A Love Letter from a Lake Surfer
Shazia lives in Toronto, Canada with her partner Nick and co-leads a surf group for women called Lake Surfistas. Follow her on Instagram at @cybershaz and @lakesurfistas.
The first time I stood up on a board was on a small white water wave at Playa Maderas in southern Nicaragua. I hadn’t really had a lesson; a local guide had given me a board, a few instructions, and said ‘go surf’. Little did I know at that time that surfing would change my life over the coming years and that Nicaragua would come to be a place I cherish as a second home filled with extended family.
From then until now, I have unlocked my love for surfing, mainly on the Great Lakes in Canada. Yes, that right, I’m a lake surfer. The Great Lakes are so big that although they don’t have tides, they use wind swell. We need fetch to produce waves, and we don’t get the benefit of saltwater to float our boards. It’s a dedicated community around the shores of the lakes, and the height of the surf season for us is the winter when the winds come. We are out surfing in snow, hail, and sub-zero temperatures. Hello iced selfie!
As I worked on my surf skills in the cold, saltless waters, I still craved the warmth and float of the ocean. I took trips to various places, and in 2016 on the recommendation of a friend I trekked north in Nicaragua to Rise Up. I will never forget my first full day; Christmas Day. Our small group drove up to Jiquilillo. Small waves meant fun longboarding, tricks, and Santa hats. We made friends with long-time return guests Guy & Alix. Then when we returned to Rise Up beach we played in the water with the local families and pushed the kids into little waves. Later in the trip on New Year’s Eve, we celebrated a friend’s birthday with a piñata and had a beach bonfire. I was hooked.
My partner and I have now visited Rise Up 4 times. Phil and Corina have built a place like no other on beautiful Punta Aposentillo. The familia we’ve met along the way always brought “diacachimba” (good vibes), along with a good razzing for us being lake surfers. As I flew home on January 1st this year, I reflected on the trip. Feeling progression in my skills; feeling confident surfing with the ‘big kids’; feeling part of the familia. Each visit has been more joyous than the last.
I am continuously in awe of the Great Lakes for being at my doorstep and providing me access to surf that I never imagined I would have. I will always be a freshwater surfer, battling the elements, being excited about a 7 second wave period, and rare offshore conditions. But now I also have a salty home. This magical place has helped me push my limits through laughter and tears, and always I’ll be back. Much love to my #RiseUpSurfFamilia.