Holiday Blues , First Day Back from a Surftrip

I arrived back in the UK less than 24 hours ago after another fabulous surf trip to Surf Star Morocco.  I’m never  prepared for the shock of the first day at home. I’m so flat today I’m only a  few moments away from sobbing my heart out and I feel like I’ll never get over it.  I took  my  first walk to the shop earlier. Down the cold grey streets, walking past the  grey houses and  the grey people it hit me,  this is my grey life.
As I sorted through my bag and grains of sand fell on the kitchen floor I thought about  the warm colours  of Morocco, the deep reds and earthy oranges of the houses which  glow in the sunset when I look out towards Taghazout.  The splashes of  bright  blue of the fishing boats and  the jalabas and head scarves of the camel guides. I remember  the unknown smells and sounds, the fires that filled the village with a smoky haze, the mosque’s call to prayer , the orchestra of dogs barking in the distance and  the inky blanket of stars at night.
Of course a  trip to Morocco always means surf, fun and some massive, massive laughs. But,  it almost always has some sort of transformative effect on people  and this trip was no different. Having been through what can only be described as ,  the trauma of being a beginner surfer I had the joy of having two friends along for the ride going through it for the first time. While Surf Bloke went off to do ‘grown up’ surfing, we named ourselves Team Circus on account of our ridiculousness on the beach.  It was an absolute pleasure  to watch the highs and lows, the epic battle of body and mind  and finally the reward when they both got to stand up and ride a wave. What a beautiful moment on the last day when the entire beach and the line up erupted into cheers every time someone got a wave, after all,  we’d all been through the battle together.
The peacefulness and total detachment from normal life that people always feel at Surf Star gives you head space to think about the things your brain is normally too busy for. At one point I forgot what the inside of my house looked like.  Many people during our week said they had thought about the things they want out of life or want to achieve  and were  motivated  to make some changes back at home, surfing will do that to you. It gives you a motivation to go out and grab life by the balls  outside of the water too.
So, with heavy,  thankful hearts, tired limbs, a collection of bruises,  a serious ibuprofen addiction and a head full of happy memories all we can do is accept a return to  normality tomorrow, start work on the grand plans we have come back with  and plan the next trip. Thanks to the wonderful team at Surf Star Morocco once again  xx
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Tired of Solo Surf Trips? How to brainwash your mates into coming surfing with you

UPDATE:   Today is a momentous day in the brainwashing process of my non surfing best mate. I’m about to pick up his first proper surfboard! It started slowly and recently the brainwashing produced a result. The purchase of a hood, boots and gloves and a lush winter surf at New Year was closely followed by a ‘ I’m hankering for a wave’,  and today the process is complete! Congratulations Long Legs, like Kelly Slater said, surfing is like the mafia, once your’e in you’re in. Welcome.

Read my original post below about how it all started.

Finally, I have done it. I convinced a non-surfer friend into coming on a surf trip in an attempt to make them into a surfer. Not a weekend in the UK, oh no. My non surf friend, who also had no inclination to visit Africa, is coming on a one week trip to Surfstar Morocco. Hehe, I’m good at this.

So why is this a triumph? Well, I don’t have any surf friends living anywhere near me, the nearest being a 3 hour drive away meaning there’s little opportunity for impulsive one night trips over to Wooly or Scarborough. To address this, like Dr.Frankenstein I’ve been trying to actually  make a surf friend, hopefully the outcome will be that at  least one of my mates will  occasionally say, ‘yes I’m in’ when I decide to drive the 3 hours to the sea for one night rather than me actually creating a monster.

Of course, I can go away alone and I’m not too bad at meeting new people, I’ve done this and I’ve loved it. Sometimes though, you just want an old pal to come along on a trip. You know where you are, your friendship has a familiar rhythm, you can have a full conversation including jokes with punchlines with just a funny look and no words, you know there’s someone there who will whoop your wave when necessary even if they didn’t see it, and vitally, they know what to order for you at the bar while you take ages over your post surf shower. More than anything though, is that you just want to share the wondrous thing that has taken over your life with your friend so they can experience even a little of that feeling themselves.

So, you see why I’m stoked that I convinced Long Legs into coming to Morocco. A whole week there with me, Surf Bloke and the SurfStar Morocco crew and he’s sure to want to surf again, meaning the possibility of an ocassional  surf buddy living just around the corner.  For anyone in the same position, trying to convert a friend this is how I did it.

HOW TO ‘MAKE’ A SURF BUDDY FROM A NON SURFER IN 7 SNEAKY STEPS

Subliminal Messages. Two years of mentioning the words surf, sea and waves at least ten times an hour every time we meet even though we are not talking about surfing.

Gentle Suggestion,  England is so cold, did you know it’s 25 degrees today in Morocco? You really should get some winter sun you look tired and pale.

Great Expectations. The waves are perfect for learning and the teaching is fantastic you’ll be up on the first day (all true)

Tactical Gift Giving: Happy Christmas, here you go, have a rash vest.

Feigning Nonchalance.  ‘I haven’t booked my flight yet’   Me, nonchalantly and audibly, ‘whatever’.  Inside screaming, book the fucking flight now, I need to convert you.

Boobs: There will be loads of hot girls there in bikinis and yes they will need help with their sun cream. I’m ashamed of this, sorry in advance to all of the surf chicks in the world, I know this is a very low move.

Blatant Lying.  No, we won’t be surfing from dawn until dusk for 7 days and not see any of the culture and no you won’t get bruised ribs again.

While writing this post,  now that it’s all booked and paid for  I asked Long Legs for his version of what I said  when I was trying to sell a surf holiday to him and  this is the exact response I got .

‘It’s hot all year with more tagines than one man could possibly eat.  The water is like glass, not like Fuerte or Wales (the other 2 times he tried there were pretty rough conditions) so you’ll be up on the first day. The man brings you coffee on the beach. You can buy a rug for 50p and yet a bag of spice costs £50 (a reference to Surf Bloke who famously came back from Agadir with said bag of spices) Eldorado can be found up on the hill, there are goats in trees’

This made me laugh and realise that I’ve not really been sneaky  or strategic at all. I didn’t need to be.  I just told the truth about how fantastic Morocco is. Apart from not being able to guarantee glassy waves, the rest is true.  It would be nice if once in a while after this trip we do a surf weekend here or there but, if he gets really good, better than me during this week there’s going to be big trouble and we all know what happens when I sulk .

If you haven’t read my post Surf, Sulk and the Hulk click here to read it.

Magical Morocco Surftrip

 Getting There

387821_112750995508342_964498276_nUnfortunately my much anticipated trip was temporarily cancelled due to some serious floods in the Agadir region but,  was reinstated a few days later as Surfstar Morocco had managed to get operational.  So,  with a few hours notice I booked a flight from Manchester to have a quick 4 night trip and  I found myself at Agadir airport where I was picked up by Bahs one of the surf instructors.

 The drive through Agadir really brought home that I had crossed into a different continent; the look, the atmosphere, the what seems like chaotic roads and driving that works perfectly well somehow, the buildings, the dress of the people, the fleeting sound of people’s voices as we speed past, the odd goat at the side of the road, roadside stalls, smells wafting from cafes into the van window. It’s a feeling I love and haven’t felt for a while. Like much of North Africa it’s a little shall we say, different to what Europeans are used to. For many including me this, along with the warmth and hospitality of the people is what is so charming and appealing about Morocco.

 The House

We pulled off the coast road and up a winding hill to the SurfStar house to be enthusiastically greeted like old friends by Lucie, Pip and Laura and to be told that as it was only 1pm they were going to get us fed, settled into our rooms and get us shipped off to the beach for a quick surf asap. So far so brilliant!

 I was overwhelmed as Laura gave us the welcome tour at just how gorgeous the Surfstar house is, especially the first time I walked into the covered rooftop lounge/eating area. I love fairly lights so this was an easy win for me. The view from the outdoor roof terrace, the enchanting sounds of Morocco in the background as the sun dips into the sea. My room was equally lovely and I was spoilt by having it all to myself. Although, the whole house is so spacious I imagine even during busier times it never feels horribly full.

 I had the almost full package (everything apart from yoga) which included meals, surf, room and airport transfers. The food was fantastic. I feel a bit bad that I don’t remember the names of the chefs, they are all local, the food is delicious and they are always smiling.  Breakfast of yummy local bread, jam, fruit, cereal and sometimes eggs was a great start to the day and the coffee was divine.  Lunch was brought to the beach and evenings were 3 courses, soups, salad, chicken and lamb tagines, cous cous, chocloate mousse, all really good post surf healthy home cooked food. One night a week it’s the kitchen’s night off so we headed out for pizza in Taghazout, 2 miles away by taxi.

 The Surfing

The surfing itself consists of a prompt 9.30am departure and setting up a full on camp on arrival at the surf spot with little umbrellas and cooler boxes full of food. There’s friendly beach dogs playing and running around looking for a fuss or for you to throw stones for them to fetch, there’s camels that you can ride, herds of little goats (but they are disappointingly  not in trees)  and a zillion cats hanging around the fishing shacks.  At Devil’s rock you can get a great cafe au lait for a euro in the little beach cafe a few steps from the surf. This really is a full day of surfing, arriving at the surf spot around 9.45am and leaving around 4.30pm.  The morning consists of a proper lesson and after lunch is followed by free surfing in the afternoons. The guys are on hand on the beach making sure everyone is ok but leave you to get on and practice. I had teachers Barak, Bahs and Khaleed and Boba the photographer was always there with a word of encouragement too. I definitely progressed during my 4 days and only wished I could have had longer. I’m someone who needs a few days to build their confidence back up again after a break from surfing so I felt like I was just getting into the swing of things and it was time to leave.

It was nice to see Lucie, Laura and Pip take advantage of a quiet week and join us for a surf too.  I got very attached to my big green board that we named ‘the hulk’ and to my fellow surf buddies, two awesome guys from Germany and an American bloke who called me ‘the hulk’ . The waves were a bit dodgy the first two days on account of the storms that had just passed but, after that they were some of the cleanest conditions I’d surfed in. So much so that my dodgy shoulder behaved itself as I wasn’t in a paddle battle with the ocean to get back out on my giant board.

On my last day I felt quite emotional leaving, I’d only been there 4 days but I felt a real bond. I also felt refreshed and stoked from the surf. As a 40 year old very wobbly improver travelling alone I had been worried about whether a surf camp was for me, would I fit in and would I find common ground with people, would I be the oldie left in the corner? I had nothing to worry about. If you want to go to bed at 8.30pm go, I won the prize for first to bed every night and was very proud of my status! And of course the comedy of surfing crosses cultures, languages and ages. There’s so much potential for making a buffoon of yourself while surfing that doing it together instantly creates a bond and limitless material for banter at dinner time.

 As my flight was at 8pm they let me stay surfing until the last minute at 4pm. I came back to the house to grab my stuff and say bye to Lucie, Pip and Laura. On coming down the stairs for the last time I stopped purposefully at a certain point to take in a deep breath and commit how I felt to memory. You see, there’s a smell when you walk into the ground floor of Surfstar Morocco, just as you pass the stairs down to the basement. It’s a smell that almost knocks you off your feet. Forevermore when I get hit with the smell of neoprene I’ll always remember walking down the beautiful tiled stairwell getting ready for the days surfing just about to start and how happy, relaxed, welcome and at home I felt.

Tamraght offers access to all of the same surf as it’s famous neighbour Taghazout but, it’s quieter, cleaner and less busy.  I’m afraid I can’t comment on the yoga as it wasn’t scheduled for the week I was there but, it is available and information is on the website.  If like me you have avoided surf houses because of some of the shenanigans going on and poor accommodation then fear not! Surfstar is a million miles away from this. I’m planning to go back again with my bloke surf mate and cannot wait to see the place in full swing with more people gathered around the dinner table and more people to have a laugh with, it’s certainly going to be different to my first visit but, I’m excited all the same.

Surfstar has a relaxing and inclusive feel and there is an established, brilliant team that work hard to nurture this. They seem to genuinely care about each other and the guests and have a passion for surfing, hospitality and people. Lucie and Mo have created a warm family environment and once you arrive you are in the Surfstar family and you will be going back!

 Further Inofrmation

Click here for SurfStar website

Booking enquiry here be sure to mention Surfabella or Clare UK in the ‘how did you find us’ box

 For flights  check skyscanner for all countires and airlines flying to Agadir