“You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!” – Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
While these famous remarks are most often associated with joyous graduations and celebrations, the words ring quite true for anyone who has taking up surfing and, like so many wave seekers before them, allowed a particular strong wave to carry them out into sea and right off the grid.
As any real surfer knows, hunting for the perfect wave will undoubtedly take you across the globe (including stops in places you never knew existed). Now, let’s clarify one thing right up front. I am not a professional surfer. I am not even a below-average surfer. No, I am not a surfer. I have surfed twice. The first time, I spent more than 3/4 of the time submerged with unusual (and uncomfortable) amounts of sand in all sorts of strange places. The second time I forgot to wear a rash guard (going without a shirt) and nearly lost a nipple. Ah Ah, ouch!
But, what I can tell you is that surfing in it’s entirety (leisure activity, sport, competition, business, culture, religion, way of life, etc.,) is impressive and something to be marveled. Surfing and the die-hard followers are a rare bread – the surfer wakes at 5am (while everyone else is fast asleep) so they may find a pristine and empty beach with rolling waves, similar to finding fresh, untouched snow. This means they rarely can be found out late at night. This also means any hostel or hotel marked with the word “surfing” will be as dead as a doorknob when 11pm rolls around. A laid-back and easy going persona makes the surfer friendly by nature and perhaps the most appealing aspect of surfing, especially given all thats going on in the USA and the world in general, is what surfing says and doesn’t say. As William Finnegan suggestes, “although surfing is fundamentally apolitical, it carries with it, in most places and contexts, a whiff of dissent, a faintly anarchistic suggestion about what really matters.” – Evan Timpy
So while some would herald the counter-culture, California style surfer or longboard Hawaii surfer image of the 20th century, the image of the surfer who is hunting for the next spot, with the next, perfect wave, is something to truly appreciate. After all, the quest is never-ending and does insist that you, #keeptraveling.
If you’ve never tried surfing, you’ll want to give it a go the next time you find yourself with the opportunity and even if you don’t, you should at least pay your respects and appreciate the seasoned surfer. Because as you chit-chat or nod nonchalantly as they stare off in the distance at the hostel kitchen table, just know they have seen something truly great. If you yourself may become hooked, first know, “What happens when you start surfing.”
Yes, once you start it may be hard to stop, but one thing is for sure – surfing will take you across the globe and back again. Surf’s up!
Like surfing? What’s the best place you’ve ever surfed? Let’s hear it as a comment below or tell us over on Twitter @TakeYaThere