Final Day at Chicabrava or Anna finally learns to chillax

When last we left Anna’s adventure…

The wind whipped through my hair as Cowboy Nick navigated the hills of San Juan del Sur towards Playa Hermosa. A horn honked and I pulled my eyes from the square of his jaw, and his sun-browned shoulders to see the Chicabrava truck whiz past. Anna Leigh our well-organized leader was motioning for me to get in with them. What? No. I guess there would be no spicey romance blogpost after all.

But there was surfing. It’s no secret that I’m a pretty serious person. The two wrinkles at the top of my nose are only getting deeper as I knit my brow over ever little thing. Yes, our mothers were right…your face does “stay that way.” But my horse adventure at Rancho Chilamate on the morning of Friday Fun day had chipped away at my Serious and left me with confidence and calm. (The shot of rum didn’t hurt either.)

All week the girls had been telling me to let it go, not be so hard on myself, be here now, and have fun. Well, it was my last day of surfing and as I sat in the turquoise waters off Playa Hermosa, I was struck by the natural beauty of Nicaragua. The next day I’d go home to leafless trees and cold weather. I was going to try for every wave I could. The waves were slow to come but the sets were in groups of four to six not too scary manageable waves. I paddled hard that day and got some good rides. I even started to “ride the line” looking left or right depending on the way the wave was breaking. The Chicabrava photographer, Jerson, got some great pictures.

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So… Do I love surfing? Am I already jonesing for that next wave–planning my next trip?

No.

I liked it. I really did. Especially that last day. I’d like to learn how to ride the line and relax more so that I don’t always look like I’m practicing warrior pose when I surf. I’d like to smile more and concentrate less and I suppose that comes with practice and comfort. Here in Maine the water is cold (pretty much always), but I’d like to rent a board and try surfing in the summer months. My arms and abs are pretty ripped right now and despite the lingering ache in my biceps–I don’t want to go soft. I haven’t made it to the pool the last two days either.

I’m so thankful to the instructors at Chicabrava. Their youth disguises their amazing experience and teaching acumen. They answered my many questions, encouraged me when I did well, corrected my errors, and rested with me when I was beat by the big rollers. They pushed me into waves and taught me how to catch my own. They were gentle and kind and understanding. I cannot say enough about this experience. I was a nervous first-time solo traveler, but Chicabrava and the camaraderie of my fellow campers gave me the support and community I needed to face the emotional and physical challenges that came with learning something new.

The owner of Chicabrava, Ashley Blaylock, has made community a priority in many ways. The surf camp sponsors beach clean-up days. Children who collect a full bag of trash get free lessons. They sponsor weeks of surf camp for women involved in the sex industry. They read to students at the local school in an effort to teach English. They employ locals as often as possible and their lead instructor was one the first Nica woman on the competitive circuit there.

I am happy to call myself chicabrava and hope to carry my new-found bravery into all parts of my life.

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