Hangin Loose in Morocco

Over spring break a lot of my friends were traveling to places I had been or staying local so I decided to take a solo trip. I had been wanting to go to Morocco for a while, specifically to Marrakech, but decided it probably was best to go there with friends. I did a brief search for yoga retreats in Morocco and found Surf Star Morocco.

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Despite the fact that I grew up on Long Island, where there are plenty of spots for surfing, I had never tried it. I decided it was time. Surf Star sounded like the perfect place to start.

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Everyday we woke up and did some yoga on the terrace, followed by breakfast and then we headed to the beach.  We had a small group surf lesson in the morning for a couple hours. We would then take a break for lunch and the rest of the afternoon was your choice. You could head back into the surf, you could chill out on the beach, you could head back to the house or even go to a souk.  We would have sunset yoga back at the house, followed by dinner, dessert and pictures. The days were packed, but I loved every second.

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The first day I got up for some early morning yoga, ate breakfast and then got fitted for my wetsuit- what a B to put on! We all piled in the trucks and headed out to check out the surf. This was one of my favorite parts of the day. Music blasting, windows down, driving along the coast to check out the waves. We would often stop, get out and watch the surf for a bit.  Ahhh how I wish I could start everyday like this!

*This is one of the most famous Moroccan surf spots- Anchor Point- we never surfed here-thank god!*

After suiting up we got in our groups and got some lessons on the basics. We practiced paddling and popping up a couple times then we got in the water. My surf instructor for the day was Khaled, super kind and patient guy who boosted my confidence when he questioned “you really haven’t ever surfed?”Although it felt like I wasn’t catching enough “waves” that first day he was impressed with what I was doing. I put “waves” in quotes because you learn to surf on the white water.. aka after the wave crashes the white foam. Seems ridiculous if you’ve never surfed, but its harder than it looks!

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After a couple of hours of battling the white wash we took a break for lunch.  Every morning after breakfast you packed up your lunch. It was all fresh, healthy and delicious.

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Most days after lunch I went back in to work on my surfing. I only had 7 days in the water and I wanted to make the most of them.

People who had been there for a while told me that I needed carefully apply sunscreen on my hands and feet, since they were pretty much the only thing exposed. I only brought 30 and 15spf.. hindsight.. NOT ENOUGH. Oops, you live you learn.. and get severe sunburn on your feet and hands.

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I’m no stranger to sunburn, but this was prettty awful. The picture doesn’t do the redness justice. It was so much worse than it appears. They gave me special cream to put on and told me I could NOT under any circumstances be in the sun with it on. I took the cream, applied it and looked at the tube.. nothing was in English, the only word I made out was “radiation” that shiz was serious.

Despite the sunburn, I loved every part of the day. Waking up and doing yoga after surfing all day was so nice. It was a perfect balance to surfing all day. Yes, I did yoga in sunnies everyday.

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I felt like my surfing was improving at a good rate. The sunburn got worse so I found myself surfing with socks on to protect my feet, and soon after wearing a random pair of winter leather gloves I had in my coat pocket. Needless to say, I looked ridiculous.

IMG_1846.JPGOh right, plus the zinc I had applied all over my face. Basically any “cool shots” I assumed I would have by the end of my stay went out the window with this look.

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Throughout the week I had a couple different surf coaches. This was awesome because I got to know everyone and they all helped me work on something different. The first day I was told I needed to focus on where I was laying on my board. The next day I was told I needed to focus on popping up faster, so I tried a different strategy. The day after that it was all about paddling. Soon after it was the timing of the waves- I finally made it to the green waves. Aka.. real waves.

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On my last surf day, I was getting very frustrated. I was waiting out in the water on the line up with the rest of the group. It was a slow day, with not that many waves. Finally after what felt like forrrrrrrrrever.. a wave would come, I would try to catch it and wipeout.  I was absolutely frustrated and crushed. I had a great day the day before and was ready for another. One of the surf coaches, Ismail, saw how frustrated I was getting and began to sing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” to me. I must have been sitting on my board with the most pissed off look because he continued until I finally smiled. He told me that I can’t be mad at the waves when I surf, its a waste of time and energy. I clearly needed the pep talk. He then asked.. “okay.. how many waves before we go in for lunch?” To which I responded.. “a million, but I’ll settle on one good one.” At this point we were the only ones in the water. I finally caught a wave and rode it all the way to the shore. We could now go eat our lunch, happily.

That afternoon was similar to the morning, super slow with waves far and few between. Most people stayed on the beach and didn’t even bother heading back in. I couldn’t do that on my last day. I paddled in and tried my hardest to be patient. After a while  another coach, Youssef, came out to catch some waves and encourage me. Sometimes just having someone yell PADDLE, PADDLE, GO! is all you need. That afternoon I caught a few decent sized waves and I could head back satisfied.

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This was my last wave of the trip. Wish you could see a bit clearer- I’m throwing up a hang loose sign. Clearly I was in better spirits at the end of the day.

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When you travel alone you never really know how its going to go. I have had some awesome experiences and this one was no different. The staff at Surf Star was AWESOME. They were so friendly, helpful, laid back and funny. I loved spending time with them. The people who were staying at the house were equally as awesome. People from all over, Germany, UK, Canada, Spain, Switzerland.. it was quite the crowd!

One of the best things about Surf Star was that I never had to worry about food. We had breakfast at the house, which was my favorite meal of the day. We got to pack our own lunch, which I liked. Dinner was always delicious and then topped off with a little dessert. It was so nice not to worry about cooking or going out to eat.

The views weren’t so bad either.

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I absolutely loved my week at Surf Star and can’t wait to head back.