FROM THE INSIDEOUT

Ari­gato & Gra­cias; Ja­pan & Mex­ico

New Zealand Surfing - - Essentials -

Head­ing back to Ja­pan for only my se­cond time ever, I was still very ex­cited, partly to do with the fact that Tokyo City is a crazy, dif­fer­ent place that a small-town girl like me loves to get lost in for a day of shop­ping, eat­ing and a bit of a cul­ture shock. Also, the fact that this com­pe­ti­tion was go­ing to be at the ex­act same beach where they are hop­ing to have the surf­ing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. So, with my big goal in mind of rep­re­sent­ing New Zealand at the Olympics, I was keen to get a sneak peek at the place. Be­fore head­ing there, a few of the girls sent out a group mes­sage warn­ing us about the leak­ing Nu­clear power plant still un­able to get un­der con­trol after the ma­jor earth­quake and tsunami there years ago now. Of course, be­fore go­ing I was a bit wary of it but after talk­ing to lo­cal people about it, they said the wa­ter is checked three times a day and that it has be fine for ages. I was happy to be re­as­sured but not that happy about the wa­ter al­most be­ing colder than home in win­ter! We were in an area called Shiba on the Chiba penin­sula. About an hour and a half drive from Narita air­port. It’s a com­plete con­trast of Tokyo. A cool lit­tle coun­try like surf town with many surf shops along the main road that runs par­al­lel to the ocean. Rice fields and lots of tiny houses, some even where they sleep up­stairs and just open their lit­tle cafe or restau­rant down­stairs it seemed like when­ever they felt like it. Not many people spoke English very well, if at all; so, we had to hope the food menu had pho­tos to point at. The wave ‘Shiba point’ is a beach break be­tween two man made rock and con­crete piers or like a groyne. It was su­per small the whole time I was there so only saw it break­ing at a max of 2ft but did have some nice, clean and fun con­di­tions and could see the po­ten­tial although I’m sure to make the Olympics more ex­cit­ing a wave pool may be bet­ter in a coun­try like Ja­pan un­less we are lucky enough to get a typhoon. Un­for­tu­nately, I got knocked in the quar­ter fi­nals against a lo­cal Ja­panese girl who went on to the fi­nal. I had an­other amaz­ing time here be­cause of the great combo of weather, food, heated toi­let seats and how friendly, help­ful, nice and gra­cious the Ja­panese re­ally are. The nicest people I’ve ever come across on my trav­els, even their lit­tle ‘thank you and good­bye’ nods and bow­ing rubbed off on me, find­ing my­self do­ing the ex­act same thing when I was get­ting off the plane back home! Ari­gato Ja­pan!

Mex­ico is an­other favourite des­ti­na­tion of mine on the World surf league (WSL) World qual­i­fy­ing se­ries (QS). Los Ca­bos to Amer­i­cans is a bit like what Bali is to Aussies and ki­wis so this area has be­come very Amer­i­can­ized but you can still ven­ture out into lo­cal mar­kets and restau­rants. It’s got the full tourist town in the ‘new town’ of San josé and all the tourist at­trac­tions from the likes of big game fish­ing, div­ing or cruis­ing out to Lovers beach in the sea of Cortez. A few of us girls al­ways get a place right on the beach within a hun­dred me­tres walk­ing dis­tance to the con­test site of Zip­pers beach. A small lit­tle fast break­ing right han­der across rocks close to the beach. A wave a quite like on my back­hand that has scored me a cou­ple of 5th places pre­vi­ously. Un­for­tu­nately, this time I missed out by less than a point with slow, bumpy and in­con­sis­tent waves los­ing to two pre­vi­ous event win­ners. Out of the comp, I now had time to ex­plore a lit­tle more. Find­ing an amaz­ing Oa­sis in the mid­dle of the desert an hour in­land in the mid­dle of nowhere. Per­fect tem­per­a­ture but by the time you got back to the car you were more than ready for an­other swim. We also man­aged to get out to the East cape a cou­ple of times to surf breaks like ship­wrecks and five palms. There’s not a lot out there other than a slew of breaks to choose from. Lots of Amer­i­cans driv­ing around in their 4wds or buggy’s and liv­ing the dream of surf­ing in par­adise ev­ery­day, eat­ing gua­camole with a corona or two. From cheap tacos down the road to some su­per healthy fine din­ing restau­rants, the lush­est golf cour­ses you’ll ever see and surf for ev­ery abil­ity, it’s no won­der Amer­i­cans keep com­ing back here. I will too! I think I need a year’s break from gua­camole though! Once again Mex­ico you pulled through with the good, Gra­cias! My next event is 28th - 30th July at Ocean­side beach, Cal­i­for­nia. Un­til then I’ll be surf­ing and train­ing as much as I can work­ing off this lit­tle bur­rito belly ;)

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