One with Nature

Hubris is a very bad thing.

I confess when I opened today’s installment of the 30 Days of Indie Travel Project email, a tiny wave of it washed over me. I struggled with last night’s prompt. Not that it was difficult to think of a moment, but it came down to time. A demanding work day left little of it. So I ended up with a quickly written post and felt that I had somehow let the Project and the blogosphere as a whole down. Then a funny thing happened…

I received a positive response, multiple positive responses in fact. That includes a shout out from BootsNAll on Twitter. I guess it goes to show you. When the chips are down, persistence does pay off.

And boy did it. Write about the environment and nature? Score one for me!

Day 10: Earth

At what point in your travels have you felt most in tune with the Earth? Share a story of how you interacted with the local environment or nature.

“You were my little coffee bean,” said my dad.

He is, of course, referring to my role as his “Surfer Girl” an homage to the Beach Boys (a family favorite). I was, after all, born and raised on the beaches in Orange County, California. Summer days were spent daily at the beach. Playing in the surf and catching sand crabs so I could create an ecosystem-in-a-bucket complete with saline and sand (alas, no one explained to me that sand crabs in a bucket in the hot sun would in effect kill my water babies).

This upbringing has given me an understated and profound love and respect of the ocean. Before you even set eyes on the Pacific, the briny air reaches you while the humidity that permeates to your skin, dampening your clothes. Then you see the undulating waves, cascading through the deep to the shore in rhythmic sets. It’s hypnotic in a way that makes you realize how powerful and dynamic the ocean can be.

So whenever I have an opportunity to travel to a beach/ocean community I’ll take it (budget permitting). Several years ago, my friend Mallika and I decided to embark on a surf trip to Tamarindo, Costa Rico and Witch’s Rock Surf Camp. Sure it had been at least 12 years since I had ridden a wave, but I was game. So off we went in search of la Pura Vida.

In Tamarindo, we settled into the daily routine of breakfast burritos and coffee, while waves crashed in the background. This was followed by a 2-hr surf session, then a siesta and perhaps another later afternoon session (should the tides cooperate).

One afternoon, while on a final surf trip to Avellanas (a different break outside of Tamarindo), our group hit the water. As we all positioned ourselves in the line-up, waiting for the set to roll in , we saw the smallish lump forming on the horizon. By the time the wave was upon us, the sets were much larger than our surf instructors envisioned. We all sat on our boards, eyes as wide as saucers. The second lump moved towards us and as I judged the distance and height, it dawned on me – we’re in the impact zone. The waves were going to start breaking directly where we were sitting. As I started paddling out, the wave continued to grow in height, I gave it everything I had and somehow managed to cross over the lip as the first snarl of foam made an appearance.

Falling over the backside of the wave, my heart was beating in my ears. As I looked around me, I realized that not only was I the only girl, I was the only surf camper. The wave became one gigantic white-wash broom, sweeping everyone into the beach. So there I sat, me and my instructors from the week.

I’ll admit, it was slightly unnerving to be out there with these expert surfers, but at no point did I feel unsafe or afraid of what the ocean may kick up. Bobbing in the water, staring back at the beach and the jungle spreading out behind it, I felt I was a part of something dynamic, something bigger than myself.

I had found my Pura Vida moment.

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