The thought of a surf trip to some far-flung remote location is probably at the top of every keen surfer’s mind. At the top of ours was an island in the middle of nowhere where the food is good, the waves uncrowded and the experiences unique; the idea of Sri Lanka was a seed firmly planted in the soil of my soul. It’s not a place that has always been at the top of my bucket list; but the more I read about the teardrop of India the more intrigued and anxious I was to get there. A tiny nation with many scars; the civil war unrest, the 2004 tsunami and just the week before we left, a fatal landslide.
Talalla Surf Camp called our name; a week long retreat with personal surf coaching, daily yoga practices, massages, healthy and organic food and a chance to rid our routine. My best friend and I are very different surfers, she a radical shortboarder who wants bigger and gnarlier waves while I love the small gentle waves that I can glide along on. We knew we would both get what we wanted here with the options of sand bottom point breaks, beach breaks, fast reef breaks and the chance to go back to basics and form a strong foundation in our surfing.
Upon arriving we knew we had entered our very own tropical oasis. After travelling for over 36 hours and arriving at 5am we quickly rested our heads before our curious minds got the better of us. While we were out exploring the monkeys snuck into our room and ate all of our snacks which was annoying but hilarious all at the same time. The retreat was so picturesque; lush green landscapes with a pool plonked in the middle of villas and bungalows, chipmunks running up the tallest palm trees I had ever seen, incredible frangipani and hibiscus flowers in all the colours of the rainbow, and brightly feathered birds soaring through the turquoise skies. With a whole day to relax, drink fresh coconuts, swim and meet the other crew on the surf camp we knew this was going to be one hell of a trip.
Our days were made up of of a 6am surf (myself, a Swiss couple and our coach were the only ones in the water), followed by a ravenous well-earned lunch of curries, chicken, fish and fresh fruit and an afternoon surf or theory lesson. Our nights consisted of video analysis from the days session, eating and drinking to our hearts content, making new friends and struggling to sleep with the deafening sound of frogs in the swamp nearby.
The video analysis was incredibly confronting but I feel the only way to see your bad habits to try and make a change. I quickly found out I was doing a few things wrong; albeit it was working but hindering me from improving. Confidence in bigger waves was one major thing I wanted to achieve while in Sri Lanka – there were a few times I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but learning to turtle roll properly and even wiping out without panicking makes being in bigger waves a whole lot easier and less daunting.
It’s incredible to see the improvement after a week of surfing and I don’t know if it’s the lack of crowds, an incredible coach, perfect waves or just the fact we had no worries but to surf every day that saw a change for the better. Needless to say the yoga didn’t really feature in our week long trip; we missed the morning classes and were too exhausted in the evening to try and do headstands and back bends. We were there to surf, and that we did.
The salty Indian ocean was my sanctuary.