On that Sunday morning I woke up tired, dreading the surfing experience, dragging my feet to the water taxi, where I met with my two other colleagues Melissa and Emily, and my friend Rachel. Before I continue telling you more about my surf lesson, I wanted to make a quick parenthesis about my previous experience with surfers – I was convinced for many, many years that surfers were dumb, sometimes good looking, but mainly brainless and uninteresting "dudes" with long blond hair. Back to the theory part of our lesson – actually, believe it or not, this is the most important part! Luis showed us how to lay down on the board, and how to get up (the looser version in 3 steps, and the cool one for those who get it right away!), and more importantly the security instructions to follow strictly. So let's recap – we get to ride the girly looser waves, and on top of that I get the looser board..
I felt like my 10 footer was heavy as hell, but that could have just been a distorted impression of someone who is really (not) fit. I am very happy that I was forced to try this out, because otherwise I would have missed the chance to experience something that I didn't know I would be capable of and that I actually like, and I cannot wait until the girls and I can go for a second round.
Victoria Covey has a full page write up in WSSM and a half page ad for one of her sponsors!
I am responsible for helping future students plan their trip to Panama, and set up their Spanish Program. I attend the occasional Yoga class, love to go to the beach (Bocas del Toro has loads of them) and run maybe twice per week just to say "I did it", so it is fair to say that I am not exactly physically fit.


We took a small boat, and only 2 minutes later we arrived on Isla Carenero where the surf school is located.
From my own experience I can tell you, that if you don't follow the advice of the (very smart) surf instructor, you will fall off and swallow a significant amount of salt water! Luis never left our side, and checked every one of our moves from his sea kayak – this was great! This also means that I have to be in a position to give my opinion and recommendations, when it comes to suggesting activities and eco-adventure tours in Boquete & Bocas del Toro.
As soon as we arrived we were greeted by our very friendly instructor, Luis Bertone from La Escuela del Mar Surf School, who has been surfing for over 25 years. Once the theory was finished, he gave us rash guards and water shoes, so that we would not get hurt or sunburned.
This is one of the coolest parts of my job - I get to try out every single activity before offering it. So imagine my expression when my boss (and excellent surfer) told me "Evelyne, on Sunday morning at 9AM, you are going to take a surf lesson and give us feedback". Now I understand how this activity can monopolize people's entire evening conversations, talking just about that one wave! Well, would you take advice from someone who hasn’t done any of the tours you are asking about?


The simple thought of getting up early on a Sunday morning (yes, 9AM is early!) already gave me nightmares. He took a quick look at us, and decided that we qualified for the baby waves (also called the "kitty pool" by the cool people who make fun of amateurs like me). Having a huge (baby) wave arriving at full (baby) speed behind you, and then getting ready to take it (Luis pushes you) is a very pleasant experience full of adrenalin! OK, the conversation part is still boring, but I definitely want to keep trying this incredibly exhausting, fun and challenging sport. I now admit not all surfers are dumb (I do have to say that my boss is a very intelligent person, and so is Luis!) and I respect them a whole lot more.
Luis yelled "get up" and of course I fell off of my looser board, in the looser wave, proving the magic carpet theory wrong. I would recommend a surfing class to anyone visiting Bocas del Toro, no matter how old or young you are! It is also safe if you follow the instructions, and if you do it with friends, you also get a good laugh out of watching them.



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