Surfing is a religion

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Like any religion you have to practice it.

The first morning we were in Chile we cooked this big breakfast – we had eggs, yogurts, toast and fruit. Just as we were about to sit down Valentina and Emilio told us that we shouldn’t eat before surfing. The irony was unbearable and I’m laughing about it now as I think about that moment. We still ate all of our food but pushed back surfing for another hour to let us digest our breakfast. Even though they told us on the first day to not eat a lot before surfing – we didn’t really listen. Breakfast was usually a fruit or an avocado, some eggs, and toast. I loved going to the markets the night before and picking up fruit or vegetables eager to eat them the next day.

Around 8 or 9 AM, everyone would meet at our little Air B n B and get ready to head out to the point to go surf. Once we were all piled into Gus Gus (our van) we’d follow Valentina and Emilio down to the beach. As we hauled ourselves out of the van we got down to getting out wetsuits on and the surfboards out of the truck. We were supplied with hoodies made out of towels to get into our wetsuits without flashing anybody else in the group.

Once everyone was all set we’d head down to the beach to warm up before getting into the water. This was one of my favorite parts – we laid out our surf boards into a mandala shape to practice our moves and motions. We’d take a couple sun salutes to get our bodies moving and then we’d jump up and down to get our blood rushing. It was a funny sight to see all of us jumping and swinging out arms in a circle. Emilio would brief us on which general area of the beach we were to spend our day surfing since the surf capital of the South America is always busy with surfers. And then we were off.

I found one journal entry that perfectly explains what was happening as we were in the water – “These past three days have been all about surfing. As we are surfing Emilio is teaching. His teaching is intense – shouting, waving, yelling directions. There is somewhat of a language barrier but maybe the waves are too loud to hear over. I always feel small when learning a new skill that I’ve never done before. It is difficult to be a student learning a challenging and difficult physical activity. Surfing requires a huge amount of strength. Catching a wave was such an indescribable moment. My body surprised me since I didn’t think I could preform this well as I did this week.”

Click this link for a video of our last day surfing 

Click this link for a video of Los Morros  

Surfing to me is the closest you can understand the ocean without being a fish. To be a surfer you have to understand the way the ocean thinks and works. How many sets are coming in, how close are they together, how quick is this wave coming at me. I think that three days of surfing taught me a lot on the basics but I couldn’t grasp these important concepts of how the ocean is thinking. It was amazing to sit on the beach and watch the “good” surfers and see how they can tell what is going to happen and use the wave to benefit themselves.

I had been surfing one other time before going to Chile. I was in southern California and we decided to take a surf lesson for fun. It is insane how different these to places were – California had a much wider beach and much smaller waves, while Pichilemu had a smaller beach with much bigger waves. But I love that you can surf any wave that comes to shore – even the tiniest ripples in the water can be surfed especially by the giant beginner boards.

One way to be a complete badass is to surf from the edge of Punta de Lobos. You can see the process of this in one of the above videos. This means that you climb down the point down to small rocks. Once you can tell when the break in the set is coming up you jump into the water at the perfect moment. You then have to climb onto “Los Morros” which are the two giant rocks that symbolize Punta de Lobos. You then time your jump perfectly to when the wave is going to come to catch off of the rocks. We watched some people do this one day and it was insane – the goal is to ride a wave all the way into the beach that seems so far away.

I hope to one day return to the surf capitol of South America. Kat asked one of our instructors, Benjamin, will I be disappointed if I go surfing anywhere else in the world? And he confidently told her yes, there is no place like Punta de Lobos for surfing. Benjamin told us that you could surf almost 365 days out of the year here and the only times you wouldn’t are because the waves are either too big or the weather is not great. Until I can return to Chile and Pichilemu to surf, I want to try to get better to really enjoy these perfect conditions. So I will deal with the disappointment of not being in the surf capitol of South America and work on my surf skills until I can return and maybe I can be a badass and jump into the ocean and ride a wave into the beach from Los Morros.

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