So, previously I wrote about getting started and made it sound like a sabbatical was granted and *poof* I was in Portugal. As with all things, the reality within the cut-to sequence was infinitely more varied and yes, stressful.
The apartment packing was exactly like every apartment packing has ever been since the beginning of time; boxes everywhere, complete inability to find anything and far too much stuff. We eventually managed to organise our things into the ‘bring’ and ‘store’ piles and began to load up the Polo with what we considered essentials. The plan to leave Luxembourg at 16.00 on a Friday evening was a complete failure and around 20.30 we finally managed to hit the road, highly agitated, nervous and tired. Our initial intention had been to drive the five hours to Orléans and break the journey roughly half way. With the week we had had however, we could not face the thought of arriving anywhere at 1 am. Instead we made a short two hour journey to the French town of Troyes where a comfortable ibis greeted us.
The next morning, a little bit more refreshed, we headed south west again, audiobook queued up and excited about the future. We arrived at our apartment towards 6 o’clock in the evening, where we were greeted by Juju, neither friendly nor unfriendly, and thoroughly French. With the wind howling and rain beating down, a cold apartment and tired from the journey we felt a little overwhelmed. We dashed to the supermarket before it closed, leaving the heating cranked up to try and make the place more welcoming for our return.
After a slow Sunday where we recovered from our trip, Monday brought great excitement as we set out to find surfboards for ourselves. Our first, very own surfboards.
We drove to Boardriders in St Jean de Luz and, for the first time ever, purposefully went to browse the surfboards. I was conscientious that I did not want to fall into the trap of buying something to small, and I also did not want to buy something too squeaky new and clean. I stumbled across a test board that could not have fit my bill more perfectly. A nice size 7′ epoxy that was not too new, but new enough that I was excited by it. Already covered in wax, and with a significant discount attached to it for the privilege, I knew I had found my board.
As I was looking for something ‘progressive’, that would allow me to evolve as a surfer while guaranteeing that I could, well, you know, stand up, the 7′ 45 litre board did also scare me. With so few litres, and as a hard board, the purchase felt quite daunting. Especially as, even with the discount, it was one of the most expensive purchases of the year. While the kindly assistant helped us navigate leaches, wax, fins and board covers, I dipped between sheer excitement and apprehension.
The next day, in Ben’s lunch break, we took the purchase out for a spin in the water. To have my own board felt amazing, and the little thing was nifty and nimble in the water. Weighing almost nothing, when she worked you could zoom through the water at top speeds, but the wiping out in shallow water left me scared, for the board, for myself and for anyone who may be near me as I wiped out. I became a lot more conscious of the board and people around me, as the hard fibres would not be anywhere near as forgiving on people’s heads as previously rented foamies.
And this was really the beginning of the sabbatical. Boards acquired (Ben bought his a week later) we fell into a routine of surfing at lunch time and crashing out in the evenings. Our world slowly started to orbit around surfing – tides, weather, physical condition – became a part of our daily checks.
We were starting, extremely slowly, to become surfers.
I named the board Jasmin. A whole new world.