Surfing as Exploration
Marina del Rey, California. Surfing as exploration began in my life in 1992, when a group of college buddies and I joined a work trip to Antigua, WI in order to check out the surf in this far flung corner of the Caribbean. We eventually spent three spring breaks and two complete summers on the island, hosting sports camps for local youth, conducting botanical surveys in local forests and, of course, doing a lot of snorkeling, diving and surfing.
In 1995, Boca, Rabbit and I made our first of many trips to Costa Rica, exploring the Pacific coast of that country and developing a relationship with this region that would prove to span into the next decade of our lives. The trip was destined to become an annual, and somes multi-annual, tradition that has since been joined by a brotherhood of surfers.
But the draw of exotic waves couldn’t keep us in Costa Rica alone. Our wave expeditions have since taken us to El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina and Australia. And the list will continue to grow. The hunt for good surf is one of the rawest, most sensory-immersed forms of exploration I know. The landscape is not seen from tour buses or hotel windows, but rather felt, smelled, heard and tasted through every pore in one’s body as you run barefoot through the muck of coastal swamplands, swim through untamed river mouths, get caught nearly naked in torrential tropical downpours, come into intimate contact with local people and wildlife and, more often than not, venture to remote, underdeveloped corners of our host nations, far off the beaten track of the typical tourist.
Through surfing exploration, I have experienced some of my fondest moments in life and have faced challenges in remote settings that surpass even my work in the sciences. I have also made and nurtured the best friendships of my life. A brotherhood of surfing explorers who are closer to me than any genetic blood ties I know. This has been my greatest gift in this life.