I learned to surf today!! This morning we left Hahei and drove from the east coast of the North Island to the west coast and the beachside town of Raglan, population 2 700, and home to several famous surf beaches, including one with a long left hand point break (don’t ask me what that means, it’s a surfing term). We are staying up at the Karioi Lodge about 10km out of town, where the Raglan Surf School is based. Their guarantee is “Stand Up and Surf!”, implying that 95% of their students will successfully manage to surf at least one wave. At 2pm the six of us who signed up for lessons met up at the Barn, a large metal shed on the lodge property, and we were taught how to determine which foot goes forward on the board (amazingly, I am regular, with my left foot forward, like most right-handed people), how to lie on the surfboard, and how to stand up without falling off. After some practising “paddling” on the concrete, and learning how to fall off (backward onto your bum), we all piled into the Raglan Surf School Van and drove down to the beach.
At the beach we got a surfboard and a wetsuit, and let me tell you, putting on a wetsuit feels like being vacuum-packed into a small container! We had one more practise on the beach of paddling and standing up, and then we attached the board leads to our ankles (to keep us from completely losing our boards when we fell off), and headed out into the water!
The teachers were out in the water with us, pushing us and helping us catch our first waves. The first time I tried I fell off right after standing up, but the second time I caught the wave and stood up and rode it all the way to the beach! It was quite the rush; I know I have good balance, but I didn’t expect to do so well my first time out surfing. I credit my success to practise as a kid surfing down the snowy hill in the backyard on toboggans and and flying saucers. Either way, I impressed the instructors and my fellow surf students, and apparently have even started to amass something of an arrogant surfer attitude about how good I am. :-P I will have to try it again at Tofino... and maybe bring some clay pigeons and rifle and try my hand at skeet surfin’ (Top Secret, for those confused).
After 1 1/2 hours in the water, and running on the warmth provided by the wetsuit and the adrenaline of catching and riding the waves on my own, I rode my last wave to the beach, got out, returned my surfboard, and spent several minutes extracting myself from my wetsuit. When we arrived back here at the Lodge it was straight into a warm shower and dry clothes, although my ears are still full of water that I can’t seem to dislodge. The atmosphere around here is very chill and relaxed... the dorm room doors don't even have locks on them! For $12 we were able to partake in a Sunday roast cooked by one of the hostel employees. It was definitely better than a dinner of pasta or rice like I would normally eat if left to my own devices, and the closest to a Hallowe’en celebration that I think I am going to get, unless I challenge someone to a game of pool or sit down and watch a movie. (Come to think of it, one of the cooked vegetables was butternut squash, so that's the same vegetable type as a pumpkin...) I wish everyone back home a very happy Hallowe’en, and I think I am going to carve two pumpkins next year to make up for missing this year.