Meet the Owners: Jackie George

They’re the SWA power duo! Surf With Amigas Co-Owners, Jackie George and Holly Beck, have been running ladies surf & yoga retreats together for almost 10 years. Both ladies typically split their time between Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and California- running retreats, surfing, and living the sweet & simple life.

We think you’ll love this Q&A with them. First up is Jackie!

Meet Jackie George

Hometown: San Clemente, California

How did you learn to surf? I grew up at the beach and learned to surf so young that I barely remember learning! I do remember early mornings at San O with my dad and his buddies. I remember the doyle sessions at Junior Lifeguards. I remember my first real surfboard was the Hobie Peter Pan Slug (still love that board). I didn’t really take surfing too seriously until High School, when my girlfriends and I would get dropped off at Trestles and spend long days on the beach. We all loved surfing and pushed each other to get better. To this day, we’re still close friends and love surfing together. 

Favorite board at the moment? My new Christensen log that I scored in a trade. I’ve also been indoctrinated into the twin fin revolution program here in Costa Rica.

What’s playing on the speaker while you gear up for a surf? Cardi B, Yoncé, or some dirty dirty dancehall beats. I’m also always up for praising Jah a bit before a surf.

If you could have one super power, what would it be? Teleportation. Or breathe underwater. Or know every language.

Dawn patrol or sunset session? DP is always more reliable… but when sunset comes together, it doesn’t really get much better.

Jackie- Sliding into Sunset

Name a surfer that inspires you: I’m inspired by the people that can surf any craft in any conditions and have a good time. I’m inspired by the people twice my age that can surf twice as long as me, and I’m inspired by the people that only come out when the waves are properly pumping. I love watching good longboarders ride shorter boards in heavy waves. I’m a sucker for a relaxed style, and anyone that can do a cheater five in the tube. I’m also inspired by ladies that come on the retreat and look at surfing with a fresh perspective. Inspo everywhere!

Favorite quote: “Be here now.”

Stay tuned for the next Q&A with SWA’s other half, Holly Beck!

Jackie’s Story: Surf & Travel in Morocco

Are you ready to get inspired for travel? We’re headed back for more retreats in Morocco this fall, October (2021), and are SO excited for another incredible surf & travel experience.

In the excerpt below, Surf With Amigas Co-Owner, Jackie George, tells her account of the incredible journey from the USA to Morocco for SWA’s retreats back in 2019.

 

Our trip to Morocco was epic.

There’s no other word that can properly describe it. I knew traveling with SWA instructors, Alex, Coco, and Michelle, would be perfect. Two regular footers, and two goofy footers; the perfect balance of wild and chill. We decided to arrive in Morocco about ten days early for a little pre-retreat adventure, and to get our bearings on a new continent. Coco and I flew from California to Madrid, and met up with Michelle in an airbnb downtown.

Traveling from the USA over to Europe and staying for a few days is the perfect way to explore more and deal with jet lag before heading to morocco. I recommend it!

Normally around 9 pm, I start to wind down for bedtime, but that’s not how the Spanish operate. So, thanks to the time difference, most nights we ate dinner at 10pm, followed by hours of laughing and roaming through the cobblestone streets. After Madrid, we made our way to the south of Spain for a couple more memorable nights with SWA surf instructor, Alex, in her home turf.

The trip to Spain was short but jam-packed (I think we barely slept). In a flash, the four of us were on our way to Tarifa, where we’d take a ferry to Tangiers, Morocco. 

Arriving to Morocco by ferry was like a scene from a movie. The Moorish architecture and sounds of prayer heightened our senses as we bobbed our way across the straight of Gibraltar. When we arrived, chaos ensued (as it normally does when you arrive to a place where everyone wants to help you). A few hours later we were on our way south, in a rental car we had delivered to us. I’ll never forget that first meal at the gas station passing through Tangier. All the food was fabulous during the trip, but we all agreed that gas station meal was the best meal of the month!

The road trip down the coast was cruisy.

We had no plans, just knew we wanted to get to a point break because there was swell on the way. The point breaks are in the south of the country, so we had a good eight hours of driving that day. We had heard of a wave in a town north of Essaouira, so at some point we decided to exit the highway and call it a night. In retrospect, it’s a bit uncharacteristic of us to not have had a place to stay- normally we’d book a hotel or airbnb and save the trouble of asking around. The phones weren’t working and it was about 10 pm. We had just gotten our first (of many) speeding tickets of the trip and were starting to wonder if we’d even find a good place to stay. We pulled into a gas station and found some girls to ask. They immediately saw our stack of surfboards on the car, and directed us to Mehdi’s place, a guesthouse for surfers. 

We found ourselves completely enthralled by the rich culture all around us- colorful pottery, flavorful food, hot tea all day, and winding marketplaces.

The pre-retreat adventure that was meant to be a few different stops along the coast ended up being dominated by our stay in Safi. We had everything we wanted at this gorgeous Moroccan guesthouse. The owner, Mehdi, who put us in “Kelly Slater’s room,” took us surfing everyday, and sent cookies and tea to our room every evening. While waiting for the point break to turn on, we found ourselves completely enthralled by the rich culture all around us- colorful pottery, flavorful food, hot tea all day, and winding marketplaces.

We got scrubbed down at a local spa with Mehdi’s wife, and bathed our wetsuits in the rosewater fountain after surfing. My favorite aspect of the stay in Safi was the lack of tourists. We were totally out of our comfort zones in a new city on the coast of north Africa, and totally loving it. We stayed till the last possible moment that we could and wound up scoring waves on the very last morning.

side-of-the-road Camel rides? we’re in!

After saying our good byes to our new Safi family, we made our way down the coast to Imsouane, the retreat location! We had a villa to get to and a couple of retreats to run. During this leg of the journey we saw a guy with some camels on the side of the road, so we stopped for a quick lap on the camels to break up the drive. We got lost for a few more hours in a countryside full of argon fields and goats in the trees before we finally arrived to the retreat villa in Imsouane- the Dar Zitoun.

We crashed hard that first night in Imsouane, and I woke up at sunrise to check the surf. I knew immediately we were going to have perfect retreats. The point break is the perfect set up- it’s a super long, perfect right. Maybe the longest wave in SWA retreat location history. The wave is a bit slower, which makes it just dreamy for long boarding. That first session by myself was pure magic, and every session after that did not disappoint. 

-Jackie George

 

The retreat villa is totally fabulous, the food is delicious, the cultural experience is so rich, and the wave is right out front. What more could you want from a SWA retreat location? Us instructors love going to new locations for retreats and Morocco was exactly the adventure we were craving. We knew a few days into the first retreat, we’d have to come back for more.

Join us for a retreat in Morocco this October (2-9 & 9-16, 2021) to experience the magic with SWA!

Surf Tips: Learning How to Cross Step

The cross step. Both graceful and functional, it’s how us long boarders really use the entire surfboard, from front to back & back to front. It’s how the most talented surfers dance and trim their way to the nose.

Ready to transform your longboard shuffle into a graceful cross step? Keep reading.

Surf Instructor Shelly cross stepping through Costa Rica
Start here: Practice on land!

Repetition of the cross step (or any technical surf skill) on solid ground will implant the physical movements into your muscle memory. If you can master the cross step on land, you’ll have a better chance of accessing the fancy footwork once on your surf board.

Cross step as you walk through the kitchen, while checking the waves, or while playing on your yoga mat. Practice it everywhere! Once the movement feels completely fluid and natural you can take it to the water.

The Setup:

The cross step setup goes like this- First, drop into your wave and get going down the line. Think about placing your feet closer to the inside rail of your surfboard, the rail that’s tucked into the wall of the wave. Then, it’s all about the stall. Shift your weight onto your back foot in order to slow down and steer the board up towards the top third of the wave. The stall often resembles a bottom turn, depending on the size and shape of the wave.

Surf instructor Chloe demonstrates the stall
Taking the Step:

After the stall, it’s time to take the step(s). Shift your hips forward then let the feet follow. The back foot crosses over the front. To start, just cross your feet, hold, then right step back into your normal stance. Step lightly. Once this movement feels more comfortable, try and take a few more steps. The end goal is to take as many steps as needed (usually 2 or 3) in order to get your toes all the way to the nose.

Check out this video of SWA Co-Owner Jackie styling through a stall-to-cross-step combo during a Surf With Amigas Morocco retreat.

 

*As always, remember to take it slow, laugh through the wipeouts (there will likely be a lot of them), and surf with other ladies who inspire you to surf more + have fun!

Interested in nose riding? Stay tuned for a deep-dive on nose riding practice in the weeks to come.

 

 

 

 

Update on Borders and When We’ll Start Running Retreats Again

girls day out, surf trip, boat trip, costa rica, surf with amigas, holly beck, surf instructor, adventure

We are really missing early morning coffee chats while quickly applying sunscreen for a dawn patrol surf session, second breakfast stories of the awesome rides and hilarious wipeouts, video analysis of everything that went right and how to improve, delicious healthy lunches catering to any dietary preferences, afternoon paddle outs with supportive new friends, waterfall hikes, horseback beach gallops, chocolate workshops, meditative relaxing yin yoga sessions, cocktail hour laughs and impromptu dance parties, sunset appreciation, and chatter-filled dinners looking forward to the next day of adventure.

It’s been five months without a retreat and we are eager to get back into the swing of things. We have been monitoring borders closely and wanted to send out a hopeful update to those of you on our credit list and everyone in desperate need of a warm water vacation!

Costa Rica – The good news is that Costa Rica has started welcoming back foreign tourists including Americans!!! As of Nov 1, ALL Americans  will be able to travel directly to Costa Rica!!! In order to enter, you must produce a negative COVID PCR test result from within 72 hours of the start of your travel (checking in for your flight) and buy a specific travel insurance to cover any potential medical fees and extended hotel stay. There is no quarantine required. For information on exactly what is required to enter (Covid test, medical form and insurance, click here: Entry Requirements)

Nicaragua – The borders were never officially closed, but the airport did stop operating which was an effective closure since there was no way to fly in. As of now the airport is open and tourists are welcomed as long as they provide a negative COVID test result, but the government is making it very difficult for commercial airlines to operate due to very restrictive rules. As a result, there are not many commercial airlines flying. Avianca began flying in mid September and more airlines are planning to begin flying in October. If you are signed up or looking at a retreat, do not be fooled by available tickets on an online search. Message us for the current updates on which airlines are actually flying! We will host our first retreat Nov 21-28 at our Eco lodge location!

Panama – There is also an absence of information regarding the planned border opening for Panama. Right now only citizens and residents are allowed to enter. The border closure to tourists was just extended at least until October 12.  We are watching closely and will keep you updated once we know of a firm date for reopening and what the rules will look like.

 

 

Morocco – We had scheduled to host our first fall retreats in Morocco in October. Based on discussions with our partners there on the status of the borders and tourism restrictions, we have decided to postpone those retreats for a full year. We have yet to finalize the exact dates, but they will likely be the first two weeks of October 2021.

 

Indonesia – We are still on a “wait and see” pattern here. We have up to two years to use our credit with the resort and are aiming to schedule retreats sometime between May and July 2021. We will be working to choose dates over the next couple months and will let you know asap.

 

 

 

 

In the meantime, thank you all for your patience and support. We are working on some fun things to be able to connect to our Amigas. Let us know if you have any questions and stay healthy!