We just happened to meet a famous Panamanian surfer on Saturday. I was flipping through a surfing magazine that was sitting out at a restaurant in Playa Venao, Panama. One of the girls AT the restaurant looked SO familiar!! And so we asked her if it was her. Nope, it wasn't. But she was in the magazine in a photo on another page. HA. I ended up getting her autograph. In conversation to her, I mentioned that I want to learn to surf. Then Nicole had a BRILLIANT idea. Why not stay for two more days in the beach/surf town, and take lessons from the famous surfer? Puchycoco agreed to teach us for just $25. Each. For two lessons. Total. (I paid $75 for a lesson in Bali.) So I agreed and she even offered to pick us up from where we were staying 40 minutes away from the beach, since she had a car and it was on her way.
We took this mini weekend trip with 8 other people in a van, and so we had to part ways with them and forgo our ride back to Panama City, but it was worth it. We ended up getting a hostel on the beach and taking two lessons, one on Sunday and one on Monday. The first day it was really difficult because the waves kept pounding in and it was hard to try and stand up. Puchycoco suggested we wait until low tide at 5pm and so we did, and I was able to stand up like a million times. On Monday, she took us out past the break to the more high waves. That was super hard, but once I got the hang of it, I caught a bunch more waves. Puchycoco doesn't speak English, so I felt a little bit handicapped, but I understood enough. I think.
"Ray-ma, ray-ma, ray-ma, ray-ma, ray-ma, ray-ma, ray-ma, ray-ma, ray-ma!" (Don't forget to roll the R.)This is the phonetic spelling for what I assume means, "Paddle, paddle, paddle!", etc because she would scream it at me when it was time to prepare for the wave coming. You have to paddle like crazy so the wave will take you. It's hard work, and right now my arms are SO SORE. I swear for the rest of my life, I will hear Puchycoco's cute little voice in my head whenever I am paddling a surfboard. Then she would scream, "AAARRRRRRIIIIIIBA", or "Get up!" And sometimes I would.
...and I only thought about sharks like four times.