During the summer of 2012, I decided I needed to take a break. A break from school, work, and more importantly, a break from the endless flat spells that plague the Florida coastline in summer. I sold most of my possessions and after a few weeks of planning and getting all of the details together, I finally picked the first destination for my solo adventure: Germany. Out of all of the countries I could choose from in the world, I was going to Germany. Within a few days, I was at the airport with just a one way ticket, a camera, and my electric blue 50 pound suitcase by my side.
Upon landing in Germany, I quickly learned how difficult it would be to get around this country by myself. I didn’t know one word of German and most of the people I needed help from didn’t speak English. I quickly learned that the language barrier was going to be one of my biggest obstacles. Before arriving, I had planned to stay with a local German family in the beautiful countryside for a few weeks, and then I would volunteer for a travel company during Oktoberfest for two months. I had no idea I would be surfing in Germany until one day we headed to the Eisbach River in Munich to ride a river wave. I never envisioned my first time surfing in Europe would be in a river! After two months of beer (lots of beer), sangria, bratwurst, river surfing, crepes and cold weather, I figured it was time to leave one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to. The next leg of my journey would involve a 35 hour bus ride from Germany to Spain that ended in a gorgeous little Spanish town near the French border. I immediately indulged in free tapas and cocktails before I was off to the airport again.
The plane touched down in one of the places I have always dreamed of going to: Morocco. This is the land of long right pointbreaks. There were camels everywhere, delicious mint tea with every meal, and the sunsets became more vibrant each evening. During my stay in Morocco, I would volunteer my time at a surf camp near one of the best surf spots in the country, Anchor Point. I could easily check Anchor Point as well as eight other different surf spots all from my bedroom window. I finally understood why Jimi Hendrix bought property on this secluded point. The people were very friendly and the food was unlike any I’ve ever had. Having surfed Rincon and Scorpion Bay a few years prior, I was ready to try my luck again at these similar machine-like right pointbreaks. Two months in Morocco opened up a whole new aspect of my surfing. From barreling secret slabs in the middle of the desert to punchy beachbreaks, there is more to Morocco than just those perfect rights.
With my Moroccan visa about to expire, I had to find a new destination. While working in Germany, I met two young women who told me amazing stories about living on these picturesque islands off the coast of Morocco. I checked the forecast and decided to give them a visit in the Canary Islands. Upon first glance of the waves, I understood why they earned the reputation as the “Hawaii of the Atlantic.” The island I stayed on had everything you could imagine, paired with some of the best weather found anywhere. The water was a deep shade of blue unlike any I’ve ever seen while these ferocious waves broke over the jagged volcanic coast. On my third day, the waves were easily 25 feet and the heaviest I have seen. I was more than content sitting on a rock snapping picture after picture of the empty perfection unfolding in front of me. I spent the next two weeks surfing the hollow slabs and soaking up the Spanish-inspired culture of the island. It was hard to leave this magical little island, but I had settled on another island for my next location. This time, though, I would be leaving my fullsuit behind and heading for warmer water.
After leaving the Canaries, I went back to Spain and Italy to prepare for my final portion of the trip. I flew from Italy to a teardrop shaped island off the southern tip of India: Sri Lanka. I didn’t know too much about the island other than Arugam Bay and how they were recovering from a very long and very bloody civil war. Outside of the airport, I hopped in one of the many colorful and decorated tuk-tuk taxis and headed for the train station. Four hours later, I arrived on the southern coast at my new home for the next three months. From the hundreds of palm trees lining the white sand beaches to the clear blue water, this was paradise. In my backyard, there was a left slab and across the small channel was a barreling A-frame. I quickly got acquainted with the reef my first few times at the break. Since the south coast of Sri Lanka is loaded with reef setups like this, it helped to spread the crowds out. The people here were some of the happiest I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and always willing to help out. While the waves in Sri Lanka can’t compete with the power and size of its Indonesian neighbor, there is still plenty of uncrowded and fun setups all along the coast.
After a few months living in paradise and eight months of living out of a suitcase, I made the tough decision of buying my final one way ticket. A ticket back home. While surfing is my main passion, this trip has opened up many new doors for me through photography. It is always hard to be on the other side of the lens when the waves are good, but I do get equal satisfaction if I get just one good shot. I feel very grateful that surfing has led me all over the world and let me experience many different cultures, people, and waves. I learned that indecision is the key to flexibility. I leave you with a quote from the legendary solo surfing traveler Kepa Acero: “The beauty of traveling by yourself is that you realize that there is always someone to give you a hand. And that gives me hope for humanity. Sometimes you find the wrong people because the reality is that not everyone is so nice. You have to deal with situations, make fast decisions, and look ahead. Which I think at the end is positive too. A solo trip is a little reflection of life- it’s about enjoying the good moments and having the capacity to face the bad ones.”