Weirdo Surfs with Dolphins 

Hollywood has never intrigued me. The last time I was in Los Angeles I was somewhere between the ages of 8-12 and the bustling glitz and glamour wasn’t my cup of tea and still isn’t. I’m not a hippie/hipster or anything, I just don’t understand the obsession with famous people nor the necessity of purchasing items of clothing simply for the name. I’m pretty much just self-involved and poor.

Anyway, I made a little weekend trip down to LA on the first weekend in February for several reasons:

  1. Needed sunshine. Raincouver was sucking the soul out of me
  2. There was an open spot to go camping at Joshua Tree National Park (to write and link to in another post)
  3. There was a statutory/bank holiday here in British Columbia (side note: this holiday is called Family Day. This started in BC four years ago because the gap between New Years stat and Good Friday stat holidays were too long so we threw another holiday in there. Canada, eh?)

I originally planned to fly into San Francisco to hang out with my friend Anne Marie before heading to Joshua Tree, but it was Super Bowl weekend and tickets were alarmingly expensive (refer to above reference of me being poor). So I flew into LA to stay with another friend, Lindsey (side note: Anne Marie, Lindsey, and I know each other from six days spent on a tour in Uganda back in October. Another win for travel).

I arrived expecting the smell of judgement from well-dressed passersby with my poncho and backpack with sleeping bag strapped on so that my silhouette was mildly reminiscent of Quasimodo.

Instead, I was greeted in Santa Monica with smiles from people walking to and from the pier, questions about where I’m from and, most excitingly, the glorious glow of sunshine.

I spent the evening meeting some of Lindsey’s surf buddies and begging for a board and wet suit to borrow, not heeding the warnings of the water being extremely cold. 

We went to Sunset Beach the next morning with my expectations of ice cold surf but dear God – it was spectacular. Still need a wet suit for “winter” surf here, but I spent my first few years of surfing in the Canadian waters of Tofino so to me, this was summer surfing.

Ever since I got caught in an undertow a few years back, I’ve been cautious so I stick to smaller breaks. I was sitting a little further from the majority of surfers, enjoying the feel of water lapping against my legs and wind whipping through my hair when I notice a dark fin rise up about arms length on my left side. I’m petrified. Not five seconds later, another fin rises up at the nose of my board. 

I’m frozen. I start screaming, “Lindsey!” but even I could barely hear myself because my throat has swollen shut from fear.

Another fin appears; they’re circling me. I’m not sure how much time has passed but suddenly I hear a cheery voice: “Well, that’s not something you see every day! You’ve got some luck in ya.” What. WHAT? Who are you and why aren’t you calling for help, I’m about to be consumed by three sharks.

A paddle boarder appears beside me. “Don’t worry! They’re just dolphins. And they seem to really like you!”

A breath I didn’t know I was holding exhales out of my mouth and suddenly I’m giddy with excitement. This is so fucking cool! I see a set coming in that I’m sure I can catch but I’m admittedly too terrified to put any more limbs than necessary into the water at the moment so I sit it out until the dolphins finish inquisitively brushing up against my leg and my board and move on.

I tell Lindsey about this later and she’s stoked: “Oh my gosh – you have dolphin energy! This is going to be a good day.” We’re gab excitedly about it on the way home.

And then, several hours later, she says something that makes me want to simultaneously throw up and strangle her: “Did you know dolphins rape people?”


“Yeah, there are like nine cases a year.** It’s cool though; they’re still really lucky.”

Next up, we camp at Joshua Tree National Park and my Canadian blood doesn’t come through for me.

**Cases of dolphin “rape” are actually attributed to dolphin sexual aggression which you can read about in this short scientific journal summary. Although, I don’t know why you’d want to.