I push my heels down and start riding another circle when I hear my name called from the airport entrance. My transfer is ready to take me to the lodge now so I jump off my cruiser and follow the man from the welcome desk. My luggage is still in Frankfurt apparently, with all my bikinis, necessities – and my jacket, which I might actually need more urgently, looking at the massive tower of clouds forming over me.
After an hour drive through red cliffs, vacant houses and land for sale signs, I get the first glimpse of the sea. Glistening whenever a ray of sunshines darts through the clouds and popping white heads of foam here and there, I feel the smile on my face, that has been lingering there since the alarm clock rang at 5 in the morning, slowly but surely spreading over my whole face.
I made it. Back to the ocean.
No luggage – no problem.
Everything really important was in my backpack with me: laptop, phone, camera – and my little cruiser, that I vow to take on each and every trip I will ever go to for the rest of my life (or at least the next couple years). Not only did it make my wait worthwhile at Faro Airport, it also ensured I got there in the first place as 50 Minutes are not nearly enough time for a transit at Frankfurt Airport. A fact that German authorities seem absolutely aware off, as no one even tried to stop me cruising down the aisles, slaloming through other travelers, making my way from gate to gate.
Arriving at the lodge, I’m greeted and welcomed like an old friend. “Make yourself at home – it’s such a beautiful one…” and after a first look through the villa that makes up the Jah Shaka Surf Lodge, I can’t but agree. The spacious kitchen offers everything you could wish for – even a chef, who spoils the guests on three nights of the week with a home cooked 2 course meal, made from organic produce from a local farm. Food is eaten in the lofty living room or on the veranda, sheltered by a little jungle of wine, and digested in the hammocks, beach chairs, day beds or the comfy sofa lounges.
The Roxy Week girls’ special already started on Sunday, so I’m two days late with my Tuesday arrival, but the group takes me in their midst within mere minutes and actually congratulates me on my late arrival as the weather will only get bet during the rest of the week.
A massive storm over the Atlantic means thick dark clouds, heavy rainfall and choppy waves – not exactly what you’d expect from the most southwestern point of Europe at the end of May. But the girls are too stoked to let anything come between them and the sea and bravely take to the water anyway. After 2 days, 2 flights, one night and a surf session in the same clothes, I do start to get a little worried about my missing luggage, especially after I the airport called me at the break of dawn to let me know it’s on the way, and it’s still nowhere to be seen after lunch, tea time and coffee break. So I’m not too concerned when the 2nd lesson of the day is moved to the Jah Shaka Surf Shop in Lagos for some board theory, where the Portuguese speaking staff came to my bag’s rescue and conduct the driver to the lodge.
Finally changed and in high spirits, I’m ready to kick off the first surfing holiday in two years! The waves aren’t quite yet, so we’re using the flat sea for some paddle board down time. Yep, SUP, something I normally secretly giggle at. But you should never judge a book by its cover and discard an activity you never tried and after discovering a beautiful cave on our boards and daring to paddle through a rocky stone arch, I’m somewhat proselyted – for ocean SUP at least. Especially after the hike up the 20 meter cliff – barefoot and in bikinis, of course.
The morning yoga sessions in the first rays of sunlight on the roof of the villa round off the beach girl lifestyle experience Jah Shaka is offering through their Roxy Week package and lets you start off your day relaxed, stretched and hungry for more. Of course you can also put together your own package, with or without surf coaching, kite lessons, mountain bike excursions and so on, or even just plain accommodation in the 10 bed dorm, one of the private rooms, or the fully equipped and stunning tipi tents in the backyard.
With on-shore blown out mini waves in the South and rough white water mountains on the West coast of the Algarve, the majority of the first time surfer babes work loosing their wetsuit “glove and sock tan” to match their body with a little sunbathe session on a secluded beach, while only the dedicated “F-Dogs” who can’t ever get enough keep on battling the sea to practice their pop ups, raise their wave count and start standing up.
By the end of the week, we haven’t only shared amazing moments, experiences, a room and a bathroom, but also the stoke of catching and riding some sweet salt water waves. As they leave one by one, Facebook profiles are connected, numbers exchanged and even plans made to come back for a second time around – or even visit each other at home in the UK, Austria, New Zealand, Canada or South Africa. And while I’m normally not necessarily a “group person”, I already know I will miss their bubbly chatter, their funny accents, and the good vibes their surf-stoked smiles have spread all the week.
The vibe in the villa has changed after their departure too, the guys fill the empty beds in the dorms and it becomes clear, that while this girls week was absolutely amazing, the lodge has a lot more to offer for all tastes. Chats of mulit-activity packages, a party heavy student week and guided surf tours for the more experienced wave riders get me dreaming of coming back while I rest my head on the fluffy pillow in the tipi tent I get to indulge in for the last night.