Costa RicaCosta Rica

Day 4: Sublime Surf Camp

Destination: Jaco

surfer girlsI took a taxi to the Club del Mar, a charming hotel with a gorgeous pool located on the southern end of Jaco beach. Today I would experience a day of Del Mar Surf Camp, a glorious combination of my three favorite activities: yoga, surfing and massage. Gita, a camp representative, greeted me in the lobby, and explained that she would be my guide.

First on the agenda was yoga. A glowing Costa Rican girl named Alejandra, or "Ale" taught the class. Her beauty and positive energy struck me; I always say that you can sense a good yoga teacher before you interact with one -- a judgment made upon attitude alone.

blue poolGita and I warmed up on the shady outdoor platform overlooking the ocean, and Ale signaled the beginning of class with three "ohms" and a series of sun salutations. Because there were only two of us, Ale tailored the class to suit our needs and skill levels. She pointed out several small issues of form that no one had corrected in my three years of practice, like tightening my ribcage.

About half way through, I asked if she could teach me something I had not yet been able to master: the handstand. Delighted, she led me to face a nearby wall, where I put both hands on the ground and kicked up, until my feet were high on the surface. Slowly, I practiced balancing in handstand, frequently falling but managing to get right back up again. Within five minutes, I was doing it on my own for short periods. A great sense of satisfaction flooded over me afterward, and I now have a new party trick in my arsenal.

yogaAfter cooling down, Gita and I enjoyed a delicious plate of rice and beans, followed by a short hike through the woods. She casually mentioned that Ale, with all of her yogic wisdom, had just turned 20. Her level of knowledge and maturity was truly impressive.

Next, we were off to find the perfect swimsuit at the Wishes of Venus store where local designer, Dessi, demonstrated her zeal for fashion. Originally from Venezuela, Dessi made Costa Rica her home after a month-long visit some eight years ago. The land of the "pura vida" had made such an impact on her that she couldn't pull herself away.

swim shopDessi looked me up and down, taking visual inventory of my body type, and began to select a variety of swimsuits from several spiraled racks. Finally, she found one that fit perfectly. To my delight it was reversible, green on one side with a punk rock design on the other. I happily realized this was essentially a two-for-one deal.

It is the most comfortable (and sexy) swimsuit that I have ever owned. Designed specifically for sports like surfing, the criss-cross back took all pressure off my neck and shoulders, while producing the same flattering effect as a push-up bra.

surfer girl on waveBy the time we finished, it was about 3:00 p.m., just in time for my surf lesson. The instructor set me up with an intermediate 8'3" board, which is a shorter than the usual 9 to 10-foot boards assigned to complete beginners. He explained that the waves on the southern end of Jaco tend to be tamer and more suitable to inexperienced surfers.

With high tide expected at 5:00 p.m., the waves were small to medium in size -- just the way I like them. By the time they had grown larger, I was already in the groove and had no problem handling the increased breadth. Around 5:30 p.m., against the backdrop of a stunning orange sunset, our surf lesson turned into social hour with the three of us telling entertaining stories and jokes. This was alternated with bouts of ridiculous singing at the top of our lungs. It was hilarious and fun, not to mention fantastic exercise.

My surf lessons usually end because my ribs begin to hurt from board contact, or because I tire and need a break. Not today. Nothing was pulling me away from those beautiful crests. My surf instructor finally coaxed me out of the water because it had become too dark to continue. I returned to the hotel to shower off and enjoy an evening massage.

Day 4: Sublime Surf Camp in Pictures