Too much enthusiasm had caused me to paddle a little too furiously for the first wave of the set. I had started off too early and the lip had mounted behind me to essentially swallow me whole.
If I’m honest, I was hungover from a few too many Super Bocks the night before and I’m not sure if my arms would have lifted me to stand on the surfboard even if I’d positioned myself accurately.
Forced underwater, I proceeded to execute what felt like an infinite number of roly-polies before quickly realising that if I continued frolicking like a child in a ball pit my board strap would leave me too tangled to swim to the surface. Employing my feet as makeshift paddles I made a break for it, only to see the second wave of the set turn the surface in to what looked like an upside down ice cream and ginger ale float.
I finally broke free after the second wave and clambered back on to my embarrassingly obvious big blue beginner’s foam board, with a few raspy gasps for breath. I had also smoked too many cigarettes the night before. Taking a quick glance around to make sure no hot Portuguese surfers had seen my spluttering self rise from the depths I could see Pedro, my wild-haired instructor, gesturing at me to paddle back out.
Are you kidding?!
The bare bones of my surfing experience can be described as a brief few seconds of flight, gliding not at all majestically over the ocean before tumbling in to a human washing machine, where the amount of sea water consumed seemed to be in positive correlation with an increasingly upset stomach later that afternoon. Those few seconds of flight however lifted my mood to heaven and back.
I don’t care what anyone says about groms, we definitely have the most fun!
After University I had two main goals. Neither involved getting a job and both involved abusing what was left of my overdraft account. I wanted to travel solo. And I wanted to learn to surf.
I had ended up in Figueira da Foz, a small town on the west coast of Portugal with miles of waves perfect for beginners! Booking myself in for a one-week surf camp resulted in so much fun that after I returned home I flew back out a few weeks later, which had more to do with the people than the desire to surf again.
The Paintshop Hostel
Debbie and Steve, along with their friend Claire, run the Paintshop Hostel with a wealth of love and attention to detail.
With a bar out the back and a huge inside common area I not only got to hang out with other guests, but also family friends who would pop in for a catch up and a few drinks. It was with one of these friends, staff members Emily and Lucas, and my fellow surf camp buddies, Alfonso and Carlos, that I ended up seeing far more of Portugal’s coast!
We were offered the chance to be driven to a long stretch of beach about half an hour from Figueira. Deciding to go took a lot of consideration, not because we weren’t keen, but because that amount of time spent in a hot car threatened to resurrect last night’s tequila. But we braved on and had an incredible day hiding out from the wind in the shrubbery, drinking beer, and gossiping over very old, but very legendary, tunes from the eighties.
Booking myself on a surf camp for the month after my graduation was potentially the worst move I could have made with regard to any future career potential I may have had beforehand. The mornings were spent with a spot of yoga, the daily struggle to pull a wetsuit over my sizeable bottom, and three hours battling through white water just to feel the rush that came from riding a wave all the way to the shore.
The afternoons were spent tanning on the beach or getting to know the beautiful old town of Figeuira da Foz. And the evenings were spent laughing and drinking over pizza at the Paintshop bar, which sometimes led to a game of Assholes wearing ridiculous hats, practicing our ‘pop-up’ moves and then heading out to the bars in the centre of town. My last evening of the first week began this way, and ended in a tequila fuelled crying session at the thought of saying goodbye such an awesome crowd.
At this moment in time, almost a year later, I am a 23-year-old graduate with an aversion to any kind of career not within a 5-mile radius of a beach with waves.
I blame the Paintshop Hostel and Figueira da Foz entirely!
Travel tip shared by theHostelGirl