Our principal reason for going to Máncora was simply that we were invited to stay for free in exchange for reviewing a nice hostel there. But the gorgeous beach, chill accommodations, and cheap food quickly convinced us to stay even longer then we had planned. So we spent Christmas on the beach, exchanging small gifts of jewelry and treats (hello REESES!).
The day after Christmas, however, proved to be even more awesome, as we were offered a free surf lesson by Pilar, the hostel owner. So we headed to the beach, did a few stretches and practiced popping up (“Do less! Do less!” Anyone get that?), then paddled out into the ocean. I was scared, having been knocked down by a couple big waves when we were swimming earlier. The lesson wasn’t really much of a lesson either, as it seems the best way to learn to surf is just to do it. So Zach and I took turns having Pilar (who swam out with us in flippers) point us in the right direction, pick our waves for us, push us off and yell at us to stand up. Zach stood up for a few seconds right away, but I kept getting up and losing my balance half a second later. There was no reason for me to be scared though, because the “beginner” waves we were taking weren’t big enough to pummel us when we fell. The really hard part was paddling out. I have NO upper body strength so proppeling myself and a big heavy surf board out to sea against the waves was HARD. Now I know why surfers are so buff. It was an amazing workout; Zach and I both actually felt totally unable to do any more by the end of the hour. A few times as we were paddling out, really big waves would start to crash in and Pilar would yell for us to roll off our boards and go underwater, beneath the breakers. That was kinda thrilling. Floating over the waves as you go out was fun too, kinda like a roller coaster!
Finally, we had one last chance, Pilar announced. One more wave to make it happen. Zach went first and got up for just a second, but he had already ridden one. “This is it,” I told myself, “Gotta do it!” “Paddle, paddle, paddle, stand up!” yelled Pilar, as the wave took me. I stood up, too slowly of course, but I made sure I was properly balanced in the middle this time. “Bend your knees!” she yelled. And all of a sudden I was UP and STAYING UP! I was doing it! Surfing!!!!! I rode that wave, perfectly balanced, until I got too close to the beach and had to jump off. The feeling was extraordinary; the victory of that first wave was worth all the soreness from paddling that came the next day. In that one moment, standing on top of the ocean hurtling to shore, I grinned super big and felt invincible. I can’t wait to go again.