Saturday, April 23, 2016

Diary of a World Traveler

Sligo Day 4: Goin' Surfing

I have had the most incredible experience today. I knew I loved being in the ocean, but I had to be reminded of how I love surfing. No feeling can ever compare to catching a wave and letting it carry you toward the shore. It might have been colder than I am used to, but I was so happy to try it. I even stood up a few times!

I am not going to write much about today, since I did not really learn much other than how to stand on a surfboard. The process started with us getting fitted for boots, wetsuits, and caps. Then we went to change, which was much more difficult than we thought it would be. Those wetsuits are not only tight, but ridiculously thick. When the time came to get into the water, I was thankful of this. But before that, as we all struggled to get the things up and over our legs and arms, they seemed cumbersome and restricting. The boots went on under the suit, and the caps fit over our heads and rested on our necks. Our instructor Paul told us not to worry with gloves today, since it was warm and the gloves actually made everything more slippery. Once we were all dressed, we headed down toward the sandy beach.

Paul taught us how to carry two boards down with a partner: one in front and one in back, holding one board on each side of us. Diana and I grabbed ours and then tromped slowly through the rocks and sand until we got to the beach. The moment my feet touched the water, I realized the necessity of the winter suit. That water was freezing, but I didn’t feel a thing! Paul arranged us all in a semicircle and then taught us the very basics on surfing. I knew most of these, but it was helpful to get a refresher.

After our quick class, we went out into the water! It was so great to be back in waves again. The tide was much larger than would normally be used for beginning classes because it was a full moon, so we ended up having to go out much further to catch the waves. I caught quite a few, even though the small space we had was quite crowded with all 15 of us. On the last one before going in, I managed to kneel with one foot forward! Hooray!

The instructors let us go in after that so that Harry could teach us how to stand up properly. We learned to either jump up in one motion or do a three step process of front foot out, back foot up, and arms out. The latter would be the method I favored, since the waves were not quite big enough to jump up on and then continue in. When we went back out, there were a few of us who went straight out to the deep water, where the waves were coming in consistently larger and stronger. It was so fun! At one point, one of my braids came out, and I just ditched both of them and ended up flipping my hair all over the place. I became a true surfer.

I lost all sense of time while we were in the water, but I know that we must have been out there for a good two and a half or three hours total. The second half was so much fun—being carried by the waves, seeing them get bigger as the tide came in. The last one I caught right before coming in took me almost all the way to the beach, which was amazing. I managed to stand up three times in total, which was pretty great considering the number of waves I caught. I left the sea satisfied, that is certain.

While we were getting out of the water, my honorary photographer Katie climbed up to the top of the giant sand dune to get some shots. The view from up there is stunning, and I am so sad we didn’t get a chance to climb it when we were done. Truth be told, I probably would have died if I tried to anyway. The combined effort of surfing a full day, walking back to the shop, and then changing out of my wetsuit was just about all I could handle before sitting down and getting some ice cream. I tried Oreo and Honeycomb this time, which were equally as delicious as what I had yesterday. It was gone very quickly…

The bus ride back was smooth sailing. We went to dinner and then just relaxed until bedtime. I did make sure to look out on the brilliant full moon, which hovered above the buildings right outside our window. Pictures of moons never really turn out, but I can assure that it was a beautifully clear, cream shade that brightly lit up the sky. After some time watching it, I got into bed and went to sleep.

Tomorrow is going to be somewhat of a rest day. I am going to be physically tired, but I also want to go out and enjoy Sligo town before we have to leave it. It’s supposed to be another beautiful day, and I want to take advantage of it!

photo credit Katie Walker

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