June 22: Surfing with Ze and Pups

I had a quick breakfast in the morning and then Ze, Luke, Leia and I headed to the beach in a classic clunky van.

It took a few revs to get her engine going but then motored along the highway just fine.

One of Ze’s friends met us at the beach and the three of us scouted out a place to surf.

“Waves aren’t that good but, let’s try anyway.”

The  Mar Dentro  Surf Van

The Mar Dentro Surf Van

To be honest, I was nervous. Ze has been surfing for over 30 years. I have been surfing for two weeks.

When we met, he asked me a few questions about my surfing experience so he could gage the gear accordingly.

Ze: What kind of board do you use?

Me: I used the 8 inch soft board…because I’m a beginner…and I kind of suck.

Ze laughed and said: Don’t worry. I have a good board for you.

Me: I want to surf with you but I really want you to know that I’m not good.

He laughed again. Ze: That’s okay, I’ll bring my long board.

Rule #2 of Surfing: Never compare yourself to another surfer. Whether they’ve been surfing for twenty years or twenty minutes, never compare yourself to another surfer.

But even though I was nervous, I shook it off, put on my big girl wetsuit, grabbed the hard board that Ze picked out for me, and paddled into the channel with them.

SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP, I said to myself as I paddled hard following the guys who were already twice the length ahead of me.

Instantly, my shoulders were sore.

Shoulders to Brain: Are you serious? I thought we were on a break. What happened to the city?

Brain to Shoulder: Shut up and paddle! Look how far ahead of us they are!

Then there was a moment where I realized that I was paddling like hell and I was not moving.


Luckily, I knew I had to paddle the other way out of it and then I finally met Ze and his friend in the line-up.

The three of us sat on our boards for a little while in the line up with a small group of other surfers a short distance away from us.

Ze packing the boards

Ze packing the boards

I think this is one of my favorite parts about surfing. Just sitting on your board, in the ocean, patiently waiting for the wave that’s meant for you.

It was so quiet and peaceful.

At one point, it was only the three of us in the water.

I began to breathe the salty air deep into my lungs.

Hey Big Blue.

There are times I think, can we just do this? Can we just wade here?

Then a wave comes and I’m not nervous anymore.

I was trying to turn around but I wasn’t doing it fast enough and I wasn’t as far back on the board as I needed to be.

“Put your ass in the back!” Ze said from across the ocean.

I missed the first few because I wasn’t paddling fast enough.

I watched Ze and his friend catch waves effortlessly as I wiped out continuously.

But then I caught one wave on my knees and then I caught a wave…standing….on a hardboard!

Just one wave.

I only stood up for a count of “3 Mississippi’s.” That was the rule we all made back at Salty Way. If you can stand for “3 Mississippi’s” then you caught the wave.

Yes, this is a beginner’s rule. Let us keep it for now.

After about an hour or so, we got back on the beach. Took off our wetsuits and walked the pups on the beach.

Ahhhh, this is the life. Surfing, dogs, and the ocean.

“I saw you catch those waves. One on your knees and one standing,” Ze said.

“Yeah, my little goal is one wave a day,” I replied.

Then we talked about how surfing is more of a lifestyle than a sport. It’s about the nature. We talked about people and their dogs.

“Our dogs are wherever we are. If we’re in the kitchen, they’re in the kitchen. It’s good for surfers to have dogs.”

After our walk, Leia propped her front legs up into the surf van and then looked back at Ze.

“Lazy girl,” he said as he picked up her back legs and lifted her into the car.

Luke jumped right in after her.

When we got back to the house, I took an outdoor shower and made lunch.

I grabbed a couple fresh eggs from the chickens and pulled an onion and bunch of greens out of the ground with my bare hands.

Hello fresh omelet and salad.

I did yoga, napped under the cork tree, wrote postcards outside with the pups by my feet, and was grateful for a beautiful day.

This is it, I thought. This is the dream.

A historic farm house that you renovated with your partner. Free range chickens that make eggs. A garden in a cool climate where everything doesn’t die from the horrendous heat. Dogs. Kids. Large secluded green space where you can create, rest, work, live. Near a beautiful city so you’re not too isolated. Close to the beach so you can surf. It’s perfect.

I used to think this place didn’t exist. It was just a fantasy location that was the magical mix of everything I wanted. I made this place up in my head.

It does exist.

It’s The Surf Farm outside Porto, Portugal.

Pupperchunker Luke is tired after surfing

Pupperchunker Luke is tired after surfing