Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.

I’m having trouble finding the energy to write about what I’ve been experiencing the last week or so. It troubles me that I never found the time to write about Seville while I was there. I hate writing about places after I leave them because I can never seem to find the right words. I’ll just say this: Seville is magical. It’s cobblestone streets, crowded cafes, the way the cathedral looks at dusk, the well-dressed men that are everywhere, the horse-drawn carriages, the parks….ahh, just thinking of it makes me smile. I spent one full day alone there, but the rest of my time there was spent with some new friends that I made at the train station, a pair of sisters from Seattle. I really enjoyed my time with them and feel a strong bond that I hope continues once we are back. I was not impressed with any of the food that I ate there, which is kind of a bummer, I just don’t think I tried hard enough to find good stuff. I spent most of my energy trying to navigate Seville’s winding streets…always feeling lost and then somehow finding my way back to where I needed to be. Despite the lack of good food, I was sad to say goodbye to Seville and my new friends on Friday afternoon, but I was excited for the next portion of my adventure.

My first 24 hrs in Portugal were a mixture of fear, discomfort, and excitement. The camp that I booked for eight days of surf is owned by Germans and most of the guests and staff are German. I felt discomfort being the only one not speaking German at the breakfast table and fear as we drove towards Arrifana Beach on Saturday morning. Most of my fear and discomfort was taken away when the instructor’s girlfriend put her ipod on in the Jeep. Much to my surprise, we have very similar taste in music. While there was a definite language barrier, music played a very common role that it has in my life of being the great connector. I was instantly at ease and began chatting with my fellow passengers about what we were listening to. The waves were soft and kind on Saturday as I eased into re-learning how to paddle and stand up on my beginners board. Unfortunately, I was exhausted from lack of sleep and travel and spent most of the day sleeping on the beach while the others surfed. I was disappointed that I didn’t have as much energy as I had hoped, but most of my energy seemed to be spent fighting back fears. My ego was shouting at me that I was silly for putting myself in a situation like this one and I had to pray my ass off to quiet it. I asked God to help quiet my mind and let me be at ease with myself. A few minutes later, I cracked open the book I brought along with me on my trip…one that I have read before, but haven’t picked up in years. I found a bookmark in it….the name and address of a friend that passed away a couple of years ago. It brought tears of gratitude to my eyes to think of her laugh and I knew that she was looking out for me that day, telling me to stop feeling sorry for myself and start having fun. Sam always knew how to have fun. You couldn’t have a bad day when she was around. Since then, I haven’t really let myself listen to the voice of my ego shouting at me telling me all kinds of yucky stuff about myself.

Surfing is not easy. It takes a lot of work to catch one good wave, but if you catch that wave, you understand that it’s worth all the work. I have wanted to surf for most of my life and now I’m actually in a place where I can make my dreams come true, so I’m doing it. Things are getting easier at the camp too. There is only one other camper here, a girl named Maria from Switzerland, so we each have rooms to ourselves. Vila Caterina, the house where we are staying is beautiful and the people here are very nice. We have become chummy with one of the girls working here and I believe that she and I are going to hang out in Lisbon next weekend.

All in all, this is nothing like what I expected it to be, but it’s becoming so much more. I’m learning how much of a fighter I am and where my strengths and weaknesses lie. I am learning that surfing brings out weird high school insecurities in me that I haven’t felt in quite a while. Maybe it’s the fact that a lot of the guys here remind me of guys I went to high school with? At certain moments on the beach during the day, I have to remind myself that I’m not that awkward 16 year old anymore…it’s very weird, but I’m sure I am learning something from all of this.

I miss my friends and my home quite a bit, but I’ve still got a lot of time here in Portugal. Four more days of surfing and another week in Lisbon. I hope to find more energy to keep everyone updated on my progress….hopefully tomorrow will be better!


One thought on “Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.

  1. I love how deeply you share, and I remember similar situations where I felt awkward like I didn’t belong–that bookmark was no accident. I think you’ll like the fish dinners in Portugal. The espresso is good too!

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