Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tell the Teacher I'm Surfin', Surfin' in ZA – Erich

Note: In the title, that is Surfin' in Zed A, if you want to say it like a local.

While our main objective for the trip is to learn about cultures and people, sometimes we like to learn new skills too. Or you could say, sometimes home school needs a field trip specifically dedicated to physical education.

Yesterday Carver, Syarra, and I took surfing lessons at Muizenberg Beach. We had a great time. Our instructor, Gabriel, was upbeat and encouraging and taught us a great deal about the sport.

The first step was to put on the wet suits. This may, in fact, have been the most difficult part of the process. (Though taking them off isn't exactly simple.) But then it was carrying the boards out to the beach. There, we began with a jog through the sand to warm up the blood, or so Gabriel claimed. While we jogged, Gabriel told us about the shark spotters on Muizenberg Mountain, he said that Muizenberg Beach is listed in the top five places to learn to surf, and warned us that there are many mussel shells along the beach, so tread lightly.

After our jog, we learned the parts of our board, the nose (front), the tail (back), the top deck (part where we stand or lay), the bottom deck (part that is in the water), the fins (like little keels that stick out of the bottom deck near the tail), and the rails (the edges of the board). We worked in the sand on how to paddle, push up with our hands, and use our legs to stand once the wave had us.

Then it was out to the water. First, let me assure you that Gabriel need not worry that I am about to replace him at his job. I didn't exactly master it first time out. (Also, whenever one said “Thank you” to Gabriel, his reply was “One hundred percent.” He's the first person here I have noted using this substitution for “You're welcome.”)

Even without mastery, surfing was a great deal of fun. But I did have a difficult time getting into a standing position and staying there for more than a millisecond or two. Luckily, Alrica did manage to get a few pictures that even look like I made it.

Carver seemed to be the best at standing, though Syarra was super enthusiastic and she could certainly ride a long way on her board. Both kids loved it and asked if we can go again and rent boards and try to improve. I think that's a possibility on another warm beach day.

I will admit that an hour and a half of surfing and trying to rise up on the board (or trying to right myself after I plunged into the ocean) did get tiring. Maybe it would be better to say exhausting. My muscles were all up in my face (if muscles could position themselves that way) saying, “Erich, we are so done with you!” In fact, I didn't blog about it yesterday because after we got home and had dinner (Alrica made butter chicken from scratch! Delicious!) I was out. I was asleep even before the kids had their bedtime.

And today, I will admit that my shoulders are still a bit sore. But I think I could be ready for another go at it. I am going to own those waves! They will be mine!

That being said, Alrica tells me in Namibia, along the Skeleton Coast, the waves are so much higher that you ride inside the tubes rather than along the crest. Yeah, I think I'm not quite ready for that. I imagine those waves would own me. The good news: It isn't called the Skeleton Coast because of all the dead surfers, but rather because of all the shipwrecks. Still that doesn't give me quite enough confidence to say, “Ah, what could go wrong?”

If only back when I was in school gym class had been as fun. (Though I lived in Iowa, so the waves were much smaller.)

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