I can’t even remember where my last blog left off but wow, life in Sydney is certainly anything but dull. Last weekend, I decided to sign up for Surf Camp – a two-day surfing adventure at the Seven Mile Beach National Park. ‘Twas an adventure, to be sure. Being the often lazy person that I am, I didn’t fully understand what Surf Camp entailed. For those of you who are contemplating paying $250 to stay in cabins and go in the ocean in 50 degree weather, I would suggest doing more research than I did. I have never wanted sweatpants so bad in my entire life – and I always want sweatpants.
The bus ride to Seven Mile Beach was a breezy two hours. You could tell everyone was jittery and felt smug about surfing in Australia, a quintessential Oz experience. Upon arriving at the small town Genowa at around 9 p.m. and stepping off the “luxury” bus, I heard people gasping, “Look at the stars!” I craned my neck and heard myself utter a similar gasp: thousands of miles above me, hundreds of stars were blinking and shining. I had never seen anything like it, even back in my hometown.
The juxtaposition of the accompanying trailer park, however, was startling. Here lay a few hundred small houses (“houses” is a nice word) lining the edge of the beach, only a few of which were lit up. The other residents obviously have other homes that they live in during the winter. We were led through a dark maze to a group of multi-colored cabins surrounding a series of benches, a grill and kitchen counters. I immediately experienced terrible deja vu, traveling back to the last time my dad took me camping and I had a panic attack. Surf Camp was, indeed, camp. For some reason, I had expected something more luxurious – I almost didn’t bring shampoo because I thought they would provide us with some. Nope. This was the definition of roughin’ it, minus the cabins and beds. So I’ll rephrase: this was my definition of roughin’ it and my definition of hell.
These were my initial thoughts. But then I snapped back to reality. I’m in Australia. There is no reason to complain, even if the musty, seemingly bed bug infested bedsheets and military-like style isn’t exactly my thing. So the next morning when my roommates and I were roused awake by the infuriating Nokia alarm tone, I tried my best not to complain. Even when I was pulling on the freezing cold wetsuit, I didn’t groan (too much). Before I knew it I was out in the ocean, feeling weirdly at home.
I hadn’t been to the ocean in years. I used to go with my family to North Carolina in the summers but that tradition died out. And Ocean City, M.D. isn’t a desirable location in my book. So swimming in the Pacific Ocean for the first time brought me back to those carefree days when catching a wave bodysurf-style was my only worry. I instinctively kept looking for my dad, who never failed to swim with me on those vacations. (My mom was usually sunbathing on the sand, unnaturally afraid of the “cold” water temperature.) It was a truly liberating moment after two semesters of hell.