Archive for the ‘Mojo surf weekend’ Category

Paddling It In

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Waking up the next day every muscle in my arms and back ached. All the pointy edges on the front of my body (of which there are many) were especially sore from all the jumping onto the surf board I had done the day before. My hip bones were especially achey, which is odd because I didn’t realize I could have achey hip bones. The edges of the palms of my hand were also irritated from rubbing against the surf board. I wanted to sleep all day. I had absolutely no desire to get back into my wetsuit which was still damp and cold from the day before, and go back out into the water, and yet that is what I forced myself to do. After breakfast we all headed back out to Big Hill. Thankfully this time around the waves were a bit smaller and the rip was not pulling quite as hard. After about 45 minutes of toughing it out and catching a few waves I threw in the towel. I was so worn out from the day before and I did not have the energy to fight the waves for a full two hours. There were a bunch of people that were feeling the same way, and so about halfway through the two hours over half the group had called it quits and were hanging out on the beach. It felt heavenly to lay down in the sand and let the sun dry and warm my poor sore self. Once the lesson was over we loaded up the surf boards and headed back to camp for lunch and to pack up for the drive back to Sydney.

The five hour drive back into the city was fairly quiet as everyone pretty much passed out. I tried to sleep but the seats on the bus didnt recline and I don’t do well sleeping in a sitting position so I just put on my ipod and enjoyed the scenery as it passed by. Since most of the drive was through the countryside every so often we passed a sign that looked like this

Koala crossing!

I thought these were too cool. I am so used to deer crossing signs that these completely caught my brain off guard. After we saw the first one it became my goal to try and spot a koala, but sadly I did not. Apparently they are very hard to spot and generally shy away from areas where there is noise, i.e. near a major road. O well. Once we got back to Sydney it was dark and raining slightly. We were dropped off at the Wake Up Hostel where we had been picked up, and the guy who had been driving the bus who was also one of the surf instructors from the weekend asked us if we would want to get a free drink in the hostel bar compliments of Mojo. What kind of question is that? Of course we would! Free is my favorite price! A few people had to leave to get home, but most of us ended up sitting in the bar underneath the hostel sipping our free drinks, and they even brought up two huge platters of french fries and some pizzas, all compliments of Mojo. After chatting, stuffing my face, and hanging out for a bit I said my goodbyes and walked the 20 minutes back to my apartment. Once there I put away my things, showered and went promptly to bed. I needed another weekend to recover from that weekend.

Mojo Rules!

Mojo surf crew, again, my apologies for the watermark. I am the third person from the left with sunglasses on.

Surf’s Up

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

My first full day at surf camp started bright and early. I was not too keen to be roused from bed because at some point in the middle of the night temperatures had dropped below the comfortable low of 75 that I had been operating at, and it had woken me up and sent me scrambling for more blankets and extra articles of clothing. I woke up to a bright but brisk morning and a dull ache in my back and shoulders from being tightly curled in the fetal position all night under two blankets and my beach towel.

Breakfast was a relatively uneventful affair, cereal, fruit, toast, and some hot tea and then we all gathered around one of the surf instructors so that basic surfing technique and ocean etiquette could be explained to us.

Mojo rules

We also went over the Mojo camp rules, highlights of which include “no anonymous weed smoking share what you got!”, “No shit music”, and “No nudity before 11 am”. Yeah I don’t think we’re at girl scout camp anymore Toto. We were then each given a wet suit and told to gather our things and head down to the beach. The beach we were at was stunning. Much like most of the beaches here there were rocky outcroppings and hills surrounding it, but this beach was much bigger than the small cove like beaches in Sydney and because we were so far out of the city it was very secluded and there was not a commercial establishment to be found. The first day we didn’t see another living soul on the beach. The weather was absolutely stunning the whole weekend, staying in the 80s with cloudless sunny days and cooler evenings.

Empty but beautiful beach as far as you can see

Crescent Head Coastline

Once we were on the beach we were shown proper technique for getting up onto the surf board and how to balance oneself once there. I thought we would get a chance to practice this before going into the water, but after having it demonstrated for us we were given surfboards and sent out into the waves. There were two surf instructors that went into the water with us to help instruct and make sure nobody drifted too far out as Australian rip tides take some getting used to. Everybody just started trying to surf, and if anyone struggled one of the instructors came over to help, usually by picking out a wave for you and then holding the back of your board to stabilize it while you tried to stand up. While balancing on the board takes some practice, I think the hardest part is picking the right wave and getting the timing right so that you can actually ride it in.

I was able to stand up a few times with the help of one of the instructors and then got the hang of it and was able to do it on my own as well. While all this is going on there is a mojo employee standing in the surf taking pictures of everyone with a long lens camera, and you can purchase these pictures at the end of the trip. I did this, but they have yet to be emailed to me, even though we were promised we would have them by monday morning after our weekend. So here are some pictures of me surfing, I was going to wait until I got the pictures sent to me, but its taking forever and patience has never been a strong suit of mine so here are the copies off the website. Pardon the water marks.


Getting a little help from an instructor

Getting there

And I'm up!

Our first lesson was two hours long, and we had it on the north shore of the beach. After two hours were up we packed up and headed back to camp for lunch. While two hours may not seem like a long time, when you are surfing it really is. Playing in the ocean normally is exhausting, but when you are surfing you are constantly being pushed to the shore and then having to fight your way back out past where the waves are breaking. If you are just swimming, this is difficult but not that bad, but when you have an incredibly buoyant object tethered to your foot this process becomes far more difficult. Even if you manage to duck under a wave, the surf board is still on top of the water, and the wave is going to push it towards the shore and pull you along with it. Getting back out past the waves after you have ridden a wave in is the hardest part, and you are constantly doing this. Not only are you fighting the waves coming at you, but you are also fighting against the rip current which is pulling you towards the rocks, and you are doing this with a surf board and while wearing a wet suit which holds water and makes you heavier. By the time two hours of this is up I was exhausted and ready for some food.

After a hearty lunch and about an hour of lounging around and resting we all headed back down to the beach for our second two hour lesson of the day. For this lesson we moved from the north shore to Big Hill, a different section of the beach where the waves were much bigger.

I got fairly decent at standing up

While this was fun, it also meant that getting out past the waves each time was more difficult to do, and since we were already tired from our first lesson this meant that I wasn’t able to stay out in the water for the full two hours. The most important lesson I was ever taught about dealing with the ocean is if you start feeling tired, get out. While I felt bad not taking full advantage of the time we had to surf, I also remembered this and decided my safety was more important.  After this lesson we went back to camp to dry off, shower and have dinner. Dinner was fantastic. I wasn’t expecting much in terms of food on this trip, but I was pleasanlty surprised. For dinner that night we had cheesey potatoes, salad, grilled steaks, and a three bean cold salad. I was the only vegetarian in the group, and for me they fixed a special plate with two huge vegetable kabobs that had been grilled, and a really good vegetarian hamburger pattie.

After dinner everyone got out the alcohol they had bought on the way to camp and headed out to a spot in the woods near the beach where a campfire had been started. I was asked to come along, but I had no intentions of doing this. I was EXHAUSTED. Due to my religious application of sunscreen every 2 hours I had avoided a sunburn, but my face was still freckled, and I was sore and absolutely drained. After dinner I brushed my teeth and crawled into bed. IT WAS 8:30 WHEN I WENT TO BED. In the world of me this is unheard of. The only time I am in bed this early is usually when I haven’t woken up yet (true story- its happened). I have no recollection of everyone coming back to the room around 3 am, turning on lights, changing, and generally being quite noisy. I was even told that some guy snored so bad that it woke up half the room and people started throwing things at him. I have no memory of any of this. Thats how tired I was. No wonder surfers are always so tried, its a HELL of a workout.

Surf boards


No Worries Mate!

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Things have finally begun to cool down in the state of New South Wales. The dog days of summer have finally slunk away and the pleasantries of Australian fall have swept in. I find myself able to walk the 20 minutes to class without being drenched in sweat. I have also noticed as of late that I seem to have hit my Australian stride.

Upon arriving here it took me a few days to get used to the time difference, and then orientation happened and it took me a few days past that to get used to the climate and how expensive things were. Once I finally moved into my Glebe residence I had to learn about how to navigate the grocery store, and a two-flush toilet. Things I hadn’t thought of as being difficult were new, like using my weird Australian oven in Celsius.  And just when I was feeling like I had everything in order, classes started happening and once again I was thrust into a whole new acclamation process.

At first it was bewildering, being a freshman was not an experience I had hoped to repeat again so soon. It’s frustrating, and confusing and often you feel helpless under the weight of everything that is new around you. Soon this too passed, and I feel into a rhythm where I was getting to my classes on time and not needed to fumble around with my schedule and my campus map to figure out where I was going and what time I needed to be there. Physically getting to class was one thing, but then the school work started happening. I have been out of school since the first week of December, so it had been a good three months since I had done anything worthwhile with that lump of gray matter sitting inside my skull. I had gotten a little rusty. On top of this I had lapsed into vacation mode, which is easy to do when its 80 degrees and sunny and the beach is a backdrop to your life. I went to my classes for the first few weeks, but this was more of a physical going than a mental presence of actually being there. Sooner or later my professors started using words like “essay,” “exam,” “test,” and “soon” in the same sentence and I was yanked out of my blissful Australian day dream. I was here to STUDY?! I thought I was just here to play? Apparently not. So the last few weeks I have been frantic in my efforts to pull everything together in regards to school. I had lapsed on my readings and not started working on my mid semester assignments that would soon be due. Around this time my internship also started, adding another time commitment to my life, and more responsibilities.

There was one day where I remember sitting down with all my syllabuses and feeling really overwhelmed with everything I needed to due to prepare for the papers and projects I would soon need to turn in for midterm exam period. In the midst of all this travel opportunities kept presenting themselves, Tasmania, Melbourne, surf weekends, and while I am here to do some studying, had I only wanted to study I could have stayed in Virginia, so I didn’t want to miss out of any chances to explore this beautiful country I had been placed in on the precedent of “studying.” So instead of reading and doing school work I planned trips, one to Melbourne, and one to Tasmania, and spent my time in class day dreaming about where else I might go. Soon the impending exam period progressed from a mental itch to a full on rash. I needed to attend to it. One of the big reasons I had been putting off school work is because the books I needed for one of my literature classes were SO EXPENSIVE. I had gone to the bookstore and calculated that the 7 books I needed to buy were going to run me close to $150. In the world of an english major, thats pricey. Last semester at UMW I spent less than $100 on all the books I needed for five classes, so dropping $150 on books for one class was not something I was keen to do. Especially since Australia does not believe in textbook buy back, so I was going to get stuck hauling these books back in my suitcase.

The wonderful thing about being an English major is that you read books all semester, and until you have to write a paper or take a test, it is not imperative that you have read anything. It is the procrastinators worst nightmare, or greatest fantasy depending on how you look at it. We had four texts we were going to be on the midterm for my Australian Texts: International Contexts. One was a movie that I had managed to find and illegally stream for free online, one was a book of poetry that I had to do a presentation on so I had been forced to buy it at the start of the class, and the other two were expensive so I hadn’t bothered with them. I decided that since it had been weeks since the two books I hadn’t read had been assigned I would try getting one of the reserve copies out of the library. I was able to get copies of both, and as it turns out I really enjoyed reading them. One, called “Dreams of Speaking” I finished in two days because I was so absorbed. In the last week or so I have managed to catch up completely with all my school work, and even get ahead on a few things, and ever since this incredible sense of  joy has taken up residence in my person. Things at my internship have been really great, I have met some fantastic people, and am genuinely interested in the work I am doing. I return to my apartment at the end of each day tired, but feeling accomplished and productive. I feel like I have struck that perfect harmony in the melodies of fun and the baseline of productivity.

When I walk to school in the morning I hum and sometimes dance to the music in my headphones as I’m waiting to cross the street and pay no attention to the odd glances I attract. I smile like a loon when the wind picks my hair up off my neck and I can feel the warmth of the sunlight on my face. I find a childlike sense of pure delight over the silliest things like when my toast comes out of the toaster in a light brown crispy perfection. I would say its a case of spring fever, but its fall here in the southern hemisphere and getting colder not warmer. The kind of weather we have been having lately is the kind you don’t even notice. You walk outside and its so wonderfully temperate and sunny that the weather attracts none of your attention, for there is nothing to notice, it isn’t rainy or too hot or cold, its just wonderfully pleasant.

I am really enjoying the sense of independence I have here. Going to college at Mary Washington was a huge step for me in terms of starting over socially, and being away from my family for the first time, but it was also very close geographically, so I was able to run home whenever things got hard. While I felt blessed to have this option since my freshman year was really difficult, it meant that I was eased into my college life without ever really having to deal with anything hard on my own or for too long. Coming to Australia I was so concerned about making new friends and really being forced to do everything on my own for the first time. These concerns turned out to be completely unfounded as I have made so many great friends, and I am thrilled that so many of them live close to Virginia because I fully intend on seeing them once I return to the states.

My trip to Tasmania with Yaella fell through due to scheduling conflicts with her availability and mine, but in its place I decided I would book a surf weekend instead. I had wanted to do this since I got here, but as my weekends began filling up I had accepted that I might not be able to get it in before it got too cold to be desirable.  So on Wednesday of this week I decided to put a call into Mojo Surf just to inquire about their program, but after answering two of my questions the lady who was helping me asked me for my credit card number, and  I thought, well ok! So surfs up this weekend!

In Australia often in the place of saying “thank you” or “no problem” they say “no worries.” More than just being a way of saying thanks it seems to really be a way of thinking, and in my new and randomly blissful state of being I am really embracing this. While I am truly loving every minute of being abroad I am also looking forward to going back to UMW in the fall, being a tour guide again, seeing my friends, and finishing my degree. I feel like I am finally becoming a complete person all on my own. I feel ready to start a life that is my own. It’s a simple kind of free.

No I'm not the girl I used to be lately, you see you met me at an interesting time.