I was exhausted and sore getting up this morning for my scheduled surf lesson. I ran 4.5 miles on the beach early the morning before and was still feeling the effects. I had only gone surfing once before in San Diego, California with a friend from college. It did not go so well. After being put through a washing machine by the waves, I came up with a bloody nose from the board smacking me in the face. I had no idea there was some sort of surf ethic when it comes to who takes a wave. I always thought Californians were so relaxed that anyone could ride whatever wave they wanted. Turned out not to be true as I had a couple pissed off Californians ready to drag me to the beach and give me a beating before my buddy explained I was in fact from Ohio.
We didnt get a chance to meet our surf instructor Rodney before our lesson. We ate lunch the day before at a place called Gils and Gil recommended we give him a call if we wanted to go out. Gil is a Puerto Rican New Yorker with a dry charm. He moved down to Costa Rica about 15 years ago after selling his restaurant in the US. He enjoys himself and seems to be pretty unappologetic about his relaxed lifestyle. I called Rodney the night before and told him we wanted to lock him down. He told me he guaruntees I will have a good time or I dont have to pay him. Excellent.
Rodney said he would be carrying a blue longboard and he would be hard to miss because he is an awkwardly tall American in his late fourties. We spotted him right away looking like death in the early morning with a giant mug of coffee. Rodney gives off a less intelligent, Anthony Bourdain vibe. His voice and his appearance have been weathered by years and years of coffee, cigarettes, and booze. He drew a line in the sand and told us to lay down on the sand and pop up as we would if we were on the board in the water. Marie and I popped up a little wobbly, but Rodney said that was good enough for him. He directed me to get in the water.
Rodney only brings one board with him and takes a pair of clients one on one for 15 or 20 minute rotations so they dont get too burnt out. I didnt understand why he did that until after the first session. Surfing is the physical equivalent of wrestling. You dont understand how much energy you are expending until you are pinned on the ground with your leg behind your head unable to breath.
We had a great first session. I missed my first wave because I was too far forward on the board and the nose went underwater leaving me to enter the spin cycle. I caught the second wave all the way to the beach, which was an awesome feeling. I caught a couple really great waves and it was time to switch and get Marie in the water. She did great too, but she comes from a long line of surfers in the southwest of France.
The second session didnt go so well. The waves had picked up substantially and were breaking right on us. Rodney helped Marie out by controlling the board when a wave would break right on top of her, but for me I was on my own. The waves which were well above my head would crash on top of me ripping the board from my hands and sending me 10 yards back the wrong direction. I would have to fight my way back only to get drilled again. I didnt catch one single wave on the second session. In fact, I didnt even get on the board because the waves were so big that they would break right on top of us not giving me the chance to take them.
Rodney doesnt charge by the hour like most surf schools. He says his clients are free to surf all day with him, only most people dont realize the amount of energy they will expend. I was pretty tired after the first session myself. We went out a total of four times each and caught some good waves each time, besides the second session. It is safe to say I will never be at the world surfing championships, but I definitely enjoyed myself and Rodney said we killed it out there, which was followed by not such a suttle hint that he expected a tip. Regardless of his 10 year old personality in a 50 year old body, I would recommend Rodney to any beginner who is looking to catch a wave on vacation.