My cell phone was ringing off the hook as I ran to grab it. It was my best friend Hadley (or Had as I refer to her) in New York. We have known each other since we were 2, and grew up a block from one another.
She had an offer. Did I want to travel to Brazil with a group from NYC? Everything was arranged; they had an extra spot.
All I needed was money and time. Time? Yes. Money? Hmmm…. This was always the hurdle.
My father had announced that he was not going to pay for anything for me ever again so I needed to come up with the financing on my own. I took the money from my 401K knowing that this would be the trip of a lifetime.
Having been warned that they kidnap cute blond girls in the Sao Paulo airport, I locked my bag to my belt when I arrived at the spacious terrazzo-filled hub. I was elated to see my friends at the gate and hop on the puddle jumper to Florianopolis!
We rented a car and drove an hour to the seaside town of Praia Do Rosa. The landscape reminded me of Caribbean Islands with its dense tropical forests full of banana trees, winding coral dusty roads and the sounds of unfamiliar bird squawks. Our Quinta Bucanero was a treehouse of a hotel nestled on a hill overlooking the beach. They served tart caipirinhas and succulent fresh fish, caught by hand daily in the cove.
The boys were there to surf and the gals decided to take lessons, too. Well, all the gals except me. Never big on group activities, I was content to sit by the water. The only thing I wanted to dive into was my book; I had nothing to prove.
There were three lessons and on the fourth day you were guaranteed to surf. On the third afternoon, I did get a bit lonely for my companions. I was starting to feel envious of the courageous ladies who always came back smiling, looking accomplished and happy. At breakfast on the fourth morning they implored me to join them and I conceded.
Once down at the strand, I immediately knew why they were having such a great time. The very tan, sculpted instructor Joao was adorable! In his broken English he advised that I could catch up and was in good hands. INDEED!
As I squirmed into a cold, sticky wet suit, I questioned my decision. However, I got back on the program as my body hit the tepid tidal pool where Joao demonstrated how I was to lift myself up on the board once I caught a wave.
My heart beat fast with anticipation as I hauled the heavy board to the surf. Once in, I maneuvered on my belly past the undulating swells, my toes brushing the surface of the cool water. My friends were a few feet away, and Joao was close guiding us with the commands, “Paddle” and “Stand Up.”
I turned the fiberglass vessel toward the shore sat upright and drifted, savoring the moment. The sounds of the gurgling water and waves crashing in front of me lulled me into a dreamy state.
I turned to glimpse Had catch a wave seemingly out of nowhere. She’s up. She makes it all the way to the shore! I continued to wade and wait for my turn. One came along that was promising and passed … and another.
Finally, I saw the one that would be mine!
Joao knew it too and pushed me and my board into the wave that began to crest. Behind me he exclaimed, “PAAAADDDLE, PADDLE, PADDLE!!!” My arms vehemently oared through the sea as my brain excitedly registered the anticipation of what I envisioned was about to happen.
“NOW STAAAND UP!” he hollered.
This was it! I took a breath, focused on the shore and popped up on the board. I WAS RIDING THE WAVE!
Tears overflowed my eyes as a feeling of joy, freedom and fulfillment came over me like nothing I have ever felt before. I glided into the sandy beach where my cohorts stood cheering.
And to think that I almost missed the experience!
Always make time for friends and travel. Take risks and go for it, you only live once. Know that if your wave hasn’t rolled in, have faith, and it will!
Caki Diehl is a creative marketer, writer, and photographer based in Charleston. In addition to her daily inspirational Instagram posts, she writes personal essays on life. A marathoner and avid sailor, she enjoys spending time with family and friends. Caki recently published a quote book called “Gifts from the Lowcountry” and her work can be found on her website, Cakidiehl.com.