I've been holding back a lot lately in the waves and I don't know why. A few weeks back I had a killer trip to the Pacific and was going for it, without fear, and reaping — er, ripping? — the benefits. But something changed when I got back home: suddenly I was pulling back on each wave, second-guessing and over-analyzing my every move.
Was it that the waves were easier where I had been? Or was it being in a different place altogether, without the eyes of the people that I know? Either way, another surf trip seemed the obvious solution and I was due for a new stamp on my passport...
Are you familiar with the concept of a border run?
While we're super blessed with powerful passports that let us have unplanned tourist visas to pretty much any country, there is a time limit to how long they'll let us dick around inside their borders. And while three months in a place may sound like a long vacation to some, us permanent travelers and over-sea dwellers find it a little constricting. But without a foreign resident visa, we're required to leave and re-enter in order to renew our visas every 90 days. So why not make a surf trip out of it?
The waves are pumping on the Caribbean side right now so we headed for Bocas del Toro, Panama, one rainy dawn morning. There's been a lot of drama at this border recently after an illegal passport-stamping scheme was busted. One of our crew was denied access for having a suspicious stamp so, after a long and dramatic near-arrest (not her first one!), we accepted defeat and headed back for Costa Rica. This time with five days to spare before her visa would expire.
So, ummm, Nicaragua? Porque no!
In Nica, it's currently the season for blasting offshore winds of nearly 30 mph — the kind that make it hard to even see where you're surfing cause there's so much back-spray in your eyes. There also wasn't much swell, and what waves we could find were crowded beyond function. So we went and harassed some locals at a surf shop into taking us to some better, emptier waves.
Well, apparently all our frothing made us appear a touch more advanced than we really are, cause we arrived the next dawn to a fast-barreling wedge. Well, shit. Guess we gotta at least try, no?
A wedge is a strange thing, a magical meeting of two waves at opposing angles, creating a very cool and confusing wave. We barely had time to sort it out and get some wipeouts in before a whole crew of talented, back-paddling bros showed up. We cut our session short after being frustrated by a lack of wave-sharing.
But we both dreamed of the wedge that night. And again the night after. A crowded day at one of the easier breaks had us ready for another try. This time it was barely waist high, so no barrels were really on offer, but there was nothing serious to be afraid of either.
I'm not gonna' lie, we ate it... a lot. But we also went for it.
The beauty of a wipeout is it represents a risk taken — a willingness to push yourself. Sure you chance failure, but if you don't venture out there, you also chance missing out on greatness.
And so, now back home in the waves I know so well, I'm going for it again. A little confidence and a lot of audacity go a long way.