Interview by Sam Haddad, photo by James Hunt
I’ve been surfing since I was little. I’m from Lavallette, which is a chain of islands in the southern part of New Jersey (USA). We get really good, though a little inconsistent, waves there. But you get better at surfing the more you travel. Costa Rica has reef breaks, point breaks and beach breaks. And it’s warm so you don’t need a wetsuit.
Santa Teresa is a real diamond in the rough. Like anything it’s bound to get built up when word gets downwind and more and more people start coming each year. When I first came four years ago it wasn’t as developed though it’s still pretty jungley and organic. Tamarindo and Jaco used to be like this, but then they just blew up.
I’ve been living here for almost a year. I have a really good mate from back home who owns property here and he told me to come visit and I couldn’t say no. It’s my dream to have an endless summer.
Costa Rica is a great place to learn to surf. Just up the road from here is Playa El Carmen, which is good at high tide as it’s so consistent with lots of sand bars so beginners can practice in the whitewater and build up courage before they hit the line up. I used to be really comfortable in six foot waves but now I’m driving into 12 foot faces and surfing point and reef breaks. The most important thing is not to hesitate, as if you go for it most of the time you’re going to get it.
The people here are really nice and friendly. I’ve travelled a lot in Central and South America and the locals in Costa Rica are definitely the most friendly. There are some people you don’t want to mess with but that’s the same anywhere, especially New Jersey. Localism in the water is more of a problem there. The water gets really busy in summer when loads of people from the northern cities come down. We call them ‘bennies’ as they aren’t that good and have bad surf etiquette.
Surfing is mainly paddling. You can catch 10 waves but spend only five minutes of that actually surfing on your board, and if you don’t paddle around to get the better waves you’ll be surfing even less. Girls especially need to work on their upper body strength, as they aren’t naturally as strong there as guys.
Running is good for surfing. It helps with your cut backs, snaps and turns by improving the power and pivot in your legs. People always think surfing regularly is enough fitness for surfing but I think you need conditioning. I also eat healthily but then you can have fresh fish everyday here and loads of fruit and veg so it isn’t hard.
The Coca-Cola is better here than the US. I don’t know why maybe it’s because they use corn syrup there and real sugar here.
There are some awesome local girl surfers around. For Costa Ricans surfing is part of the whole ‘Pura Vida’ thing, as in ‘pure life, everything is good’. You can learn a lot from people that are better than you or if they have more insight. A lot of the guys will be calling you into bigger waves too, which makes you really want to go for it.
My life is really simple here. I just need the necessities like water, food and waves, I don’t need a phone or car or health insurance or gas and heating bills. It’s not the same kind of struggle. Where I grew up it’s hard to keep a job, as work is seasonal, plus I don’t like television, it’s the same bloody thing all the time over and over again. I love America don’t get me wrong, I was born there, I just think people need to be more conscious of what’s going on and get back to listening to mother earth. It’s starting to happen though.
Dorothy works part time at Kina Surf, Santa Teresa