Riding Waves in Puerto Escondido

Continuing with my three S plan, I set up surfing lessons with a company called Vidasurf Ecotours, which was recommended by my hostel. The owner of the company and surf instructor, Antonio, picked us up in the morning for our surfing lessons. It was $300 MXN (about $15 USD) per person. We then headed to La Punta, a beach about a 10 minute drive away from our hostel. La Punta is a great spot for beginning surfers because the waves are small. Playa Zicatela just down the road is where all the best of the best go to surf; the waves are much larger and stronger there.

Antonio wanted each of us to carry our own boards over our heads with one hand holding either side. Before waiting for his instructions, I placed my board on my head. The weight of the board snapped my neck back and to the side. I heard my neck crack. “Oh my God… I broke my neck,” I thought. Obviously, I didn’t because I wasn’t dead but I couldn’t turn my head to the left! I was in excruciating pain! I generally like to think everything in life happens for a reason. What was the reason for this?! I kept thinking, “Why, God, why?” Surfing was on my checklist of things to learn and now that I’m learning, this happens! What was the reason? What’s the point?!

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Everyone except for me and my sprained neck carrying their boards back to the van.

Antonio had us practice how to get up on our boards on the beach before entering the water. To stand up on the board, you place your hands on either side of the board while you’re laying down flat on your stomach. You then have to quickly do a pushup, jump, and land with your feet spaced apart in the middle of the board while bending your knees. It took using muscles I didn’t even know I had to get up on the board. Not to mention that every movement was so excruciatingly painful for my neck. I was determined to learn how to surf, though and I wasn’t going to give up. No pain, no gain…right?

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Finally, it was time to put our skills to the test in the water. When the waves came, I could get up but I couldn’t keep my balance and stay up. Time and time again I would fall into the water. Nelly had the same luck. Bernarda on the other hand was a natural. She was already surfing after only one lesson!

Nelly decided not to return to surfing but Bernarda and I were hooked. We ended up taking another lesson with Antonio. I was determined to learn to surf and the second time it finally clicked for me. I was able to stand up, balance, and ride the waves! I was surfing! It was so exhilarating but also terrifying. I even crashed into the rocks and busted my knee. I didn’t care, though. I was in love with surfing and thrilled I had learned how to do it.

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The most terrifying part of surfing comes after you ride the wave. I would generally fall off my board close to the shore in a place where the waves were strong enough to knock me over and pull me under. There were also other surfers still riding waves and coming in my direction. The goal is to get out of the way by moving to the side and paddling back out by going around. Every time a huge wave came I would have to throw my board, dive under it, and hope none of the other surfers would hit me with their boards. Bernarda and I continued to ride the waves for the next three hours until our arms were so sore we couldn’t move them any more.

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That night we booked a tour with Antonio to Manialtepec Lagoon to see a bioluminescent phytoplankton. I didn’t even know such a thing existed. The tour cost around $250MXN (about $12.50 USD) and transportation was provided. Antonio picked us up at 8pm and we drove about half an hour away from Puerto Escondido to the lake. When we arrived, Antonio told us half jokingly that there were crocodiles in the lake.

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We all loaded into a boat in total darkness. There were no lights on the water or on the boats. The only light was a flashlight the captain shined occasionally when he saw other boats coming. I was terrified. We were in complete darkness, on a lake God-knows-where in Mexico, in water that may or may not have contained crocodiles.

When we finally reached the part of the lake where we were able to swim, a young boy jumped in the lake first to show us it was safe. When he jumped into the water, showers of glowing gold water splashed everywhere. The bioluminescence looked like glitter or fairy dust. As he moved his arms in the water, it looked as though he was a glowing angel.

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With absolutely no fear, Helena jumped in right after him. Let me just reiterate that it was pitch black and we were in the middle of a lake in Mexico. After she jumped in, Helena lifted her arm up out of the water and as the water droplets dripped off her arm, it looked as though glitter was falling from her body. She looked like Tinkerbell.

I wanted to jump in. I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and wanted to experience the glowing water. I was so terrified. I am already scared of the dark, as well as water I can’t see the bottom of, so the two together were really throwing me for a loop. Plus the fact that there may or may not have been crocodiles in the water. After some coaxing from Helena, I finally jumped in. I was extremely terrified the entire time but I did it! The water was warm and I was glowing! It was one of the most amazing and terrifying things I have ever done.

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