Mojo Surf Camp (September 19th-23rd)
Byron Bay (September 23rd-29th)
Have you ever seen the movie North Shore? It’s a surfer movie from the 80s about a guy named Rick Kane who won the Arizona surfing championship (wave pool) and decided to use his winnings to see how good he “really” is by going to the north shore of Hawaii to surf the big waves. At first during his trip he gets robbed, is treated like an outcast and finds that he does not know anything about surfing. And just when it seems all hope is lost he makes a few friends with some locals. These friends teach him what it means to be a “soul surfer” and help him achieve his dream…surf camp was kind of like that…We hail from Az and do not know how to surf, at times we feel like outcast when all the traveling Germans are only speaking German among themselves and I had my stuff stolen. We also made some great friends who are also travelers at surf camp. With those friends we enjoyed camp to the fullest and now have other parts of the world we hope to visit...The similarities are uncanny...All that is left is to become great surfers, hopefully.
We started our trip up the east coast of Australia by going to Mojo surf camp. We did some research into the various camps which all seemed to offer the same thing, yet Mojo continuously had the best reviews. We booked the five day experience which picked us up in Sydney and would end in Byron Bay. The first two days were spent in the Mojo Beach House at Crescent Head. The camp is located at a secluded beach in a national park. It was great. There was no one else around except the camp. We got a wakeup call for Brekki (breakfast) and got our daily surf report about the tides and what to expect for the day. Then we climbed into some wetsuits and went to the beach. Once there we grabbed some boards and went out with our instructors. I managed to stand and catch the 2nd wave I tried which made me stoked! Only I did not catch another one for the better part of an hour. After the morning session we went back to camp for lunch before we went back out for the afternoon session. In the evenings we had epic dinners followed by a bond fire party with our fellow campers. The next day we would do it all over again. There was no cell service and no internet which was quite a freeing experience. All we had was each other at the camp and as a result the group slowly started to bond into a mini-family.
|Beach all to ourselves|
The first night Patrick and I were drunk and sitting on the deserted beach contemplating the meaning of life, happy to no longer be tethered to a desk. (Patrick would like me to mention here-“no homo”) We gazed in astonishment at the brightest stars we have ever seen and felt so small. Not only because of the illumination of the sky, but also because the constellations were foreign to us as well. It felt strange to look up and not see the same familiar stars we have always seen all our lives in the northern hemisphere. It helped to reiterate that we were actually on the other side of the world. Up to that point Australia had felt like USA Jr. Yes, different but not so drastically dissimilar that we had experienced any kind of culture shock. Yet here, under these stars, you know without a doubt that you are a long way from home…As if the universe understood the gravity of this moment a beautiful thunderstorm was rolling out at sea, lighting up the night sky purple at a far distance that seemed so close. It was like watching a lighthouse rolling through the ocean in the rearview mirror of a car. Perhaps it was the alcohol talking but it was quite a Zen moment.
As for the surf…well, it was mixed. It was solid for the first day and a half. During our 2nd afternoon session the wind kicked up and it became choppy and hard to surf, so much that the instructors gave the group the option of going surfing or just hanging out on the beach. Pat and I figured that we paid for this so let us surf. As a result, we got worked…but that was part of the fun of it. And when we did manage to catch a few waves it was a rewarding experience.
|Stephen and Mandy...Living Legends|
After a few days there the group hopped a bus up to the next part of the Mojo experience and made our way to Spot X. Sport X is more of a relaxing resort where you can go for as little as one night or as long as 4 months or longer. They offered other activities than just surfing. There were several travelers there who were making the same trip as us, but fell in love with the place and decided to get jobs there for free accommodation. Spot X had the same surf routine, only the surf was mostly flat so it made for shitty sessions. But to make up for that, the night was a bigger more epic party. The Spot X crew were a good time and had crazy games/contest each night. I swear their motto was “Get Naked!” because it seemed that every so often someone was cuffing their balls or chest nuts and taking a lap around the camp.
After Spot X the Mojo trip ended in Byron Bay but the party was just beginning. The entire crew ended up with in the same hostel. The party continued for the better part of a week and slowly people made their exits and back to reality. By the end we were all family.
Byron Bay is a smallish laid back and beautiful place with some crazy night light for all the backpackers. What is great about this kind of travel is that you meet many other backpackers making the same kind of trip but at different times. For instance, in Byron, we met back up with Mandy from Canada who we met in Sydney and had a great time together. We also ran into this kid name Neko from Finland that we met at Spot X and got a bit crazy together. It is never a dull moment. So many people coming and going all the time and yet we meet back up at some point later in your trip. It never makes for long goodbyes which I think is the way everyone prefers it.
|we don't look like tourist...|
In Byron there is also a lighthouse that we walked up to so we could enjoy the view and perhaps see some wales out at sea. Mandy convinced us to take the walk by saying that it would take like a thirty minutes…an hour and fifteen minutes later we were almost there. It was quite the hike in sandals since we were not prepared. But in the end it was worth it. It was a calming and refreshing place. For those of you familiar with San Diego, think Point Loma. Unfortunately, we did not see any whales on that trip but it was still worth it. Also we got to stand at the most easterly point of the mainland Australia where we happened to run into another American which was only the 2nd one we did not know on this trip…come on USA…step your game up.
|30 minutes eh'?|
Oh, I have to mention the PIES! Apparently in this part of the world there are bakery’s everywhere and most of them make meat pies! Maybe the best thing ever when you are wasted at the end of the night. One Bakery in particular is open 23 hours a day in Byron and we had a pie late every night we were there. They should make these back in the states because I would prefer this to a late night slice….ok I had my fat kid moment.
After about a week it was time to close this chapter of our trip and continue our way up the coast. It was a bit bitter sweet because it was coming to an end with the Mojo family, but I believe I am right in saying that it was an experience that none of us will ever forget. From Byron, Pat and I made plans to head to the surfers Paradise...