Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Teacher Turned Student.

Sunday 8th September – First Surf Lesson

Unsurprisingly I slept in fairly late after our mammoth trip back from Kumasi the day before. I had a lazy morning on the beach after a late breakfast waiting for the tide to get high so I could surf. I met Peter on the beach and we decided that today would be the day that we would finally do my first surf lesson, at about 2pm when the tide got high and the waves got better. Simon was around as well and decided he would take my Go-Pro out and film me and the local guys from the water as we surfed.

I was nervous about my first surf lesson. I have been surfing sporadically for 11 years now and had never taken a lesson before. I taught myself by looking at what others were doing and copying them as well as learning by trial and error in the water but recently I have felt like I have hit a block. My turns aren’t improving as quickly as I would have hoped and I still get left behind by some of the more experienced guys when paddling for waves. It’s not even a fitness thing. I have been swimming regularly at home and surfing pretty much every day for 2 months here so its not my paddle fitness. It must be my technique. At 80¢ the lesson is cheap by international standards but it is still a fair bit of money here. I just had to hope it paid off. On my own through trial and error it could take months or even years to improve significantly. It was still nerve racking. What if everything I was doing was wrong? Would I have to start my technique all again from scratch?
Peter. My oh so serious teacher.
I needn’t have worried. Peter was an excellent teacher. Full of energy and enthusiasm as always he first took me through my paddling technique, something I had barely considered before. He showed me how I should start off by paddling slowly in to the right position before breaking in to a sprint just as the wave bared down on you. We headed in to the water to practice. It was slow progress but I started to get in the right places and power myself in the waves much quicker than before which gave me more time on the face. Then it was back in to shore to work on my stance. My feet were too far forward on the board, my body was too straight and upright and I didn’t use my body and arms when I turned. He adjusted my stance so that my back foot was over the fins, cocked in, body low with my weight more over my front foot which was in the middle of the board angled at about 45 degrees to give greater maneuverability. We headed back in to practice. It took a while to fight my muscle memory and get in to my new stance but I was beginning to get it. On every wave I could start to identify where I was going wrong and would often paddle back out to Peter shouting

“Yeah I know. Too far forward.”

Simon was ducking and diving in the impact zone videoing anyone who got a wave, whooping and hollering as he did. When I got the technique right I felt fluid and maneuverable but I still ended up in the wrong one more often than not. At least I knew what I was doing wrong now.
A much improved stance after my lesson. Still need to work on that back leg though.
Peter called me back in to the beach again where he took me through how to snap the lip by slowing down my turns, getting more speed before a dive down and up the wave face before a quick turn as you were getting towards the top which would send the spray flying in to the air. Simple in theory though in practice I couldn’t quite nail it, though I was getting closer and closer to the snap with each passing wave. Surely it wouldn’t be long until it clicked, or should that be snapped? After a while Peter headed in leaving me to practice. I surfed the rest of the day, improving all the while, to the light faded and my arms were close not only to giving out but maybe falling off as well. I came in amped. I had made leaps and bounds (but not snaps unfortunately) forward and with a little more practice I was sure I would get there. The lesson was definitely worth the 80¢ and more. Why had I not thought to do this before? I could be surfing like Kelly Slater by now… well, maybe just a whole lot better. 

Friday 13th September – Jewelry
Not a bad place to spend an afternoon.
Eben and I had spent the morning in Takoradi (not my favourite place in the world). I applied for my visa extension, got the rest of my malaria pills (yes mum, I am taking them every day), got money out and got some other bits and bobs I needed. Eben went to the bank, bought supplies and then we both went to try and see the plastic man about collecting our plastic, but he wasn’t in. The Mme at the centre said she would pass on the message, though we still weren’t holding our breath.

We got back to Busua later than planned and I had a late lunch. Eben called to say that school had ended earlier than usual so there would be no after school today as the kids had already gone home. There was no surf and the afternoon was hot. I went and saw Abu, a Nigerian (that’s Niger not Nigeria) who make jewelry and sells it on the beach. He collects beads, stones, seeds and other materials from all over West Africa to make his pieces. I have been talking to him for a while about making some earrings with him as gifts for people at home and today seemed perfect.
The finished product.
Abu and I sat for a couple of hours together on the beach, under his umbrella, picking out beads and stones we liked and arranging them in to earrings. When we were happy with our arrangements we used pliers to bend the metal and create a loop for the hook to hang off. Abu’s friend, a musician from Burkina Faso sat with us playing all the while. It was a relaxing afternoon especially with Abu as company, a very chilled out, happy, well traveled and intelligent companion, we chatted all the while. I made 3 pairs as gifts for home. I paid Abu 10¢ even though he only wanted 5 but I had a nice day and said the rest was for a beer (Abu is not the strictest Muslim in that respect).
Gem hunting amongst Abu's impressive collection of beads, stones etc.
Earrings made we sat and drank late in to the night playing drinking games with some volunteers. The night flew by and it was almost 3am by the time I fell in to bed.
Abu somehow seems to be this smiley all the time.

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