Posted by: Mrs. HSH | January 6, 2012

Surfing with Stingrays (And Not On Purpose)

I’m on a roll with the travel stories, so I’ve got another one for you. Although, I do have my eye on a Windsor chair for our office, but I’ll write more about that later. Back to the fun stuff…

For the New Year’s holiday 2008-09, Jon and I and several of our friends traveled to Costa Rica to spend a couple of weeks on the beach. It was actually one of the most relaxing vacations I’ve ever taken and I have so many fond memories of the trip. However, one that distinctly comes to mind is of a surfing excursion that several of us ladies experienced. After several days of relaxing by the pool and even more days lazing on the beach, one of our friends thought that we all needed a little more activity.  So it was decided that we all needed to take our enjoyment of the ocean to the next level, and actually get in it and go surfing. Quite content with my book and rum concoction, I was a little hesitant to jump into the surfing fray, but decided I’d be a team player. Since none of us really knew how to surf, we thought it prudent to take a lesson at a nearby beach (hot surfing instructors had no influence on our decision whatsoever!)

Plotting our Surfing Adventure

Geared up with board shorts, rash guards and whatever else we thought made us look like real surfers, we gathered round the three guys that introduced themselves as our instructors and their massive boards, ready to learn how to catch a wave. The three American ex-pats quickly ran through the basics: paddle, paddle, paddle, pop-up and ride. Not much of a real lesson, but whatever.  How hard could it be, I thought. Just as we were heading out, dragging our heavy boards behind us, one of the guys stopped short and said, “Dude, watch out for the stingrays. Don’t forget to shuffle your feet as you walk in the water. The stingers like to hang out around here and if you step on them, they’ll get ya!”

Our five minute lesson

That’s all it took for our friend – the organizer of said trip – to stop, drop and… walk away!

Slightly traumatized by an earlier encounter with a jellyfish (and possibly my husband’s offer to pee on her leg to relieve the stinging), our friend just couldn’t hack the idea of wadding through a gaggle of stingrays. To be honest, we were all pretty alarmed by this latest development. However, the money had been exchanged and we were about to step into the water, so the rest of us forged on, although with much trepidation, I have to admit.

Dragging our feet like we were dredging for gold, we wadded through the surf, trying to get out into the waves as quickly as possible. Once on the board, my fears subsided a bit and I was actually able to concentrate on the waves that were about to crash over me. Surfing is exhausting and slightly terrifying if the waves are big and fast enough. And when you’re lying prone on a surfboard, even three foot waves seem huge. So after a while, stingrays were really the last thing on my mind.

Riding for my life...

I could tell that several of the others were still thinking of what lay beneath, as I saw a couple of them sitting on the beach, hanging up their boards only about halfway through our two-hour session. Beginning to get the hang of it, I caught a couple waves and was really starting to enjoy this thing called surfing. But, just as I was beginning to relax, I saw something that sent shock waves through my weary body. A wave headed my way had not three, but four, what appeared to be stingrays riding inside the oncoming blue wall of water, arm to arm (or wing to wing)!

Terrified, I jumped on top of my board as quickly as possible and shrieked at my instructor, yelling, “Rays! Rays!” Not fazed in the slightest, the instructor chuckled and said, “Oh, those are just manatees. They like to surf too.” It must have been the adrenaline because just as the wave approached, I flipped around, paddled as hard as I could and popped up on my board. It was my longest ride of the day. I lasted maybe an entire ten and possibly 15 seconds standing up. Jon was even able to snap a photo just before I wiped out, not too far from the shore. I shuffled the hell out of my feet and practically ran up the shore, dragging my Cadillac of a board behind me.

Our two hours had passed and I had officially “surfed”— and never was I so happy to be on land and out of the damn ocean! Needless to say, the rest of our vacation was spent sipping pĩna coladas by the pool. And, oh were they good!




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