A Costa Rican Adventure (Part 1): Surfing and More at School of the World

If you’ve been following me on Instagram and Facebook, you’ve probably realised by now that I’m in Costa Rica at a place called School of the World, on a learning vacation and loving it! It’s been a hectic first week, exploring, eating, enjoying the sunshine (but not loving the humidity) and, most importantly, learning to surf!

 

School of the world
The pool

After what felt like the longest journey ever, we finally arrived in San Jose, ready to start the next part of our trip and get into the Costa Rican way of living. New countries are always fun, and it occurred to me that this was also the first Spanish speaking country I’ve ever visited… Finally a chance to use my GCSE Spanish!

 

jaco costa rica surf ocean beach
A casual stroll along the beach

We found our taxi driver and started the make our way to Jaco, where we’d be staying for the next 2 weeks at School of the World, learning to surf and do other fun things like yoga and photography classes (keep an eye out for more posts about School of the World soon). However we got about halfway there before the taxi driver said we had to turn around and go back again because there was another girl at the airport that he was supposed to have picked up! Oops.

surf costa rica
Yup, that’s me in the water…

Anyway, we eventually arrived at School of the World, and were greeted by the awesome Ehab, who showed us around, gave us our schedules and explained how it was all going to work during our stay. This place is crazy beautiful, with lovely rooms, lots of plants, a big open plan kitchen/dining/lounge area, a pool and even some hammocks in the garden for those lazy moments. I fell in love with it immediately! We spent the rest of the day just chilling out, catching up on sleep and readying ourselves for the week to come, before heading down the road to the main street of Jaco for some delicious fish tacos and a few drinks (in the middle of a thunderstorm… Note to self, don’t come to Costa Rica in the rainy season – we’ve had storms and torrential downpours every night… Although it’s actually kind of fun when it rains here!).

 

Manuel Antonio Sloth
An actual real-life Sloth!

The next day was the start of our surfing adventure, beginning with a little briefing from Carlos and then it was off to the beach, just a few minutes drive away, and into the sea we went! I was with Brian who is such an amazing instructor, super clear and precise in everything he says, and I got up on my first wave! And then I got up again and again. I fell down a lot too, catching a fin to the leg at one point, but hey, I never expected it to be easy! After a while we went further out into the sea, past the breaking waves so I could catch some bigger rides – it was so exhausting getting out there and I thought my arms were going to fall off from all the paddling, but once I got there it was so freaking cool, just sitting on my board, watching the horizon.

 

Manuel Antonio national park beach
Another day, another beach

We were doing double surf this week, which meant we had a quick break after the first 2 hour session, then headed straight back out to the beach for more! I caught some really great waves and it’s safe to say that I’m totally hooked. I love surfing.

 

El Avion plane restaurant
Lunch on a plane at El Avion restaurant

And the rest of the week has passed by in a blur. We’ve eaten some great food (both at restaurants like ‘The Green Room’, and of our own cooking skills); we’ve sat out in the sunshine, topping up our tans; we’ve wandered along the long stretch of sand and sea that is Playa Jaco; we’ve ventured out with the others from the school, going for food and drinks and enjoying Carlos’ DJing; we’ve watched a really cool surf contest at Hermosa Beach nearby, amazed at the skills of some of the guys in the water, wondering if we’ll ever be able to do that one day; we even travelled farther afield to Manuel Antonio National Park, navigating the local buses with our broken Spanish, and wandering through the park in awe as our guide pointed out spiders, snakes, rainbow coloured crickets, howler monkeys and yes, we even saw some sloths, before eating lunch inside an old plane! But mostly though, we’ve surfed. And surfed and surfed and surfed.

 

Manuel Antonio Iguana
Just hanging out with an Iguana

There have been days where the conditions were absolutely beautiful and the waves were awesome and everyone got up and had a great time. We’ve had beautiful sunset surfs with incredible orange skies, double rainbows and parrots flying overhead, and early morning surfs with glassy waters, beautiful waves and even a whale sighting. Then there have been days where the skies were so stormy, with big fat raindrops falling from the sky and bouncing off the surface of the ocean all around us, and the waves so choppy and huge and mental that even just getting out into the line up is hard enough, let alone actually catching a wave! But the surf instructors at School of the World are absolutely incredible, knowing exactly when to push you to catch your own waves or sensing when you might need a bit of help, always calm and positive, and always celebrating with you when you ride a great wave all the way to the beach! And I’ve now graduated from a massive 8″6 board to one a whole foot shorter, so I can start getting in some turns!

 

costa rica surfer school of the world
I wish I could say this was me. Maybe one day!

I’ll say it again. I love surfing. I can see why it takes over people’s lives. For the few hours I’m out there, I think about absolutely nothing else. No dramas, no worries, nothing. I’m not sad, I’m not happy, there aren’t really any emotions either way. I’m just concentrating and focused. And then I catch a wave and it’s like nothing I’ve ever know before. Pure elation and joy and accomplishment. But still no thoughts. Zero. I’m just totally in the moment. Pure and simple. I need to do this everyday. Always.

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