Learning To Surf in Costa Rica: You're Never Too Old... Right?
Climbing down from the bus in the center of Playa Samara on Costa Rica's west coast, Molly and I are tired and sweaty after the meandering four-hour ride from San Jose and all we want is a cerveza and a palm tree to lie under. Surfing isn't part of our plan.
Maybe it is the beer and the heat, or the exhaustion of travel, but surfing actually begins to look fun. Even the ungainly novices who dismount their rides with feet-up-in-the-air gracelessness seem to be enjoying themselves.
Thirty Cold, Miserable Minutes
My only experience on a surfboard was thirty cold, miserable minutes at Cape Cod where I was drubbed by the waves before limping out of the water a broken man. Molly has never been on a board so her memories of the sport are fonder than mine.
As a result, you can't walk down Playa Samara without tripping over a surf school and that's just what we do. Attracted by the breezy beach hangout scene and the bustle of ongoing lessons, as well as the lady next door selling delicious fruit smoothies, we stumble into the C&C Surf School and our fate now seems determined.
If we're ever going to fulfill any of those California Dreaming fantasies, this is the time and place. Fortified and newly determined, we pony up our twenty-five bucks and are introduced to Samurio.
"¡Si, no problema!"
Perfect Place to Surf
"And this is a great, quiet little town," Foerster continues. "Lots of Costa Ricans come here for holidays and it still has a very local feel."
Indeed, as dusk falls on Samara the beach becomes the town square. Kids ride bikes along the sandy flats and a fierce local soccer game plays in the fading light while tourists and town-folk gather to watch the day end in a brilliant display of color. The Samaran sunsets are as consistent and gentle as the waves.
On my belly with the board beneath me on the sandy beach, I definitely feel like a fish out of water. A few half-hearted breaststrokes and I awkwardly jump into the air and plant my feet trying to remember the technique Samurio has just showed us.
Like a drill sergeant, Samurio walks in front of each board and studies our position. He picks up my board by its nose and, off-center and off-balance, I wobble for a moment then plop into the sand. My first wipeout and we're not even in the water yet.
A few more practice runs and we're suddenly heading into the surf with our boards in tow. Fighting our way through the incoming waves –- even the mellow rollers of Playa Samara -– proves to be just as hard as riding them.
Finally in position and waiting my turn with Samurio standing behind me and steadying my board, I wait for his instructions.
By the end of our lesson, Molly morphs into surfer girl and vows to return tomorrow (take a lesson at C&C and you get free use of a board during your stay in Samara).
I manage to ride a couple of waves without falling and even get a taste of the surfers high: crouched on the board at the crest of a wave and zooming toward shore with the tropical breeze on my face. The sensation is a little like walking on water.
Read more GoNOMAD stories about Costa Rica
Read more GoNOMAD stories about surfing
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