Stoked aka 25! #9

I am a novice swimmer. That being the case, it makes perfect sense for me to stay clear of deep waters, much less raging waves… Now that I’ve put those two sentences together, the slight audacity of wanting to learn both how to swim and to surf within months of each other becomes apparent. I don’t know why it has taken me this long to realize that, but I was aware that graduating from bubbles doesn’t warrant a gigantic leap to riding and ripping.

My very dear sorority sister and friend, LC Cpie, would disagree with the statement above. She has always assured me that swimming skills are not really prerequisite to surfing. She doesn’t swim well herself and is proof that there are indeed ways to get around. Knowing that I won’t be heading out into the deep at the beginning anyway, I finally accepted her invitation to join her and her friends in the surfing capital of the North, La Union.

I wasn’t able to sleep for most of my six-hour bus ride from Manila. Alone with no one to talk to, I watched as the sun illuminated the skies at dawn. Rain soon fell and affirmed reports of a storm passing through the area. My dad suggested for me to cancel the trip, and I remember thinking I probably should’ve listened. I was alone; it was raining; and I didn’t know anyone besides LC Cpie. Any misgiving I had were dispelled as soon as I saw her. LC met me with a huge smile on her face and an umbrella in hand. She told me that bad weather is actually not so bad, as I would soon see myself.

The sea heaved and roared. It was a gurgling mess of white water, swelling and crashing across the seafront. I was exhilarated. There in front of me was a sweeping, powerful display that seemed totally alien and rightly intimidated me. I had no idea what to do. LC Cpie gave the first introduction. She taught me how to use the body board, and we (more like I) spent the next hour getting pummeled. I have never experienced anything like it before. I now have an idea on how it must feel like inside a working washing machine. How was it possible for my entire body to spin so quickly and somewhat violently in such shallow water? What a way to start my education.

That seemed like a walk in the park compared to my actual surfing lesson. The rain was pouring harder then, and the waves came in from different directions. I had a hard time finding my balance on the board. I kept falling off, and dragging out the surfboard against the strong current again and again was such a workout. The exhaustion and frustration were starting to get to me. And to top it all off, the fins of the surfboard hit me on the head in one instance. No way was I going to give up until I am able to ride my first wave though. When I finally did, it was the best feeling in the world. The water hissed all around me, but in that short moment, all I could feel was the smoothness of the ride and the stability of the board beneath me. Stoked, I think they call it.

It would take lots and lots of practice and hard work out in the sea for me to earn the right to call myself a surfer. I don’t even qualify as a surfer wannabe just yet. I have to seriously work on my paddling if I truly dream of going out to join the line-up and chase waves with other surfers. And it would take a number of six-hour bus rides to and fro La Union; nights spent packing and unpacking; bumps, bruises, and sore muscles. That stoked, exhilarating feeling is worth all that, but what makes La Union extra special and particularly worth coming back to is the wonderful group of people I have come to know and adore.

Team Guido is composed of talented individuals who are bound by their singular love of surfing. Theirs is a tight-knit family who opens its arms and welcomes people who are willing to learn, share, and take part in their simple joys and carefree lifestyle. It has been a pleasure for me to know them, and I always look forward to seeing them again.

Very special thanks to LC Cpie for making all these happen. Thank you for being so generous in sharing your Team Guido family with me and helping me accomplish my surfing goal. You are simply one of the coolest chicks I know, and I’m not lying when I say how inspiring you are.

I’m hoping to ride back up to LU again very soon. I cannot wait to continue my surfing lessons and continue having one of the best learning experiences of my life so far!