I remember paddling for my first wave in Swakopmund, Namibia. The water was a little colder than I’d expected, but that wasn’t the biggest surprise. What was truly jarring, so much so that I felt short of breath, was that I was totally alone in the ocean. Dozens of peeling left-handers rolled in, with no one to ride them but me. Seagulls wheeled overhead and three locals stood clustered on a nearby boardwalk, but I had the lineup to myself.