Surf’s up!

Two weeks ago today, I was surfing in Costa Rica.

In the weeks leading up to my trip, I told anyone who would listen that I was going to try surfing. I was very excited about it, even though I didn’t expect to be very successful. Secretly, though, I kind of thought I was all talk. I half-expected to chicken out once I got there.

My first full day at Peace Retreat, I asked if anyone would try surfing with me. Another yogi from Ottawa, Mélissa, said she would. We made plans to go the next day. We had a lesson set up and there was no backing out!

On the morning of the lesson, I was a little nervous, but I was also busy getting a bikini custom made, so I didn’t think about it much. Once we got to the beach however, I started to have second thoughts. The waves were huge. I’m not a strong swimmer. Also, sharks.

We met up with our surfing instructor, Forest, who was waiting for us on the beach. We practiced laying on the board, paddling and jumping up, feet apart. I felt clumsy on the sand, so needless to say, wasn’t super confident I would get up on my board in the water.

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Walking towards the water, I was still apprehensive, but I was getting more and more excited.

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Heading straight into the waves, I realized I was afraid I’d be scared, I wasn’t actually scared. After that, I started to have much more fun!

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I face planted into the ocean several times. Salt water tastes like pretzels.

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Then, after several tumbles off my board into the waves, something exciting happened. I started to get a feeling. After I started paddling and the wave had me in it’s hold, I would feel like the moment was right. It was time to get up. And I did. More than once! Sure, my board was huge and there was no controlling where it was going, but I was surfing. Actually, for real, surfing!

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It was such a rush! I couldn’t believe I actually did it! Our lesson was for two hours, but after an hour and a half, I was too pooped to keep going. It was hard paddling over the waves. It used a lot of upper body strength that I don’t actually have! Mélissa lasted a little longer than me, but when we were done, we walked back to the retreat very, very slowly.

We were covered in sand, I had a huge bruise forming on the back of my leg from rolling around with my board in two inches of water and falling on the fin, our legs and arms were like jello and we had swallowed a gallon of salt water between us. It was the best feeling in the world.

Pura Vida

You know that feeling, when everything is exactly as it’s supposed to be and you’re exactly where you should be? It doesn’t come around very often, but last week, while I was in Costa Rica, I felt it. After only two days, I knew I belonged there. It just felt right. I’m not ready to give up my whole life and move there, just yet, but I am already planning my next trip. A girl can easily get hooked on the feeling of knowing she is where she is meant to be.

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I can no more cover my whole trip, even though it was only a week, in one post, than I could count the books I’ve read. It’s impossible, there’s too much magic to squeeze in to one little post. I’m not even sure I can find the words to express the wonder, the joy, the excitement that this adventure brought me. But I will try.

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I stayed at a place called Peace Retreat Costa Rica. People say Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but I’m guessing they haven’t been to Peace Retreat yet. It’s owned and run by Hali and Kevin, two Canadians who moved their life and family down to this happy, beautiful, peaceful corner of Costa Rica. The place is amazing, but it’s their light and love that make it shine.

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Peace Retreat is located in the village of Los Pargos, which, I learned from a Tico, is slang for lazy people. I didn’t meet anyone I would call lazy, but the slow, easygoing way of life was definitely appealing. There’s a beach, called Playa Negra, and it draws surfers to it, like bookstores lure me in, like a mermaid calling to the sailors.

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The village is pretty remote, so it’s not a big tourist attraction. I loved that, even though, technically, I was a tourist. I say technically, because in my heart, I knew I belonged there, and when you belong, you’re not a tourist, are you? There are dirt roads and people regularly stop and ask you if you need a ride. No one wears shoes. Everyone smiles. No one says “I have a deadline” or “I’d love to, but I have to do all this work I brought home”. I’m not saying people’s lives there are perfect, because I’m sure they’re not. We all have our issues, but to an outsider, it all looked pretty amazing.

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I did yoga, learned how to surf and picked a lemon from a tree. I saw lizards, monkeys and I almost saw a crocodile. (I was happy I didn’t!) I took a stand up paddleboard tour through the mangroves, heard the monkeys every morning before the sun came up and got myself a custom made bikini (pink, of course). I went to Tamarindo, tried to do a handstand on the beach and leapt into the air every time someone said “Jump shot!”.

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Pura Vida means pure life. Life at it’s purest form should be, in my opinion, joy. And that’s what I found in Costa Rica. Joy. Bliss. Happiness.

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