Sunday, December 27, 2009

Peru-The Lessons of Fear Preface


     Adventure is a word I throw around a lot. “Life is an adventure”, “Let’s make this an adventure”, “I can’t wait for the next adventure”. But there is something key to these “adventures” that has made them so enticing, so manageable. 
    On each adventure I have taken in the past I have always been surrounded by the familiar company of either my family or my boyfriend, Scott. This adventure to Peru would be different. I would be traveling with my surf friend and neighbor, Roberta, and her friend Alexis. I felt excited and privileged to travel with these two women. It was an amazing opportunity. The only thing was that, for me, this was uncharted territory and I was nervous. 
    This may sound silly to people who have spent a lot of time doing solo missions around the globe, but I was nervous to travel without Scott. Traveling to me is one of the best things I think a person can do for themselves and the world, but this was a first for me. I would be without my faithful companion in a third world country far from home.  
     Before I left I asked Scott if I could take something of his with me to remind me of him while I was away. He joked about it and said he’d give me some old socks.
     It was clear to me already that this trip would be characterized by me facing my fears. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Peru-The Lessons of Fear Chapter 1: Self-Reliance


    I couldn’t show her or I knew I would cry. Scott’s gesture was so romantic and sweet I wanted to share it with someone, but I couldn’t even bring myself to open it or look at his perfect unmistakable writing. I didn’t want to cry in front of people I was just getting to know. It would reveal the vulnerability I felt inside. Leaving behind Scott was like leaving behind my most cherished comfort item. I felt unsure and uncomfortable, but I knew this was something I needed to do. It was the right time. It was the right trip.
      You thought I forgot.
The outside of the note read. How could I ever think that? He would never miss an opportunity to show me how much he loved me.
   This trip is important for me, though, I could feel that before I even left. I needed to go. Away from Scott and my family I was on my own. I would need to rely on myself and in doing so I would grow.  
     Usually, when I traveled Scott or my mom or dad would take care of printing the tickets, organizing the boarding passes, arranging transportation or dealing with the officials. I just showed up with our share of sunscreen, bug spray, vitamins, medicine, and snacks. Not to mention moral support and a smile. This time I was responsible for it all and that intimidated me. 
    As I sat next to Roberta on the plane ride to Peru and opened my journal, his note had fallen onto my lap.  
       This was much better than socks, I thought with a smile. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Peru-The Lessons of Fear Chapter 2: Sojourner


    The lights of the van parted the darkness. Everything around me was unfamiliar, but I felt secure in the warm grey passenger seat. Our driver Foruco spoke of the aggressive crowds at the break in Mancora in front of the hotel and I cringed. I tried to reason to myself that with my tenacity I would still manage, but I wasn’t very convincing. He spoke with a thick Peruvian accent, but his English was easy to understand, although, I have to admit, I wasn’t really listening. I sat with my hair pulled up in a loose bun to free my neck from the heat. I was taking in the sights, sounds and smells that surrounded me. I wondered how many other times in my life I would do something like this, travel to a remote location in search of the unfamiliar ecstasy that foreign waves brought me. Many, I concluded. Like I said, I am tenacious and usually find some way to get what I want and need. 
    The voices of my company hummed familiarly in the background. I wondered if I was being anti-social for putting my thoughts into my notebook instead of into their conversation. Foruco had turned the light on for me so I could see my journal.
    “You don’t have to do that” I said, trying to be courteous, but with a hint of caution. 
    “Don’t worry, I won’t read it. I don’t like reading.” he responded, glancing at me out of the corner of his hazel eyes. 
    “Huh” I laughed. Good, I thought. 
The van wove quickly but safely around trucks as we passed through cities still busy with locals chatting at restaurants and kids running wildly and barefoot. The light beamed down on me, lighting the front cabin of the car. I was done writing for the moment, but was nervous about reaching up to turn it off, fearful that I would hit the button the wrong way. I flipped through the manilla colored lined pages of my journal so the light was not on in vain.  The pages easily opened to Scott’s note. 
    If I read it, I thought, it would put the light to good use. I opened it. His familiar script like handwriting standing out before the words themselves. I refolded the letter and placed it back in the journal. I wasn’t ready yet. I eyed the car light for a sign or direction as to which was the off button. I reached up, shifted the button left and the van went dark. The only things visible now were rough outlines of the trees that lined the highway and the reflector bumps marking the road.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Peru-The Lessons Of Fear Chapter 3: Confidence


    I woke before dawn in my mosquito net. I slept lightly intentionally to avoid oversleeping and partly due to excitement. I could hear the waves crashing outside my window as I did before sleep caught me the previous night. They were closeouts, a shore break. They crashed all at once and then receded. I got up and put my new Roxy bathing suit on, then over it a 3/2 mm wetsuit that I had cut to have short sleeves. Mancora is a warm place, but the offshore wind was stiff this morning and I didn’t want to risk getting cold. As I waxed my board the grey sky became more and more blue. In the background I could hear roosters greeting the day. I looked left over the beige stucco wall of our hotel towards the famed left point Foruco had spoken of in the car last night.
    I squinted my light green eyes to focus on any sign of good surf. To my delight 3-4 ft.waves appeared to be peeling around the bay in a nearly identical fashion. 
     Roberta and I stepped onto the sand and simultaneously began to jog towards the point. We were both excited to see our travel dreams realized, as it is more than common to get skunked on surf trips. We slowed our pace eventually to conserve energy for our surf. At my feet I saw bottles and rappers that disgusted me and I bent down to pick them up out of habit. “You don’t want to touch that stuff” Roberta warned cautiously. 
    As we arrived at the break I could hardly contain myself. I studied the lineup for a few moments and figured out a position where I saw myself catching the most waves. I saw that people sitting to the far left were often too deep and decided to sit inside some and more to the North. My first wave shut me down. A 3ft wave came towards me. I watched one Peruvian and one traveler not make the section. Yes! I thought to myself. The takeoff was steeper and faster than I had imagined from the beach. I slinked forward on my board and pumped excessively. I was caught behind the section but managed to catch up. I set up for my typical but cherished roundhouse and cutback. I banked off the whitewash but considered the turn a failure since I couldn’t totally feel myself getting on rail. On my third wave locals began to cheer me to go as others before me had not made the section. I was in the perfect spot, but was too late as I turned. I tried to push myself up onto my board but it was too steep for me and I fell. Foreign water filled my nose. As I popped up I felt frustration, but it only pushed me to avoid doing that again. 



    As I sat waiting anxiously for redemption a board with a Billabong sticker came into my peripheral vision. I glanced casually to see who it was. Magoo de la Rosa! I exclaimed in my head. He was a local legend and surfing champion. I had seen a few celebrities from time to time, especially after growing up in Southern California. I was never very star struck. Professional surfers, on the other hand, excited me. I watch surf DVDs at home as much as some people watch the news and a chance to see any of these characters surf in person was a real treat. 

    I couldn’t wait to see Magoo catch a wave. To my delight he began paddling for a wave at that moment. He took off frontside and ripped into a bottom turn, arching flawlessly to the top of the wave and then redirecting his energy again back down the wave’s face. As he did so, water shot over the back of the wave, sprinkling me and others who were near with a warm shower. I smiled to myself and hoped I could see that again. 
    Just then a wave came right to me. I paddled sideways so that when I took off my board would already be in position to make the fast section. I pumped high and made it to a slower section. I looked for the lip and realized that the only thing I was prepared to do was a floater. I glided up the wave and gently slid my board up on the lip. I slipped myself off a moment later and bent my knees to absorb the landing. Next I set up for a bottom turn and directed myself up the face, arching around at the top and looking towards the whitewash. I put my backhand near the water and focused on getting low and bending my knees. Just then, I saw Magoo smiling at me. He dove under the whitewash and I banked off of it as its force sent me back onto the face. 
    I saw a section coming up that I really wanted to smack, but I wasn’t sure if it was possible for me without getting licked. The inside had an odd and fast current. The waves ran up a small and hill on the beach and then retreated back into the sea creating an uneven section and a choppy landing. I went for it anyway, bottom turning and eyeing the sketchy lip. I hit it and turned forward over my board. The wave smashed my board around and I landed at the bottom going faster than usual as the water began to disappear beneath me. I jumped off and slid to my knees in the sand. 
    As I gathered my board I heard clapping. It was, what I imagined to be, a hungover local leaning against a female mannequin wearing a lime green bathing suit at the front patio of a bar called The Bikini. I smiled a simple no teeth grin, pleased, and raised my left hand up to acknowledge and thank him for his compliment. 
    I could feel the confidence building and surging within me. The locals were aggressive, as Furuco had warned, but my tenacity came through for me, as I had hoped. Although I was far from home, I was still somehow finding confidence.