The wave has taken me under and, fleetingly, I panic. Relief comes as I gasp for air and choke out the water from my lungs. I don’t seem to be making much progress with my surfing. I guess forty is a bit late to start, but why not? The waves are huge and relentless today. It takes some effort to hold on to your surf board as you venture further out from the shore in search of the ‘perfect wave’.
After two hours of effort I do finally manage to stand up on the board. This is ‘base one’ in the surfing learning curve. From here on in I will need to be able to do this regularly, and only then will I genuinely be able to start riding the waves and be able to call myself ‘a surfer’. One of the lads I came down here with, who’s from Derry, has ended up with a broken nose from the waves smacking the board against his face. Michael has also got blood coming from his mouth after falling off and getting properly whacked. I’m going to call it a day and take satisfaction from my small bit of progress, before I get my teeth knocked out.
Today is day 42 of my trip i.e. the halfway point of my adventure in New Zealand, Fiji & Samoa. This thought leaves me feeling slightly deflated. At this point in time, I do want to go home and see my mum, nan, sister and nieces but, otherwise, I have absolutely no desire to return to ‘reality’. And, of course, I use that word reality, loosely, almost in jest. There are billions - trillions - of different realities in this world, every one of them as real as you want them to be. Is getting up every morning at the crack of dawn, driving to work and doing the same thing over and over again, year upon year, ‘reality’? Yes, it is. But, trying to ride a treacherous wave on a black sand beach on the west coast of New Zealand is also reality. And I bet this reality feels a hell of a lot more ‘real’ than the previous lifestyle choice I mentioned.
I guess it is the starting over again, back to square one, uncertain what the hell am I going to do with my life reality that is the one I have absolutely no desire to return to. Still, at least I can put that off for another 42 days.