From A Barny to A Betty: Mexico 15°51′43″N 97°04′18″W A Betty: ‘One of the oldest and well know surf slang for a surfer girl’.
Hi, I’m Marieke and this is the story of the last three months of my life. Latin America has been in my eyes a place of extraordinary beauty and unparalleled adventure and yet it has always evaded me. Characterised as ‘Mexico’s hidden paradise’, the region of Puerto Escondido is an oasis of surfing and socialising far removed from the bustling streets of the larger cities of the Oaxacan coast. I would hardly describe myself as the next Kelly Slater, in fact surfing to me had always been a spectators sport best enjoyed from the seclusion of a shady bar. However, this trip was going to be different.
Learning how to surf in the Mexican sunset.
Traveling for many is a time of relaxation and self-empowerment achieved by trying new things you had previously only ever seen on a National Geographic cover or Billabong commercial. For me, I had decided that there were two new skills I was going to return home with as souvenirs of what would prove to be a once in a life time vacation. Firstly, I was going to learn how to surf. Not half-heartedly or in rare instances of momentary victory but really learn how to surf, cutbacks and all. Secondly, I was going to learn how to speak Spanish if it killed me ! I’m sure we have all cringed at our own inability to speak the native tongue of the countries we visit so I thought I would swim against the current and learn ‘un poco de español’. Three weeks in dreamy Mexico, two picture-perfect activities and one wannabe Betty. This seemed to me to be the perfect cocktail for a holiday neither me or Puerto Escondido would ever forget. All that remained to do was to high-five the boys at Surfawhile for sorting all this out, pack my bags and take off.
That reminds me, before we land in Puerto Escondido and my long journey to the surfing Hall of Fame begins I must give a thanks to the boys over at SurfaWhile. Truly from the moment I trepidations enquired about my desire to Surf they treated me as if I’d known them for years. Surfing holidays, especially as a solo female traveller, can often be quite intimidating and elitist as if there is a secret club that only ‘real’ surfers can partake in. Often surf companies make you feel as if you would be laughed out the building if you don’t know what ‘the backdoor is’. Not SurfaWhile. From my first conversation with Olmo and Hans they reassured me that anybody could surf and that everybody should surf ! They told me you do not have to spend a fortune on Rip Curl or watch the WSL championships to be a surfer. You only actually have to surf and love it.
Friends & Surf: The recipe for an unforgettable holiday.
Puerto Escondido, from the moment it introduced itself to me from the window seat of my flight it became my happy place. My itinerary during my stay consisted of wandering around the palm thatched restaurants that showcased unimaginable local cuisine and basking on the sun warmed sand as the day gradually became the tropical Puerto Escondido twilight . The Oasis surf school was to be my host and my surf professor. They were able to create an environment In which you could form ties of friendship between both fellow surfers and locals formed over mutual interests and shared experiences. I can hole heartedly say that over my three week stay the locals I encountered and the surfers I met became my extended family.
From morning Yoga on the roof of our apartments to our surf excursion to the idyllic Chacahua I was able to understand what a surf holiday is exactly all about. It is not about who is the first member of the dawn patrol in the water or who can and cant drop in to a wave. Rather it is about laughing in the warm blue waters with people from all over the word that you otherwise would have passed on the street without a second thought. It is about forging friendships round the crackling camp fire as you wait for your wet suits to dry. Finally it is about staring in your own Endless Summer with your gang of new friends. That’s Surfing and that is Surfawhile.
Puerto Escondido will always be my favourite place in the world. I hope you decide to let it become yours. Cowabunga dudes !