Life has been so crazy lately. Between trying to get all of my work done and adjusting to life as a single mom, I feel like I’ve spent the last month in survival mode. Stressed, tired, and finally at the end of my rope, I boarded a plane headed for Nicaragua to spend five days in the company of strangers, learning to surf at Chicabrava, an all-women surf camp. It seemed like lunacy when I was driving to the Miami airport at the un-Godly hour of 3am. But you know what? It turned out to be the best decision of the year. I spent four glorious days filled with laughter, sun, amazing food, and being challenged by some amazing waves.
First, let’s cover the logistics. I’m very comfortable traveling alone, but my friends definitely had their reservations about me flying alone into a third-world country. The good news is that Chicabrava gave me very specific details about where to meet my driver after I arrived in Managua (Nicaragua’s capital city). Our appointed meet-up time was 12:30pm and my plane arrived a couple of hours before that, but I found a comfortable seat near the departures area and had time to check my emails via the free wifi.
Once the meeting time neared, I spotted my driver, Carlos, holding his “Chicabrava” sign and shortly, the others who were sharing this adventure with me started arriving one by one. We came from so many different places – Detroit, Houston, Brooklyn, Manchester (England), Minneapolis – but during the two-hour drive to San Jan Del Sur (our final destination), we quickly got to know one another. Meeting other adventuring souls is one of the best parts of traveling solo!
Once we arrived at the Cloud Farm Satellite property (about 4pm), we were greeted by Anna, the Operations Manager, and Lindsay, the concierge. We were there to learn to surf and would have a schedule to follow for most of the week, but first, it was time to throw on a bathing suit and relax by the pool before dinner and details. It was exactly what was needed after a travel day that started in the pre-dawn hours.
After we were rejuvenated by a dip in the infinity pool, we sat around the dining room table and were treated to a ridiculously good meal cooked by the very talented Catalina. I soon realized that every meal was a feast and that the trip to Nicaragua was worth it alone for a seat at Catalina’s table. Stuffed and satisfied, we got our quick “Welcome to Camp” orientation and found out that we would be surfing for three hours a day for the next three days. We would also have classroom sessions where we learned surf theory and we would also get to review videos of our sessions to see how we can improve.
Besides the surfing, we also had fun excursions. Some of us opted to tour the Cloud Farm by horseback while others hiked.
We visited the first bilingual education school in San Juan Del Sur, which is a non-profit that Chicabrava works closely with and we spent our down time checking out the town of San Juan Del Sur.
Now, let’s get to the surfing, which is the reason (more or less) why we were all there.
I’m not going to lie, I was a bit intimidated by the perfect surf conditions and the prospect of spending so much time out in the water, but the good news is that I had nothing to worry about. First of all, I wasn’t the only novice there, which was a huge relief. Second, we were in great hands. Our surfing instructors – Steff, Angie, and Sarah – were knowledgeable, supportive, and above all, concerned about our safety. They were also ridiculously cool girls who just love to surf and want to help others gain confidence in the water.
Honestly, the girls were the best part of the whole experience. I don’t know the last time that I laughed so hard. Plus, it was awesome that each time you caught a wave, you had a whole crew of women cheering you on.
Each evening, we would get back from surfing, stuff ourselves, and then gather to chat by the pool with the wine that we picked up in town. It was exactly what I needed; what we all needed! By our second day there, I knew that I would be back. I realized the importance of taking the time to step outside of my normal life to rejuvenate and to try something new. I felt refreshed, satiated, and even though I could have easily spent a second week lounging in the waves and by the pool, I was ready to go home to my kids to be present for them. I was no longer in survival mode. Instead, I was looking forward to the new future that the kids and I would have and the adventures that we would take together.
Whether surfing is your thing or not, I cannot say enough good things about attending Chicabrava Surf Camp. It was well organized, the accommodations were great, and it was a blast. So tell me, are you game for a surf adventure?