We need surf-or dance or yoga-because it reconnects us with our animal bodies. For a little while we practice moving through the world with rhythm, with an intention of efficiency and power. Without it, we become just a bunch of walking heads…This surfing project would be about growth, about connecting with the earth and growing older with grace.
Surfing is one of the only pursuits on earth that can drum you into numb exhausting and blunt trauma time and time again and give you nothing in return; nothing but sand in your crotch, salt-stung eyes, banged temple, chipped tooth, screaming back and sunburned ears-gives you all of this and not a single stand up ride. Time and again. Day after day. Gives you nothing back but tumbles, wipeouts, thumpings, scares. And you return. You are glad to do it. In fact, you can think of nothing you would rather do.
Kook by Peter Heller
In May, I checked an item off of my bucket list and went to surf camp. I was excited for this middle age body to learn a new skill, quench my wanderlust seeing a different part of the world, and be inspired by taking off on an exciting adventure. Little did I know I would be going on the trip of a lifetime that would not only change my outlook on life, but also create a passion for surfing for me and my family.
Set in a picturesque Bohemian surfing and fishing village near Puerto Vallarta, Las Olas is the world’s premier surf camp for women. Known as “the Golden Door of surf camps,” it was founded in 1997 by Bev Sanders who has dedicated over 25 years to board sports. Her motto is “We make girls out of women” and we all certainly came home feeling younger, but also wiser. Our bodies were tired, but more tanned and toned, sides ached from laughter, and the friendships developed will last a lifetime. Bev said that her program attracts kindred spirits and I could not agree more. Together, we learned many lessons about patience, humility, going with the flow, assessing a situation (the waves) before trying to tackle them, taking risks, believing in ourselves , and the importance of feeding our souls being around positive people.
We requested a villa with a view that felt like we had literally ascended to heaven. 150 steps led up to our beautiful Villa Flores with a pool overlooking the bay where we surfed each day. By the end of the week we could finally make it up the steps without stopping, but each time we saw this view, it made the trek worthwhile. The villa featured open air architecture with cabana style enclosed bedrooms. Each villa was unique in that is was styled by local craftsman and artisans.
Our days began with yoga in a garden underneath the palm trees with sea breezes cooling us off. Each movement was matched to what we would use during our surf instruction for the day. After yoga, breakfast was served on this beautiful terrace overlooking the beach. All food is sourced locally…fish from just beyond the surfbreak, mangoes from the neighbors, and fresh vegetables off the local farm truck.
After breakfast, a quick walk to town takes us to La Casita, the Las Olas clubhouse. This is the center of activity where we meet for instruction, pick up our board and learn from our world class instructors seen below…They are described as being able to “transform from hello kitty to ninja dolphins and back when necessary and mermaid miracle workers.” Unfortunately, we did not come home this toned, but they were great inspiration, tons of fun, and the ultimate wave whisperers who helped us catch many waves.
The natural beauty of Mexico was breathtaking. The coastline against the mountains, the diverse flowers, and the colorful people added to the splendor of this tropical paradise. The charm and optimism of this village has attracted many expatriates to relocate to the area. Everyone we met was warm, hospitable and adored the local culture and heritage.
In addition to the daily surf instruction, we also enjoyed road trips to various secret surf spots and point breaks. Late afternoons were spent with beachside massages, siestas, shopping in the village, and happy hour on la playa watching the locals surf.
Evenings were just as much fun….from sampling various cantinas and cafes to enjoying the activities planned by Las Olas including tequila tastings and salsa dancing to the music of the Gypsy Kings(in person!) Other activities include Spanish lessons, Whale Watching (during the winter months), Huichol Beading, Stand Up Paddling, and Mexican Cooking.
I have never been on a vacation that truly checked every box…physical, emotional, psychological and philosophical. I had grown in all these areas and had not fully realized this until months after my return. I am eternally grateful for all of my surfing soul sisters who made this adventure so much fun. If we believe the quote below, we were definitely the best surfers on the beach!
“The best surfer is the one having the most fun”- Phil Edwards
More to come on the local artisans and craftsman in my next post…