This winter was loooong and wet. Actually, it was THE wettest winter recorded in 122 years. I was more than ready to leave Northern California for another season working for Surf With Amigas in Northern Nicaragua. Prior to my departure, my final surf with my boyfriend was a quintessential Humboldt session. Pouring rain, freezing water, dark stormy skies, and not a soul in sight. If the rainy, cold water wasn't already enough, I had multiple sessions this winter when the sand had frozen and the ocean water was incredibly warmer than the air. Regardless of the conditions, I'm still getting my salt water fix and feeling better about life afterwards. However, February and warmer water couldn't come soon enough..
I was en route to our retreat location in rural Nicaragua and got word from my boss Holly about the big swell on the way. I had no clue what to expect, as big swells in Nicaragua are vastly different than Northern California. As I arrived and the retreat began, the massive swell made it's way, along with an abundance of insane wipeouts and waves. Luckily, the retreat was full of incredible women who truly wanted to go beyond their comfort zones and have an experience they'd never forget.
I, too, had an experience I'll never forget! On the morning of the biggest day, we'd given everyone the option of paddling out one-on-one at the point or hanging out and cheering on their fellow amigas. Karen, who happened to be celebrating her 40th birthday this day, was ready. She is a full time nurse and truly one of the sweetest people I've ever met. Prior to this trip, she'd never stepped foot on a surf board. We strapped on our leashes and were ready to get out the back. We waited for a lull between sets and paddled out as fast as we could. After several chaotic turtle rolls, we made it. Ironically, the biggest set of the day started to roll in. Karen was in a good spot and I was eager to get her a wave. The last thing I wanted was for us to have worked so hard to get out the back to then get washed in by the monster set. Karen turned her board towards shore and I told her to paddle hard. I gave her a shove and off she went! I knew she'd made the drop because the board is typically visible when someone wipes out. I instantly chased after her to make sure she was alright. After we endured several waves on the head we finally made it to the beach. We each sighed with relief and laughter, recounting her epic wave. She kept repeating "That was awesome, wow, that was so awesome." and I couldn't help but to say the same.
Luckily, Surf with Amigas has two camera boys at their Northern Nicaragua location who do their best to film every wave. I was hoping to GOD they had Karen's wave on camera. On this particular week, they had captured some of the best wipeout/wave footage I've seen during a retreat, mostly due to the sheer size of the waves. Aside from the epic wave riding, this day was also filled with incredible camaraderie. All the ladies who opted out (understandably) hung out on the beach and hooted/howled for each woman on every wave. Everyone was so proud of each other for pushing their limits, whether they paddled out or not that week.
Karen's wave has become an inspiration I find myself thinking of regularly. She reminded me that we can enter any situation, regardless of our fears and inexperience, and do the damn thaaang. It is SO easy to say no and continue on the safer path, leaving us unchanged and "protected from the unknown". However, the moment we step out of the safe zone and take the risk, we find an inner strength and commitment to whatever situation we're facing. We become stronger and less afraid of life's uncertainty. "You don't know until you go..."
Check out the video footage from this retreat below.
Check out Surf With Amigas website below, as well as Holly's blog post about this particular week.