by Lindsay Sutula
In 2010, my husband (then boyfriend), Jason and I crashed a friend’s trip to Tamarindo, Costa Rica. We were poor young professionals in our 20s. We stayed at a hostel in the center of town where one of our friends knew the owner so we got a deal. A couple of nights into our week-long trip, we were wandering around looking for somewhere to grab a bite to eat and stumbled across Eat @ Joe’s. The “Nachos as big as your ass” sign proudly displayed near the door. We were thrilled to find that we could get boats of sushi, the previously mentioned nachos, and a couple of beers, on our relatively small budget. Several nights during that trip, we would all meet on the beach at sunset and walk to Joe’s for dinner.
Fast forward to new year’s eve 2017. Jason and I were thinking about what we wanted to do for a vacation. And surfing topped the list. Jason had grown up surfing in Ocean City in the summer. I had just borrowed a board and tried to figure it out on my own a few times. Definitely a beginner. So, we decided on a surf camp. We looked at several places in Bali, but we realized that the flights to get there were, well, cost prohibitive. And the travel time would take a giant bite out of our vacation days.
On a whim, I checked out the Witch’s Rock website and said, “how about we check out the surf camp we ate at while we were in Costa Rica?” Done deal. We bought our tickets – 7 hours of total travel time vs. 2 days. And much, much cheaper flights. I signed Jason up for the intermediate tours and signed myself up for beginner lessons.
We arrived at camp on a Saturday, thrilled to find we both had lessons/tours that afternoon. I was paired with an 18-year old Canadian girl named Gabrielle. She was so tough and had so much energy. She was so determined to leave learning to surf she spent HOURS in the water each day. Our instructor was Xiquiu (prounounced C-Q), a super awesome Venezuelan woman (and an awesome surfer).
Witch’s Rock posts your surf times each day on a white board – and that first night, we were assigned a 6:00 AM time. I took a deep breath. 6:00 AM on vacation? Really?
The next morning, all my concerns about 6:00 AM went right out the window. It was already warm outside, the Pacific felt almost bath-water warm. The beach was quiet and there were only a few people in the water. It was amazing. (Plus, the birds wake you up with the sun anyway) Xiquiu was awesome. She could explain everything in a way that built on itself so once you could execute one movement, she would show you the next. She started by walking us through two different methods of popping up on the beach. She talked about proper paddling and explained how we should select a wave.
By just a few days in, she had Gabrielle and I catching waves all on our own. She was super patient and super fun. I could not have asked for a better instructor!
Meanwhile, Jason’s tours were at 6:00 AM as well and sometimes he was gone until about 10:00ish. The first morning, I got out of the water, went upstairs and grabbed my book to read during breakfast and wait for him to come back. As soon as it was apparent I was by myself, three other tables of beginner surfers invited me to sit with them. I had new friends for the week. And we had so much fun. Many of them would also arrange for other excursions in the afternoon. (The ATVs were my favorite – SO FUN.)
The week flew by and before we knew it, we were in a restaurant in Houston on the way home. I looked at Jason, “that was SO much fun. When can we go back?” He smiled, having had just as much fun with J. Luis on the intermediate tours.
“How about Thanksgiving?” We booked our plane tickets and made our reservations that same week. And I asked for Xiquiu again.
And we just got back from that trip where Xiquiu told me I was ready for the intermediate tours… guess what I asked Jason. “When can we go back?”