Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The trip on the way to Cabarete (Part 2 of the beach backwards)

The day before we went surfing we drove from Jarabacoa thru Moca to Cabarete. The drive is amazing. Moca itself is not that exciting - just a typical horrible traffic, chaotic Dominican city, but the drive up the mountains out of the valley on the way to the North coast is gorgeous. Santiago, La Vega & Moca lie in a valley between two huge mountain ridges. Jarabacoa is in the southern of these two. The beaches (Cabarete, Sosua, Puerto Plata, etc.) lie on the other side of the northern mountains. We stop at a little restaurant, El Molino de la Cumbre, to visit the 'facilities' and enjoy the view. Wow, you walk out onto their terrace and it is breathtaking. You can see the whole valley spread out before you. Taking a picture of it is kind of like taking a picture of the Grand Canyon (ok, maybe not quite that grand, but it is still startling.) I could see all the way over to the southern range where Jarabacoa sits nestled in some mountainous nook, but I don't think the pictures do the view justice. Anyway, here are my feeble attempts. (you can click on the images to see a larger version.)

Monday, January 21, 2008

War Wounds & Pila Monster

Surfing makes me sore.
This is how I feel about doing lesson plans this morning:

This is the cut on my foot - it doesn't look that bad, but here where I am not wearing protective foot wear but crocs and flipflops splashing through the mud I want to make sure it does not get infected.

On a happier note, this is my Pila monster:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The beach trip - backwards

Today I tried surfing for the first time.

1st attempt:
It shows my novice status to say, "it is harder than it looks!" No, Really??? I also understand now why almost all female surfers wear two piece suits. I thought my tighter speedo-type suit was a good choice, but unless you have a one piece that comes up to your collar bone it appears not. Everytime you push yourself up the board you end up pushing your swimsuit down. Oops!
Paddling with the board is hard work, as is keeping unshod feet from touching the ocean floor (which is only about 2 feet under your board for most of the trip out.) The greatest difficulty is wave after wave pelting you - and the fact that from perspective of flat on your belly on the board, it is hard to know when you have reached your ever changing destination.

2nd attempt:
This trip out was a little better. Wore my tank top - helpful. The surface was a little calmer but still managed to take in enough salt water to clean the sinuses. First wave I caught I got to my knees -- still haven't managed to stand. By the time I caught the last wave in -- which left me still about 30 feet from shore -- my arms were so tired I wasn't sure if I would be able to paddle in. Laid on the beach and procrastinated for an hour.

3rd attempt: Misty and I rallyed and decided to try one last time before turning in the boards. I paddled out and though the waves were calmer, it actually seemed harder. But this time at least the board felt comfortable under me, and I could position myself faster. Got better at steering it while paddling out, and learned a little better how to work with the waves. There wasn't really anything worth catching...nothing big enough for an inexperienced surfer like me (yes, I just laughed at that phrase) to catch and stand on. So I rode around on my belly for a while. My last trip out a big wave caught my board longways (instead of nose into the wave like one prefers) and rolled me pretty well, and I scratched up my foot on the bottom (and I think it is when I bruised my arm). It was fun, soooo much fun, but man am I tired.

Later we ate dinner on the beach (about a 10 minute drive from where we surfed.) You can see the bruise on the inside of my arm. All in all a wonderful day full of fun and good memories.