Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Surf Tips from Puerto Rico

And, How Not To Be A Gringo…

This morning began with an 8:00 am breakfast at our hotel, Rincon of the Seas. Buffet breakfast is included with the price of the room, and served in the Royal Palm Café, which is next to the gorgeous pool (complete with swim-up bar, which opens in the afternoon). Hint, hint.

After breakfast, we drove 45 minutes to Aguadilla, where National Champion surf-pro William Sue-A-Quan was for us at a “secret surf spot” known as Punta Borinquen, and located near Wilderness Beach, which well known in surfing circles. (Doh – did I just let the secret out?) The thirty-year-old competed throughout the world before coming back to settle down in Puerto Rico, where he has a five-year old son, and started a surf school called Walk On Water.

Before we got in the water, William gave us pointers every beginner should know:

- Check weather conditions. (size of the waves, riptides, weather its high-tide or low-tide)

- If you are a beginner, stay out of the way! (Don’t surf near other people. You could end up “dropping in” on people - cutting them off on a wave – which will get you into trouble, both in and out of the water!)

- Attach the cord to your ankle. (Or, it can get swept away – and cost you to replace it. Also, if you don’t know where it is, the board could bash into you, causing injury.)

- When you’re ready to catch a wave, point yourself toward the shore. When a swell comes, paddle hard, and jump up quickly to a standing position. (This, my friends, is much easier said than done. But, a hellova lot of fun to try…).

The most important lesson William gave us, though was How Not To Be a Gringo. A “gringo” is the equivalent of a Hawaiian “howlie.” Still don’t know what I’m talking about? It’s a beginning surfer, or visitor, who shows up at a ‘locals only’ beach with a surfboard in his hot little hand, and starts acting like he belongs there. If memory serves me correctly, Point Break has a scene where the locals beat the crap out of the new guys. Or, was that Blue Crush? Whatever. You get the point… So, listen up Surfer Dude Wannabe’s:

How Not To Be A “Gringo,” courtesy of William Sue-A-Quam:

1) If you’re not from here, you probably belong somewhere else.

2) If you do get in the water, stay the hell out of the way of others.

3) Absolutely do not drop in on a local. (You or your vehicle may suffer damage)

4) If you’re from another country, and you come to film your surf film in Puerto Rico, and the local guys are cool enough to share their special spots with you, don’t be asses and act like you discovered it. Give credit where its due. Or, you’re basically a douche-bag.

5) Keep the beach clean. As William says, “We care about our beaches because we live here.”

6) If you keep a low-profile, respect the locals and show some skill, they may let you into their circle. William says that can take a while, though. So, don’t necessarily expect it to happen on your weekend in P.R.

We had a great time, though I don’t expect any of us will be joining the pro-circuit just yet. The water is bathtub warm, the waves are relatively gentle and the people are nice. Just don’t embarrass the rest of us “howlies” and act like a “gringo.” We’d like to come back.


claire barrett said...

Looks soooo beautiful, Natalie! Hope you're having fun,


natalie@theliquidmuse.com said...

Thanks, Claire! It is lovely. And, I'm even taking my own photos!