I remember getting on the phone with Estuardo at Tofino Surf Adventures. The conversation went something like this;
Estuardo: Have you ever surfed before?
Me: Well, I once tried but I never stood up
Estuardo: With me you aren’t just going to stand up, you are actually going to surf.
I hung up the phone with a feeling of excitement, nerves, and disbelief.
The day finally arrived to learn how to surf. We drove out in his beat up van, stopping off at a few beaches to find the perfect surf conditions.
We finally stopped at South Chesterman Beach. The wind wasn’t too strong here, and there was a good tide. Perfect conditions for a beginner.
Estuardo first went over some safety lessons, and then we were in the water before I could really take it all in. However the one thing he said with me that really stuck was don’t overthink it.
The first few tries I was overthinking everything. Are my feet in the right spot? When do I need to start paddling? When should I try and stand? I fell off the board time after time and was just about ready to give up on the whole surfing experience.
That was when my teacher came up to me and said, “Mia on this one don’t think, just feel.”
I started paddling as hard as I could, but instead of thinking about what to do, I just starting taking it all in. Here I was in one of the most beautiful places in the world, in the middle of the ocean, learning how to surf. I could see the sandy beach in the distances, the green trees poking out from afar. I felt the cold ocean water between my fingers and the sunshine warm up my face, and all of a sudden I felt the wind in my hair as I was standing up on the board.
It was such a surreal experience, sure the wave was tiny, but I was riding it all the way to the shore. I was actually surfing. I could hear Estuardo in the distance cheering me on. I was officially a surfer.
The feeling of catching the wave, of surfing is addictive. It is one of the hardest things I have had to do, but yet the most reward. The paddling, the standing, the falls. All worth it to glide across a wave.
When I think of that experience, the word magical comes to mind. It was magical to get up on the board. It was magical to catch a wave. It was magical to surf. It was magical to be in Tofino.
Tofino will always have a special place in my heart. It is a quaint little surf town right on the water with local shops and restaurants. It is the place where everyone knows your name. Where you just feel welcomed. It is the place of beauty, of forest, of parks, of hot springs. It is the place where I learned how to surf.