Postcard from Peniche: Surfing in Portugal

posted by Drew Zieff July 17, 2016 0 comments
Surfing and Sagres. Can't beat it.

Surfing, Sunsets, and Sagres. Can’t beat it.

Peniche, Portugal: Surf Town Supreme

I’m sprawled on the Peniche Surf Lodge sofa. Headphones thumping Outkast’s ATLiens.* Sunburnt and sore. Muscles heavy, but soul as light as ocean spray.

Savoring my last days in Portugal. My trip is almost over. USA-bound soon. Apologies, I haven’t posted in a while.

I’ve been busy.

And by “busy” I mean I’ve been chilling in Peniche, a rugged little peninsula of a surf town that juts into the Atlantic, enjoying the sweetest schedule I’ve ever known:

Eat, surf, eat, surf, eat & drink beer, sleep. Repeat as needed.

I have a slew of stories from the past few weeks of traveling that I’ve yet to publish, but I wanted to share a moment with you that occurred only a couple hours ago, one that has me reeling still.

So. Consider this a postcard from Peniche, Portugal.

I don't always take selfies in Portugal, but when I do I try to use the wide-angle lens.

I don’t always take selfies in Portugal, but when I do I try to use the wide-angle lens.

The Greatest Shavasana of My Life

Quadriceps hinting at incoming cramps, I stumbled out of the sea. I dropped my board in the wet sand and collapsed. Exhaustion and exhilaration. Hours and hours of paddling into Portuguese peaks, attempting (and largely failing) to draw fast and graceful lines ahead of the whitewater. Rails and fins are not so different from paint and brush. I’ve always thought that talented surfers look like muralists, airbrushing temperamental and temporary graffiti on the walls of an oceanic A-frame.

I’m far from that type of surfer. Maybe one day. You should see Dane Hall rip to know what I mean. Apart from being a nice dude, he’s a local pro, one of the best surfers in Portugal, and a Peniche Surf Lodge coach. He can air out of the dumpiest wave and turn it into a thing of beauty.

I, on the other hand, still crash and burn more than I slash and turn.

But everyday I’m in the ocean, I get more of a feel for it. Reading the waves. Commanding the board. It’s starting to click. Progression is tangible. I’m relishing the beginning of this undeniable, full-fledged addiction.

So, today I surfed. And surfed. And surfed some more.

’Til my muscles ached. ’Til my eyes stung. ’Til my body broke down—and my mind found freedom.

Barely out of the ocean, not even bothering to peel off my wedgie-inducing wetsuit, I lay on my back, looking up at gray skies, feeling the salt stinging my eyes, the sand in my hair.

Time passed. Muscles twitched. Heart slowed. Breath flattened. Mind cleared.

And then, a thought struck me like a rogue wave.

This is the single greatest shavasana** of my life.

And that tsunami of gratitude swept me up. I almost kissed the beach like a shipwrecked sailor.

In that moment, I located the persnickety surf chakra. In that moment, I was the Z-Boy of Downward Dogtown.

How long did I lie there, meditating/marinating in that post-chaos, catatonic brand of catharsis? I don’t rightly know.

All I know is this: getting outside and getting zonked can get you Zen.


*I only mention this because ATLiens is a fantastic album and deserves to be listened to in it’s entirety, from front to back. No skipping. 

**Shavasana is, to my understanding, the pose that yoga classes end with, AKA the “corpse pose.” Essentially, you lie there like aforementioned dead man, simultaneously steaming in the post-yoga gooey goodness of sweat and self-appreciation and thanking your lucky stars that you made it through Vinyasa 2 without collapsing, cursing, or farting (audibly). It’s easily the best part of yoga. Shavasana, I mean. Not farting.

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