On the road
What are we going to talk about?
Before entering the heart of the matter I propose this small post following the first article. The objective is to situate the reader in the trip. A trip that is not simply a trip nor a surf trip in itself. After several years away from the waves (read our first article) I am on the road again. The objectives are multiple: new encounters at first but also new discoveries in a general way. To take the air is good but to take the air and to give sense to it is better!
Surf and waves
Of course we're gonna talk surf and waves. As soon as I get to the ocean. For the moment I'm writing from a small peak above the sea in the south of Spain not far from Algeciras. A good area to train with the mountain bike. We'll talk about the spots I'll be surfing, some of them well known, some of them much less so as I'll be constantly looking for lesser known swells. We'll talk about the surf camp where I'll go and the boards I'll use. Partners of 360° Travel of course but also others where I plan to go for different reasons. Photography, writing or simply as a monitor. This will obviously allow us to talk about meetings with surfers and more globally with people from the local surfing scene in different countries. I will go to see Youssef Zerad in Casablanca to talk about surfing and mental preparation but also about surfing in Morocco in general.
A little tour in the desert
On the tracks
When you jump into the water, you know exactly why you're standing in this spot to climb the peak. You have studied the terrain, looked at the forecast ten times and analyzed the spot for a long time. You know the approximate size of the waves and the time of day. But it's when you get in the water and get to the peak that you really get the measure of the session you're going to experience. Then once you are at the line-up you jump on a wave by choice and you surf in order to have the best possible trajectory to hold on for the longest time and exploit all its potential. But you don't know any better. You have to feel the ocean, read the wave and see how to do. It's a moment of pure happiness for a surfer, that moment when you're gliding over a moving element. One moment.
For once, life is lived right away without thinking, listening to your body and the element under your feet. A somatic education too often forgotten. A moment so quick, so pure. That's how this journey is traced. Living in the moment. To feel the greatness of the sensations but more importantly to take the time to listen to them. Then let yourself go to the right or to the left.
I simply did what that surfer did before he went surfing. I made predictions and analyzed the terrain. Then I let myself be guided by the meetings, the opportunities.
First of all, I crossed Spain through the Pyrenees and Andalusia. A very good way to take the time to train through the Sierras. A good way to get enriched by this Andalusian region so sweet as anticipating happiness to follow.
In order not to neglect anything in my preparation and in the choice of the trip, I will cross Morocco by the Atlas, the desert and the mountains in particular with the rise of the mount Toubkal. A way of starting from the desert, passing by the mountains to go down to the ocean. A way to train but also to meet new people that I will present to you as we go along. The main thing is to let yourself be carried away by this intoxicating sensation of the journey and its encounters. But the leitmotiv is clear: to cross spaces of nature and to accomplish physical and human tests. It also means crossing places, areas where alternatives are emerging. This is the trajectory.
Once the ocean is reached, head due south into the Western Sahara. The only thing left to do is to follow the Atlantic coastline at least as far as Spain via Portugal.
What comes next, how can I predict it. I never know where I end up putting my board. I don't know how long it will take but I'm sure I'll take the time to take what needs to be taken.
How to make this road?
Well, that was the question! How could it be? We are never perfect. Today's surfing industry is far from the surfing described in some wonderful books that keep making surfing a central point between human and nature. Surfing today tends to forget that. Especially in the world of competition. We forget the human for the performance. We don't care about nature for the money or the addiction to pleasure. It's disturbing. I am sometimes part of it! If by perfect surf trip you mean without impact on the environment: don't go. I've flown and surfed, biked, hitchhiked, walked, used public transportation. I go on and on. This time, it's in a van that I decided to go. So in terms of ecology, I could have reached Morocco by foot or by bike. But we always see better. When the surfers of Lost in the Swell leave with Gwalaz (a biocomposite trimaran) in the Solomon Islands, we don't talk about the impact of transport or when Castera flies to Alaska. Mind you, I'm a fan of our pretty awesome Breton guys and Damien Castera. I'm just saying that the choice to do good things must go beyond the obligation to be perfect. If you inspire, that's not bad. And they inspire me a lot!
So I chose the van with a mountain bike for more freedom of movement. As for energy, a solar panel supplies all the needs. A solar charger for the batteries is also in the trunk. As for the battery, it was not bought new but obtained thanks to barter.
The furnishings were made with recycled cotton insulation made in France and cork made in France. The rest: recycled wood. A lot of recuperation and the help of friends, especially Brendan Norman, another 360° Surf ambassador! The objective is not to buy anything new and to use as much as possible barter and ecological materials.
On the food side, it is easy to fill the water tanks (well, it depends where...). For the food, we had to do a lot of recovery. We recovered everything, cereals, legumes, honey, jam and so on. The rest was bought in bulk at the grocery store Ô Grain et à Mesure. Here again, the objective was to leave with stocks of food that were not very perishable, organic, as local as possible and in bulk (without packaging).
On the road you only have to buy fruits, vegetables, bread and sometimes some extras (don't overdo it).
The advantage of the van is to move at the speed you want and live this nomadic experience of freedom. Then it will allow me for once to explore the countries not far from my home. I went surfing in Chile, Brazil, Indonesia, Costa Rica, New Zealand, in the four corners of the world but in the end I know so little the waves and the people so close to me.
Even if I already know Morocco, Portugal and Spain, I thought that before going further away it would be time to go and explore these lands. To find new waves and new words to be inspired to carry a van. This is how this adventure was born. So it will be an adventure worthy of freedom and encounter for this column!
By the way, why Ersa as a column name?
Even though we talked about it in the first article, Ersa means wave in Occitan. As I live in the surf culture and am inspired by Occitan cultures, I like this word. A wave is often created after a storm. The elements are unleashed and form a multitude of sometimes destructive waves.
Then with time and distance, they organize themselves to become a swell. When the elements coincide, this swell, these waves, can become magical. To watch, to surf. They arrive somewhere and pour out their energies to the delight of some before disappearing.
I find this word adequate with a certain vision of life. A vision that I particularly like. You are enriched with energies and sometimes it is much more complicated because you suffer and you go through some crazy turbulences. But with time and the path that we travel sometimes we manage to achieve great and wonderful things somewhere before leaving to be enriched with energy and so on.
What about the meaning of this?
I've been surfing for 23 years now and despite the few years I've been out of the water due to injury, we at 360° Surf have the feeling that I have something to say. So through this new adventure, that's what I'm going to try to do. I'm going to start writing new things and I'll see what comes out of it. In particular articles for this section.
But above all, writing allows me to project the image of the world that is inside me. During these 23 years I have also done other things that today are intimately linked to travel and surfing. A militant path sometimes, committed to the values of eco-participation, ecology, always looking for an alternative for our capitalist world. But above all always in support of it. Passionate about self-management, participation, I am part of a cooperative named EPIPOP with whom we try to experiment with alternative projects.
I have been a qualified sports educator and director of a stay for minors for 10 years, a mental trainer in sport for 5 years and a surf instructor abroad for 8 years. However, today I think we have forgotten a lot of things. I have forgotten many things. We have forgotten that in sport there is the human element. So we will talk about ecological and human commitment.
But we will also talk about a new look at surfing. A cross between learning this passion, mental preparation and somatic education. A look for any passionate but also for athletes too often affected by physical and mental ailments. For this I have to thank my meeting with Xavier Lainé and the Feldenkreis method, which is now almost non-existent in the surfing world. A method that brought me a lot and that allowed me to think about a new method, a new way of looking at technical and mental learning in surfing.
A look that, without pretension, seems too important to me not to talk about. A look that could well change the link between surfing and the surfer! We'll talk about it... Aloha!