Surfing Past Fear in Peru’s Pacific

Surfing Miraflores Lima Peru

Disclaimer: I know I haven’t said anything about Colorado yet – I promise that’s coming. But right now I really need to talk about Peru because…

I surfed today. I really didn’t think I would and I really didn’t want to, but now I’m glad I did.

Surfing is fun AF.

Especially when you have your own personal instructor who kicks behind you like a Merman.

See, I’ve surfed before – in Australia – and while I was able to stand up and ride the wave, I wasn’t very good at paddling. So, how did I set myself up for the wave, you ask? Your answer is this: the instructor pushed me into it every time.

It has confused me ever since – my deficiency at paddling – because I definitely have upper and even lower arm strength. But paddling gets me nowhere and wears me out fast.

“Que puedo hacer…to paddle…mejor?” I asked in broken Spanish, which roughly translates to “What can I do to paddle better?”

“Swimming,” he said.

Duh. No wonder. I’m pretty lousy at swimming. Sure, I can tread, float, side stroke and doggy paddle… but when it comes down to it, I can’t really swim-swim all that well.

Needless to say, I kind of needed Robert, my surf instructor, in order to enjoy my experience out in Peru’s Pacific.

During my lesson, I stood up a lot – almost every time. And once I was up, more often than not, I stayed up for a while.

And it felt easier than when I was in Australia, even though I think those waves would’ve been considered more ideal.

Regardless of all that, it was not only fun but beautifully exhilarating. I felt amazing after – and during. Just not before.

And certainly not when I shoved myself into my wetsuit, only to realize there was a hole in the boob. Yep, the seam was cut just right to expose my nipple and a healthy flash of my breast.

Naturally for me in situations like those, I reacted with anger. I assumed my instructor gave me a boob-hole wetsuit on purpose in an effort to see my tit.

After spending time with him out on the water, I like to think he didn’t. Now I just laugh when I think about it.

And the water… It was mostly cooperative and strangely gentle with me.

You see, the reason I didn’t want to surf was because I was terrified.

Maddison, my Peru pal (we came here together – we’re amgias/friends, not novias/girlfriends – thought I should clarify since that’s what our surf instructors asked), was all about it. She was definitely going.

And for a good 15 minutes, I was definitely not going. I thought I would be sitting on shore photographing her ride waves before I got a drink at the fancy place with picture windows at the end of the pier. I was totally fine with that scenario.

“What scares you about it the most?” Maddison asked me.

“Dying,” I said straight-faced, dead serious.

Seriously, open water scares me. And so do my swimming abilities.

I thought of all the possibilities – getting swallowed by a barrel wave, colliding with other surfers, being carried out to sea with a rip current, drowning, and the list goes on.

But, like all the crazy shit I’ve been doing lately, I survived.

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Which just goes to show that facing your fears is pretty much always a good idea.

During my affliction between surfing and not surfing, I reminded myself: “everything you want is on the other side of fear.” I even told myself I’d have fun, because I knew I would have fun.

So, why do we hold back from the things that we know will free us?

I can think of a lot of reasons: fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of personal and societal expectations…

But the truth is that stepping outside of what you know will indefinitely put you in a position to grow.

While I was surfing Peru’s Pacific waves, I smiled the whole time (including falling). And I smiled long after.

Adrenaline is a peculiar thing.

Every time I stood up – right foot back, left foot front – I made the thumb and pinky gesture with both hands. I even added a little Australian flare (no, I’m not Australian – I just want to be), yipping “yew!” when I was really sailing.

As I cruised by, people sang their congrats and cheered me on. I only almost crashed into one couple. Luckily, I turned just in time – didn’t even know I could do that.

It’s safe to say I emerged from the surf feeling liberated and overall fucking awesome.

I owe a big hug of gratitude to my amazing friend and travel partner, Maddison. She didn’t pressure me to surf in any way. In fact, she told me I didn’t have to go if I didn’t want to. There was no underlying “you should really do this” or “you’ll be missing out” vibe.

Instead, her sheer enthusiasm about something she loved enabled me to break through my fear. So, I took a deep breath and surfed into the unknown (and made it back to shore in one piece).

Oh, and did I mention it was only 60 degrees outside?

Peru Stoke Level: HIGH.

Next up: Cusco and a 4-day trek to the Lost City of Machu Picchu

Shout out to Robert and Martin, our amazing instructors. You can find them surfing the shores of Miraflores District in Lima, Peru. Just follow the winding cobblestone road down to the ocean and look for the surf tents.

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