Once we clear the breakers, we angle ourselves onto the shoulder of a wave, a quiet spot perfect for beginners, and one by one we're told to go for it. My turn comes: I lie flat on the board, facing shore as the wave swells behind me; Collin yells "Paddle! Paddle! Paddle!" and I do, like crazy. The wave picks me up, and – I get as far as a push-up, with one knee on the board, before I'm pitched into the churning surf. And so goes day one: I paddle back out through the waves, attempt to stand and am mercilessly tossed into the frothy breaking water. After three hours, my arms are like overcooked spaghetti and it's high time for a cerveza. There's a reggae band at a nearby bar, and after a strangely compelling cover of Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and a big dinner, I'm ready to collapse into bed at Casa Isleña Inn, my petite beachfront hotel. I dread lifting an arm to brush my teeth.