How Surfing Changed My Life
I would like to tell you the story on how surfing changed my life and how because of it, I’m graduating from my MBA at Babson.
When I was 12 years old my uncle Rafael (One of the first surfers in Costa Rica), took me and my cousins, to the most magical surfing spot on earth, Witches Rock. He gave a surfboard, a 5-minute surfing class, and told me: “ready to go, have fun” Since then, February 2001 I was hooked for life to one of the most incredible sports on earth.
Since that special event I promise myself that I was going to surf for the rest of my life and that one day I’ll go to surf to a place considered by surfers “heaven on earth”, Mentawai Islands, Indonesia.
The years kept going and I started loving surfing even more, surfing was a top priority (maybe more than my girlfriend at the time). Back in 2006-2007 the price of Diesel in Costa Rica was very expensive and it cost me around $40 to go surfing the morning or the afternoon, so after brainstorming what could I do to go surfing as cheap as possible, came across the idea of creating BioDiesel at the garage of my house, the cost went from $40 down to a couple of bucks, it was great!! After some time, I decided to sell this BioDiesel at half the price of diesel. Then 2008 crisis came and prices were almost the same so I closed the small business. It was a great experience and definitely without being a hungry surfer in the search of perfect waves, I probably won’t discover making biodiesel and made business with it.
To graduate from computer science in Costa Rica you have to do 300 hours of “community service”, most of my classmates, bribe or bought some things for poor schools and the director signed the 300 hours for them. I decided to make a different approach, give English & computer science class to poor kids at a school located 500mts away from my favorite surf break, Playa Negra. I move on march 2010 and my mission was to surf every day and get those hours done as easy as I could. After some weeks there I started realizing in the conditions this kids were living, the few resources they had, but the willing to learn was huge. I talk to people and got some companies to sponsor new computers, sport equipment, and invite the ex pats to be more involve with the school. The kids became my “kids” and made me realize that I was very privileged to have “everything” even more than what I really need, but also make me realize that as an entrepreneur is my obligation to be help others in need.
Unfortunately, I’ve been disconnected from this incredible community since I moved to Boston. Last Spring Break I went and saw one of my students which recognized me and told me, hey Diego, I’m graduating this year and I want to study computer science thanks to you, It’s incredible how surfing indirectly change the life of this kid, it was definitely a very humbling experience.
My friends and I used to surf Nicaragua at least 1weekend/month for 2 years straight, we drove from San Jose, CR to San Juan del sur, Nicaragua (~6-hour drive) just to surf empty waves, offshore (best wind for surfing), cheap beer and seafood.
One day, planning the surf trip everything started going bad, you know when things start not going as they should, I ignored all signals and pushed the trip as hard as I could. We drove that Friday at 6-7pm and pass Costa Rica’s border and in Nicaragua they told us we had to wait until next day so they made us sleep in the car, on Saturday waves were very small and we couldn’t surf.
On Sunday we tried to surf very small waves and in one of those I fell and hit my head really hard, I hear a crack and saw a light. Fortunately, I was conscious and when I stood up, my right arm was completely asleep, the nerves from my dorsal spine to my arm stretched so much that shutdown all the communication. There was so many things that crossed my mind in those minutes, I was desperate, my brain was sending the signal and my arm as not responding. if this fragile link breaks, I will never be able to my move my arm again. Thank God after 5-7 mins after the accident I was able to slightly move my fingers.
This experience thought me something very valuable, you should never force things that don’t come easy, I’m not saying you just have to laid back and wait, you should always do whatever you can and fight for your dreams but sometimes you are trying to open a locked door with the wrong key for a very long time.
A year after recovering from this injury, I finally book the trip I dreamt and promise to myself since I was 12 years old. I was on my way to Mentawai Islands, which is located 24 hours away by boat, from the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, this is area is called “Playgrounds” by the amount of waves and the quality. I went with 4 of my best friends to the most magical and remote surfing destination on earth, there’s absolutely nothing in this islands rather than fish, small villa, stars, you and the ocean.
After some days at this islands you have a lot of time for yourself, no distraction, no traffic, no internet, smart phones etc, you start questioning millions of things, why are you here in this world, what’s your purpose of life, what’s next? Being completely unplugged surrounded with nature for several days it makes you connect with your mind & soul.
At that time, I had travelled to around 25 countries and I am always fascinated by meeting new cultures but none of those travels made me interiorize what’s life all about, at the end of your days you’ll regret for the things you didn’t do to the ones you did. During this sunset I took the decision to quit my awesome job, get out of my comfort zone and figure out what’s next. I choose Babson.
After reading this I hope you can have a better understanding how surfing does change lives or at least how it changed mine. Because of surfing you need to step back and unplug yourself from all the noise we are living in and just enjoy the moments, be patient waiting for the next wave, meditating watching the sunset and most important, feel alive.