I have long wanted to surf. In fact, that’s one of the reasons we found ourselves in Arica for a few days at the start of the trip. The surfing in Arica is excellent, the water as warm as it gets in Chile, and it is home to YoYo, surf instructor extraordinaire. YoYo picked us up in his lifted four-wheel drive minibus with surfboards on the roof and a Swedish girl in the passenger seat and we headed for Playa Chinchorro. En route, YoYo explained that we were going to have a zen experience on the water and that we needed to let ourselves go over to the waves. The spot YoYo selected was full of very large turtles with heads the size of softballs languidly paddling through the swells. After some brief on-beach instruction, we headed to the water. This involved a painful barefoot walk over blisteringly hot sand, which was less of a problem than the bruising walk over and through rocks to get into the ocean. The discomfort heightened the experience and made us even more grateful to be in the ocean.
After learning to paddle properly on our long boards, YoYo set us up to catch waves, initially while laying on the boards to learn to feel the moment when we had caught the wave. Jen, Clark, and I had great rides back into the shore and paddled back out. Paddling proved quite the workout, particularly since we stayed out for a few hours. We managed to stand up on a few waves, which was unexpected and awesome, and motivated us to keep paddling to catch more waves until we could barely move our arms.
We were too busy surfing to take pictures, but here’s a shot of two happy surfers afterwards, in front of YoYo’s van.