Day 1 - AM Surf Session (Kadolana) - PM Pool Session - PM Video Review
We all met for breakfast at 7AM. We ate and then all piled into the truck to head out to the beach. This was my first day to ever surf ( I do not count the time I tired in Bocas…. it was a disaster) so I was a bit nervous on the way out there. Ever since I got demolished in the waves in Bocas Del Toro, Panama, I have always been scared of the ocean. I do not like current or the feeling of not being able to breathe when you are crashing in a wave. Blake has always wanted me to give it another go, but honestly my fear just overrides my desire to do it. I know that me learning to surf would make him super happy, so I figured, since I have a partner in crime that will learn with me here, I should give it a shot.
We get out to the beach and carry our boards to the sand. I am riding on a 8’6” long board. We do a couple drills in the sand and then hit the water. This is the first time that I have got out into the ocean when waves are present in a few years. I knew once I got out there I would not be as scared so I just went for it. The water is pretty cold in Sri Lanka (and I hate the cold), but again this was about conquering my fears.
I walked my board out until I was about half way in the whitewash and I gave it a go. I stood up and rode in my first tiny whitewater wave! I was so happy to actually be able to stand up and stay on for longer than a second. As the day went on, I got better and better. Tim, our surf coach, was a great teacher. He was giving us tips and helping us position ourselves in the right area. At first, when I was jumping onto my board to start paddling to catch a wave, I was very off balance. After about an hour, I became more stable and was starting to catch some waves.
There were a couple times where I just body boarded the wave to the shore. That was so much fun! Before I knew it, the hour and a half was up and it was time to go back. On the ride back, I knew this was going to be a good week. I was really excited to see my progress and really be able to say that I know how to surf.
When we got back we showered up and had lunch as a team. Conrado, Steph, Ally, Randi and I all talked about how much fun today was and what were some things that we needed to work on. We all had a blast in the water and were exited for the rest of the week.
Tim had scheduled a pool session for us at 2PM. We were going to learn how to turtle roll and a little bit more about paddling technique. For about an hour, we went over a bunch of drills and technique and we played in the pool with the boards. I felt a little more confident about my technique after the session.
Later that night we all met for dinner. After dinner, we had a surf review. Every time we are out surfing, there is a videographer recording our every move. Each day they edit the videos and pull out all of the waves that each person caught and put them in a folder with your name on it. Tim goes over what we were doing right and wrong with each of us individually. It is great to be able to see yourself and the mistakes you are making. It really helps you correct it the next day.
Day 2 AM Surf Session (Dicwella) - PM Surf Session (Dicwella) - PM Video Review
Day two was a double surf session day. We had the same routine and the day before. Eat breakfast at 7 and head out to the beach at 8. We went to Dickwella Beach this time, which was a bit closer to the hotel (15 mins). It was raining and cold on our way over there and I had no idea how I was going to gather the strength to make myself get in that water. As we were staring on the beach and Tim was going over what we needed to work on, I was freezing.
I sucked it up and ran out to the ocean. It was cold for the first 10 minutes or so, but I got used to it after a while. I stood up on a lot more waves this time and was getting better at riding them all the way into the beach. I was still having a bit of trouble with standing too far back on my board and leaning forward, but I was getting better as the day went on. The morning session was great and I was really tired when it was time to go back.
We literally had enough time to shower off, eat lunch and take a 30 minute nap until we needed to get dressed to head back out. I was struggling to find the energy to surf for another hour and a half, but once we got in the water I was full of energy and eager to learn. We discussed turning and how to accelerate and decelerate. I started to get it down towards the end. We were also practicing the turtle rolls in the whitewash (I got so much water up my nose).
After our second sesh, I was so beat! I knew we were both going to be so sore the next day. We had dinner and watched the video from that day. I was really getting to know our surf group a lot better now and we were starting to have a lot of fun. Tim announced that we were heading out at 6:30 AM the next morning for our session, so Steph and I went straight to bed!
Day 3 - AM Surf Session (Weligama) - PM Theory (Surf Etiquette) - PM Video Review
5 AM and I am up and sore as hell. I waddle into the bathroom to brush my teeth and get my things ready for the day. I can feel the soreness in my legs and ams and also my stomach from belly flopping into the water the day before. I sat on the balcony and read a bit of “The Power of Now” until it was time to wake Steph up and head down to get some coffee and snacks before hitting the beach.
On the ride over, all of us were really sleepy. The sun has not been up for long and it was very overcast so it was a bit chilly. When we got to the beach, the water was surprisingly not as cold as I expected. I was ready to catch some waves and master turning. For about an hour, I was going strong and doing well. Steph and I were surfing right next to each other (we are still in the whitewater) and having fun running into each other.
The water started to get a bit choppy and I always get nervous when this happens (even when I am not in the water). The backwash was coming in and crashing with the waves making it a bit harder to decide which wave to take. I was walking out right by Steph, when a huge backwash wave hit another and we both went under. As I came up the fin of my board hit me smack in the side of the face (right behind my ear). It was numb and I knew it was going to leave a mark. I asked Steph if I was bleeding and she said no, so I jumped back on the board to catch a wave.
I have learned it is never a good idea to stop after something like happens (Thanks Blake)!! So I caught a good wave and rode it into shore. At that time, my head was pounding and I just wanted to sit down. There was only about 15 minutes left in the session so I was not missing out on much. It was really fun watching the others catch waves and have fun.
As I was sitting there I reached back to touch where the board had hit me and there was blood on my fingers. The fin had cut me behind my ear :( It was not bad but it was sore. When we got back to the hotel, I showered off and cleaned up my cut. My neck and jaw are starting to swell so I am just hoping that it does not get much worse.
Steph and I scheduled massages right before lunch. They were awesome! I had not had a massage since Phuket so it was so nice, especially after all that surf. At lunch we all chatted about our surf experience and laughed at our falls. Right after lunch, we had a theory with Tim. He taught us about surf etiquette and about catching green waves (we will start that tomorrow afternoon).
After theory, we watched Castles in the Sky. It was a really cool surf movie that was filmed all over the world. I hope that I can surf waves like that one day! The rest of the day was spent blogging, eating and relaxing! We have a double surf day again tomorrow. We head out at 5:30 AM so I needed to rest up!
Day 4 - AM Surf Session (Weligama) - PM Surf Session (Dicwella) - PM Video Review
Our morning surf started bright and early. The sun did not actually come up until we were on the road. We drove 45 minutes out to Welligama to catch some green waves. The car rides were a lot of fun. Conrado, Ally, Randi, Steph and I always had some funny conversations. When we arrived, he was pulling us one by one to paddle out back and catch the bigger “green waves”. I was one of the last ones to go out back, but I was happy to stay in the whitewash and practice my functional stance and turning.
When it was my turn, I paddled out and had to turtle dive twice. On my second turtle dive, the wave was bigger than the fist and the board got ripped out of my hands. Once I got back on my board, I was able to paddle the rest of the way out and take a break. I paddled over to Steph and we chatted for a bit sitting on our boards. When a good set came in, Tim called me over and helped position me on the wave. He gave me a push and told me to paddle real hard. When he said jump up, I jumped and rode the wave!
I was so happy to catch my first green wave and actually ride it in. Since time was running out, there was no point to paddle back out to the green waves, so I rode the whitewash in and waited for everyone to finish up. It was a successful day! I got a lot better with my stance and felt a lot more balanced. I was getting the hang of turning right and left and also accelerating and decelerating and to top it all off, I caught my first green wave!
After surf, all of us were starving. We did not even shower before grabbing breakfast. We scarfed down our food and Steph and I headed to our room for a nap. We both passed out and woke up just in time to eat lunch and head back out for our next session.
Our second session was back at Dickwella Beach. The wind picks up a lot during the day and the surf is too big for beginners so we went back to the whitewash to practice technique. This session was a lot of fun. Our whole group has become really close and we all get along great. Everyone was riding in waves and having a blast.
On our trip back, we could not quit laughing. It started off with an amazing joke by Tim. He said “Hey look there is a bunch of faggots” confused I looked over and saw a bunch of locals bundling up sticks. Immediately I got the joke and could not quit laughing. Faggots = a bundle of sticks. It was perfect timing and I seriously laughed about it for like 5 minutes. The whole ride home after that was full of good conversation and laughter. We also saw an elephant being transported in a big truck! Man what a day :)
During surf review, we watched videos from the AM and PM sessions. The Am session was the most fun to watch because everyone was catching green waves. I was really happy to watch myself actually surf down it the first time I tried.
Day 5 - AM Surf Session (Weligama) - PM Surf Session (Pehembiya - HorseShoe Bay) - PM Video Review
This was another early morning. We woke up at 5, had coffee at 5:15 and were on the road at 5:30. We went back to Weligama so the ride was about 45 minutes. It was really good weather today. The sun was starting to come out but it was not too hot. The water was a good temperature as well, so it was nice not to freeze my butt off.
We all paddled out to the back from the beginning. I got rolled by a couple big waves but still made it out without too much trouble. I was thankful to have Tim out there helping push us through some of the sets. When we all made it out to the back, we sat on our boards until we were called up to catch a wave.
When it was my turn, I paddled up and got ready. He gave me the go and then pulled me off a couple of waves, but after about 5 minutes of paddling out and back in there was a good one he told me to take. I began paddling real hard and Tim pulled my board back a bit to reposition me correctly. I thought he was pulling me off the wave so I stopped paddling hard and then I heard him say “jump up”. Immediately I jumped up and rode the wave for a little bit before losing balance and falling off.
The waves out back are pretty powerful so I had to throw my board and duck under wave or two until I was in the clear to surf the whitewater back in. That one wave was enough green for me. I stayed in and surfed the whitewash (which were actually tiny green waves) for the remainder of the time. It was actually really fun riding the waves in.
The ride back was a bit longer than the ride in due to a bit of traffic, but it was still a lot of fun. Randi kept us laughing with all of her jokes most of the way home. When we got back, all of us rushed to grab breakfast. I really like surfing that early because when you get back you are really hungry and you have earned breakfast. I spent the day relaxing and resting up for the afternoon session. We were going out to this Horseshoe Bay that was supposed to be really pretty.
At 3 PM we left for our second surf session and I was still beat. When we arrived, we all took a couple photos and then got out in the water. This bay has a really cool channel where the water goes back out to sea. You can paddle out in this channel and you do not have to turtle dive or worry about getting crashed with waves. Everyone paddled out at once and one by one we went in to Tim and he helped us get on the wave.
All of the waves were lefties, so it was a bit hard for me to get up and ride since I am not goofy footed. The first go around I almost got up but fell. I paddled back out to Tim and tried to catch another. I stood up but fell right away. Falling in these waves was a lot more fun than the other beaches (they were more gentle). I paddled out for one more try. This time, I body boarded in the whole way. It was a really powerful wave and I was scared to stand up but it was so much fun riding in on my stomach.
When I reached the sand, I put my board up and went for a swim. I have always been freaked out by the ocean so this is one of the first times that I have gone out and played in the ocean. I swam up the channel and out to the girls on their boards and chatted with them for a bit. When I decided I wanted to swim back in, I realized n o matter how hard I paddled, I kept getting further from shore. I had a mini panic attack, until I realized that all I had to do was swim out of the channel and start riding the waves in. When I got back to shore I was pretty exhausted and just wanted to chill. I watched everyone surf for the last bit before we headed back to the hotel.
The one green wave I caught was on video and I actually rode it for longer than I thought. That was the only video of me from the day and all of the others in the group only had a few as well. Straight after video review, Steph and I headed back to our room to get some rest for another early surf
Day 6 - AM Surf Session (Weligama) - PM Theory (Surf Board Selection) - PM Video Review
I woke up several time throughout the night. Some unknown number called me like 15 times so every few minutes my phone was going off. When 5 AM came, I was so freakin’ exhausted. I drug myself out of bed and threw on my surf gear. The ride out there was nice, but I was still soooo sleepy.
It was our last surf and we were going back to Weligama to catch some green waves. When we got out of the truck, I got the key to unlock the cab to get something out of my bag and the key broke off into the door. The spare key on the chain was broken too :0 I did not know that you are supposed to use the already broken key to unlock the door and then the actual key to start the car. They all decided we would take care of it later and just headed out to surf.
The waves today were a bit smaller than yesterday so it was a lot easier to paddle out. When my turn came, I nose dived straight into the water. I paddled back out and caught a wave in the next set. I rode it in for a few seconds the the whitewater pushed me off.
Since I was only a little ways in, I began paddling back out (not in the rip this time). I had to throw my board and get under some big waves but made it back out back pretty quickly. It felt nice to paddle back out by myself and know that I could do it. We all talked and just hung out out back until it was the next persons turn.
On my next wave, I was set up perfectly. I started paddling hard, Tim gave me a push and told me to jump up. I jumped and dropped in and I rode the wave all the way into the shore. It was such a great feeling. When I was walking on the sand, I decided to sit and chill with the camera guys for a bit before paddling back out. I watched the other catch waves and watched this little fishing boat clean out their nets from that mornings trip. I was really just enjoying the scenery and my last day on the beach.
I decided to not go back out since it was our last day and I wanted to end on a good note. I just hung around and chatted with a couple locals until everyone came in. After a couple people trying to hotwire the truck it was finally a success. A tuk tuk driver came over and managed to get it started. Everyone was starving and ready to get back to the hotel so we could eat breakfast.
I was so happy to know how to surf. I may not be very good, but at least I can get out there and catch some waves. Our group could not have asked for a better coach. Tim was amazing! He was very patient and encouraging. He helped each one of us individually each day and was always there to answer questions! I hope to get to work with him again someday :) Tim if you ever read this WE LOVED YOU!
We watched video review that afternoon and I got to see my awesome green wave. Tim also went over surf board selection and some other tips with us right after.
Today was our first free day all week. We were supposed to check out and head up to Kandy, but we decided against it and booked another two nights at our hotel. We had to move rooms since ours was already booked. The room that we moved to actually had walls so there were not as many bugs! I really liked our new room.
I got up early and did a quick workout. I ran on the beach and did not squats, push up and abs. For the rest of the day, I literally just laid by the pool and read. Neither Steph or I missed a meal of course! That night we met up with all of of surf crew and had a couple beers before heading out to the festival in town.The festival is called Perahera. It is a Buddhist festival held once a year in Sri Lanka.
We drove into Matara (in the back of the surf truck) and watched the fire dancers and people dancing in masks in the parade. There were a lot of vendors in the street selling sweets and toys. Locals were dancing in the streets and everyone was having a good time. It was a lot of fun to see and I was really glad that we got to see part of the festival (that is what we were going to go to Kandy for).
We stayed for about an hour or so and then headed back to the hotel. Everyone was used to the go to bed early - wake up early schedule so on the ride home all of us were dead tired. When I got back, I literally just passed out the second I walked into the room.
I woke up this morning and went to put on my tennis shoes to workout and one was missing. I looked around to see if maybe it had blown away or something, but could not find it. When I got back from breakfast the maid was chasing the dog around trying to get my shoe back. When she finally got it and gave it back to me, it was covered in slobber and the toe was chewed out. So much for those things (I am glad this happened on the last day) and now I was down to one pair on flip flops.
We just relaxed and enjoyed not having to do anything. I downloaded a couple books to start reading and for my long flight the next day. We hung out by the pool with the surf crew all day (I am really going to miss these guys) until it was time to watch the weeks video. Gabriella and Conrado headed out today so we all said our goodbyes and wished them the best.
Our surf video was finally ready right before dinner and we all got to watch it. It was soooooo sick! The had all of us catching green waves, on the whitewater, out theory lessons, pool sessions and even clips from the festival. It is going to be such a great memory of an amazing week.
That night Steph and I began to pack up a bit because we knew we were heading out the next day. I was really sad to know I would be heading out, but I wanted to get this show on the road. 40 hours of travel is never fun!
Day 9 - Our Last Day
I woke up at the first site on sunlight and got a good workout in (barefoot). I met everyone at breakfast and ate way too much. Knowing it was my last day at the buffet, I consumed way to much food for my own good.
The rest of the morning I spent laying by the pool and soaking up my last bit of Sri Lankan sun. I went back to the room just a few minutes before check out time to throw my stuff into my bag and get changed. Since checkout was at noon and our car did not come get us until 3, we decided to grab some lunch an settle up the bill. We split the bill and handed the lady our cards to pay. She ran Steph’s and it went through, then she swiped mine and DECLINED!
Oh no! What is going on? I have used this card everywhere this whole trip without a problem. I asked her to try it again, and again and again ….. and nothing. I tried to call my bank (Simple online bank) and since it was 3AM back home, they were not open. They called their bank and confirmed it was a block on my account (probably due to the large amount and being in a new country). I asked if I could transfer money, pay through payapal, give them my amex number (I did not have the card with me, I accidentally sent it home in the bag I had Blake take back) but none of those were options.
I got in touch with the manager and he told me that I could make a reservation online, that equals the amount of my total, and I could pay that way. I was so thankful they were able to find another way. I went to the site and was about to enter in my amex when I realized they do not accept it online! I got up the courage to call Blake and wake him up. Thank goodness he answered! He gave me his MasterCard number and it declined, my Simple card was declining, and he had another one of my credit cards with him and it declined.
What the hell was I going to do? I was seriously freaking out. I needed to leave in an hour and I had no way to pay these guys. My last resort was going to be going to an ATM and try to pull it out, but there was no way the ATM was going to let me take out $1,600 in one day (the limits in Asia are usually $150 per transaction). Blake suggested I call my mom and that is what I ended up doing. She answered and gave me her card number. Thank God for her terrible bank security because it went through! I was finally able to calm down and have time to say my goodbyes before we headed to the airport.
This has been one of the best weeks of my life. I learned how to surf and met some amazing people. Randi, Ally, Conrado and Gabriella I had such a good time with you guys and miss you guys already! Everything about this week was perfect.