“Gooooood morning, amigas!”
Only one person could be so chipper at six in the morning.
Holly tapped on our window, wearing the ear to ear grin she had the previous day.
We could hear the thunderous waves breaking just a few hundred feet from our cabana. Our first day of surfing was upon us.
The sound alone was utterly intimidating. We were going to willingly swim out into water that sounded like a storm? Waves crashed in my stomach.
Holly loaded up the boards into the truck and headed to our destination, Nahualapa. The rest of us were going to walk to the beach by foot . Nicole, with her board tucked under her arm, led the way.
Our surf spot was about a fifteen minute walk north of El Coco Loco. The walk on the beach alone defines what dreams are made of. The rosy sand was littered with shells of every color and shape. I kept waiting for the Disney characters to pop out and break into song.
Holly was already unloading the boards when we got there. I was assigned the yellow Stickman with groovy flowers painted all over it. The other girls would refer to it as “The Giant Yellow Banana.”
First order of business was learning to stand up on the boards in the sand. Helina, Holly, and Nicole cheered as we pretended to paddle out and then stand up on the center of our boards, striking our best surfer poses.
We were excellent sand surfers.
Then came the real deal. We waded out into the water with our boards. We pushed our boards over the waves, trying to get as far out as we could. Holly waded out with me. When we got through a set, she had me hop on the board to wait for the next wave. She told me to body surf in the first one, so I could get a feel for the ride and how to adjust my hands along the railings as needed. I tried to equalize my weight over my board, staring at the little stick dude painted on the nose. It was just him and me and we were about to catch our first wave in Nicaragua. I heard the whitewash thundering behind me, and the pounding of my heart. Holly gave me a swift push and away I went.
I was surprised by how powerful the whitewash was, having never experienced the thrill of being pulled by water. I felt completely out of control but electrified. It was a self-directed roller-coaster and I was using my weight on the railings to adjust my board. When the wave finally puttered out and I slid off my board, I could hear Nicole, Helina, and Holly faintly shouting, “Whoohoo,” over the waves. I suddenly possessed the ear to ear grin Holly wore, my skin tingling from the rush. I couldn’t wait to get back out again.
Since my first wave went so well, I decided to try paddling out like I’d seen in surf movies (because body surfing one wave makes you a pro). I soon found that I was not strong enough to paddle over the waves and got hit in the face by a breaking wave. While tumbling in the water and having my ass handed to me by Poseidon, I decided it might behoove me to go back to the simpler method. Holly came over to help get me out of trouble. My throat was tight from swallowing so much salt water. With my ego checked, we headed back out.
As we were working our way back out, she turned to encourage me. It was like she had heard me wondering whether I had gotten more than I bargained for. As a wave broke on her back, she shouted that this was an unusually big swell for this surf spot and that we were doing well, given the conditions. Even though she said that she ‘wasn’t just saying that,’ I was convinced she was. (Sidenote: It wouldn’t be until later that week when we would surf the smaller swells at Nahualapa that I would believe her).
I flopped back on my board to get into position. Holly instructed me to try to come up to my knees on the next wave. After successfully doing that, I managed to paddle into one of the waves on my own. Holly shouted at my triumph and gave me a giant thumbs up.
On my next couple waves, I worked on trying to slide my feet under my body. I wasn’t very successful on getting balanced, but we were all making great progress for it only being our first day. It was all about the small victories today.
After surfing all morning, I towed my board back into shore and sat on the beach, out of breath and alive. I reveled in the excitement of the day.
Even though the current was strong and we were all a little shell-shocked by the power and size of the waves, it was great to establish our learning curves in such a positive environment. We would all brave the waves together. We would celebrate as a unit, and we would shout words of encouragement to our surrounding amigas.
We were the surf warriors of Suave Dulce. And we had braved and successfully survived our first encounter with the high tide.
We would walk back together exhausted, bruised, adorning rashgaurds full of sand, and victorious. I don’t think there was a better feeling in the world. Well, except maybe the feeling that accompanied the thought of doing it again tomorrow.