of the week il have lost the Boston alabaster skin tone and traded it for something a little more tropical.
It is fascinating the things we take for granted. Being here in Costa Rica has shown me that there are struggles people face each day, that in the States, I often don’t even think about.
Because it is the dry season, there hasn’t been rain in about four months, meaning that the water reserves are running low. When is lived in California, we often had to ‘conserve’ water, but not to the extent that Costa Rica conserves. Tomorrow there will be no water flowing through the pipes as the municipality is shutting off the water.
Trying to figure out what to do about not having water is difficult. Suddenly I have to ask questions about how do I shower, what will I drink, will the toilet flush? My shower today had no water pressure, as the pipes slowly emptied, and it was simply a little trickle. The things we think are necessities in the States are sometimes luxuries in some of these small towns. How different the culture is!
I think experiences like this remind me of how blessed I am to live where I do. Though, it certainly changed the way I look at the world. Every time I turn on the tap, now I wonder if someone else is lacking something, and whether there is something I can do to help.