Arigato & Gracias; Japan & Mexico

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Heading back to Japan for only my second time ever, I was still very excited. Partly to do with the fact that Tokyo City is a crazy, different place that a small town girl like me loves to get lost in for a day of shopping, eating and a bit of a culture shock. Also the fact that this competition was going to be at the exact same beach where they are hoping to have the surfing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. So with my big goal in mind of representing New Zealand at the Olympics, I was pretty keen to get a sneak peak at the place.

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Before heading there, a few of the girls sent out a group message warning us about the leaking Nuclear power plant still unable to get under control after the major earthquake and tsunami there years ago now. Of course before going I was a bit wary of it but after talking to local people about it, they said the water is checked three times a day and that it has be fine for ages. I was happy to be reassured but not that happy about the water almost being colder than home in winter!

We were in an area called Shiba on the Chiba peninsula. About an hour and a half drive from Narita airport. It’s a complete contrast of Tokyo. A cool little country like surf town with many surf shops along the main road that runs parallel to the ocean. Rice fields and lots of tiny houses, some even where they sleep upstairs and just open up their little cafe or restaurant downstairs it seemed like whenever they felt like it. Not many people spoke English very well, if at all; so we had to hope the food menu had photos to point at.

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The wave ‘Shiba point’ is actually a beach break between two man made rock and concrete piers or like a groyne. It was super small the whole time I was there so only saw it breaking at a max of 2ft but did have some nice, clean and fun conditions and could definitely see the potential although I’m sure to make the Olympics more exciting a wave pool may be better in a country like Japan unless we are lucky enough to get a typhoon. Unfortunately I got knocked in the quarter finals against a local Japanese girl who went on to the final. I had another amazing time here because of the great combo of weather, food, heated toilet seats and how friendly, helpful, nice and gracious the Japanese really are. The nicest people I’ve ever come across on my travels, even their little ‘thank you and goodbye’ nods and bowing rubbed off on me, finding myself doing the exact same thing when I was getting off the plane back home! Arigato Japan!

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Mexico is another favorite destination of mine on the World surf league (WSL) World qualifying series (QS). Los Cabos to Americans is a bit like what Bali is to Aussies and kiwis so this area has become very Americanized but you can still venture out into local markets and restaurants.

It’s got the full tourist town in the ‘new town’ of San josé and all the tourist attractions from the likes of big game fishing, diving or cruising out to Lovers beach in the sea of Cortez. A few of us girls always get a place right on the beach within a hundred metres walking distance to the contest site of Zippers beach. A small little fast breaking right hander across rocks close to the beach. A wave a quite like on my backhand that has scored me a couple of 5th places previously. Unfortunately this time I missed out by less than a point with slow, bumpy and inconsistent waves losing to two previous event winners.

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Out of the comp, I now had time to explore a little more. Finding an amazing Oasis in the middle of the desert an hour inland in the middle of nowhere. Perfect temperature but by the time you got back to the car you were more than ready for another swim. We also managed to get out to the East cape a couple of times to surf breaks like shipwrecks and five palms. There’s not a lot out there other than a slew of breaks to choose from. Lots of Americans driving around in their 4wds or buggy’s and living the dream of surfing in paradise everyday, eating guacamole with a corona or two. From cheap tacos down the road to some super healthy fine dining restaurants, the most lush golf courses you’ll ever see and surf for every ability, it’s no wonder Americans keep coming back here. I will too! I think I need a years break from guacamole though! 😉 Once again Mexico you pulled through with the good, Gracias!

My next event is 28th – 30th July at Oceanside beach, California. Until then I’ll be surfing and training as much as I can working off this little burrito belly 😉

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