What I Learned at Las Olas

by Bev Sanders on July 17, 2014

For ten years, Mike managed Las Olas surf safaris on location in Mexico. When he started, it was a job he thought he’d do for a year, but it turned into a career. Last summer he married and decided to take a break from the travel. He’d done such an amazing job that we found ourselves with big flip flops to fill.

Before searching for his replacement, I had a crazy notion to go down south and manage Las Olas with Chris, my husband and business partner of over 30 years. I knew it would give us a fresh look at our favorite parts of the adventure. Well, I’ve been on location for one whole season and what did I learn?

I am the Las Olas guest and she is me.

Waxin' up.Each surfer girl I met down in Mexico is a kindred spirit. Although we may have vastly different backgrounds and life paths, we are so much the same. The moment we sat down for breakfast, I felt I had known everyone in another life. By cocktail hour, we shared our adventures and dreams like old friends.

The Las Olas A Team.The Las Olas crew is nothing short of amazing.

Did I say “amazing”? I meant AMAZING! I’m so proud to be supported by such strong and talented people. Yes, they’re able to focus on what’s important, but I laughed my ass off, too. They are the LOL in Las OLas.

Mexico is warm.

Now I understand why we snowbirds dream of moving to Puerto Vallarta- the weather is perfect. When my bones finally defrost from the damp California winter, I feel years younger. I can stretch, paddle, and surf like a teenager! (…well, almost.)

And Mexico is warm.

Sarita & Bev plan a shopping trip.The people of the pueblo are warm. And generous. And funny. Everyday was a new adventure in Bohemia. Street musicians, jewelry shops, taco stands, iguanas, surfers, and tourists all blend into a four block theater with the beach at center stage. It’s like we’re all cast in an off-Broadway revue that played non-stop for a week. But more, I love the effortlessly positive attitude. Everyone wants to take part and help in each other’s success. Es todo bien.

Las Olas is community.

Surf buddies for life.Las Olas women connect. The unique experience fosters many long-time friendships in surf, family, and business. I’ve heard many stories of cross country meet ups with Las Olas surf buddies to share a paddle, a pizza, and fond memories.

Food is essential.

Tuna Nicoise & Pinot GrigioYes, I’m spoiled in California with great seafood and organic produce, but the abundance of fresh choices in Mexico is even more amazing and affordable. Talented chefs mix, grill, and serve in cafes all within walking distance of Las Olas’ villas. Have steamed lobster or tacos al pastor and a Margarita or two and still stroll home. ¡Bueno!

And shopping is essential, too.

So much shopping. So little time.It’s only fair to support the community where Las Olas has flourished, so I shop at any of the dozens of women-owned boutiques dotting the plaza. They specialize in their own brand of whimsical, summertime fashion- stuff I could never wear in chilly San Francisco. And I love the authentic surf shops carrying everything from surfboards and wax to flip-flops and board shorts. The best part? It’s actually warm enough to wear a swimsuit.

Surfing is fabulous.

Julie drops in.If you stay away from surfing too long, you may forget how wonderful it can be. Advice: Don’t! It’s a fabulously rewarding and enlightening experience. Combining friends, waves, sun, and Mother Ocean creates magical moments which teach me something new every time I go out.

So what did I learn at Las Olas?

At Las Olas, we make girls out of women. And I’m one lucky girl.

See you in the waves,
Chris & Bev 2014.

Bev Sanders is founder and president of Las Olas Surf Safaris for Women and editor-in-chief of Jennifer’s Journey, online travel portal for women adventurers. She started surfing at 44 continuing her lifelong pursuit of introducing women to sports. You’ll find her and husband Chris on the beach in Mexico throughout the surf season.

Photo credits go out to Lori Adamski-Peek, Julie Cox surfing, and the entire Las Olas cast and crew!

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