Surf's Up Dudes!
Trip Start Dec 22, 2006
97Trip End Feb 10, 2008
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It was not long after the two men entered the water, that the rain started to come down. Putting her rain jacket on, Geraldine thought she would be able to stay on the beach and outlast the rain; however within minutes it became a torrential downpour. She quickly grabbed her beach bag and ran to the covered patio of the Reggae Bar across the street. Thankfully, the rain subsided half an hour later and Geraldine was able to reoccupy her spot on the beach. It was definitely not going to be a sun tanning day, however it was still nice to be closer to the action.
The surf lessen began with Michael and Renny standing on the beach and staring out into the large watery abyss. Renny pointed left and right and explained the movement of the current and of utmost concern was the rip tide that formed around a large sandbar in the ocean. The discussion led into basic water safety and that above all keeping calm in any situation was essential. Michael was so geared up to get in the water that he basically nodded his head continually until Renny was done speaking. Finally, the words he wanted to hear.... "Let's just jump in the water and see what happens". Yee-haw...surfs up dudes! The water was warm and Michael and Renny walked out side by side into the ocean still pointing far into the distance and chatting about the formation of waves and the like. We started on the right side of the sandbar and the current was noticeably moving of from left to right. There was not a strong undertow, but the water sure let its presence and power be known. Armed with the verbal knowledge of how to get up, ride the wave and balance, Michael was finally set to put theory into practice. Renny's only advice was to hop on the board and ride it straight to shore. No problem. Paddling furiously until the wave had a hold on board, Michael then swiftly hopped up to his feet and did as he was told....rode the board all the way to shore. Hang Ten! This surfing gig is easy. High stepping his way back out to Renny with the board, Michael was most satisfied with his first wave performance. Renny was pleased as well, however as all good instructors do, he found some constructive criticism to lay down. Technique and proper form were certainly lacking and foot position on the board needed help as well.
Michael spent nearly an hour riding waves and then running back out to Renny for more instruction and encouragement. We had moved around the sandbar a few times to get better placement and better waves as the water continually changed. The rain seemed to flatten out the waves on the right side of the sand bar, but not the left. This really was just a coincidence, as it defies any known laws of nature. Tiring out, Michael again rode to shore for a water break and to sit down for a while. Renny joined him. We sat around for 15 minutes or so chatting about life in Costa Rica and Renny's experiences as a surfer growing up in Long Island, New York. There was no need to use wet suits and booties down here. Armed with shorts, any knucklehead can try out surfing...even Michael.
After the mid-lesson chill time was over, the guys were back in the water again. They headed right up the middle of the sandbar to where the waves were bigger and stronger. The current was moving from side to side and had a significant pull back out to sea and we had barely walked twenty metres out. The water level was now around our necks versus the waist deep water enjoyed during the first part of the lesson. It was a bit intimidating to be in the mix of waves crashing overhead and the feeling of being jostled to and fro by the power of the water. Relax. Remain calm. Michael slowly became accustomed to the force of the water and started to jump back on the board. It was much harder to get started as the waves were moving with twice the might and twice the speed. It took a few attempts to get up on the board, but Surfer Mike was up for the challenge. The second hour of lessons went by much faster as Michael was working on watching the surf, picking and catching his own waves. It was difficult to pick the waves as seeing with the blinding glare of sun behind the hazy clouds and the sting of salt water in the eyes was a challenge. Renny was still searching in the white water for his hat that was ripped from his head early in the lesson. Sorry Renny...no hat for you. Michael was up and down on that board more often in the second lesson, mainly because he did not ride very far before falling off or having the wave die underfoot. He did manage a few decent rides, enough for Geraldine to snap a few pictures anyway. With Michael nearing exhaustion from two hours of non-stop action, Renny sent him to shore to take a breather.
As the sun started to break through the clouds and heat up the day, several families arrive at Playa Negra to splash around in the water. One family consisted of mother, father and two sons. The boys waxed up a surf board and began taking turns skimming along the waves on their bellies. At one point they approached Renny, and as Michael was riding a wave to the beach, Renny gave the two brothers a quick lesson on getting up onto the surf board. We both assumed that these boys were going to be next on the schedule.
An exhausted Michael emerged from the water one last time as his lesson was now over. We waited patiently on the beach for Renny to come in; however he seemed to be occupied with the two brothers. Not much later, the younger brother floated in to shore on the surf board. He was teary eyed and cried on his mothers shoulder as his father grabbed the surf board and entered the water. We thought he was simply upset at having lost his turn on the surf board and continued waiting for Renny. Michael was chasing a dog on the beach and Geraldine was snapping photos of the landscape when an anxious woman appeared on the beach. She stood and pointed toward Renny and his companions, all the while mumbling incomprehensible words to herself. We thought this was a tad odd, but as we looked out into the ocean, we realized that the person we had been waiting for on shore was actually in trouble in the water. By the time we figured out what was happening, the three of them were already nearing the beach. We felt rather foolish when Renny announced that he had seen the dog chasing on the beach and thought to himself "What is he doing? Does he not know we're in trouble out here?" Thankfully, Renny a trainer lifeguard of many years, had been able to keep both father and son calm as the rip tide pulled them further out into the ocean. Eventually they escaped the danger zone and the waves push them towards the shore. Unfortunately, the most exciting part of Michael's surf lesson happened after the lesson was over.
Having worked up an appetite, we walked the short 10 minutes back to 'Nilla for sandwiches. It was then that we spotted an outdoor shower. Not sure how we had missed this before, we grabbed some soap and took turns lathering up. It was not only nice to be able to wash off the salt water, but also glorious to feel clean again. The morning activities had sapped most of Michael's energy, so we decided to spend the remainder of the day updating our website and strolling around Cahuita. Dinnertime came before we knew it night fall arrived shortly thereafter. It had been an adventurous day and sleep came easily.
On June 25, 2007 we decided to leave Cahuita and drive further down the Caribbean coast. We took our time having breakfast, doing the dishes and using the outdoor shower one last time. Before long we were on the road again. Our first stop was at Playa Grande just outside Puerto Viejo. There was an old rusted boat, with a tree growing on top, sitting on shore as if waiting for its crew to jump aboard. What an odd sight to see. The city of Puerto Viejo is considerably more developed than Cahuita and as we rumbled down the main street we soaked up as much of the bustling city as we could. We had no intention of spending the night there and pressed on.
We encountered many bridges and road passages that were only built one car wide, so the drive was slow going. Only one lane of traffic will have a yield sign, so it is up to that direction of traffic to yield to the oncoming vehicles. It was a very beautiful stretch of road to drive slowly through as the road was lined on one side with dense jungle and the other with tropical forest. In and amongst the tropical plants and trees where many hotels. It was nice to see that, for the most part, the hotels tried to tuck themselves into the jungle in an effort to camouflage them. Of course there is always that one hotel that needs to be front and center and is apparently oblivious as to how unattractive they make their surroundings look. Oh well, we can not all be perfect.
The scenery helped the drive pass by quickly and we arrived in Manzanillo in short order. By now the dark clouds that had lingered above us during the drive, had decided no longer to be quiet as they opened up and poured rain down on us. We carefully pulled 'Nilla onto the beach and got out. Manzanillo is a very small town with only one restaurant, one bar and one café. It is marvellously quaint. Our tour of the town lasted a mere five minutes and we quickly returned to the comforts of 'Nilla to escape the rain. The soothing sound of raindrops on fibreglass filled the van as we sat quietly working on our journal for our travel blog. We only left the van once to use the facilities at Maxi's Bar before we retired for the night.
More photos for your viewing pleasure... http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLandingSignin.jsp?Uc=16xvaj2z.2e5gzc1r&Uy=6gzao4&Upost_signin=Slideshow.jsp%3Fmode%3Dfromshare&Ux=0&UV=470010618481_492364134207