I wanted what could be my last trip to the Turks and Caicos for a while (since I'll be moving to the West this Summer - thus making it more difficult to get out here) to be slightly different than my previous trips out here. I wanted to try something other than reading, sleeping and walking on the beach. I wanted to get active and try something that captured my interest in January, when I was north of San Diego and captured this photo...
Yes. I wanted to try paddle boarding.
I could have tried it when I was in Lombok, Australia or Cape Town. But I decided to keep it for Providenciales. Knowing it could be a while before I get back here, doing this would make it different from all other previous trips... And give me something fun to make this island mine too, rather just a memory of our trips together here.
Independence, people. And what better way to earn your independence emotionally than leashing yourself to a board and relying solely on your own body to keep you centered and balanced?
I found a tour operator that provided lessons here on the island. And very early this morning, I was driven to the marina where they are located and gave this sport a try.
P., our guide, carrying one of the boards.
"Once you get the hang of it, it's pretty easy," lied our guide, P.
I kid, of course, He didn't lie. But having a slight fear of water - which I may have omitted form the liability waiver I signed - I knew it wasn't going to be easy for me. I new chances were that I was going to be going in the water at some point. So I wore shorts and yoga top, which were things I didn't mind getting wet.
There were three of us in the group, me and a couple from San Jose. None of us had ever done this before. We were each given a leash to attach ourselves to the board, and a paddle.
P. grabbed us each a board and put them on a ramp going into the water.
He explained the basics of paddling... That it was not about bending your arms. That you had to keep them soft, and use them to put the paddle into the water in a way that allowed you to use your abs and legs to scoot the board toward the paddle.
"You're not rowing," he said.
He asked who wanted to go first. None of us responded. So, as usual, I stepped forward. He put a board in the water for me. I grabbed my paddle and knelt on the board. He pushed me out into the marina.
Gorgeous turquoise water. I stood up and paddled out to the dock opposite while he got the other two onto their boards.
Right away, my thighs began to shake. I wobbled on the board. But I managed to stay upright. For a few minutes...
It wasn't until P. got on his own board and paddled out towards me, showing me how to turn in the water that I lost my balance.
I was in the water and back up, sputtering out salty water.
"You okay?" he asked. Unsurprised.
This apparently happens often at the beginning.
"You have to dig your paddle in deeper to the water. Really shovel it down," he said.
I was good after that. For the rest of the our and a half excursion, I only nearly fell twice more.
We paddled out to the mangrove trees that were just beyond the marina in thick patches. It was shallow water, and we were able to learn ow to squeeze through narrow openings as well as turn ourselves around in small areas. We saw a few birds, and even a turtle swimming by us.
Towards the end of the excursion, the other female in the group fell off of her board. This - I will admit - made me feel superior... As I fell before I had the hang of it. (Small victories, people. I need them!)
The wind did pick up, and we got hit with some boat traffic coming out of the marina... So I and the other female decided to bring our boards in by kneeling and paddling. This was more stable but WAY more work on our legs and arms.
P. said that I had done a great job, and even gave me the name of a fellow who owns a paddle boarding company outside of San Diego for me to hit up for more lessons. (COOL!)
I sat and watched the kayakers come back in from their excursion.
We had actually crossed paths while out in the mangroves. It was good to learn how to navigate around both big and small boats.
Overall, it was a fantastic experience. I loved paddle boarding. I think, after a few lessons in San Diego, I could actually see myself buying my own board and going out on my own. But we'll see. No rush to jump into a new hobby... Though this would be completely unlike any hobby I've ever had before in my life!
It was so relaxing... Being on the water, out in the Sun. Makes me envious of this guy...
He's the dog that is cared for my the excursion company. He just hangs out on their property. Doesn't he have what looks to be the best life?