I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, but usually I don’t like to write unless I feel inspired. That’s not to say that the past few weeks (oops, months I guess) haven’t been inspiring, they absolutely have, but they’ve also been pretty crazy.
Anyway, the other day I had a moment. If you’ve studied or lived abroad, or even just in your day-to-day life you can forget why you are where you are, or why you’re doing what you’re doing. Sometimes you just need to extricate yourself to remember.
So I went surfing. I had spent the whole morning watching some of Chile’s best surfers tear up one of the most famous breaks in the southern hemisphere and I needed to get in the water.
I pulled on my wetsuit and walked to the beach lugging a 9 foot longboard (of course I went to a significantly less dangerous wave than the aforementioned Punta de lobos). It was a choppy day and the current was strong but I was determined! I jumped in and paddled as hard as I could– and was immediately carried down almost the entire length of the beach, resulting in a substantial walk back to my original starting point. I set out again and battled for a little against the waves until I let go and bobbed for a while. I just laid my chin on my hands and faced the waves as they came in.
As I was laying there I had a moment, a “Oh my god, right now I’m alone, in the pacific ocean, on this giant surf board off of the coast of Chile,” kind of moment.
It’s so easy, at least for me, to get caught up in the cycle of the week and forget how cool it is to be here. The second thought I had was how many people and moments had brought me to that exact point. The list is essentially endless, from the people that physically brought me there, to people who who taught me to surf, to travel, or to love Chile and learning Spanish. Along with that the people that donated money and who never told me I was crazy for wanting to come here, because they knew it was something I really believed in. I thought of all of you while I was out there on that big-ass orange and red surfboard.
These past couple have months have been really hard at times, from tiny things like having a difficult class, and adjusting to a 40 hour work week, built up on the harder personal things like my Nana passing away in February. Its been tough, but moments like that bring me out of the whirlwind.
The week we went to Pichilemu was probably one of the coolest in my life, we spent two days watching some of the best big wave surfers in the world during the Quiksilver Ceremonial.
We woke up each morning before dawn, and drove our van to the point to beat the crowds. Picture pulling up in the darkness to the crash of 30 foot waves in the distance (although we couldn’t see them yet) and slowly watching the waves come into view as the sun rose, mixing in with Kashmir, Stairway, and Immigrant song. It was epic.
I saw the biggest waves I have ever seen in my life, being from Maryland I don’t often get the chance to see swells like this, let alone people surfing them. I’m not really into watching sports either, but this was more like a fair-beach party-surf competition, all rolled into one. Every moment was exciting, when a huge wave came up the crowd would start to whistle and cheer. I felt like we were all little kids seeing the ocean for the first time, we just kept yelling, “Mira esa olatza! — Whoa, look at that huge wave!”
The collective groans or cheers of the crowd as the surfers decided whether or not to take the wave was a cool feeling of community that I definitely don’t get from watching football, or even soccer. It made me feel like a huge kook watching so many amazing surfers, but in a way that makes me want to get better and keep submerging myself into this culture so I can keep having experiences like this forever.
I hope I’ve made up for the blog posts I’ve been missing! They’ll be more frequent from now on, but if you want to keep reading about VSP and what I’m doing go check out the Valpo Surf Project website and blog here http://valposurfproject.com/ 🙂