Winter in Cape Town is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Seriously. It’s cold and hot at the same time, with some days being absolutely beautiful and others feeling like a brisk October day at home in Washington D.C. On the cold days, I’ll layer on all the sweaters I brought – usually spending the day in the library, a coffee shop, or somewhere indoors. The warm days, however, we have learned to take advantage of.
This past Friday, with the temperature nearing 70 degrees Fahrenheit (or about 20 degrees Celsius, as I’ve learned to compute) my friends and I knew the day was destined to be spent at the beach. Though cold compared to a sticky hot August day in Washington DC, the weather was thrilling for us here. We finally got a chance to take advantage of the beautiful beaches we live so close to.
With the sun as our motivation, we packed some sandwiches and decided to make the long trek to Muizenberg beach for a day of surfing. Living nowhere near a good surfing beach in the United States, I have had very limited exposure to surfing, aside from one short “lesson” with family friends in Costa Rica at the age of eight. Clearly, I’m far from an expert. But with great beaches for beginner surfers here in Cape Town and a love for all other ocean activities – from boogie boarding and skimboarding to just floating in the waves – why not add surfing to the list?
We had gone once before, but the cold temperature and even colder water had tainted my first experience during which I discovered that it is frustratingly difficult to stand on a surfboard with numb feet. It’s no surprise that I was grateful for the warmer weather. This time we once again decided against paying for a lesson and had one of our friends who surfs at home give us some tips. She showed us how to paddle and gracefully demonstrated how to stand up once you catch a wave. I confidently took to the waves, not realizing that the many experienced surfers around us were making it look much easier than it actually was. Already having one experience under my belt here in Cape Town, though, and some skim boarding at home, I was able to get up and ride a few into shore (the featured image is proof!). Of course, we still were working with the whitewash (the wave after it has already crashed), so it wasn’t too hard to catch the smaller ones. I did find, however, that after riding a few with minimal wobbling, I grew confident enough to swim out a bit further. It was usually at this peak level of confidence that I would attempt to catch a slightly bigger wave and get knocked off the board. From there, I would retreat to shallower waters, only to repeat the process of gaining confidence to ultimately get knocked down again.
After about an hour and a half in the water, I was completely worn out but elated to have yet another new experience abroad. Even in the midst of "winter", the warmer days are a reminder to venture out and explore the amazing city that Cape Town is and live it up while I'm here!
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<p>Hi! I'm junior at Wake Forest University studying economics and sociology. I spent the first seven years of my life in Africa, so it was a no-brainer that I wanted to study there in college. Home is right outside of DC, where I embrace the opportunity to act like a tourist in my own city. For me, a perfect day would entail a trip to the beach, true crime dramas, and roasted brussels sprouts.</p>