That’s me, in that picture above.
This is the beach at Mirissa, Sri Lanka. There is nothing fake about this picture, the sunsets at Mirissa are incredible. I arrived there together with a German guy, named Yannick. We met in Galle and would travel alongside eachother to Kandy, stopping along the way at Hikkaduwa, Mirissa, Unawatuna, Ella and Haputale.
We were on our way to a surfers beach nearby, taking the tuctuc. With us we carried a small backpack, containing nothing more than a towel and some books. I would stick my head out, on my side of the noisy tuctuc, let the warm morning air blow my hair. The perfect way to wake up.
Soon we would arrive at a surfer school nearby.
Getting back on the board
I admit it. I am completely addicted to surfing.
The feeling you get, when the wave lifts up your board… it is incredible. It feels like pure freedom. For that short moment, that you feel in total control of that massive amount of roaring seawater, you feel so powerful.
Time would slow down.
The adrenaline rush you get is overwhelming – yet, at the same time you feel so calm.
Last time I surfed, I took lessons at a surfer school lcoated on Kuta beach in Bali. I wasn’t a talent.
We paid the tuctuc driver his fares and walked up to the surfer school, where we would get introduced to one of the local kids running the surfer school. Yannick and I would both pick a board, attach the board to our ankles and went through the theory on the beach. After some practise jumps on shore, we let the warm water of the ocean embrace us.
I smiled. I was excited about getting back on the board again.
The surfer-kid would push us into beginner waves, one person after another. Surprisingly, after two years of not touching a surfboard, I caught the first wave straight away. Maybe I was more talented than I remembered, I thought. Harsh reality was, that I didn’t get to ride any waves the next fifteen minutes. At least not without falling over.
It felt good to be back on the board though.
Surfing until shivering
Together with Yannick and a dozen of local kids, I would surf the rest of the day.
Trying to get better, trying to find more balance. Trying to control the water and the slippery board underneath my feet. A little bit better every time.
Once I start surfing, I find it hard to stop. I literally forget to eat.
When I know it is time to go on shore, it’s just impossible to go.
If I did not catch a good wave for a while, I want to wait for that one moment I would catch that one last wave. Just to remember how it felt like. To end the day with a good feeling.
However, once I would catch that one wave, I want to have that awesome feeling one more time. I would feel convinced I was able do it again. That this time, I finally got it.
It never happened just like that. It takes more practise.
Once I finally did get off the board, Yannick already gave up three hours ago. The sun was going down and it was slowly getting dark. I stretched out my hand in front of my salty eyes. I tried to hold my hand still, but I was shivering like a junky without his daily portion of heroin.
It was probably a wise decision to get off the board. All my energy drained down, I had left it behind me in the ocean.
I dragged myself and my board on shore. I didn’t want to quit, but I needed to. I already stayed on, way too long.
Saving the turtles
Dragging my board across the beach with my last energy, I passed some small kids playing cricket in the sand (cricket is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka). They had placed three wooden sticks in the sand, and tried to hit a tennis ball as hard as they could with a plank-shaped bat. It was funny to see the big wooden plank in the hands of such small skinny kids. To me, they looked like the happiest kids on Earth. No iPad, no smart-phone. Just playing cricket with their friends all weekend long, on the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka.
It made me realize how little kids need, to live a happy life.
Soon I would be distracted by something moving in the sand, a few meters behind the home-made cricket field. My eyes caught some random baby turtles crossing the beach, trying to crawl towards the sea. Local kids were picking them up, one by one, to release them into the ocean. Yannick was there as well, helping the kids.
He was smiling.
I dropped my board in the sand and picked up one of the baby turtles being left behind. I was laying its life literally in the palm of my hands. The small baby turtle was trying to crawl forwards, its small paws slipping over the salty skin of my hand, resulting in very little movement.
I remember it felt like a miracle to me. It gave me new energy.
I just got out of the ocean, where the waves can be so strong, so ruthless. Not even a minute later, I passed by something so vulnerable and harmless. It touched me.
I brought the small thing to the water and released it. It got dragged away by the waves.
The journey of this little fellow had just began.
Someone told me once, approximately three in a hundred baby turtles make it to become an adult. I hoped mine would make it, against all odds.
Getting back home
After releasing the baby turtle into the ocean, I talked about the day with Yannick. It was time to get ourselves some well deserved dinner. I picked up my board, brought it back to the surf school and ordered a tuctuc for the way back. I was exhausted.
We took one last picture, before we went back to town.
What a day it has been.