Before this summer I had never surfed a day in my life but, when in Biarritz, you must do as the surfer bros do. During my first few days in Biarritz, I sat on the golden beaches just watching the young people take their boards and hit the waves. They make it look so incredibly easy and although I have never surfed a day in my life, or even successfully used a skateboard, I decided to book a lesson.
Unfortunately, the day of my lesson Biarritz experienced torrential downpours. I woke up bright and early that day, and was disappointed to think my lesson would be canceled. I messaged the instructor, who instead informed me that “It’s fine, you can’t feel the rain underwater.” I was shocked, and very nervous. I couldn’t surf in the first place, how was I going to learn in the pouring rain? I considered canceling, but decided I’d tough it out. I trudged through the wind and rain to get to the Côte de Basque that morning, and as I was changing into a wetsuit in the back of the white van my instructor used, I seriously began to question my choices.
Thankfully, once we got down to the water, the experience blew me away (and washed me away). The seas felt nice and warm, and my instructor, Laurent, was hilarious. He used classic phrases like “Yeah baby,” “Let’s Go!” and “Allllright!” but something about the surfer bro dialect mixed with a French accent made the encouragement really magical. Surprisingly, I wasn’t all that terrible at surfing either. And even though my lesson was basically something a seven year old would take, I left feeling super proud that I had gone out, faced my fears, and tried something totally new.
This summer, Jessica roamed through many winding French streets in search of three things: white wine, red wine, and rose. With just a single phone power bank and absolutely no understanding of the French language, she found just what she was looking for along with many, many croissants. Her adventures ranged from trying to get a French SIM card from a man who spoke no English, to air drying in a towel-less hostel, to even lugging her 40L Osprey pack up a 3 mile mountain hike to get to her AirBnB in a French vineyard. After her trip, she’s found a profound new love of lavender, macaroons, and waking up before noon. The only thing France was truly missing this summer was Jessica’s cat, Gerty, who she missed very dearly throughout her journeys. She saw The Great Sphinx of Tanis at the Louvre, but it just wasn’t the same. Jessica is currently planning her next backpacking adventure to Greenland and Ireland, where she hopes to find out just how many ways you can cook a potato.