In March 2015, about twenty colleagues and I went on a Spotify-organized surf trip to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica for a week of surf lessons. The company, surf, and food were unforgettable. One of Spotify’s social events organizers knew a group of traveling Swedish surf instructors, and helped get a group discount for Spotifiers and their guests. The total cost of lodging, lessons, and daily breakfast and lunch was about $650 for a week.
The best memories I have from the trip are waking up at the crack of dawn every day, grabbing a surf board, and rushing headlong into the water. The sun was gentle in the early morning, but the waves were not. The force and speed of the ocean awed and at times terrified me. I’d paddle like mad to get over waves, but every once in a while, a monster swell would catch me at the worst moment. The crest of the wave would hit me like a hammer and sweep me aside like a match stick. I was taught to cover my head with my arms to prevent the surf board from giving me a concussion. Eventually I learned to do a turtle roll and was able to see a bit ahead of time if a wave would be large or small.
After a couple of hours of surfing on an empty stomach, I would be ravenous. Our group would trudge back to the resort where several Costa Rican women staff members had prepared a large breakfast for us: scrambled eggs, watermelon and pineapple, salad, rice and beans, and plantains. I’d go back for seconds and thirds.
One of my colleagues Fredrik and I were pretty good beginners and had the privilege of being invited by the instructors to a different beach at least an hour’s drive away from the resort. Fredrik and I rode in a taxi with one of the instructors and two other guests who were seasoned surfers. The ride through dirt and gravel roads was bumpy and hot and all around unpleasant. A sandless beach awaited us when we arrived. I lathered on sunscreen to protect against the intense midday sun, took my board, and carefully walked across the seemingly endless stretch of sharp rocks until I could mount my board and start paddling. After an hour of surfing, I remember being exhausted but extremely grateful that I was lucky enough to experience the raw power of mother nature in such a majestic setting. I was also extremely grateful I hadn’t been injured so far on the trip. The waves could be truly terrifying.