SURF WITH AMIGAS – A surf and yoga retreat in Northern Nicaragua
This is going to be a massive blog post. It’s really hard for me to even believe that I was actually in this magical place in Nicaragua less than a week ago. While I was there – the girls and myself kept saying – this seems like a dream. Over two years ago I found out about Surf with Amigas in Nicaragua (run by pro surfer and super-mom Holly Beck) and I have always come up with some dumb excuse not to go. Too much money, I’m afraid of surfing, I don’t know how to surf, too much travel time, etc etc. Well – this year was the year that I finally decided I was going no matter what – and I couldn’t be more happy that I did. Despite the fact that I missed my flights the first day and had to spend my first evening of travel in a sketchy hotel in Miami (Thank you Dad for helping me find a place to stay at all) … this trip was incredible. Everyone kept asking if I was nervous that I didn’t know anyone coming on the trip – but I had this feeling if you are a girl and you are able to take a week off to come on a trip to surf and do yoga in Central America … you’ve got to be pretty cool. And damn – everyone was the coolest.
Five amigas and myself were picked up from the airport by Luis in what looked to me as the most stereotypical surfer van I’d ever seen. (Pictures below in the iPhone section). We had a three hour drive ahead of us – and since no one’s phones could work (YES!) we listened to reggae and TALKED for three hours. I cannot stress enough how different this is than being in a car in the US with my friends. I mean – we were so very present. By the end of the van trip I could probably tell you ten facts about each of the gals I was traveling with – oh and we each drank two beers too … so that helped. We were greeted by hugs from our Instructors (hollaaaa Ginger, Jackie, Emily and Inga!) and led to our cabanas. Okay true life – I am terrified of bugs. Like – I hate them so much. Even little ones. I am not too embarrassed to admit that I am a total baby and am usually the roommate that traps the creature under the cup and waits for the other roommate to find it. Well walking into the cabana the first thing I see is this mutant black cockroach/grasshopper creature on my mosquito net. I decided then and there this week was about letting it go and trying to man up a little bit. I put my suitcase down and walked out the door hoping that when I came back – the bug one would be gone. And he was. But I know he was definitely still lurking around somewhere because he popped up a few times later in the week.
El Coco Loco where we stayed is so incredible. It’s an eco-friendly resort founded by three college friends a little over five years ago and is used to host mainly yoga retreats and surf and service retreats. They have a non-profit organization, Waves of Hope, that is doing some AMAZING things in the community. You can check out more at their website. I have to say – staying at an eco-friendly resort was something entirely new to me – but I really loved it. I felt so fully connected to nature as I could fall asleep every night to the crashing of waves and the sounds of mutant grasshoppers (jk – there were also beautiful sounds like birds and dogs and well, lets just focus on the waves). But staying here truly felt like I was outside for a week straight – which for those of us in the midwest know – it’s going to be a few months before we can have that feeling again. It was seriously magical. AND THE FOOD. First breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, dinner AND DESSERT. All of the meals were incredible. Almond crusted fish, pesto vegetable sandwich, a pasta dish TO DIE FOR and so much more. I don’t think I’ve eaten that well in years.
And the surfing. So – the closest I’ve come to surfing is when I’m standing on my paddle board and a boat goes by and I catch the wake for like .5 seconds. Yet – by Day 2 I was “shredding” as they say. Holly and the instructors are the most positive and happy-go-lucky instructors I have ever met. They are so encouraging and everyone is so happy when you catch a wave that it only makes you desire to do it more. There’s no such thing as not celebrating after catching a wave with them. You throw your hands in the air and cheer (at least I did). I know this is probably the cheesiest thing – but I truly believe that I was meant to learn to surf someday. It’s like it has combined every activity I’ve ever done – and it’s all been toward this trip. Being out on the waves on the board – even if it was choppy or frustrating – was the best therapy I think I’ve ever had. Waking up at 5am for dawn patrol was no problem – as I popped out of bed as excited as I am on Christmas morning. Now I am just in an incredible state of depression as the only surfing here in Michigan happens when it’s snowing and you’re wearing a full sized wet suit. I think I’ll have to plan my next trips all around my newfound love.
The yoga was equally as satisfying. At first – I was so bummed to hear that it would be a more yin/restorative class as I was all amped up to show off my vinyasa moves and handstands and whatnot … but after the first surf session I completely understood why the yoga was the way it was. That’s yoga for you – always humbling. Nikki was the most incredible teacher – always giving us the perfect intentions to think about, the perfect poses to restore and rest ourselves and I swear I left those classes more energized and zen then I’ve ever left a fast hot and sweaty vinyasa class. She’s amazing that Nikki. Not to mention the yoga studio sits up high on stilts overlooking the ocean with no walls. This trip has spoiled me in SO many ways.
And lastly – the people. There were 14 amigas on this trip and 4 instructors. They are all such incredible people and on such different paths of life. We’ve got the historical Genie who is 68 and shredding harder than any of us (see an inspirational video of her here).There were gals in their 20’s like me, there were girls in college, there were girls in there 40’s, there were girls in their upper 30’s that looked like they were in their 20’s, there were girls with kids, girls with boyfriends, girls who were married … basically the perfect assortment of people. And they were all there to squeeze out every bit of experience they could. And when I got sick the last two days – these ladies stepped up and cared so much about my well being it was overwhelming. I mean – offering to give me whatever drugs they brought (it’s amazing when you’re not near a doctor how much you realize you miss TYLENOL) and just offering to get me water, sprite, anything at all. These gals were the best. I’m so excited to have a whole new gang of frothers to visit all over the world.
If you’re a girl and you like traveling and you like new experiences … you need to take this trip. It’s worth every penny and then some. Everyone who went on this trip was hitting waves by the end of the week – better than they had ever imagined. Everyone was restored, relaxed and happy. Traveling solo is something that I will always encourage. It teaches you to grow, lean on strangers and make new friends. My web of connected people is growing immensely and I couldn’t be happier about it. This trip, these people and these waves are something that I will always remember. So – enjoy the pictures and check out the sites I linked above for more info! The last photos in this set are from my iPhone too – as I didn’t have my camera with me as much as I thought I would.