Day 9: Surf Tour to Avellanas
Today, Witch's Rock Surf Camp was taking me on a 'surf tour' of Playa Avellanas, an excursion akin to an adult field trip (minus the permission slips). Nine students, three instructors and a photographer piled into a minibus and bumped along the dirt road to the beach -- where we surfed to our hearts content for nearly three hours.
Playa Avellanas is a gorgeous, never-ending stretch of shore located about nine miles south of Playa Tamarindo. Like Playa Grande, such an incredibly long beach provides ample space for surfers, even on the most crowded days. A craggy treeline made us wonder if the waters were also rocky -- but thankfully there was nothing but soft, forgiving sand beneath the water.
By now, surfing was all about mechanics, style and repetition. I no longer had to focus on standing upright on the board, as this motion had become second nature. Today was for practicing and refining. Two seasoned surfers named Flash and Edgar were our animated teachers for the afternoon.
In the beginning, I wasn't sure what surfing in a large class of beginner-intermediate students would be like. I was afraid that we would slam into each other but amazingly, no one did. Being part of a crowd in the water was actually a positive thing. It taught me how to get out of someone's way quickly, and about not 'dropping in' on a wave that someone else was going after.
One of the girls from the camp unwittingly stole a break from a local -- a huge faux pas in surfer land -- and Flash explained how and why she was out of line. She apologized, and Flash joked "Well, he should have been following the 'ladies first' rule, anyhow." She didn't feel bad or embarrassed about it, and everyone else now had one more piece of surf knowledge. I was surprised and impressed by this nice vibe that surrounded our group, and by our mutual encouragement as the day went on.
After surfing for 2.5 hours straight, I started getting sloppy. Somehow, I didn't feel tired in the least but I could tell that my coordination was off, and my reflexes slow. I pushed through for another half an hour, and then called it a day. We all grabbed a cold beer from Lola's Beach Bar and Restaurant -- the only place to eat or drink by Avellanas' shores -- and then returned to the camp. Everyone appreciated the freshwater shower in the Avellanas parking lot and the cool, air conditioned bus ride back to town.
That evening, Witch's Rock Surf Camp had something special planned for its students. Seven girls were graduating from their one-week program. The camp's professional photographer had prepared a thoughtful slide show of girls' best surf moments. We watched and reminisced over drinks, sushi and live music.
"Tico Hendrix" was the entertainment for the night a truly talented, if not eccentric, musician who played a variety of styles, from jazzy-blues to reggae covers. His oddball personality was tremendously entertaining, but the real spectacle began at intermission, when he positively fell in love with a friend of mine. The jumpy Tico Hendrix buzzed like a bumblebee, asking her questions that all began with "WooOOAH" and were followed by prolonged high fives, hand kisses and fits of maniacal laughter. This went on for about five minutes, at which point I could no longer keep a straight face. We all burst out laughing along with Tico Hendrix, and did not stop until the music began again.