Cautiously Optimistic

Foreign Service LifePeru
December 28, 2013

Nick and I have been searching (unsuccessfully) for a joint hobby for the better part of seven years.  Our differences definitely make us work well as a couple, but they make it very hard to find mutual interests.  He wants nothing to do with my suggestions – yoga, pilates, pottery, photography, biking or canoeing and my arthritic body can’t handle his preferences – white-water kayaking, rock climbing, kiteboarding and other extreme sports.

We had high hopes for scuba diving, sailing and tennis but alas, none were right for one reason or another.  We started considering Stand-up Paddleboarding after my sister Jenna took a lesson and recommended it to me.  Nick had mild interest in it, so we decided to give it a go.  We were both a little nervous, as we always get our hopes up that this will be the one and then when it doesn’t work out we’re both bummed out.

SUP 001

We headed south one hour to Punta Hermosa for our lesson with Victor.  Being my non-sporty self I was slightly petrified but determined to give it my best go in service of my marriage.  Victor and I went out first so he could get me settled before returning with Nick.  It was immediately evident to me that the board, while looking huge and stable, was surprisingly not so.

SUP 003

When we got out into the ocean Victor had me get on my hands and knees and then slowly bring myself to standing.  Oh how I wanted it to be easy but no less than 10 seconds later I was inhaling a gallon of sea water.  This would be the first of many, many falls that day.  Then, just as I climbed back on my board for the first time Victor abandoned me to go get Nick.  Literally, he just left me in the ocean (without a soul near me).  So I’m sitting there imagining getting eaten up by sharks and praying that they’d hurry back.  Thankfully, I did not have to make it through a shark attack but I still had 50 minutes of the lesson to survive.  Victor repeated the process with Nick and I was comforted by the fact that he was just as wobbly as me.


The 45 minutes went something like this: get on hands and knees, stand up, wobble, fall into the water, climb up on board, get on hands and knees, stand up, wobble, fall into the water, climb up on board, get on hands and knees, stand up, wobble, fall into the water, climb up on board.  Each time was a teensy bit easier but I never was able to stand for more than 30 seconds or switch the paddle from one side of my body to the other without falling.  That being said, I didn’t give up.  I just kept going through the motions, determined to improve.

25 falls later the lesson was over.  Victor pushed me back to shore on the board.  My entire body felt beat up (and in fact it had been in some ways – I had the bruises to show for it).  I also must have taken in a bit too much sea water during my falls because just as we’re nearing shore I start heaving and throw up my lunch.  Not a pretty sight to see the remnants floating away out to sea…

Despite being way more challenging than it looked, there was something so peaceful about being high above the water on a board.  I could definitely envision myself enjoying it with time and practice.  Most importantly though, my joints didn’t hurt afterward, so it could be a sustainable practice for me.  Nick and I were also both at the same level of learning, so we’d be able to grow together without one of us being bored while the other learned.

Nick and I are cautiously optimistic that this might be THE ONE.  We’re going to do two more lessons here and then look into buying a season pass for the summer at an operation in DC on the Potomac to keep honing our skills.  It’s too bad I don’t have a pic of me or Nick on the board – I’ll see if Victor can snap a few next time.  Stay tuned – there’s more to come on this…

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  1. Shannon says:

    I so want to try paddling boarding. I haven’t found a place to give it a go here in Oman yet. I hope it works out for you.

  2. Bethany says:

    You should stay at Casa Barco when you’re there next – even though you’re not that far of a drive – Nia would love the pool and the balconies overlooking the ocean :-)

  3. Parents says:

    Good work guys. I thought you were going to do paddle boarding in Bend, OR when you come here in May. Sure hope so. Maybe the calm river approach will help you stabilize you cores better. Woo Hoo!!!!

  4. Sarah Novak says:

    Great, thanks for the suggestion! We just might do that…

  5. Sarah Novak says:

    We’ll probably try it there too as a river is much different than the ocean!

  6. E says:

    I hate to rain on your parade, because I also love SUPing at the beach… But it is my understanding that swimming in the Potomac is not advised for health reasons, particularly below DC. I think I’d stick to canoeing or kayaking.

  7. Sarah Novak says:

    Good to know… guess I’ll have to improve dramatically before then so I don’t fall off anymore!

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