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My first wave: O velho Brasileiro e sua esposa

2909341327_c0ab8663ef.jpg “stoked” – adjective – to be “stoked” is to be completely and intensely enthusiastic, exhilarated, or excited about something. those who are stoked all of the time know this; being stoked is the epitome of all being. when one is stoked, there is no limit to what one can do -Urbandictionary.com

Over the last few weeks I’ve been highlighting my adventures in surfing by sharing with you Why Surfing Makes the World a Better Place and 7 Life Lessons from the Skool of Surf. But, I realized on my drive home today that I hadn’t shared with you what is perhaps my favorite surfing story, the story of my first wave. Over the last few weeks many fellow surfers I met have asked me how I got into surfing, and I realized that I hadn’t told them the real story.

It was December 31st, 2008 and I was on the tail end of my 6 month study abroad in Brazil. I had spent the earlier part of the week in Florianopolis, in one of Brazil’s southern most states Santa Catarina. 2 hours south of Florianopolis is a small beach town called Garopaba, which non-Brazilian tourists are unlikely to visit. My group of friends and I had decided that we would spend New Year’s eve there based on the recommendation of some Brazilians we had met at the Brazilian Oktoberfest. Unfortunately, each and every one of my friends was forced to return home early and we couldn’t bring in the New Year together. However, one friend who I had met through the others managed to stick around. We didn’t have much in common, but he liked to surf.


I honestly have very little recollection of my New Year’s eve in Garopaba. But, I will never forget the hours of that morning. For me it was the end of one journey, and unknowingly the beginning of another. After breakfast, we wandered down to to the beach at Garopaba in search of surfboards. The weather was perfect since it was the beginning of the South American summer. After about a 10 minute walk down the beach, we stumbled upon a surf school. When I first saw the old Brazilian, I took one look at him and thought, “wow, this guy seems unsavory.” That was my first impression of him. After some short conversation about how much it would cost, he gave us our rash guards, and gave us our surfboards. Up until this point I had never managed to stand up on the surf board. I got into the warm blue water at Garopaba wondering if I would ever stand up on the surfboard before I left Brazil. I paddled out as my friend kept telling me about all the things I was doing wrong. For the first half hour, wave after wave went by, and I didn’t manage to go anywhere. Suddenly, I found myself standing on the board riding the white water and I was overcome by a tiny little dose of zen. That’s all it takes is one little dose for the addiction to begin. Before I knew it, I had got in a few more rides, and it was time to return our surfboards. The old Brazilian took our surf boards, and invited us into his surf shack for a little bit of Churrasco (Brazilian BBQ). His wife who had been sitting in a beach chair just smiling and watching the ocean welcomed us. What amazed me about her was the warmth that she welcomed us with. She had an almost maternal energy, that made her seem like she was talking to her own two sons. As we started the BBQ, I noticed that the little surf shack appeared to be quite run down. But, I was captivated by the happiness and the warmth of the old Brazilian and his wife. Then he shut the doors and windows the surf shack and lit up some incense:


Old Brazilian: Você gostaria de fumar maconha

Me: Claro.

Old Brazilian: V você está indo para a praia de rosa para o Ano Novo

Me: Sim.     É bom?

Old Brazilian: Sim. Muitas, muitas meninas bonitas lá


For the next hour we talked and laughed as if we were the oldest of friends. It turned out his wife was a school teacher. As we got to talking more, their simple life seemed to be even more filled with love and laughter.

Me: Você tem criancas?

Old Brazilian: Tenho uma filha de outra mulher. Eu sou um vagabundo. É difícil, aqui no Brasil. Há tantas mulheres bonitas.

Wife (after playfully hitting him): então vocês são estudantes de intercâmbio?

Me:     Sim, para os últimos 5 meses. Mas após o Ano Novo, eu vou voltar para os Estados Unidos. Você sempre fuma maconha antes de surf?

Old Brazilian: Eu fumo dois baseados antes de surf


After almost an hour of sharing stories about my time in Brazil, and their stories about tourists, the time had come to bid farewell. My friend that was with me said to me “This guy seems really happy.” We quickly took a photo with the Old Brazilian and his wife. The truth is that I had never seen anybody in my life who seemed so content with so little. It was after that moment, I knew I would return to Garopaba, I knew I would surf for the rest of my life, and I learned what it meant to be stoked(even though I didn’t know it).

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