Category Archives: surf

Adventures / surf / travel

Vida Baja en VidaSoul

July 18, 2017

VidaSoul Hotel East Cape

VidaSoul Hotel East Cape

VidaSoul Hotel East Cape

VidaSoul Hotel East Cape

VidaSoul Hotel East Cape

VidaSoul Hotel

VidaSoul Hotel East Cape

VidaSoul Hotel East Cape

VidaSoul Hotel East Cape

VidaSoul Hotel East Cape

VidaSoul Hotel East Cape

VidaSoul Hotel East Cape

VidaSoul Hotel East Cape

VidaSoul Hotel East Cape

VidaSoul Hotel East Cape

It had been four months since our last Mexican beer together; four months too long. I traveled north and Kaitlyn traveled south to reunite on the East Cape of Baja in the middle of the desert and the Sea of Cortez. The adventure began in a cube shaped rental car and a drive at dusk down a lonely desert road that was fringed with cacti, the sporadic cluster of skinny cows, and the random landmarks that we were told to look for in order to find our way. The harsh landscape inspired a feeling of lawlessness. It was time for that first Mexican beer. It became apparent upon initial observation that only the determined can survive here, and there is something inherently beautiful about that.

As the arid mountains devoured the last light, we turned left at our final landmark and shortly thereafter we pulled into VidaSoul, a beacon of life in an otherwise seemingly deserted human oasis of private homes. We walked into the bar to find tequila happy guests dancing their last song and a group of determined cows quenching their own thirst in the pool. Our bedroom overlooked the swell saturated sea and gratefully satiated desert souls that depend on the fresh water pool. The cows returned everyday. VidaSoul is an architectural marvel and luxurious haven in what felt like the middle of nowhere. We dropped off our board bags in our room, and then we found our own tequila happiness.

Sleep came easy and fast in our king-sized Tempur-Pedic bed with soft white linens and the lullaby of the Sea of Cortez drawn out into the balmy night. The eager anticipation of waves woke us up before daybreak though. By the time we had finished our first cup of coffee, we had already made friends with a group of surfers from San Diego who were heading out for their last surf. We tagged along and found the wave that we would surf for the entirety of our time on the East Cape. One was even so kind as to let me use his brand new board since mine had sustained some damage during transportation. He helped me to repair it though in time for our sunset surf.

He became part of our tribe for the next three days since he was staying longer than his friends. We met and befriended an inspiring collection of gypsy souls, adventurers, professional campers, cross continental drifters, and free spirited surfers who found what we had soon discovered about life in the desert by the sea. It was like everyone was meant to be there in that exact moment in time. Everyone whom we met possessed the same positivity, minimalist philosophy, and citizen of the world vibe. We became part of something before we even knew that it existed.

Our timing was impeccable. The waves superseded our wildest expectations. We were surfing overhead to double overhead flowy rights that peeled from a coral reef that was teeming with parrotfish and sergeant majors to an inside reef covered in sea urchins. If you caught the right wave in the right place, the dance between you and the sea lasted for hundreds of meters. It didn’t always line up though, which spaced out the thin crowd even more and gave everyone the chance to catch ample waves. Everyone in the water seemed to share the ideology that the waves belonged to no one and everyone. This is how it is supposed to be.

We refueled and recounted our waves over fish tacos for lunch and the most exquisite veggie pasta and margaritas every night for dinner. Antonio and Juan took exceptional care of us from dawn until after dusk. Antonio had a sweet stoic face and the gentlest demeanor. He looked at us like we were his daughters. He reminded us of an old boat captain that we had had a few years ago on a surf trip to Ollie’s Point; determined and sage-like. Juan wore a permanent smile on his face and made sure that we had everything we needed. They were our desert guardians.

It became impossible not to wonder how such a place as VidaSoul came to be all the way out here. How was construction and operation even possible with nothing but sand roads and not even so much as a small food store anywhere nearby? There hadn’t even been any measurable rain in the last six years. Then we met Joan. Joan is the owner of VidaSoul and her son is the visionary architect. While we didn’t have enough time with her to get the complete detailed story, we found out that the initial days of VidaSoul were quite eerie and only possible through impressive determination.

 

It was the middle of August in 2004. I was working out here alone and it was 100 degrees at night, so I had to sleep outside in a hammock. In those years, we didn’t have any storage so the boxes of beer were outside and the burros would come and eat the cardboard. On that night, I cleaned up the kitchen and then went outside to relax in my hammock. It was so hot that I couldn’t sleep. I returned to the kitchen for a snack and realized that the freezer had defrosted and it had fish juice coming out of it. I had to clean it up, but afterward realized that I was covered in the stinky smell of fish. The offensive and potent smell was everywhere. There was no escaping it.

I returned to my hammock and now I couldn’t sleep because I was covered in fish juice. However, I eventually drifted off, but the sleep didn’t last long. I woke up to a very startling sound. I could hear beer bottle rattling and then I saw the burros running away. This was quite curious to me, so I got my flashlight and walked around my camper. I encountered an animal  that was as dark as night standing next to my generator. I shined the light on it, but it didn’t as much as move a hair.

I ran the light down its body and discovered that it had a long tail like a lion. It still never even flinched. I just stood there ten feet away trying to decide what one should do in this type of situation. I slowly backed away from the large cat. Eventually, it slowly sauntered off into the night, but as it did it would occasionally glance back and my light would catch its yellow demon-like eyes glaring back toward me. I finally returned to my hammock. Even though I reeked of fish and might seem like a tempting feast for the wild cat, it was just too hot to go inside of the camper. I then realized that the initial noise that woke me was actually the roaring cry of the cat. It was terrifying.

In the following years, I saw this same cat or a relative of this animal walking up my fence line and then jumping over into the neighbor’s yard on a prowl for a meal or just a drink of water. There was one that even came inside of the building that is now the restaurant before we were occupied and had any doors. The smell of fish must have been initially too inviting to resist, but I am still here to tell the tale.

 

We ended up having to seek refuge on the Pacific coast near Todos Santos from a two day wind storm. It was strange being back in civilization. We surfed a sketchy and sharky feeling point break that was far bigger than it appeared from the shore. The water was cold and a single local was out who told us that we picked a hell of a day to paddle out. We drank warm beers on the beach to warm up after a heart-pounding exit through a heavy and seething backwash shore break as the sun was setting. The call of the East Cape was too strong though and we returned as soon as the wind broke.

Our tribe had dispersed and it was just the two of us now. Our final days at VidaSoul were blissful and every moment, past and present, honored great gratitude. Our journey came to a close as were we driving for one final last surf check. We encountered a lone desert burro walking up the road. We got out of our car and he walked right up to us. His sweetness was the embodiment of this place. He seemed to have relished in the encounter as much as we did. We had our final words and loving contact, and then he turned and walked back into the desert as we turned and left the desert.

Huge Thanks to VidaSoul Hotel for having us

Bikinis & Shorts by  Salvaje Swimwear—use our promo code for 15% off OCEANANDOAKF&F

Writing by Jenn Parker

Photos by Kaitlyn Shea

Photo 10 by Deb Crowell

Photo 11 by Nathan Weldon

 

 

surf

Staying Injury Free in 2017

January 6, 2017

It took me a while to admit to myself that the pain I was having in my right shoulder was not going to go away on it’s own. The self dialogue of “I am just a little sore—it’s probably nothing—it’s not that bad—etcetera—etcetera” is probably somewhat familiar to most of us who use of bodies for athletic purposes. When we start ignoring our body’s warning signals such as persistent soreness and unexplainable fatigue, we unintentially set the stage for more serious problems like reoccurring injuries and longterm or chronic pain. So how can we enjoy our activities and use of bodies effectively without getting injured? These are some of the things we have learned along the way.

Hydration

I went to see an acupuncturist for my inured shoulder and when she asked how much water I drink daily, I exclaimed “Oh, I drink A TON of water, that’s not a problem for me”. She told me that my 2 litres per day was not adequate because of my coffee consumption (2 coffees a day) & occasional post-surf brews (both actually dehydrate your body). Hydration is one of the most important factors when it comes to staying injury free because water lubricates our joints, muscles and inhibits inflammation. Dehydration can contribute to muscle injury and our bodies need water to repair and recover. I now aim for 3+ litres per day.

Rest Days

This is a tough one for me, especially when it comes to surfing. If the conditions are good, I get in the water everyday. Prior to my shoulder injury, I was surfing every single day for 2 hours or more. I didn’t realize that this can cause injuries until I was told by my massage therapist. Our bodies need rest to repair our muscles after working them and without this opportunity, repetitive strain can occur. I have been taking a rest day once a week and my shoulder has noticeably improved.

Self Care

No matter what activities we do, our bodies require maintenance. Massage therapy, acupuncture, stretching, and physio therapy are highly beneficial to almost anyone who works out, does an extreme sport or spends a lot of time sitting at a desk. It’s great to try out different techniques and different practitioners to see what works for you.

Listening to your Body

Our bodies are pretty good at telling us something isn’t right, however many of us are guilty of ignoring these indicators and “pushing through”. Ignoring pain signals can increase the seriousness of an existing injury or cause a new one. When something doesn’t feel right, seek help and deal with it right away. Health professionals are our friends and often they have seen our problems before and have a course of action to help you get better.

Writing by: Kaitlyn Shea

Photos 2,3,4: Kaitlyn Shea

Photo 5: Carive Productions

Adventures / surf

Surf and Rain Showers in Panama

December 20, 2016

There has been but few cessations in the rain in the past twenty-four hours. The weather bands cloak Isla Cebaco before extending their long and dripping hands landward to take hold of the Queen’s beach. In a place like this, all you can do is embrace the holdfast.

The thunder here sounds like the shaking of rusted sheet metal. The air smells of wet dogs, jasmine, and stagnant water. The river is swollen and saturated with driftwood and detritus; it consumes the shallow seas to the west, south, and east. The beach is littered with single shoes, plastic, and cobs of baby corn. There is little movement on the streets; only stray dogs seeking shelter and sympathy. The air and our attitudes are wet with indecision.

This is now. Here is then.

We crossed the peninsula Thursday afternoon after several meaty beach break surfs in Playa Venao and a right point break session to ourselves off the untamed coast of Playa Cambutal. I had my first experience with homemade hojaladres (Panamanian fried dough) in Cambutal as we waited for the right tide. Leon walked to the tienda and bought four eggs for eighty cents and asked the woman at the fonda (equivalent to a soda in Costa Rica or a small, typically family owned and operated restaurant that serves homemade traditional dishes) to cook them for the three of us. We sat in the backyard of a house on a river and ate. Three women were already prepping for lunch at nine o’clock in the morning. The perfume of onions and cilantro wafted through the yard.

The road led us through rivers, past pastures, into bare boned towns, and in peripheral view of the sunset as we arrived in Mariato. We ate rice, lentils, and fried chicken with pineapple and lime chicha (a sugary homemade juice mixed with water) at a fonda with painted gourds hanging from the rafters. We were asleep by 7:30.

Entering the water here felt septic. My hands completely disappeared with each stroke forward. Tiny twigs and decomposing plant matter filled my bikini and tangled into my hair. I spit and flushed my nose after each duck dive. The water felt lifeless and the waves took on a tidal bore-like texture. The sea seemed void of salt. After one set wave, one overhead, open, top to bottom hackable wave, I noticed nothing displeasing.

When your days are heavily centered around the tides and you are staying in a town with no name, the common cure for antsyness is taking unnecessary risks. We decided to try and drive down to the river mouth via the patch soft sand, dry tributary indentations, and driftwood and rock piling topography that separated the shore from the parallel riverbed. Rental car, four-wheel drive, and finger counting the tide, a risk on the mind cancels time.

The river mouth session had the makings of a dirty dream. What looked like nothing turned out to be a peeling perfectly sculpted left point break. It was a rare period of time where I had absolutely nothing on my mind…until a large reptile caught my peripheral eye, then I had crocodiles on my mind as I made the long paddle back to the take-off spot alone. In that seemingly lifeless shoreline, I think the sea turtle appreciated our company.

That was the last surf before the great storm. The sky unzipped with such force that I’m afraid that the zipper might have broken, as all of my zippers seem to do somehow. We drank beers, ate soup, watched Jaws with subpar Internet from a hammock, and still felt no relief from the overbearing weight of October. With the certain uncertainty of the season comes the opportunity to practice patience. We are but bystanders in the wake of natural forces that are beyond our control. We did have a car though.

There’s a frustrating and inexplicable art of decision making in a triad of indecisives. However, the morning monsoon graced us with a decisive decision. We drove north to head west to end south in Santa Catalina with pessimistic weather and optimistic minds. The sky can’t cry forever. The wind will eventually tire of blowing onshore. And, when it’s least expected that one wave will start the show. Until then, we sit and stare at the sea.

Written by Jenn Parker

Photos by Jenn Parker

Adventures / surf / travel

A week on Oahu with the Poke Squad.

December 1, 2015

ocean and oak hawaii

ocean and oak hawaii

ocean and oak hawaii

ocean and oak hawaii

ocean and oak hawaii

ocean and oak hawaii

ocean and oak hawaii

One of my great friends moved away from Costa Rica this past April. It was a little bit sad, as it meant I wouldn’t be able to see her and surf with her as frequently. The only saving grace that enabled me to see past the aspect of losing a very cherished local girlfriend was that she was moving to Hawaii, an island paradise with tropical weather and beautiful waves.

My recent visit to Oahu was the ideal version of a brief week long vacation. We surfed every morning, hiked most afternoons, and ate fresh poke and açai bowls in between. Niki lives in Honolulu, so we hungout and caught waves in the city for the first couple of days before heading up to the North Shore. Winter swells had not yet arrived so all of the waves were fairly playful and perfect everywhere we went. This being said we still managed to break two boards.

One morning we took a boat trip with Hawaii Shark Encounters to swim with Galapagos and sand sharks. It was so cool to observe these creatures in crystal clear water right off the coast. I had never seen sharks up close and personal, so it was a definitely a highlight for me that morning to watch them swim so gracefully.

After a week of surfing peeling reef breaks, swimming with sharks, and eating my favorite Hawaiian foods, I said seeya later to island life and gave Niki a huge seeya later hug. Mahalo Niki & Oahu for a dreamy week of island bliss!

Writing & Photos by: Kaitlyn Shea

 

Adventures / Eat / stay / surf

Turning it Up in Tofino

November 7, 2015

ocean and oak Tofino

Ocean and Oak Tofino

Ocean and Oak Tofino

Ocean and Oak Tofino

Ocean and Oak Tofino

Ocean and Oak Tofino

Ocean and Oak Tofino

It’s good for the soul to sleep on the ground every now and then; go back to the basics and wake up to the cackle of black crows and a dew drenched earth. We joyfully endured two days of rustic beach camping on Mackenzie Beach during our five day stay in Tofino. We slept between the sand and the stars. The song of the sea was unceasing, and set the mood for our stay. Soft ethereal fog rolled in from the ocean and was met by night old campfire smoke that permeated the dense tree line each morning. The collusion has a mystical effect, and made that first cup of coffee feel dreamy, even though insta-coffee is anything but dreamy.

Fortunately, there were plenty of coffee houses in town to fire us up for the cold surf. The Pacific Rim is rugged and rich with waves. This slice of the world is wild and unpredictable, but where there were waves, we found them. Kaitlyn knew all, the right spots to check. Suited up in 4/3mm wetsuits, we were a formidable match for the 57 F water and the waves that Long Beach threw our way for two days. We spent our days walking endless beaches with Nugget and surfing the un-crowded peaks off the rock at Long Beach. We spent our nights staying warm next to the fires we built, eating havarti and mayo sandwiches, and drinking local brews. Sweet, simple, and highly satisfying, the way life should be.

Oftentimes, timing is everything. Gale force winds tested our tent assembly skills to the maximum late Saturday night and into the morning. Needless to say, it was a restless last night of camping as we lay waiting for our tent to take off with us in it. We couldn’t have been more ready to pack up our site and to check into our honey combed shaped cabin at Ocean Village later that afternoon. In the meantime, we sought refuge at Florencia Bay, which was protected from the wind. We slept in the sun baked sand until the middle of the afternoon.

Checking into Ocean Village was like a hug. Our little cabin suited us perfectly. We immediately felt warmth and coziness, like a home, our home. We had a full kitchen, an ocean view, and yellow crate with everything needed to build a beach bonfire. We drove into town for a few provisions, including sparkling rosé, and spent the rest of our evening on the beach, under the star saturated sky, and next to our crackling fire. It was a night full of laughter and reflections.

The next day will always remain as the sweetest of reveries. We made bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches, and then Kaitlyn took me wetsuit shopping; it was time to get my own gear. I might have found the last 4/3 mm in the Pacific North Rim. All of the shops were already preparing for winter. I bought the suit that I swore was designed specifically for my body, and also a pair of booties and gloves. After a quick dirty chai, we decided to check the surf at Wickaninnish. This is Kaitlyn’s favorite beach on the island, and it quickly became mine too.

The rainy weather brought glassy conditions and offshore winds. There was also a nice little bump in the swell. The water temperature dropped into the low 50’s, but we felt tropical. The sea was emerald green and crystal clear, and the waves were firing. Being out there was invigorating! These are the types of moments when nothing is as good as the present. We surfed for so long that our bones finally became chilled. We stripped down to our bikinis in the parking lot and rode home with the heat blasting, seat warmers on, and beaming with the type of euphoric happiness that all surfers know. The only logical thing we could think to do next was to celebrate.

After long hot showers, a cup of tea, and a beach walk with Nugget, we went out to dinner at the Wolf In The Fog. We shared a bottle of DMZ chardonnay and ate the most unique and decadent creations. We had oysters wrapped in shoe string potatoes over avocado, smoked steelhead trout with roasted beets and mixed micro greens, and perfectly grilled squid. It was the kind of food that makes you laugh when you eat it. Seafood on the island is as fresh as it gets, and such a sweet gift from the wild Pacific. Wine buzzed and satiated, we decided to have sarpe(s) at Shelter. It was a rosy cheeked kind of evening.

Our last day of surf was the best day of surf. We returned to Wickaninnish. It was the coldest day, but we were geared up and eager to get in the water. We shared, just the two of us, a perfect A-framed peak, and surfed until the cold eventually got the best of us, over two hours later. The lefts and rights were long, open, and consistent. The combination of wave adrenaline, the brain freeze-like rush of duck diving, and the savage beauty of the land and seascape, produced an instantly addicting and long lasting high. We savored that last surf.

We returned to Reef Point in Ucluelet for our last night. We drank cold beers in our hot tub, as our wetsuits hung to dry. We reflected on our adventure, and began thinking about when we would return together again. It was hard to say goodbye to a place that now holds a piece of both of our hearts.

Written by: Jenn Parker

Photos by: Kaitlyn Shea

Big thanks to Ocean Village for having us!

surf

A Heavenly Hidden Gem

October 15, 2015

There is a place that is very dear to our hearts at the end of a long dirt road. This is where we go to escape for the weekend, play for the day, or surf when the perfect big swell rolls through the protected bay. The beach is hugged by frangipanis and a coral reef. At night, there are almost always bioluminescent plankton waiting to be ignited by the movement of midnight swimming. It is Nugget and Marbella’s favorite beach. This is our tropical haven.

ocean and oak

ocean and oak

ocean and oak

ocean and oak

ocean and oak

Written by: Jenn Parker

Photos by: Kaitlyn Shea

Adventures / surf

Journey into the Witch’s Belly

August 11, 2015

ocean and oak

ocean-and-oak-DSC_9189

ocean and oak

ocean and oak

Three A.M., dawn is still deep in slumber, and I happily rise as I’ve waited all night for this hour. I throw on an over-sized sweater over the bikini I wore to bed, and like clockwork and with light feet walk downstairs to hit the coffee button. I take Marbella, my chocolate Lab, outside and my cat, Citlali, follows out of curiosity. It is a rare moment when the dust in completely settled on the road, the stars are awake, and the sliver of moon and the dull flickering street lamps light my path. I can hear the waves at my home break crashing against the rocky shore; a wave of anticipation breaks inside of me. In only a matter of short hours, I will be on the inside of that ominous rock.

I feed of all of the animals, pour my coffee to go, grab my board and bag, which is simply packed with the few things I need [in life] (sunscreen, sarong, shades, wax, water, passport, a notebook, a very worn copy of Walden, an extra del Toro bikini, an over-stuffed sandwich, and a few Imperial Silvers) and start the winding, one-lane road north. It’s like a video game driving to Playa del Coco; dodging dogs, cattle traffic jams, bat out of hell bus drivers, and reflector-less, pedestrian path-free blind curves. Early rising workers congregate at make shift bus stops uncomfortably close to the edge of the road, and clearly crossing the line of relative safety. Making it to the Panaderia Tico for fresh empanadas at 5 A.M. is a sign of success and relief.

5:30 A.M., my toes are gripping cold sand as I wait for the last shore break to pass, so that I can climb onto the boat. The sun is waking behind Papagayo, as brush strokes paint the sky alive. The salt laden air is more powerful than caffeine. I sit at the front of the panga for the best view of the acrobatic stingrays, and so that I can feel like I am the first one there. Our captain is an old Guanacasteca mariner with a stoic stare and deep set lines in his face that tell a story few will ever know. He hugs The Mystic to the coastline. The bay is notorious for its treacherous conditions, and he places no trust in its mood today. The costal waters are idyllic and the color of dreams. Pelicans gather on exposed rocks, flying fish break the surface tension, and our captain’s face never changes. The closer we get, the more apparent it becomes that the witch is attracting the new sun and the swell like a magnet; I feel the pull, too.

Before the anchor is set, I am making the long paddle to the breaking waves. The aquamarine water becomes shallow and clear, and dotted with tiny garden eels you can see if you open your eyes underwater. The bay is pulsating, and waves much be chosen wisely. There is nothing better than being in an empty line up with your best friends on a firing day at Rocas Brujas. Turn your head for second though, and the witch will swallow you whole. She has a gift for keeping you completely in the present.

When I am surfing, nothing else matters. It is my meditation. Duck diving waves the size of houses is like a rebirth, and as I am pulled through the back of a wave, just for those few seconds, time seems to slow down, almost stop. Between sets, I cannot help but get lost in my surroundings. Dark sand fades to light, as it empties out onto miles of beach. With the exception of driftwood and palm shade huts that sporadically dot the beach, it feels untouched, prehistoric…intangible.

Lefts, rights, barrels, close outs, wipe outs, beatings on the inside, bombs on the horizon…that perfect wave. It’s day trips like this that leave me soggy and sunburned, but frothing for more. Logging six hours of surfing makes a lukewarm beer taste heavenly. I put on a windbreaker and a hat in an attempt to save my skin, and I look into the eyes of that rock for the last time before our boat passes it. I sit in quiet reflection.

The sea has calmed down, and we take a straighter approach through the bay. My surf-glazed eyes catch a pod of pilot whales in the near distance. The water is glassy and they break the surface closer and closer to the boat, one after another, until I realize that we are surrounded by an enormous extended family. There are dozens of glistening black bodies cutting through the water like it’s air. I lean over the edge to meet intelligent eyes, and I believe they are full of sage-like wisdom. I try and take some of that with me. They travel with us for quite some time, and I feel chosen.

Every part of my body is utterly exhausted. My lips are dried and cracked, my eyes are bloodshot, my limbs are heavy and itchy from sea lice,  and my hair is like a bird’s nest, but I can’t help but smile in bliss as I finish my second beer, and fade out like the day.

Written by: Jenn Parker

Photos (1-3) by: Kaitlyn Shea

Photo 3 by: ChonFotos

 

surf

Trust Your Instincts

June 10, 2015

photographer in Tamarindo

photographer in Tamarindo

photographer in Tamarindo

At 6:15 AM, I am sitting over a reef at my favorite left point break. The ocean is morning sick and clouds of sand disrupt clarity. The sun is beginning to peak through the Malinche and Van Goughesque Corteza Amarilla. The scent of dew laced Frangipanis break up the monotony of the dense green dry forest that protects this beach from reality and other surfers. Pelicans pose on the heads of rocks and calligraphy-like war birds see everything from above; what I cannot see, I feel with a jarring intensity.

I am struck by the feeling of being hunted. My level of uneasiness and alertness shake me to my core. I see distinct shapes below the surface, but cannot decipher between what is real and what tricks my mind is playing on me. I experience swells of chicken skin and panic when I duck under rolling water, and I am pushed off of my board as messy waves build. I know I should not ignore this instinctual pull for flight. However, my desensitized 21st century human side innately suggests doubt and non-constituted paranoia.

I feel as if I cannot get out of the water quickly enough. I am moving in slow motion as the water sucks and churns around me. I am finally able to catch an inside wave. I stand from shore and can’t take my eyes off of the water. I wish I could see through it. I want to see something. I need to see something. But then, I realize in this moment that that is the modern human in me speaking.

Why don’t we blindly trust our instincts and believe that they are justified without obvious proof? Is this a classic case of the cliche “use it or lose it?” Are we losing the ability to decode and react without diffidence to our engraved instincts? I can’t help but wonder as I scan the surface intently for fins. These questions linger in my thought trail for days. This is not the first time I’ve had this experience, or these thoughts.

Sharks, however, should be the least of anyone’s concern. They should be wary of us, seeing as how we brutally slaughter a million a year for hedonistic purposes. The two main concerns that need to be examined relate to our exponentially increasing disconnect from ourselves, each other, and environment, and existing as a product of one’s environment.

I believe that our technology dependent lives are partial, but on the majority side, to blame for this digressive adaptation. The rapid advancement of technology can be viewed as a god’s send and a curse. This momentum of progression seems to have come with a cost. We are making room for the new by getting rid of portions of the old. What is being left behind is intangible, but I believe vital. How often do we make a decision based mainly on our instincts? How often do we wish we had listened to them?

Few are completely free from the confines and influence of the dissevering power of recent technology and applications. When used in moderation and as originally intended, the power can be quite the opposite and in contrast, connect us to our world and each other. But when used compulsively and the threshold is broken, one’s feeling of connection becomes a rather effectual illusion. As new generations are born into this technology-laden era, I worry that social media will completely replace meaningful relationships, video games will replace playing outside and building imaginary worlds amongst the trees, and “reality” television will set the standard for our conduct.

I am a firm believer that one cannot be passionate toward that which one doesn’t have a connection. Connections are made through physical experiences. If we allow ourselves to remain in our own comfort bubbles, we run the risk of missing the bigger picture. We inevitably stunt our growth. Our greatest ancestors were in a perpetual state of growth and evolution. Why slow down now? Why risk dulling and potentially eradicating the animalistic instincts that gave fire to our species, in return for a robotic existence?

Nostalgia is a potent elixir inspiring in me a deep yearning for child-like simplicity and a time of unconscious awareness, a time when one is curious and intuitive, fearless, but capable of learning from consequences. When I was a child, I never would have doubted my inner voice telling me to run. I was more connected with my Indian roots and the present moment. It is easy to get lost in the useless, to become a victim of mind clutter. This clutter is a distraction from what really matters. The further we move away from our inherent abilities as residents of the upper levels of the chain, the more at risk we are at becoming prey.

Remember we came from and are part of this beautiful world; get outside and live it! The more in tune we are with each other, our shared environment, and ourselves, the more we will thrive and flourish.

Written by: Jenn Parker

Photos by: Kaitlyn Shea