Friday, January 23, 2009



Jen, the jeweler (Stone: pics S and I up from VdP at 7:30am. We make a stop in town to pick up a friend of hers, Kristen (Yoga instructor) and we are off to Playa Guiones. S and I get dropped at The Oasis to get boards and the Tica woman behind the counter who calls me Don Miguel says she’s got “the perfect board for you, Don Miguel.” I say I’m ready to give a shorter board a try, but a slow one.

The board I pick is 6” (a full third shorter than the previous board), lighter and I carry it with it just enough ego-inflation to make me step a bit quicker on the way to el mar. I get impatient. I have a board near the size of the 19-yearolds I see ripping up the big waves. I snap at S to hurry up. She demands I put on Sunblock SPF 5,000 and lathers up my back and off I go. Literally running, into the waves. S has taken a more modest approach and rented a board similar to the one she had the first time out, and no-doubt watches me run off, like a wind-up toy toward the edge of a table, thinks to herself “There goes the man I married.”

First wave, not luck. Second, no luck. Fourth, fifth, sixth – tenth, same. The long board, the slower board I had the first time enabled me to pop up and find stability in the water the way you can imagine trying to pop up and stabilize on a door-sized piece of wood. With the smaller, zippier board, imagine trying to accomplish the above (See: necessary for surfing) on a cucumber.

So back to The Oasis I go for a bigger board after being thoroughly deflated, but I am able to summon a look on my face for passersby like it’s only my towel I’m going back for. Or sunblock. At The Oasis, the Tica woman shakes her head and says “Don Miguel, I gave you wrong board. I am not so good at giving boards.” I grumble dejectedly and slink back to the shed for the previous board. Back to the beach.

First wave I’m up. Then ambition takes hold and I’m trying to ride every wave (waves coming 4 or 5 a minute). But I’m getting up 40% of the time and this seems like pretty good numbers to me.

My chest is chafing from the board. My knees are bruised. The waves come faster and more than once I’m thrown under and come up on the wrong side of the horizon. There are too many surfers out. The beach is crowded. We should have come at 6. I’m getting my ass kicked. S has ridden a handful of successful waves and decided to sit a few rounds on the beach. Because she’s sensible. Because she is patient.

We meet up with Jen and Kristen and drive back to VdP where Kristen is going to teach a yoga class for Harry, his wife, Lucille their daughter and Lucille’s three children (Lucille is here with the children following her husband’s/ the children’s father’s sudden death in June.)

S does yoga too. Dan and Christy arrive and we have lunch on the terrace. S showers and we walk (yes, walk!) to what’s supposed to be the opening yoga class for the RYGLA teacher’s workshop. First we go to the NYI’s main studio. Jen, Kristen, Dan, Christy, Sara and I wait until after we’re sure the class is supposed to have started and no one’s arrived. “It’s yoga, no one’s ever on time?” “Maybe they’re on TicaTime (the unattached, indigenous time schedule = usu. 10 – 15min behind or early)?” “Maybe it’s at another studio?”

Dan and I opt to search the one, maybe two, other places in town where a yoga class could/would be held: Casa Tucan (nope), the beach (yep). Ring of yoga-clad dwellers sitting lotuses. Dan drops me and heads for the rest of the crew.

How long do I wait before walking over and joining the group? Long enough to make it obvious I’m either wanting to be a part of or I’m stalking one of the participants.

I sit, a woman offers to make space in the ring for me. I look to the road to the beach, hoping S & Co. will be just now walking over and I won’t have to do this alone.

…the group is probably 20 in size, centered around the RYGLA (who is wearing a small bikini, cowboy hat, sunglasses and holding a petrified peapod which at first glance I mistake for a piece of charcoaled firewood or flashlight or microphone) – everyone is fixated on her. She gives the group the instructions that when the peapod is passed to you you repeat “Oooom wave, mighty wave, glorious wave, my name is (insert name) and this year is going to be a year of (insert value).” The peapod starts going around. I look back to the road – Sara Please be there! – and nothing. Meanwhile other people – vacationers, locals, surfers, joggers, families – are passing by with one eyebrow raised in our direction.

“Ooom wave, mighty wave, glorious wave my name is ___________ and this year is going to be a year of Glory!”

Someone rescue me, please. Ayuda is the Spanish word for Help.

The five year-old next to me doesn’t say the wave part and can’t think of anything this year is going to be about. I take similar tack and mumble something about courage. Pass the pod. “Ooom wave…..”

Jen, Kristen, Dan, Christy and Sara arrive as RYGLA takes off down the beach with her boyfriend, holding hands and I’m left to explain the bit about the circle, the sand and the dedication into the ocean. (RYGLA told me – me! – to instruct “your friends” “when they arrive” to draw a circle in the sand with Peapod, draw in that circle the representations of items we’d like to leave behind at this retreat, then wipe the circle clean, take a handful of flowers and dedicate them to the mighty, glorious ocean.) None are too keen on the whole deal, self included, so we splash in the ocean, take pictures of the glorious, mighty sunset and drive back up the hill for dinner at VdP. Our last meal in Paraiso is deep fried Red Snapper. We say our goodbyes and head to bed early (tomorrow our bus departs downtown at 7).


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