Surfs Up, But We're Not

Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
Trip End Oct 06, 2013

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Where I stayed
Raglan Kopua Holiday Park

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Apparently learning to surf is not an activity you should be leaving to your life of retirement- something about flexible joints and the ability to jump from the prone position to upright without using a sand dial to time the jump. Nonetheless DH sees herself as something of a surfer dudette who has just not had the opportunity to ‘hang ten’ (or in our case, 'hang two'), so after our visits with the rel’ees in the Auckland area we drove, in the dark, straight to Raglan- something of a surfing mecca in New Zealand.

Driving in the dark gave us new insight into just how crazy Kiwi’s can get when behind the wheel. The authorities in New Zealand have decided not to confuse the populace with ever changing speed limits (except when traveling through towns and villages) so the limit on most roads is 100 kms which is fine on straight, wide, motorways but no compensation is made for the twisting and winding roads that nauseate mountain goats (of which, the road to Ragalan is a member in good standing). As good citizens, Kiwi’s must feel obliged to hit that target speed even if it means taking corners on two wheels and relying on divine intervention if another good citizen is flying in the opposite direction on a blind corner. And after coming out of countries in Asia with horrendous traffic issues but absolutely no road rage, it was strange to be in a country with very little traffic and an abundance of anger with one another. Despite feeling like an observer to this ongoing road race in our camper van (that wants to be an 18 wheeler when it grows up), DH still felt like I was going too fast on the zig-zag roads and started a game of name-the-airborne-luggage-in-the-back-of-the-van just to pass the time.

With the eggs in our small fridge fully scrambled, we arrived in Raglan and set about scheduling our surfing lessons. We both expected a bit of the dry land training but it did seem odd to be doing it inside a disused barn up on a mountainside- we covered all of the basics and went through all of the motions ourselves although every time poor DH jumped up with her rebuilt knees, the whole class would look over at the creaky barn door to see who was coming in. In my group I was stuck between a showing-off 10 year old and a skinny snow boarder from Holland- my chances at the ‘most graceful surfer’ title evaporated quickly- it was, however, the last time I would be confidently upright on a surfboard for the rest of the day. The beach at Raglan is divided into a section for the beginners and a section for the ‘dudes’ and is nicely separated by a rip current that presumably culls the beginner herd of it’s weaker members.  Once in the water, it was less about surfing and more about inventing new and spectacular ways of falling off a board- I did ride the waves on my knees a bunch of times and even got upright in much the same way that really drunk guy rides a bar stool (I'm sure our Aussie friend Trendy would say that wobbling uncontrollably on top of a surf board doesn't qualify as riding a wave but it's our blog so...) . DH was apparently assigned the Mike Tyson of surfboards and she was given a beating- punched in the jaw, slammed in the gut, bruised on the shins and knee cap, banged on the head- if there was a referee involved she would have been counted out under a mercy rule. But battered and bruised (she also got upright), she apparently loves the sport and is now talking about dedicating a week in a cheaper part of the world to practice her board mojo. Her new motto- fear is just excitement without breath!! Stay tuned.
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Carol on

I just wish there were some photos of you guys actually in the water on those MASSIVE boards!

Martin on

Deb & Vic, sounds like you're having fun -allowing us working stiffs to continue to live vicariously through both of you. I was going to draw some analogy between surfing and my profession -helping clients ride out the capital markets, but thought I'd spare you some groaning. Anyway, keep 'em coming and look forward to the next post!

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