Learning to surf



It is said that surfing was invented on the shores of Huanchaco,  on the “small horse” reed boats of the fishermen 2500 years ago.

There’s a surfing, hippy, alternative culture there, and it’s not so evident at first until you live in the nearby city of Trujillo for a while. I feel more relaxed in Huanchaco, where the colour of my skin, and the length of my hair, isn’t an oddity, except on one occasion, where I was walking across the road with an icecream. “Gringo! Gringo!” a little boy shouted, his hand pointing through the open car window.

Last Sunday I went surfing with a friend of a friend. We did push-ups on the beach and then went in the water. It was a lovely temperature but the bodysuit helped.

I have to have the pose right.t

There was something in the constant failure of never quite making it, of never managing to stand properly, that was different to every other hobby I tried. In most circumstances I want to be perfect. I take the speed of learning personally, whether it be speaking Spanish, or dancing, or learning shorthand, but in this instance, when my tutor shouted “stand!” and I hesitated a second too long, and I fell forwards or backwards in the water…well…it didn’t bother me. I didn’t take it personally.

My closest attempt.

For a while, and then my arms were tired and I had had enough. My tutor kept saying “one more!” after I fell, and like a fool I said “sure! One more!” and after that failed attempted, he would shout “one more” and I would say, “okay, only one more!” And we did that another five times. I kept falling, and I kept trying, because I didn’t really care about the defeat. It was supposed to just be fun. And it was, in a way, if only that anxiety of trying a new experience had never existed.

My arms were tired, in the end, and I wanted a break and a rest in the hopes of returning to the challenge one day soon.


Another friend watching, Adriaan, showed me a neat local restaurant afterwards. I had ceviche (a national dish), and wanted a cold beer to wash it down with. There was a referendum that day though, and on voting days, Peru bans alcohol. Pepsi was fine.


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