Nov 3, 2009

Surfing in Nicaragua

Surfing at sunset means the waves are at their peak.

After being laid off from a digital advertising agency last spring, I found myself in the cold reality of unemployment. Since the recession began in December 2007, more than 5.7 million jobs have been terminated. And with the unemployment as its highest in 25 years, I didn't feel strength in numbers. I felt lost. So I busted my butt with three interviews a day to find a job, secured a job, signed a contract, and promptly sent myself the next day on a much needed surfing vacation to Monty's Jiquilillo Surf Camp in Jiquililo, Nicaragua.

The first time in the water on the board, the surfing teacher asked, “¿Sabes nadar?”  Can you swim?  I laughed the question off, “¡Sí, claro!”  He said I’d be surprised, many people expect to surf without knowing how to swim.  At least I had that going for me.

I was determined.  The month of joblessly pounding the pavement gave me more determination.  I was hungry to surf.  But even though I was proudly standing on the board the first day out, no one told me how the real struggle isn’t riding the wave, or catching the wave – it’s getting pummeled by wave after wave, trying to get past the breaks to surf.  I felt like my nose was shoved full of salt, my back and shoulders ached, my thighs hurt in places I didn’t know existed. 

Without getting too new agey, the ocean humbled me.  It was just me and the water.  The silent pep talks I gave myself to paddlepaddlepaddle into the wave were admittedly embarrassing.  But there were no interviews, no resumes, no handshakes and no thank you notes.  I had a job, and I could surf.  But more importantly, I was not just the sum of my job.

Buenas olas hoy.

About the author:

Vivian Sarratt is a Senior Interactive Producer in New York City. I met Vivian last year in Buenos Aires when she joined our family for the holidays.

A friendly street vendor in the town of Chinenga
The camp works with leaders in the tiny fishing village of Jiquilillo, to create a social and environmental plan, including a clean water program.
The author and the community guitar at the surf lodge

1 comment:

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