[Costa Rica] Power, Freedom, and a Whole Lot of Water
Water. It’s one of the most important substances on earth. Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is water, and almost 60% of the human body is made up of water. Water is everywhere and something we should revere. So why do I find it so difficult to come to terms with water? Why does this force of nature scare me so?
Not a “Fish out of Water”
All my life, I’ve been uncomfortable with water. I remember my first swimming lesson when I was around 6 years old. They made me jump into the deep end. I was so afraid that I smacked my chin on the side ledge because I was trying to grab it as I jumped.
I did finally learn to swim and grew a little more comfortable being in the water, but there was always tension between us. At the age of 12, I made the huge mistake of watching Jaws. Well, from then on, being in the deep water was terrifying…so terrifying that I panicked when, one summer day at the lake, while being pulled behind a boat on an inner tube, I fell into the water. Terrified and crying, I got out of the water as fast as I could. My father thought I had lost my mind (there are no sharks in lakes, after all), but I could not stay in the water.
Dipping My Toe In
Over the years, I have gained some confidence in the water; however, even the simple task of snorkeling was tough for me, and I really had to calm myself down to breathe. I play on the water but like to stay close to shore, and I do not stay away from land long.
Until recently, I did not understand the ocean and how its forces worked, and that unknown was crippling to me
Learning to Dive in
All this changed two weeks ago when I went on an adventure of a lifetime. You might think it weird, given my discomfort with water, that I would agree to a surf and yoga retreat. The yoga? Yes, sign me up. The surf? Well…hmmm…okay, why not! I’m at a stage now where, through meditation, I am a calmer person but water… well, I didn’t know what would happen there. I was determined to not let my anxiety take over.
Bernie and I arrived in Costa Rica and were picked up and shuttled four hours to a beautiful village called Bahia Ballenas. There, in this amazing village, is a magical place called Bodhi Surf + Yoga. The people here are one of a kind—special, caring, and knowledgeable. That night, Travis, our soon-to-be surf instructor, and my soon-to-be saviour, took us to dinner. I immediately felt his passion, his caring, his love for Costa Rica, and his love of the ocean. I had no idea that he was about to give me a great gift.
The next day was our first surf lesson. Instead of just getting in the water, Travis started by educating us about the ocean. What did we see? How do we read the ocean? How can we understand the ocean and the dangers that can be mitigated through this understanding? He gave me insights that I had never known before. Understanding is power, and power is freedom, right?
It was time to enter the ocean. It was doable…actually more than doable. Yes, I was still a little nervous, but being armed with knowledge had a calming effect on me. I could do this! And, as the days progressed, I learned more and gained more freedom. It was life-changing. Travis is a teacher; it is in his soul. His enthusiasm and love for the ocean gave me confidence. I started to want to go into the ocean. The waves suddenly didn’t send me packing. I embraced them! I faced their challenge and won.
On day 4 of surfing, it was time to step beyond the small surf closer to shore and venture out into the big waves farther offshore. We had to paddle out there and turtle the waves (turtling is when a wave is going to break over you, so you flip the board over top of you, go underwater, and listen to the wave approach then go over you). It’s crazy, but I loved turtling. Me! The one who was so frightened. This day was monumental for me. I paddled out through the crazy surf, my instructor by my side, and it was NOT scary. I did not panic. I relaxed and enjoyed and rode waves! This was something I never thought I would say or do.
Respect, water, respect
The ocean is a beautiful thing. It should be admired and respected. Treated with dignity. And above all, saved from the abuse we humans subject it to. I now look at the ocean through new eyes. I always knew it needed to be saved and plastics need to be removed from our daily regiment, especially single-use plastics. Now I know that we all need to spend some time with it, speak to it, play with it, love it, save it. It is our life and our destiny to be caretakers.
This gift I have been given came later in life…but not too late
. Anyone who fears the ocean needs to find an angel like Travis to help you see the beauty and peace within. Better yet, go to Bodhi Surf +Yoga yourself and experience this unforgettable experience.
You won’t regret it.