Many people know that I have an irrational fear of sharks (thanks to watching Shark Week at my grandmother’s house as a kid) that sometimes prevents me from enjoying water activities. While David and other friends have gone surfing and I’ve tagged along, I’ve never actually tried it myself – until now!
Puerto Escondido is a world renown surfing destination – mainly for the giant waves of the Mexican Pipeline, which hosts world competitions each year. Sounds like a good place to try for the first time, right? Go big or go home? Just kidding – there are several beaches and coves that are very friendly for beginners.
So we signed up for a 2 hour lesson – $1000 pesos (~$53USD) for the two of us and one instructor through Oasis Surf School, which was a 2 minute walk from our hostel. Meeting at 11:00am one very sunny and warm morning, we spoke English and Spanish with Oscar (nicknamed Patu) as he fitted us for rash guards and boards. I got a nice big soft board made specifically for beginners. Patu carried David’s board, some fins, and 2 leashes, while David and I carried my big board together.
We walked 5 minutes down a path to the top of the 157 stone steps down to small, beautiful Playa Carazilillo. The lesson began on land, with Patu showing us how to lay on the board, bring one leg up, cobra pose, then stand with arms out and bent over (just like in the movies!). We practiced a bunch of times then headed into the water, with David and I laying face down on our boards and paddling with our arms while Patu swam out with fins. One of us would sit on our board far out past the waves, while the other waited in the good wave zone with Patu.
David went first and immediately caught a wave like a boss and surfed all the way back in to the beach (maybe like 30 yards? pretty far). I paddled up to where Patu was and he hung on the front of my board while I practiced standing up a few time (saying to myself “foot, cobra, up, look forward”). I stood a few times and he decided I was ready. A good wave came, I paddled, and he gave me a good shove from behind. I very quickly tried to stand up, completely disregarding everything I’d learned, and immediately flew face first off the board, enjoying a nice netty-pot-esque experience as sea water ran through my throat, nose, etc.
Ok, I had some learning to do. In the end, I ended up standing up and surfing at least 4 different times, making it all the way until the wave died out on my last run of the day. The trick was to get up slowly instead of trying to rush through it. I didn’t get eaten by sharks, and I had a lot of fun! It was a great first experience and I’d recommended lessons to anyone interested in trying!
(Sadly, we didn’t get any pictures or videos of our actual surfing experience but the included pics are to give you an idea of the scene!)