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. There is a list of 32 countries from which tourists can currently enter legally, provided they produce a negative COVID PCR test result from within 72 hours of travel and buy a specific travel insurance to cover any potential medical fees and extended hotel stay. The exact requirement for this insurance has been changing and we will update guests on what needs to be covered and some options on where to buy it as we get closer to November. So far, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and much of Europe are on this list, but the US is not.

However, we just received an update that as of October 1, Americans from certain states will be able to travel directly to Costa Rica – California, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Ohio, Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia)! Visitors can arrive via a flight with a layover in a non-authorized location. For instance, a Colorado resident could fly from Denver to Houston to Costa Rica, as long as she doesn’t leave the airport in Texas. You must show your driver’s license from one of these states as proof of your residency there. For information on exactly what is required to enter (Covid test, medical form and insurance, click here: Entry Requirements)

More states will be added over the coming weeks. If you do not have a driver’s license from one of these, we expect (hope) that by November entry will be open to all states. To go from no international tourists before Aug 1, to now opening to at least some Americans a month later, and many more states by October 1, we see it is a positive sign that the opening will continue and be complete by November. For more information click here: Tico Times ArticleWe are hoping to host our first retreat in Costa Rica the week of Oct 10-17 at the Longboard Surf House and do still have a few spots available!

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!

How Three SWA Instructors Found Themselves Chasing the Waves of Their Lives at G-Land

“SEND IT” by Alex Kelly

We didn’t sleep that first night. The ground shook from the power of the crashing waves and when we finally walked down to the beach at first light, the bay was stacked to the horizon with perfect lines. We counted seven waves, each an identical copy of the previous, peeling perfectly along the point. A crew of older guys approached.

“Where are you girls surfing? Tiger Tracks? It’s a mellow right-hand point where the women and children surf,” they said. We told them no. We’d come to surf G-Land.

G-Land, off the coast of Java, was our promised land. There were three of us with our spirits synchronized and ready to venture to somewhere new: the exotic Delia Bense-Kang, part Mexican, Korean, and German, who’d grown up surfing the rough seas of Northern California and now works for the Surfrider Foundation. Then there was the gorgeous Silvia Yom, a well-traveled and talented filmmaker and photographer from Los Angeles. And myself, Alex Kelly, known as the fiery Spaniard, who, having finished my degree in Oceanography, started a surf school in southern Spain. We’d all connected by working for Surf With Amigas,an agency dedicated to inspire women in surfing and life through surf and yoga retreats.

As we boarded the fast boat full of dudes we could tell that it was a rare occurrence to see three single girls going to G-Land. Everyone was filled with anticipation, nerves, and hopes of scoring the waves of their lives. Picture perfect hollow barrels – big, long, and fast– with magical conditions were rumored for the next few days. The history and the vibe of transient surfers passing through to ride this dreamy barrel was palpable and the proof lay in a smattering of surf posters on the walls and broken boards strewn around.

In the morning the tide was too low to surf so everyone gathered to watch while sipping their coffee. Conversations consisted of contemplating what board to ride, best entry and exit strategy, where to sit. We did our best to eavesdrop and gather knowledge to build our plan of attack.

Excited but terrified, we eventually made it out…without actually realizing how big it was. With our eyes always set on the horizon we scratched over the top of the first set. There were a few older guys just charging and getting great rides. They didn’t look like they were in good shape but they were ripping. I felt so inspired by them. I was sitting the farthest out because I didn’t want to get worked on the inside and before I knew it, the horizon turned dark, signaling a huge set on the way. I was too far out to catch any of the first waves that rolled in but the third wave was bigger and I knew I was in the perfect spot. I don’t know what got into me but something clicked and without thinking I just turned around and went for it.

For an instant, everything slowed down and every action and movement followed the previous one. I felt the lift and wind in my face as I cruised all the way down to the bottom of the wave. It started to suck up as it hit the reef and I tried to set my rail and get high to pass the section but it was too late and I wasn’t making it. I could feel the wave collapsing behind me so I straightened out to get as far away as I could from the lip. Then I waited to get hit by the avalanche of whitewater behind me. It slammed me down hard on the reef, but luckily butt first, and it bounced me right back up again. I grabbed the board and paddled back out for more. I caught another one right off the bat that aligned itself beautifully all the way into the channel.

As I paddled back out again I looked toward the lineup and saw a big one coming through. Everyone was eyeing it hungrily as one of the guys took off and ended up flying over the falls. Delia happened to be next in line and I yelled at her, “Send it!” She took off super late, made the drop, and disappeared into the barrel.

It all came together that day and we felt in tune with the ocean, catching one wave after another. The offshore wind was blowing into crystal-clear blue water, creating a wave you could only imagine in your wettest of surf dreams. Our friend Silvia was on the boat right in the lineup cheering and shooting the most epic surf shots. After a few days, we’d earned our places in the lineup and felt right at home with the crew at Bobby’s surf camp. And as all swell cycles come and go, so do these momentous life experiences. The trip confirmed our beliefs in taking life as it comes, to be open to whatever the world has to offer and live for what makes you feel alive and present. If you feel it, just send it.

photos by Silvia Yom