I clutched the back handle of the scooter and ducked my head behind the Swedish boy’s back to protect my face from the pelting rain. We whizzed through the jungle, carefully weaving around the landslides and dodging the lazy dogs in the road. Wearing only a bikini and t-shirt, I let the wind whip through my unhelmeted hair as I held the surfboards in place on the side rack.
If only my future children could see me now, I chuckled to myself. They’ll never believe I did things like this. Actually… I probably shouldn’t tell my parents about this, either.
At last we reached the turnoff, a mere dirt trail through the jungle. We got off the bikes and carried our boards, barefoot toes squishing in the mud, until we reached the water. Locals sat under the palm trees chopping coconuts, but other than that our group had the waves to ourselves.
I looked out apprehensively at the water. Yesterday hadn’t been a good day; the waves had been too big and too fast for me and I wasn’t able to catch a single one. I’d grown frustrated and irritable. Why does everyone love surfing so much? I’d grumbled to myself. But today felt different. It was my last chance before leaving, and I felt a quiet determination in my chest.
“Paddle!” the instructor shouted. “Paddle faster! Now up!”
I felt the wave catch my board, giving it that momentary floating sensation while I unsteadily hopped up. I stood, and leaned my body to turn the board to the left, my “goofy” right foot forward. I had it.
As I stood there on the board, finally–finally— surfing, my breath caught in my chest as I gasped in awe at the scene. For a brief moment, everything moved in slow motion. The turquoise waters glittered all around me until they met a tree lined shore that stretched into the horizon. Ocean and jungle and a smiling sun, and here I stood coasting across the surface of water; was this a dream?
I rode the wave, and I finally understood. This beauty, this freedom, this adrenaline–this is what it’s all about. An involuntary grin spread across my face as I fell back into the salty water. I think I just became a surfer.
Have you ever surfed?
I learned to surf in Siargao, a remote island in the Philippines. The “Cloud 9” break is a renowned surfing spot on Siargao, though there are other places around the island and nearby islands to learn. It is one of the most inexpensive places to learn, with a 2 hour lesson and surfboard rental running about $25. Don’t miss my last post about Siargao: The Philippines’ Secret Island Paradise.