Friday was the most beautiful day I have enjoyed since my arrival in Huanchaco. It was at least 80 degrees, not so windy, and hardly a cloud in the sky. My original plan was to go lay out on the beach and read my book and enjoy a quiet afternoon. But plans change. My housemate, Chole, wanted to go surfing. Everyone has been after me since my arrival to at least try it. At first I had a really good excuse *malaria*, then I developed bronchitis, and a snotty nose that will never go away it seems–so I said when I get better then I will go surfing. Now I feel fine, except I still have the snotty nose, and an occasional mucus filled cough. I told her that I would go down to the surf school and have a look. My opinion was that the waves were awful big and not very regular, and that we would in fact not be surfing that day, but at least I could go and say well-I tried, but the waves weren’t good today so we didn’t go in the water. My opinion of the water was confirmed by Emily, who works at the surf school, but is not one of the instructors. When one became available, he went outside, looked at the water and said…its a little rough, but should be OK…He lied. It was in fact very rough, and a very strong current pushing to the left. But by this point, you can´t not do it. After all the energy spent putting on the wet suit, you really should at least get in the water. So off we went…into the water…like a lamb to the slaughter…
The first wave to hit me knocked my braid out of my hair…the next took the elastic holder hostage…additionally, my “waterproof” sunscreen had dripped into my eyes, and they were stinging. Combined with the sun in my eyes, stinging eyes from the sunscreen, and hair falling down everywhere, I was, effectively, blind. But that´s OK because all I needed to do was listen for the commands**arriba, arriba, arriba**. I am still not sure exactly what happened, but on * arriba* I went. I stood up.. I´m struggling to maintian my upright position, but I am in fact surfing–riding a wave on a surfboard. The problem, I think, was that I went too close to the shore before I fell off. My feet were easily on the ocean bottom, and that was the problem. I became tangled in the leash, and fell down…not normally a problem, but right at that moment a wave came, and crashed into me knocking me back into the water. And then more waves came pummelling me into the rocky surf. Everytime I tried to stand another wave attacked, knocking me back down. With me feet still tangled in the leash, I was an easy target for the angry ocean. I really thought that I might die, or at least be damaged enough to require emergency assistance. Eventually, the wave subsided long enough for me to stand and get untangled and out of the water, but not before the ocean had beaten me to a pulp.
I wanted to quit at that moment…to say that´s enough…sufing is not for me..but I didn´t. I retreated. I rested for about five minutes. I coughed up enough saltwater to sustain a small fish, and then I went back out into the ocean. And I rode more waves, however, from my knees, not my feet, until it was time to come in.
The results of my first surfing experience are one broken toe, second toe, left foot, and several cuts and bruises to my hands from being pummeled into the rocks. Although the waves were the largest I have ever been in, and they beat me up and down, today was probably a good day to have my first lesson in some ways. Basically, my instructor said, today the waves were angry, but you showed them you were not afraid, so next time, the sea will be calmer, and you will be in control. I don’t know about that, but hopefully, I am not broken to the point so that in a few days time, after I have had time to rest, I will be back on the surf board, paddling along, effortlessly riding a wave to the shore.