There is nothing quite like surfing in the ocean. Oh to be a terrible person that starts posts in this way.
I injured my ankle a week or two ago and wish I hadn’t as it surely has had a negative effect on my surfing abilities.
I can pop up on land easily enough but the instability of the sea makes it all the more difficult. I managed to stand on my second wave, but flew too close to the sun too early on and didn’t manage to stand again until my second to last and final waves.
The Dutch family from the pool lesson were there again. I saw the mother naked again. The father and I discussed work and he was impressed that I knew an interior designer/architect (Frei Otto) that he does work for. He went much further out than I did, into the bigger waves. After the surf I asked him if he had caught any good waves. He replied that he hadn’t really, but that’s not the point. It is exercise for the mind. I asked him what he meant, as it was certainly exercise for my body but it was hardly reading Nietzsche, and he replied that you can’t really think of anything else while you are surfing. Clears your mind is what he meant. A meditation by surfing. I couldn’t agree more.
As I walked through the water again and again trying to catch a wave, I went through different feelings of exhaustion, frustration and absolute calm. The vast expanse of water, the lolling of the waves, the crashing of the waves into my face, the dragging of the surfboard, the heavy rain followed by breaking sunshine: it was all so beautiful, and any life concerns simply don’t matter in the moment.
It was exhausting, and my stamina gave out. I thought that I was quite fit. I shouldn’t have walked so much these past few days. Onto land briefly to work on my “pop up” technique, and to regain some stamina.
“You’re tired” my instructor said as he dragged me through the sea.
“A little. It’s fine.” My arms and legs were throbbing.
“Try again, just once more!”
Five more times and I was getting it. The less you think, the better you do. Surfing goes against a lot of my natural persona, but by doing so shows me the many sides of life’s beauty. (I am writing this sat in a window listening to thunder and watching a downpour).
My afternoon lesson was cancelled, which I am thankful for as I should take this time to rest and recuperate.
The surfing instructor (fit and good looking, as you would hope/expect for a Portuguese surfing instructor) showed me where the good fish restaurants are in the area, told that I simply must try a Francesinha, validated that I have seen all of Porto. Even though he has lived in Porto all his life, he said that I now know it better than him. He may have been being particularly nice after having to hold my hand through surfing much more than he expected after my initial success. He said that he didn’t like Casa de Musica, that it was like an alien shot it down from space. It is besides a lovely roundabout and statue and doesn’t blend in too well with the landscape. Guidebooks have us believe otherwise: “The crowning glory of Modernist architecture for the people of Porto”. Portuguese traffic is sudden and unexpected, much like the rain.
“You have an accent of English.”
“I am English.”
“Then it’s okay.”
The smell of the restaurant street was spectacular and I will go again to eat. Today I am forcing myself to try and rest.
Portuguese to pata de nata very well. I got some from a supermarket, as that’s what’s closest.
Now to fully embrace the surfing lifestyle through rest.