• April 3, 2012

She told me on her own it was the best day of the trip.  That was worth everything to me.

Lauren and Rebekk

It was our free day at the JW Marriot. We swam in the pool in the morning. We went back to the room and watched the Cartoon Network in Spanish. We headed to the Restaurant for lunch at 1:00.  I skipped out on free drinks.  We boarded the bus and began the journey to Tamarindo Beach at 2:00.

We went achingly slow down the rough road.  I put total faith in the driver, knowing I’d certainly be lost with little chance to get back to our hotel if things didn’t go to plan. He dropped us off at the place our instructor asked us to meet him even though it wasn’t the proper drop off spot.

We got off the bus and met both Rex and Lauren.  “You’re Mr. Mark” he asked in a slightly off accent. He was a grizzled, tanned veteran with an endless easy- going smile that came instantly and often. She was slender and wiry and stunningly pretty in dreadlocks, she carried a joie de vivre I long for.  Precisely the people I was hoping to see.  “Yes, this is my daughter, I’d really like to see her have a good time and get some pictures.”

“Well, you can both go if you want!”

That was all i needed.  Forget that my daughter actually wanted me to go with her.  Two willing instructors, two available boards, I desperately wanted to give it a whirl.

Lauren splashing through the waves.

Rex was recommended to me by a slightly shy and very beautiful woman at the concierge desk.  It felt like she was offering up a great secret to me.  “I have a friend who can teach her, but he won’t be available until 2:30.” She picked up the phone and called.  After speaking a few minutes she handed the phone to me and I got my first taste of Rex’s accent. “She’s how old? And she has no experience? That’s fine, I love teaching kids, especially when they’re eager.”

Eager she is.  So was I. The first wave out there I laid on the board and Rex launched me towards shore. As I rode the board I felt the power of the ocean pick me up and carry me forward. That was all I needed.  “Go Again,” as my brain kicked in.

Rebekk heading out

A side note:  On the bus ride to Tamarindo Beach I told my daughter that this wasn’t going to be “teaching” in the same sense of school.  I tried to explain that Rex loved surfing and would do everything he could to be out on the water.

I told her, “He is not going to teach you to surf.  He is going to share his love of surfing with you.  He can speed the process of you learning the surf, but it needs to come from within you.” Here school teachers don’t necessarily LOVE math or LOVE English.  The ones that do love the subject matter (or compensate by having such passion for seeing kids learn) tend to be the best. We know it doesn’t always work out.

I knew this was going to be a case where the subject matter was loved above all else. I wanted to emphasize the point of today was not to stand upright on a board or to shoot a chute the first day out, but to share the passion for a new sport.  To feel in the smallest of ways what Rex and Lauren feel while riding a wave.  To want to continue to learn and become better.

Rebekk catching a wave in.

No, I didn’t take to it like a fish to water.  But I rode many a wave coming in and I got fully up twice.  The first time I felt the fins digging into the water beneath me my brain kicked in once more, “Go again.”

When my feet were too far back on the board, it was intuitive and logical to feel the mistake.  Correcting it was quite another,  but that will come with practice.  When I put my left foot askew on the board I knew I was unbalanced,  but that will come with practice. That’s simply a matter of knowing the geometry and being able to thoughtlessly get it right every time.  When I tried to catch a wave before I was ready I learned to recognize when I needed more lead time to catch the wave properly.  After each mistake my brain screamed to me, “GO AGAIN!”

Soon I was catching waves and more often than not wiping out while trying to stand.  Success!  I would say I was close dozens of times, each attempt had my brain pressing me on for one more try.  “Go Again. Go Again.”

Rebekk, me and Rex

I felt the confidence to let Rex and Lauren focus on getting Rebekkah up on her board and to take the photos as I tried to apply what I had learned.

Rex ran off to talk to one of his friends, another surfing instructor. He came back to me with his big grin splashed on his face.  “I told him it was your first time and he didn’t believe me.  I told him, though.”

Our time eventually ran out and I had to get the money from a bank since we had left all of our cash at the hotel.  How embarrassing! After far too much time while Rex and Lauren ran off to pick up their friends for Lauren’s yoga class, my limited and much maligned Spanish, managed to coax cash from my Visa and I felt much less the fool for their good nature.

Sunset at Tamarindo Beach

We missed the 5:00 bus home, so we dawdled in town until 7:00 when the returning bus arrived. We sat together on the bus and talked excitedly about the day and what a great time we had had together.

I cautiously asked if someday she would like to go surfing again. “Can we skip out on tomorrow and come back?” was her no nonsense reply.

We got back to the hotel, ate dinner, and we both collapsed on our beds with the dog-tired exhaustion of a hard day’s play. Now I’m awake at 2:00 am writing this simply stoked on adrenalin and the endless urge to GO AGAIN. I hear the waves calling to me right now. I have known their power beneath my feet. I know the love that Lauren and Rex have, I want more and I want to get better.

My daughter wants to move to Tamarindo Beach to stay. I’ve told her in no uncertain terms that if she does, she better have a place for me to crash once on a while.

Great thanks to Rex and Lauren. Go find them, share their love and joy. Feel the passion you expect to find.  But give yourself enough time that you can go again.

Lauren and T-Rex
Casa Diez Palmas Adventures
Tamarindo Beach, Costa Rica

Just not too many of you.  I am letting you in on my little secret here.