Paradise Redefined

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By: Deena Giles

Seems silly not wanting to shower after returning to the states just so my hair will continue to smell like the Pacific Ocean, my skin like coconut Sun Bum, and the fine Tamarindo sand would remain on my feet….for one more day. “Okay Google, play ocean sounds” used to be so calming, yet now seems incomplete without waking to the birds’ morning chatter, crashing waves, and the ebb and flow of the morning locals commuting to work.

No one wants to go home after a vacation in paradise. In this case, Witch’s Rock Surf Camp Tamarindo, Costa Rica, redefined paradise for us. Clearly warmer weather, a beachfront view, and being able to enjoy a free breakfast every morning has its perks…and not without the occasional entertainment of iguanas fighting over ripe fruit, grackles jumping from table to table trying to get their own free breakfast, and listening to the circus of monkeys in the trees above. But that’s not what made our time in Tamarindo the perfect vacation for us.

We found ourselves waking before the sun touched the water. We were not only anxious to start the day, but rushing to embrace it. Our sore muscles, our salty bathing suits, our freshly waxed boards, our butterfly filled stomachs, and the chatter of our new friends’ encouragement.

To know that TODAY, I’m going to turtle roll, let the water flow, and not get stuck in the tidal “washing machine”. TODAY, I’m going to dig deeper and paddle faster. TODAY, I’m going to look forward and ride a longer wave. TODAY, I’m going to make myself proud. TODAY, I am a surfer. Every day those expectations were exceeded with the perseverance of our surf instructor, the congratulatory cheers of our surf mates, and our own personal drive to catch “one more wave”.

This vacation wasn’t about escaping life. It was about facing fears, challenging ourselves, and chasing our dreams. Our memories won’t just be framed by a picture perfect Costa Rican sunset. They’ll include stories of tears as we survived being tossed and turned by waves, stories of hesitation on a zip line platform as we launched ourselves through paths in the sky, and stories of gratitude as we shared new beginnings through birthday, soon-to-be newlyweds, and Witch’s Rock Surf Camp veteran celebrations. Paradise has a new meaning for us. It is the feeling of allowing yourself to dissolve what you thought you were here for, and embrace what here has for you.

My hair won’t smell like the ocean tomorrow. My skin will be washed away of Sun Bum and sand. Our suits, hats, and flip flops will be tucked away in the closet as we lay our clothes out for work tomorrow. The phantom tug of the board leash will soon dissipate and our surf stance will settle back into our work posture. But our relationship with the ocean has only just begun. I promise to always remember the wise words of Andre “Deena, not everything goes bad”. Trusting yourself in the ocean on a freshly waxed board for the first time, among new friends, and an unconditional surf instructor…is paradise! Oh, and not only are we surfers now, but we’re engaged!

Until we meet again (June 2019!)…Pura Vida!

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