Panama Diaries Part IV: The Swell is Here

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I woke this morning to the sound of rain trickling down on the roof above me. I slowly rolled out of bed and immediately opened my door to check the surf. As I stood on the lawn adjacent to the pool and looked out to sea, others stirred out of their rooms and joined me. The overcast sky and light rain gave a grey coloring to the picturesque waves rolling through the cove to shore. There was absolutely no wind and glassy peaks could be found all the way down the beach. I rushed back to my room to grab my board and paddle out.
This was perhaps my best surf of my entire time in Playa Venao. Not because of the impeccable conditions, but due to my performance. Each takeoff seemed natural, each turn, organic, and each wave I paddled for proved to be perfectly crafted just for me. The clouds nor the rain could spoil my mood. Nothing ever seems to go wrong when the waves are good.


The next morning was a carbon copy of the last; an abundance of swell was met with little wind and just the right tide for an early morning session. The sun had barely begun to peek over the hills to the east when I paddled out. I was actually cold, which seems rare for surfers in Central America. I have a weird habit of counting the waves I catch, no matter how short or long a session may be, I keep a running tally in my head. It’s the product of growing up on the Gulf Coast: waves are rare, and you want to remember them. This session, however, was one of the few sessions where I completely lost count. Apparently, the perfection of Playa Venao mornings exceeds my arithmetic abilities.


After the marathon session in the morning, I welcomed an afternoon of rest in my trusty hammock. But, some of the others staying at Beach Break were venturing over to Playita, which is exactly what it translates to, a small beach. Playita sits just a stone’s throw away from Playa Venao and can be reached with a short ten-minute trek through the jungle. Playa Venao could be pumping overhead, and Playita could be as serene as a lake. I had never been, and I had heard it was beautiful, and so forwent my afternoon of rest for a trip to Playita.


When we arrived at Playita, it was low tide. What was normally deep underwater was exposed. We walked along dry reef and rocks admiring the beautiful Pacific from our perch on what would have normally been a small rock island. After a few hours, we made the walk back to Playa Venao, eager for an afternoon surf.


When we returned to Venao, we were greeted by a spectacle that most are not fortunate enough to witness. A sea turtle had emerged from the ocean, in the middle of the day (which is rare) to lay eggs on Playa Venao. We sat a respectful distance away and watched in wonder as the mother turtle laid her eggs, buried them, and returned to the sea. It was truly an experience I will never forget.


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