Pam LeBlanc is a journalist for the Austin Statesman. She joined us on a retreat this past summer to learn to surf and wrote about her experience. An excerpt from her exciting story is below, along with a link to the full article. Enjoy!
The waves await
On the last day of surf camp, we head across the muddy gravel road in front of our cabins to a stretch of beach where the waves break big.
There, the ocean curls over into industrial-size rolls of carpet, crashing in rapid-fire explosions of greenish-gray spray. The roar drowns out the squawking of the scarlet macaws, and I can’t draw my eyes away. Those waves look huge to me, much bigger than the “cute” ones we’ve been practicing on all week, even though I know that for seasoned surfers they’d present no problem.
Surfboards in tow, 10 other women and I stare out to sea. Then we wade into the surf. We dash out, a few at a time, between the biggest sets, springing onto our boards and paddling furiously, jumping off and “turtling” them overhead to get through bigger waves.
It takes 30 minutes for all of us to work our way safely past the break. Then we sit up, watching intently for just the right set.
After a week of practice, now comes the test……
Before the first ocean session at all-women’s Surf With Amigas camp in southern Costa Rica, we gathered beneath a covered pavilion for some dry land briefings. We learned the parts of a surfboard, the basics about wave formation and how to get up on a surfboard. Instructors broke the pop-up technique into steps, and we practiced on yoga mats.
Then we headed to the beach in a van loaded with colorful boards, music pulsing out the windows. For the next five days, our group broke into two — beginners like me and more experienced paddlers. We visited two nearby beaches, and one day rode a boat to catch a wave off the Osa Peninsula. We paddled into swell after swell, missing some and catching others.
Gradually, things got easier. I grew comfortable hopping onto the board and easing myself into the standing position. I didn’t always get it, and fell off pretty quickly when I did, but I swooned every time I felt that sweet push when I caught a wave just right. After a few days, I could turn down the line, riding a small wave as it broke toward shore. The other campers and I cheered each accomplishment, and at the end of every session we snacked on fresh watermelon and pineapple.
“These trips are confidence-boosting, girl power.”
Lucy Schwartz, 27
Then we headed back to our cabins, no-frills, cement-floored shelters without air conditioning or hot water but with plenty of charm.
Sure, we all went nuts when a local woman stopped by to paint toucans and palm trees on our fingernails, we descended like vultures when organizers pulled out an array of teeny-weeny bikinis available for purchase, and we staged the greatest slumber party of all time one night when we made chocolate from scratch, sipped wine and braided each other’s hair.
But make no mistake: This was no frivolous get-together. We came to surf.
To read more, click the link below for the full article: