Mario Arturo Salazar Zúñiga, born November 11, 1947 in San José, lives in Brasil de Mora in Ciudad Colon, known in Surfing as “Polaco”, began trying to surf in 1958 in San Isidro of Puntarenas, then later in 1967 in la Boca de Barranca. The idea to go surfing was because in the 50s there was a documentary about astronauts. A scientist spoke about the capsules and that it would be good to utilize surfing for equilibrium, balance, coordination and physical fitness. My grandfather Arturo Zúñiga (RIP) had a furniture store and he had a balsa board. After forming it into a surf board I went to San Isidro. I was never able to stand up very well, I just glided a little bit. A North American from California came and I was with José Segovia.
The three of us went to Boca de Barranca to ride waves with a fiber glass board and I bought my first board from that foreigner. Back then there were a lot of sharks that passed under our boards, and you could see lots of fish between us and the waves. One time we went to surf at the pier in Quepos; it had a good break back then. This enormous shark came towards us, the size of a big boat, and in another boat there was a dead shark with a bite in its belly and our opened arms were not long enough to measure the size of it. My father was a pilot and he liked to travel to Jaco and there was absolutely nothing, just the Madrigales that had a place for people to stay on cots with a blanket. I brought my board and propped it up in the plane’s cabin. We landed during low tide there in Jaco, in the 70s, and we surfed the whole zone of Jaco. My father flew all over Costa Rica and along the Pacific coast and I saw Playa Hermosa from the plane and thought that more than 10000 surfers could surf there, but there was no access to that zone, only by plane, because there was no bridge in Boca de Barranca, nor was there a highway from the coast from Caldera. The most beautiful from that time were the waves in Boca de Barranca during 1968. They were 10 to 15 feet and the waves at Doña Ana were 7 to 9 feet but they were faster.
When Roy Quiroz and I glided across the wave, there was a guy they called “Tarzan” that learned to surf those waves. I am so Costa Rican and all of my family went to live elsewhere and I stayed in this beautiful country enjoying her waves. My thinking as a Surfer is that it is a direct link with nature, and because of that I never participated in tournaments. For me, it is more spiritual than competing with another Surfer. Surfers back then, we were like brothers, we helped each other out, when someone did not have a board, the other made it easy for him to still ride waves; there were plenty of waves then. I have surfed many places in Costa Rica and I would like to be able to ride a wave at Roca Bruja and Pavones. I went to Mazatlán in México in 66 with José Segovia. We rented a board to be able to stand up but we could not maneuver. I currently work in tourism with the Costa Rica Tentation agency. I would tell a young surfer to give your heart and soul to a very physical sport.
José A. Segovia Pinto, born in San José on June 26, 1949, lives in Sabanilla, known in the Surfing World as “Japay or Chepe”. Began surfing at age 18 in 1968. I started to surf with Mario Salazar when we bought 2 foam boards without fins at the Universal Bookstore and went to Boca de Barranca. Of course I could not catch a wave. I shared my first board with Mario Salazar; I bought it from a North American that came by Javier (el pana) Palacios’ house, who at that time lived in Panama. We went to Boca de Barranca and we lost all the waves because we did not know how to do it. Surfing is like therapy, you only think of the wave and I got sun burned, spending hours in the water.
The bad times came later seeing people fighting and hitting each other among surfers. In 1975 there were 100 surfers in Costa Rica. In 1970 or 1972, while in a swell, a North American was cut in the head by a fin and got 6 stitches. The next day she came surfing with her head wrapped and got back in the water to surf. Back then the best was clean water, few people, friendships in and out of the water, trips to look for waves in other places, camping out, bonfires, night surfing, and memories that I will never forget. There is a story about Steve Love. I saw him take the biggest swell that I have ever seen from the 4th point of Doña Ana to the Boca Barranca point. He rode the wave about a mile. He was a master and a good person. My thoughts and feelings as a Surfer: very proud, athletic, passionate, you can not live without going to surf.
The country of Costa Rica needs controls, there should be an adequate way to manage the surf. It has its positives and negatives. The Surfers from back in the day were the best. You enjoyed riding the waves more. I surfed many places in the Pacific and the Atlantic, like Pavones, which is an incredible place. I traveled to Salamar in Ecuador, Rio Tetas in Panama, Peru and Brazil. I did not participate in tournaments and if they would have invited me and I would not have done them. I was a judge in a local tournament. The last time I went surfing was in 2002 in Playa Grande. I went to Louis Wilson’s and he loaned me a board and I went to ride some waves. I was an active surfer the first 8 years, later I was very sporadic. I lost the desire with so much fighting.
I was a naturalist expert for 22 years. I would tell a young surfer to look for a place with few people, enjoy it, do not do it to compete and show off. I would go back to surfing if my friends invited me. I do not have a board. I would begin with 6 foot waves to gain some confidence and warm up. With 2 days in the water I think I could ride a wave well, I am a goofy surfer. Something I cannot forget was when we went to Puntarenas to have a famous “churchill” at night, play guitar and make bonfires.
Roy Quirós Céspedes, born in San José, Costa Rica on July 8, 1951, lives in Playas del Coco, Guanacaste, began surfing at age 13 in 1964. Has been riding waves for 44 years. The idea to go surfing came about in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, watching surfing. We took turns with my first board in Boca de Barranca when I went in 1968 to surf. My surfing style is Back side. At that time it took between 4 or 5 hours to get to the point at Boca de Barranca, and you did not have to fight for waves.
The best was the sensation of freedom, independence, and self knowledge. Costa Rica has incredible places for surfing. Today it is easier to get to the points and people are really kind. My feeling as a surfer is that you have to live life with intensity, take care of your spiritual side and maintain balance. Surfers back then were people that enjoyed nature 100%. It was like a little family, we were few. Surfers today are really competitive.
I have surfed many places like: Pavones, Mata Palo, Drake, Uvita, Dominical, Quepos, Damas, others between Quepos and Barranca, Tivives, Mata de Limón, Doña Ana, La Boca de Barranca, Mal País, Coyote, Samara, Guiones, Nosara, Marbella, Lagarto, Junquillal, Negra, Avellanas, Langosta, Tamarindo, Playa Grande, Naranjo, Roca Bruja, Potrero Grande and other points that are still secret. I surfed Playa Bonita, Puerto Viejo Salsa Brava and Playa Negra in the Caribbean.
I have met many well known surfers over the years. I have surfed in Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico and Brazil. In Dominican Republic, during the 70s, many places had not been surfed and people thought we were crazy to get in an ocean full of sharks. There were few local tournaments and I participated in international tournaments in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. In some I qualified in 1st place. I am semiretired. I surf about 30 times a year. I am the captain and manager of Sport Fishing (Pesca Deportiva). I would tell a young surfer to have discipline, consistency and be careful with the extremes. Through surfing I learned to share, to have discipline and to go another mile beyond my own limits.
ROBERTO MIRANDA QUESDA START IN THE YEAR SURF 1969, KNOWN AS THE GENTLEMAN OF THE SURF
HENRY MARTINEZ START IN THE YEAR SURF 1968
MARIO SOTELA , START IN THE YEAR SURF 1968 (USA) COSTA RICA 1971
John B. Williams M., (Q.E.P.D) born May 13, 1953, in San José. Lives in Santa Ana, and has had a house in Pavones for 30 years. In the mid 70s the youngest folks called him “Johnny Tubo.” Began surfing at age 16 in 1969 and has been riding waves for 39 years. He began surfing when he was in high school at Colegio Lincoln. A year before Randy Cooper and his sister Karen, from Florida, came to the high school. Their father Ben was the manager of the shrimp plant in Puntarenas and all the kids traveled 5 hours in train every Friday from San José to Puntarenas.
Sometimes John came with them. Randy had already discovered that there was a small group of surfers from the US (Ben, the Hawaiian, etc) that had a rented house in front of what is now the highway. Mr. Cooper organized a pick up for them in Boca de Barranca in the early morning and then again at 6:00 pm. With a 9 foot board, Randy, then John, Jasón and many more of the first surfers learned how and so began Surfing in Costa Rica. John’s first board was a Hansen, bought from Randy. It was a 6’4”. A story to remember was when he was in a big swell at Boca de Barranca with the 9 footer without a leash and he had his first “wipe-out.” He was left without a board, with his cut off blue jeans hanging by the zipper from his goods. He was drowning and had to see who would save him. He ended up on the beach where the Hotel Double Tree Resort by Hilton is now (the old Hotel Fiesta). John says that when he got up and was able to surf his first wave, the feeling of freedom was so great and accompanied by a sublime presence that has captivated him all these years. He remembers the feeling of camaraderie, respect, and joy during the first years. “We joked about who wanted the wave, the sensation of riding the wave to show off like the best did not exist… it was and continues to be the feeling of the ride.” In Costa Rica there should be a code of ethics to protect surfers.
The situation in certain points is so aggressive and has such negative energy that the beauty of Surfing is being lost. In the 60s we would wave at each other with the peace sign and there was a real feeling between everyone. Today it is the finger and nods of challenge. (John speaking) My feeling as a surfer is that it is like getting to know yourself, a space of meditation and contemplation, of peace and a higher sharing of the interior self. With waves or even without them you can have a good time in the ocean. Surfers back then, with lots of wonderful memories, was one that enjoyed and had fun. Surfers today make me sad when I see what is in the water, but there are also many young people who are happy with a spirit of peace and sharing. I would like to be able to surf Ollie’s Point. I have been able to surf a lot in our country. I have met many people ‘key people’ in the surf industry like Bob Hurley, creator of Billabong-America. We have shared some good times in my house in Pavones and in California. I have ridden waves in Central America, South America, Argentina (Mar del Plata in 1974), Brazil, Peru, Portugal, Mexico, California and Bali. On the island of Bali there is a famous point called Uluwatu. You have to go down stairs of bamboo in a cave with various floors until you get to a tunnel where, depending on the tide, you walk or swim to be “spit out” of the mouth of the cave to the wall of a big cliff. You paddle like a roman slave, without mercy until you get to the “safe-side.” Imagine what it is to go back and go through the opening of the cliff. Of course I did not make it, by at least 3 meters and went back to the torture, with great care. If you do not make it you are going to get to Badan Badan and there they have to save you with a life preserver. My son John Paul was lucky, he went in the little cave like a master. I was laid out for 4 hours like Gilligan in a beach a few meters away from the entrance, waiting for the tide to go down. It was nice to have some Australians with me as castaways too. I did not participate in tournaments because there were none. Although I was a judge in the first championship at Boca de Barranca and the first in Limon, Playa Bonita (a wonderful point that is no longer because of the Limon earthquake.) I still surf and hope to surf until my body will not let me. My advice for the new generation: do not copy the violence, selfishness and narcissism of the age. Recognize the presence of the Divine when you are in the water, avoid anger and have compassion for the poor idiot that drops you, or insults you or gives you a dirty look and for the one who speaks crap in the water.
My favorite beach would be Doña Ana, obviously just in my memories since the Caldera port was built. The beach is no longer…we had to cross the river of Boca de Barranca swimming. “The girls” in Tono Arias’ little boat. We would walk along with walls and beach and we took our spot by the waterfall, the only fountain of water for the entire day. The ‘chics’ took out their beach towels and got settled near what was the first point. When we got a little braver we went to the second point, then after some years we went to the third and the the fourth. To get to the second point we had to go through a trail rocks, if we mis-stepped it was to the cliff!. If you made it, you paddled like crazy, but at just 10 meters you were in the safe-side, waiting for the wave to pick you up, get to the beach, pass by the waterfall, pick up a sandwich by the girls and then back again. By then leashes existed. Chus sold them to us…a rubber hole from the hospital with a cord inside so we would not stretch it too much and the strap, which was a red bandana with a good knot, all tied together in a knot around the fin, and the wax, well candle wax guys. Mi surfing style is “Front Side” “Goofy”. I surf toward the left with my chest toward the wave.
Manuel Francisco Oreamuno Echeverría was born January 2, 1952 in San José, Costa Rica. Lives in San Ramón, La Unión de Cartago. Known in surfing as “Pancho.” Began surfing at age 17 in 1969. Surfed for about 15 years. I began surfing when I was at Boca de Barranca one weekend. I saw this North American family surfing and I was impressed. I got my first board the following week after I saw that family and I went back to Boca and was able to buy a board from a North American. When I went to buy the board, the idea was to stay for the weekend, but I stayed and lived in Boca de Barranca until the middle of 1973 (the weekend turned into 4 years). The best from that time were the perfect 7 and 8 feet waves at Doña Ana. We called them Zippers and the sets came in every 2 weeks like clockwork. We were a small group of friends so we shared the waves without problems.
In my time there were such good waves that people like Gary López, a Hawaiian world champion, came to surf them. The best ones were in Doña Ana and in Pavones. Today everything has changed. There are so many people surfing and the fight to get a wave is hard, to the point that it is difficult to surf a wave without a bunch of surfers in front of you and another bunch behind you. My feeling as a surfer is that it is the best experience of my life and Surfing is a wonderful sport, the contact with nature is really big in that atmosphere. Surfers from back then were really good and mystic, we were naturalists and very spiritual. Surfers today, the reality is that I have not stayed in contact with them but I would guess the atmosphere is a positive influence. The other day I was at a small beach with really good waves near the Caldera port that we used to visit during my time. I saw basically all of Costa Rica. I went with Hernán (Negro) Barquero to San Salvador and with Javier Palacios to Panama. They were good surfers from the first or the beginnings of the second generation. In San Salvador there was a guy that was the nephew of a cop from the Puerto La Libertad police station. He was going out with a gringa that became friends with us “tiquillos” (as they called us). Because of jealousy, the cops started to accuse FRANCISCO “PANCHO” OREAMUNO us and asked for money and they told us that our tourist cards had expired and they also robbed us.
That was a bad deal, but the good part was that the gringa came with us to Costa Rica. When I surfed there were still no tournaments. I retired at age 33 when I had a back operation. I studied Electrical Engineering at the University of Costa Rica and I have been working for ICE(the Costa Rican electrical company) for 28 years. I would tell a young surfer to look for good tides at sunrise so that the wind is blowing offshore and it makes for good tubes. Also, the surface is more level and the glide is much better. Always be faithful to surfing because it is the best sport there is. Be careful with the reef, sharks and stingrays. If the tide is really low, avoid combing the Point walking, because you can get stung by a sting ray. It happened to me and I assure you it is not pleasureable. After I had been in Boca de Barranca for 4 years, one day I wondered what “fully realized” meant. I came to the conclusion that it means to use all the potential that life or God gave you, both the physical and intellectual potential. I felt I was being ‘realized’ very well physically, but not so much intellectually. So I decided to go to university and take surfing and studying simultaneously. Today I thank God for having made that decision. I am economically independent and my work allows me to live humbly but with all the basics for a happy life. Warm greeting to all surfers.
Jorge David Fuentes Alvarado, born November 3, 1954 in Puntarenas. Lives in Invu el Roble de Puntarenas, known as “Chino,” began surfing at age 15 in 1969. I was in the surf for 18 years when there were big waves. I began surfing when I came to live at Roble and I went to Boca de Barranca and met Cundino Arias, el Indio, Heiner Morales, Oscar Eduardo and “Choveca.” I asked Cundino to loan me a board and I began to surf in the middle of the beach because there was a left and right wave at low tide. I bought my first board from a man in Puntarenas who worked at the gas station. It cost me ¢ 175 colones, it was a 6”9 Fisch style Hawaian Drip Dru. The sensation of wanting to surf all day was incredible. One time while paddling in I broke through big foam and the board hit me in my ‘noble parts’ and I got out and touched to see if I felt them and still had them.
Today I do not feel the sensation to surf because there are no big waves out there like back then. I liked to be in the tubes, to make radical cuts and do 180° turns. There were many good Costa Rican surfers then like Roy Quirós, Francisco (Pancho) Oreamuno, Mario (Macho) Estrada, they were crazy. I watch surfers today and they think they are the best. The boards and the waves were much better then than they are now. I would have liked to have surfed Playa Tamarindo. I know places like Hawaii, the US, and Panama where I was able to surf. I have a t-shirt that says ‘Honolulu 1986.’ I traveled much of the world when I fished tuna. I also rode waves in San Diego in the Joya. I did not participate in tournaments because there were none. I retired from surfing in 1981, because there were no longer big waves. Today I am a local fisherman. I would tell a young surfer to learn to surf and that it is a good and dynamic sport, do not do drugs, study. Because I was a surf bum, I did not study, I did not work, I surfed for 12 hours a day.
Jasón Dylan Mcnair, born January 14, 1956 in Hollywood California USA, lives in Pozos of Santa Ana in San José, began to surf at age 13 in 1969 with a Pipo Knee-board, and has been riding waves for 39 years. I began surfing in the US, in California at Newport Beach and many other places nearby. My friend Jim Davis told me I had to try it. My first surf-board (not knee-board) was here in Boca de Barranca. It came on a boat from Hawaii. I bought a Hawaiian board for $15 (US) in really bad condition. My surfing style is casual Longboard, a rider, a Soul Surfer. I came to Costa Rica in 1970 and began surfing at Boca de Barranca with Randy Cooper. We were in high school at Lincoln together. I had to stop going to the skating rink (with all the girls) in San Pedro in San José so I could go to Boca de Barranca every weekend. The good part was that there was nobody surfing, only 5 ticos and 5 gringos in all the country. The best from back then was the 2nd point in Playas de Doña Ana. Except for the 3rd point, but we did not go there for 2 years, once the ‘leash’ arrived. In Costa Rica I like to be with as few people as possible every day that I go to ride waves. There are no people as good as the ticos. I would not change Costa Rica for anything, now that I have spent more than half of my life here. My feeling as a surfer is that it is the best thing in my life, my religion, I am surfing now more than ever, about 120 days a year, mostly in Boca de Barranca…every day that there are waves. I am very sad with the world’s condition as a result of the human hand. We are in the last days of the Golden Age, meaning there are so many people and less time before Mother Nature extinguishes a large portion of the human race. This world will survive if we change. Surfers from back then were great, we were a “brother hood,” and we are always like a distinct voice and it is like having your own child.
Not until you get inside a tube can you explain the sensation. Surfers now are really aggressive, most of them are younger, there are so many and more each day. But I always catch my share of waves in Boca de Barranca, until there are 65 people in the water. I have surfed almost all places in Costa Rica, too many to list, but I share my favorites: Pavones, Back Wash Bay and Boca de Barranca. I went to Bali on a boat for 11 days with the islands all around. I went to Sumbawa and got some really good waves. I also went to Mexico, Nicaragua and Fiji last year. But for me, Costa Rica is the best. Something happened when we got to “Desert Point” in Sumbawa. The waves were so big, like 15 to 18 feet. No one got in, then this boat of Brazilians came and just about everybody got in. I do not know who they were but “wow,” for sure they were ‘pros.’ I did not participate in any tournaments, just for my own pleasure. I have not retired from surfing and it is not going to happen. I am really into surfing…I do have a condominium project in Pozos of Santa Ana called Valle Escondido. I would tell a young surfer to be relaxed and try to be considerate of others when you surf. I would also include that we have to try to clean up the rivers and the beaches, to help protect conservation area because each day our world is smaller and more sacred. Elect a president that really tries to do things as they should be, for nature and Mother Nature.
Mario Chaverri Sánchez, born in Puntarenas, San Rafael Hospital, July 2, 1955. Lives in Fertica, El Roble, Puntarenas, known in Surfing as “El Doc” for being a Doctor and Surgeon. He began surfing at age 16 in 1971 in Boca de Barranca. My medical studies cut surfing short but I came back in Pavones 7 years later after graduating; that’s were I became one with the tube. I was active in Surfing for 22 years, the fever left about 15 years ago…I began surfing when a friend from Puerto (the port) wanted to go to Boca de Barranca to see some friends surf. I brought her and I loved it, we were in our 4th year of high school. Back then I was one of the few that had a car, there were no police so it did not matter that I did not have a license. My first board, well I should differentiate three “first” times, at 16, Secundino (1971) loaned me his board of balsa wood, hollow and hard like a trunk, one that a North American left, at 24, Frank Mora (1980), in Pavones loaned me a long board, 8.2”, “lightynbold” brand or something like that, red, stable, obedient, it taught me to enjoy the Pavones tubes, they were bigger than the board, we were an awesome trio! I should say that later my first real board was one of two fins (1982), “culo” squared. It lived in the Boca de Barranca cabins, it was really jealous, Sunset brand, vibrant in the second point of Doña Ana.
That is where we rode waves back then. The board let me be explosive in the wall and in the tubes when there were tubes, which was almost always. I rode lateral inside, like the 2nd point demanded in Doña Ana. My surfing style is Goofy. ¡!!, part of the tube, if no no ¡! Any stories…many good ones!! One unforgettable story was in Pavones, with a gigantic board, but still smaller than the waves…and incredible set surprised me. It was so big that the waves broke like 50 meters back from where we thought. I stayed back by myself. The set had carried everyone present back. There were 5 – Frank, El Oso, Marco, Hernán. So it would not wipe me out I swam like crazy, with everything I had and I went for a wave that was in front of me. I was able to get it, the board descended easily, the “lip” began to caress my hair and that kind mother, the powerful wave taught me for the first time IN MY PRACTICE OF THE SPORT, the tube…THE MAGNIFICENT, I bent down so it would not throw me out and wow. The tube! Each time a little further in, further in, I swear I could see the opening of the tube 3 meters away…bent down further…further in, crouched down…further in… hallucinating!…the mother enveloped me, the lip got to me, it did not matter, it was the tube…the majestic!!! From that first time it stayed with me forever…I did not go back surfing that day…I did not want another image, another memory…everything had been over and above. One bad story was coming back from Playa Avellanas to Golfito, via Pavones, with the wholes in the streets; they are not new, took out the shock of the front left tire, it got buried against the motor. I could not go on. I stayed there fixing it on the road in Villa Nelly. We were broken down a good while, goodbye waves, for like 2 weeks…!!! The best was when I spent a night by myself in Roca Bruja, looking at the stars, while my friends went to Liberia to bring back supplies.
It was a great night, with the stars, the waves, nature, like a natural ‘ecstasy,’ without drugs! The waves in Costa Rica have notably gotten smaller, although it is a phenomenon the world lover and we are still one of the best in the area, for the sport and tourism. Surfers back then practiced more with their soul. Since there were less people, we got more waves. There was less competition, more respect and brotherhood. The surfing attitude of today has been impregnated with the material, just like everything, and it has become more important to “watch me,” than to enjoy it for what it is – the beauty of whichever sport. This has happened with everything, take soccer. I have surfed many places in our country like Roca Bruja, Avellanas, Tamarindo, Langosta, Mal país, LA BOCA de Barranca, Doña Ana, Caldera, Escondida, Tivives, right and left, Jaco, Hermosa, Tulin, Pavones, Bonita, and Puerto Viejo…and some others. I went to California, Miami, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Israel. One time in Miami, being crazy we went to the point and I could not see the waves. It was choppy, no real waves. I also participated as a judge and I competed. I got 2nd place in Hermosa. But I preferred to not participate and truly enjoy the waves. Today I am an Emergency Room Doctor at Hospital Monseñor Sanabria in Puntarenas. I would tell a young surfer to enjoy and study. Surfing is not a means for living, your objective of a better life.
Javier Sáenz Schelby, born May 21, 1955 in San José, lives in Escazú, began surfing at age 16 in 1971 and has been riding waves for 38 years. The idea to go surfing was when I went with a friend to Puntarenas at Boca de Barranca.
Jason was surfing there. I later bought a board from Jason for 400 colones. It did not have a leash and we tied our foot to the board with a rope. It left a painful mark. The best were the tubes at the 2nd point at Doña Ana.
Costa Rica is a pretty place, with many places to surf. It is a privileged country, with its two coasts: The Pacific and the Atlantic. My thinking as a Surfer is that it is from the soul, the feeling of riding a wave, going through a tube and standing up on a wave.
Surfers back then were really radical, which is not my style. I have surfed many places in Costa Rica, but there is one place in the Central Pacific that I would love to be able to surf. I went to the United States, England, and Panama.
I was able to ride waves in California that I saw in magazines. I participated in a tournament at Playa Langosta and I did it for fun. I still surf and I will retire when I no longer have strength in my arms. I work in tourism and at a travel agency.
I would tell a young surfer to give yourself over to the max of your capability. One time I was in a tube between the 2nd and 1st points of Doña Ana. Álvaro Vizcaíno was surfing by and I broke his board in half and kept surfing.
Hernán Barquero Ramírez, born July 5, 1953, in Grecia de Alajuela, lives in Guachipelin, Escazú, known in Surfing as “Negro Barquero”, began surfing at age 18 in 1971. I actively surfed for 20 years, practically decidated to riding waves. I began surfing because I played basketball and got beat up a lot. My friends were already riding waves and I went camping with them. That is when I started to check it out, when they loaned me a board. I bought my first board from a gringo who was leaving, it was like an ironing board and it was tough to stand up on it but when I was able to do it, it opened up a liquid world for me and I was in it for 20 years. Leashes did not exist; you had to have good form and not lose the board…very tiring.
The best was to ride waves at the 3rd point of Doña Ana during Hurricane Fifí with Roy Quirós. When we went back to cross the Barranca River, it carried trees, pigs, houses and me with it. But Toño Arias and Cundido who had a small boat for tourist rides in Doña Ana rescued me at Boca de Barranca with huge waves and a gigantic set. He risked his life and saved mine. Costa Rica is very special in many ways, with the time and financial means necessary you can ride waves all year, in the Pacific and the Atlantic. There are fantastic, cheap places with great people and good food everywhere. My feeling as a surfer is that in my time it was a way of living and growing up. You could camp for weeks, make a family and later enjoy your children in nature, full of “Peace and Love.” There were lots of big waves and only 2 or 3 friends with you in the water for days…the maximum expression of freedom and harmony with the cosmos. I like to surf by myself, and I liked tubes, the “late take off” with my one finned gun and pin tail, big and long waves so I could take it to the max with my two finned, swallow tail Fisch. There were all types of Surfers back then, but most of all people who were really laid back, less people in the ocean, relaxed and lovers of the life at the beach. Surfers now, in reality everything has changed a lot. I do not know the depth of the mentality of an actual surfer, but I think it is really competitive and commercial, in a good sense.
I went to various countries, and I always rode the waves. I know Central America and had the luck to be in the water with people like Rory Russel, Bud Llamas, Buttons Kalukalani, Tom Curren and his father Pat in Pavones, and once with Gerry Lopez in Tamarindo and twice over head. I was with many others, not so famous but excellent. Once I was with my man, Francisco “Pancho” Oreamuno riding waves in El Salvador for several weeks and when we were leaving our racks and boards fell. We spent three days repairing boards. As a surfer I never participated in any tournaments. I was not interested in competing, I did not ride waves to be the best, I rode them because it was good for me. However I was a judge in the first championship along with Francisco “Pancho” Oreamuno and Oscar “Maguata” Aguilar. It was organized by Frank Mora, a real pioneer for surfing competitions in Costa Rica with his Costar Rican Surf Association (Acos). I retired from surfing more or less at age 40. I rode waves for 22 years. Today I am an agricultural businessman. I would tell a young surfer, to enjoy the ocean intensely, but do not abandon your studies for it, few have the opportunity and the technical conditions to live on Surfing professionally. One story is when I was at la Esquina del Mar (a bar in Pavones) after some really good waves, when this Hawaiian named Buttons, literally chewed up my Gordon and Smith board. He took it down and gave me a new one. Such good times, waves, camping, so many good memories. Three of my kids grew up in that atmosphere, in a Costa Rica different from the one today.
Rodrigo Crespo Apestegui, born May 1, 1954 in San José, lives in Guachipelin, Escazú, known in Surfing as “Macho,” began surfing at age 17 in 1971, has been surfing for 37 years. I started surfing because I had a farm near Boca de Barranca and I began there.
I bought my first board from Salazar. How good it was back then, we did not use leashes. The best was to surf perfect waves at Doña Ana without people. Our country is touristy, popular and commercial. My thoughts and feelings as a Surfer: enjoy your time, let’s not be selfish, let’s teach others that know less, use the energy of the sport for spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical growth.
Back then the Costa Rican surfers were kind and generous, compared to the foreigners. Today’s surfers have been contaminated with selfishness and the sensation of lacking that the foreigners bring. I have surfed many places but I do not know many new places. I have surfed in the USA, Nicaragua, Panama, San Salvador and Hawaii.
In California is it very common to see aggressive surfers fighting among each other for a wave. I still ride waves and work in agriculture at a farm in Boca de Barranca. I would tell a young surfer to manage the amount of energy the sport gives and use it with wisdom.
Frank Alejo Mora,(Q.E.P.D) was born in Alajuela, lives in Costa Rica and the World over on the beaches, known as Frank Mora. Began surfing at age 18. Has been surfing forever. I did not have the idea to go surfing. Everything began because I was living in San José and coming back from skiing trip in Europe to Costa Rica, I wanted to do a similar sport. Back then there was a discotec in San José and I got tired of working there. One day Francisco “Pancho” Oreamuno invited me to go to la Boca de Barranca, specifically to “chanita.” There were some North Americans from California that came in a sailboat. They surfed in Boca de Barranca.
One day at a party, one of them came over to where I was sitting and put a board on my knees and told me that he had seen me at 5:30 am in the morning at the 2nd point of Doña Ana (it was the best point break of Costa Rica). I went at that time in the morning to the water and there were 8 foot and 10 foot waves. That is where I began surfing and I settled in to Boca de Barranca for 4 years. We used to buy and bring items to the local businesses with “Pancho” Oreamuno’s car. The “gringo” I mentioned earlier gave me my first board. The best from back then was riding the wave from the 3rd point in Doña Ana to Boca de Barranca in a 12 foot wave and the adrenaline from riding the wave and seeing the tunnel from the sand and the super sharp rocks. I told myself, I’ll go by it or I won’t if it doesn’t kill me. Only Gary Jones, Steve Love and I, the “tico,” did it. When I was coming back I went by the 2nd point and I told some guys that were there they would soon see me doing the same in another wave and that is how it happened because I was able to do it twice. The most beautiful was everything, nature, the people, the season, the waves, the quality of the Surfer at the time. I have always thought that Costa Rica is a surfing and tourism paradise.
God blessed us with this country. What I did was promote the level of Surf and toursim. My thinking as a Surfer is that I am natural like the Surf. You felt the human quality of Surfers back then. Today the feeling of that Surfer who ‘goes for the wave and let’s share it’ has been lost. To top it off, foreigners do not share, before it was like a religion in Surfing and among Surfers, today this has been lost. I have surfed all the places in Costa Rica and I have ridden incredible waves that others cannot even imagine…like riding one 25 footer in…I went to countries like El Salvador, United States, Ecuador, Panamá, Venezuela, Brasil, Peru, Chile, Barbados, Isla Galapagos, Puerto Viejo, Hawaii, France, Portugal, Japan, and Africa, meeting all the champions and the best surfers in the World. Something happened to me in El Salvador when we went with Mario Sotela and Jorge (Koki) Arrieta (RIP) and the Costa Rican Surf delegation to the tournament. It was a time of war in El Salvador. They watched us from helicopters in the air while we competed in the water. To see the guns up above was something strange. I organized the tournaments of Costa Rica with (ACOS) Association in: Playa Langosta, Boca de Barranca, Playa de Doña Ana, Playa Grande, Mal País, Playa Nosara, Playa Tamarindo, Playa Jaco, Playa Hermosa (it was the first), Playa Esterillos, Playa Dominical, Puerto Viejo in Salsa Brava, Playa Cocles and Playa Bonita. I promoted our country in Surfing by taking surf delegations to countries like: El Salvador, United States, Ecuador, Panamá, Venezuela, Brasil, Peru, Chile, Barbados, Isla Galapagos, Puerto Viejo, Hawaii, France, Portugal, Japan, and Africa. I did it wisely, sportsmanly. I was a key promoter for Costa Rican surfing at the world level. I have not surfed in 4 years, but I am going to start again.
I would not tell a young surfer anything, because Surfing is a natural sport and we are all part of nature. Also, everything that was achieved with tall the effort to help the youth and our country, with my own grain of sand, we were able to reach our goal and more. To be able to introduce a good sport to youth, increasing tourism, being able to give this sport world recognition and being the third ranking source of income of the country. I always focus on helping our Costa Rican surfers like Javier Hernández from the mountains of Talamanca and take them to compete in France. I did it all for my country and the youth of Costa Rica. I gave myself heart and soul in one hand and in the other a surf board. I thank parents, businesses, government institutions, visionary people like Mr. Danilo Alfaro, the former owner of Hotel Tamarindo Diría. I can say that Jaco grew a lot because of tournaments, just like Tamarindo. We also won an EMMY with the business Front Lines, for a video we did of Costa Rica.
JOSE LUIS GUZMAN SOMARRIBAS (CHOVEVA) START IN THE YEAR SURF 1971
SOON ITS HISTORY
MARIO (MACHO) ESTRADA , START IN THE YEAR SURF 1972
(Q.D.E.P 6 Abril 2019)
Mario Estrada Könik, born August 15, 1955, lives in Barva of Heredia, known in surfing as “Macho.” Began surfing at age 17 in 1972, has been riding waves for 36 years. I began surfing when I was at Playa Doña Ana and I saw a surfer go by on a wave. I got my first board from a hippie in a sailboat. Back in the beginning I had great times, the best was to ride the waves.
My point of view on our country is that surfing and tourism are here because Costa Rica is Pura Vida. It is a pleasure to be a surfer. The people or surfers from back then were really nice people “Tuanis.” Surfers today are pura vida. I have surfed many places in my country, but there are some that I have not been able to surf.
In other countries I met lots of people, I also saw Mark Foo in Waimea take a wave that was a world record. There were no competitions at first, you just competed with the wave. I would tell a young surfer to follow your heart. I think the new generations are obligated to rescue to Costa Rican identity of surfing.
Oswaldo Trejos Correira,(Q.E.P.D) was know as “Ñato.” Born in 1958 and died in 2004. He was a person that always shared his knowledge. He was available to teach anyone to Surf and skate. He was very happy, open-minded, with a smile and he liked to teach the joy of surfing. He was one of the promoters of Costa Rican surfing; his enthusiasm and love were contagious. In the camps, and facing adversity he was a person that saw the good side of life in order to tackle whatever obstacle. Whenever he talked to you about Surfing, his eyes lit up with desire and respect from his energy for the sport. Oswaldo’s mother had an open door policy for many surfers at her house, although it could have been difficult for her to have them in her home. We would meet there as a club of Surfers. Oswaldo Trejos could have started surfing between 1971 or 1972.
He died at age 46. Before dying he asked his 2 friends, Mario Bonilla and Fernando Castañeda, to take his ashes to Roca Bruja. (Oswaldo had a dream that after he died, he was given a Viking burial and his body was burned in Peña Bruja). It was difficult for this dream to be reality, so his friends completed it another way. They went by Kayak, the two of them in tears and Oswaldo in ashes to Roca Bruja. They climbed up and deposited his ashes there. Peña Bruja is Oswaldo Trejos’ mausoleum. His friend Mario Bonilla tells of a time at the house in Boca de Barranca. The mosquitoes were biting them and Oswaldo told him he could see the waves from there; they took their boards and went surfing at Doña Ana from 11:00 p.m. until 9:00 a.m. the next day. From that time on they had a tradition of surfing with the full moon. A great friend has physically passed on, but he is always still present.
Stuart Alan Herz, born July 17, 1942 in the United States, lives in Rosario de Naranjo, Alajuela. Began surfing at age 14 in 1956, has been surfing for 51 years. I began surfing in California. I was on the swim team in high school and my heroes on the team surfed. I bought my first board from Dale Velzy in 1958 in his shop and it cost 60 US$. After beginning to surf, I did not do well in my classes. The best was to share with my friends and live the life of a surfer. Costa Rica is an incredible country, the best there is for the quality of its people. The first time I visited Costa Rica was in 1972, in Tamarindo.
That is where I began surfing in the country. My first surfing contacts here were Mario Urpi and Frank Mora. My thoughts and feelings as a Surfer are to be proud to be a Surfer and it is the best style of life that exists. Back then Surfers were dedicated to surfing 100%, and today’s surfers are really good, athletic, and fantastic. I have surfed many places and others I have not. I have been to too many countries to name them all. I still surf and will continue to do so until I cannot. I work in agriculture, building and developing. I would tell a young surfer to surf for the enjoyment of it and respect others. I have seen the evolution of surfing from large board without a leash to today, but the most important is the wave and that has not changed.
CECILIO EFRAÍN GONZALÉZ BLANCO (CHINO CHAINI), START IN THE YEAR SURF 1972
SOON ITS HISTORY
Roberto Sansó García, born in Habana, Cuba on August 10, 1956. Lives in Tortugero Limón. Known in surfing as Sansó. Began surfing at age 18 in 1974. I surfed for 21 years but about 10 years ago I stopped surfing because of the amount of people there are now. The idea to go surfing was in 1974. People from the neighborhood skated and little by little we started to surf. I bought my first board from Cundino, a local from the port. The best from back then was to discover and surf alone with two other friends at Roca Bruja, Callejones, Playa Negra and Playa Hermosa for almost 5 years. It is incredible the amount of places there are in our country, but there are so many people to the point that ticos (Costa Ricans) are the minority at the beaches.
My thinking and feeling as a Surfer is that there are no words and nothing that compares to the relationship with the ocean. Surfers back then were more passive, classic wave riders. Surfers today are more the spectacle and a style. I have surfed many places; places have appeared that I had never heard of before. I have only surfed here in Costa Rica and I know the people from my time, some Venezuelans and some “Gringos,” but no one in particular. I had the fortune of participating in the 1st surf tournament organized by Mario Sotela. I think I finished in 8th place. I retired from riding waves when I was 40 years old. I was not accustomed to so many people. After stopping surfing I began competing in speed boating here in Costa Rica and in Mexico. I race go-carts when time allows. I would tell a young surfer that surfing is more than just a style; it is the true relationship between one and the ocean. That is what is important to enjoy and respect.
DELBERT DENI MORE, START IN THE YEAR SURF 1972
SOON ITS HISTORY
Gary David Jones, born in California, lives in San Pedro, California. Known in surfing as “Bigotes.” Began surfing at 8 years of age, has been riding waves for 45 years. I began surfing through my dad. He also gave me my first board as a Christmas gift. Costa Rica is a pretty country and her people are good. My feeling as a Surfer is that it is always a part of my life.
Surfers back then, we were all good friends and all connected. I came to Costa Rica on February 20, 1973 and went to Boca de Barranca on February 22, 1973. There I found Jason. He was the only one there. Later I met Cundino, Francisco “Pancho” Oreamuno, Mario Salazar, Roberto Miranda and later all those from San José. I give thanks to the country and her people. During the time I lived in Boca de Barranca or now when I visit, they make me feel like another Costa Rican.
Fernando Alberto Reyes Bustamante was born on November 15, 1956 in Puntarenas, lives in San Isidro of Puntarenas, known as “Nanán.” Began surfing at age 18 in 1974. I began surfing when I took a friend of mine in my car to Boca de Barranca to practice and he loaned me a board and I learned there and liked it a lot. There were many good things like all of the friendships. One bad thing was when my friend Jorge Reyes “Koki” died in a traffic accident. The best was the contact with nature, peace and tranquility. Surfers back then were truly given over to the sport. Surfers today are more commercialized and fictitious. I went to places like Mexico, the United States, Africa, Puerto Rico, and New Zealand. They are well organized from their development.
I participated in various tournaments and when I was 30 I worked as a qualified judge, nationally and internationally. I retired from surfing at age 38. I rode waves for 20 year. Today I have my own businesses. I would tell a young surfer to study, do the sport you like the most and stay away from drugs. For me surfing has been the golden years of my life. That is how it was and it was the best time of my life. The moral values of the organizers, the loyalty to the competition without rings and a better infrastructure in the work at the time for organizing a competitive event; this sport has lost a lot of its peak for not having good organization at the national level and the incentive for the athletes and competitors.
Louis A. Wilson, born January 28, 1946 in the United States, lives in Playa Grande, Guanacaste, known in surfing for many years as “Luis Pescado”, or with his family, “Funky Unky”, began surfing at age 8, has been riding waves for 54 years. I began surfing when we went out with “canvass rafts” in the tiny surf of Miami. The waves were gigantic for us at that age. Later we learned to surf with boards we made ourselves in the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. I made my first board. My surfing style is recreational for the most part, and I like to meditate in the ocean and enjoy the beauty and sounds etc. I look for space. I am a kook for the most part, but I have my days. It is a good way to stay clean. I came to Costa Rica in 1974 at age 28, and I did it for the adventure. At the same time I began surfing in this country. My first contacts in surfing Costa Rica were of course, my brother, Randy Wilson, who was with me during that time. The surfers that I knew were Roy Quiros, Steve Snider, Macho Estrada, Carlos Alfaro, Sergio Leiva, Sergio Rojo, Gaylord Townley, my brother – Randy, the Plescunas brothers and Kenny, and John Bell In 1974 when Guanacaste was infested with sharks. John Bell, a pioneer Costa Rican adventurer from Neptune Beach Florida, and I paddled out into a shark feeding frenzy at Playa Langosta on a mutual dare. Approximately 50 sharks were crashing through schools of blue runner, which in turn were feeding on anchovies. As usual, several varieties in the 3 to 8 foot range, including black tips, were present. The more excited sharks were winding up and charging the balling bait fish at high speeds from around the periphery of the dark red blotches. As they accelerated with their mouths open, they audibly split the water, throwing sizable wakes with their backs and whirring tails. Some of the bigger, probably “fed – out” sharks, were often completely exposed in the shallow white water. At the last moment as the waves receded, they lazily snaked back to swimming depth. The wind swept, head high lefts were winding down the golden sand, fanning rainbows everywhere, on a part of the beach where I seldom see good waves. In the water we sat with our feet up on our boards while waiting for sets, showing customary respect for the rich in-shore marine life. You can still spot some of the “old timers” sitting with their feet up. We each caught several perfect spinning lefts, leaning under thin ice-like sheets sculpted from the top of the turquoise bowls. On one occasion two 5 foot black tips effortlessly glided along with me in a wave. They appeared to be looking at me through lifeless slits in their giant doll eyes. I resisted the reckless temptation to reach out and touch them. Slipping off my board pulling out through the lip, I accidentally touched a small one on its back with my errant foot. John saw the expression on my face and we both hysterically paddled in. Exhilarated, we stood on the shore afterward and contemplated our forgone foolishness. Although I have surfed and dived on many occasions with sharks, and even with large bull sharks (8 – 12 foot) at places like Witches Rock. I have never repeated this experience and am very careful around sharks now. Back then it may not have been as much of a gamble as it seems due to the well-fed, and truly wild, animal’s timid nature. These days I am more cautious to the point that I do not surf when I visit my Dad in Florida, unless of course, conditions are epic. The best is that I love my simple style of life and the rescues we did saving drowning people in the ocean at Tamarindo. Costa Rica is a paradise but each year there is less security. My feeling as a surfer, well I have many interests, its like an addiction to surfing. I am going to keep surfing until I cannot surf with a “short board.” Surfers back then had secrets, surfers today are different because of the great number of people enjoying the ocean and this sport today. But I know many surfers and they are all different. Here in Costa Rica I do not understand how we put up with the “surf camp” businesses that take groups of students to the Breaks with all the danger and lack of respect that comes with this. I would like to one day surf the Caribbean. I am a friend of Carlos “Killer” Gastón in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, the “locals” invite the visitors to leave the water when it gets crowded. I do not compete in tournaments and I think competing is ridiculous and it ultimately only serves the surf industry. I work in conservation and I am writing a book. I would tell a young surfer to not start surfing if you want a normal life. Louis, albeit dedicated kook, has been riding innovative epoxy (sometimeshollow) shortboards that he built in his garage since the late 60’s. He has a double master’s degree in psychology and education. He put himself through the pre-med. program of an Ivy League college with scholarships and jobs. He has worked successfully with children both as a public High school teacher and as a psychologist. He and his family and friends discovered/ pioneered most of the breaks in Northern Guanacaste (Witches’ Rock, Ollie’s, Brasilito, Real, Grande, Casitas, Henry’s, Topaz, Langosta, Avellanas Estero Mouth, Tamarindo, Peako, Chickenhead, Capitan’s, Little Hawaii) in the early 70’s.
They have surfed these breaks for over 30 years now. In addition, he has owned and operated a series of successful businesses in the US and Costa Rica including Las Tortugas Hotel which is the classic model for Ecotourism (he pioneered a sustainable approach to tourism, and is proudly touted as the flagship of Costa Rican Tourism) on the North Pacific Coast. It is owned, managed, and run by a conservation group and local Costa Ricans and is located in front of Costa Rica’s most consistent, accessible surf break. He currently manages 32 local employees with his building projects, restaurant, conservation projects, hotelito, and apartments and still finds time to surf practically every day when he is not traveling with his surfing wife who is as intelligent (she served on the Defense Department Think Tank in the early 90’s) as she is gorgeous. He singlehandedly founded the Tamarindo Wildlife Sanctuary (recently renamed Baulas National Park) which protects the beach and Estuary in Tamarindo and Grande and is the most important nesting site for the giant leatherback sea turtle in the Occidental Pacific, and spends hundreds of hours a year participating with conservation issues and student groups. He is still an active environmental activist in our area. He was a founding member of the first marine conservation agency and a member of the president’s commission which generated the first laws for marine management on both coasts. He has been featured in a variety of globally televised conservation documentaries. He formed the volunteer life guard force during the late 70’s and early 80’s in Tamarindo without losing a single tourist to drowning during his tenure. His daughter has played on the Costa Rican National Women’s Soccer Team since she was 17 years of age and his son graduated from USC with honors and spends large amounts of time surfing with him in Costa Rica. His Tamarindo born niece is a world class surfer and was featured on the cover of Women’s Surfer in Sept. ‘03. His brother, Randy, who is an amazing surfer and his best friend, lives in Tamarindo and is a legend in his own right for his innovative conservation approach to sport fishing. Louis is currently working on a book which will include some of his world renowned, hilarious stories and he makes small personal movies in his spare time.
Marco Bonilla Olaso, born in San José Costa Rica on November 24, 1957. Lives in Rohrmoser, known in Surfing as “Sapo”. Began surfing at age 17 in 1974, has been surfing for 33 years. I began surfing through friends. I only surfed at Playa Hermosa, while others learned at Boca de Barranca. My first board was one I was given. It was 9 feet 11 inches, it was enormous, Robert brand (the killer whale). Back then the best thing that happened to me was being the pioneer for Playa Hermosa, Jaco, Playa Tamarindo and Langosta (Piedra de Sapo). I am antiforeigners for Surfing in my country. I think Surfing is a precious and very mystic sport, something that has been lost. Back then, we surfers were less competitive, with less ‘schooling,’ but more mystic. Today’s surfers should take advantage of the schooling they have had with the benefit of so many sponsors.
No other country in the world treats foreigners as politely as in Costa Rica. In various tournaments I participated as a competitor and in others as a judge. I am not very competitive. I have not retired from Surfing, I still surf. I work in sales and am semi-retired. I would advise a young surfer to always try to be a better surfer and person, without leaving studies behind. My friend Carlos Montes de Oca and I are Surfing pioneers in Playa Hermosa of Jaco, we were locals of the “Almendro” for more than 10 years in the 70s and 80s. Henry Martinez (former owner of Cabinas Zullymar in Tamarindo and the Bar, el tercer Mundo) and I surfed Langosta in the 70s. That is why they call Henry “La Piedra de Sapo”. There are so many stories to tell….
Marco Bonilla Cortes, born in San José on September 12, 1960. Lives in San Pedro de Montes de Oca in San José, began surfing at age 15 in 1975. Has been surfing for 33 years. I started surfing in sixth grade, 1972, with “Pokin” Carvajal. In their house at Boca Barrnaca, they told me to put my bags on the bunk bed, and on it was this strange thing. It was a surf board which I had never seen, so I asked what it was. Their explanation was that it was a surf board for getting on top of the waves. In that moment the plan was to go skiing. I told him to pull it with the boat and he said no, on the waves. I did not understand. He told me to take the board and go to the corner and ask for Cundino. That same day I met José Moya, Oswaldo Trejos (RIP), and began trying to ride waves, but the truth is that it was not until 1975 that I could surf. I bought my first board from Jorge Rossi, it cost me about 250 colones, less than a dollar. It was nice back then, it was a sport that I liked, what cost me the most was getting to the beach, it was an adventure, another spirit. The bus dropped us off by a tree called ‘el Roble’ and we walked to Boca Barranca and there was no bridge. It is a great sport, not a team sport. Costa Rica does not have to envy any other country; it is a good place to surf.
My thoughts and feelings as a surfer are that it is a part of my life, a philosophy of life, when it was more of an adventure, I have always said that surfing and knowing how to surf are two different concepts, the one that understands what I am saying, knows that there is no way to explain it. Surfers from back then had passion, surfing says more about the person, it is mystic, spiritual, something deeper. Surfers today, they are good people, and others no, just like with everything in life. I have surfed many places and I would like to surf other places that I still do not know. I went to Hawaii and lived with a surfing community. I met the famous Duke, he welcomed me and Oswaldo. I shared with the Haicados royalty and others. The surfing culture in Peru impressed me, real, true surfers that live like surfers, with respect for other surfers. I participated in almost all of the first tournaments. I won the first tournament in Playa Doña with a nice final with Marco Salazar and Álvaro Vizcaíno in 1981. I competed in Playa Langosta and won 3rd place. Later we went to Hawaii with Oswaldo and Warren (a North American). Out of 136 competitors, Oswaldo got 26th place and I got 40th. I still surf and surfing is what will retire me, even though my son will help me into the water when I am old. My style of surfing is from the soul, Soul Surfer, the small waves are tough for me because of my knees, the bigger wave is easier for me. I am a Real Estate Developer Tel (506) 8361-0452/ 8865-4496, E-mail: email@example.com www. caboblancoresort.com Álvaro Vizcaíno, a tour guide and I were pioneers in Kayak with Fernando Castañeda, Rabel Gallo and Oswaldo Trejos. I would tell a young surfer to keep at it, at first it is tough, but it is a sport you can enjoy, you should be an enthusiast and perseverant, stay away from drugs that have nothing to do with surfing and nothing to do with life. Surfing gave me many friends, the camaraderie, many friendships have lasted a lifetime, they are the friends I call to go surfing.
Rafael Pacheco Echandi, born September 8, 1958 in San José, lives in Curridabat. Known in surfing as “Pollo”, began surfing at age 17 in 1975. I have surfed a little these last 3 years so I have surfed for a total of 32 years. I began surfing in Doña Ana when it was for real. I came to surfing so I could check out some Peruvian girls. A group of surfers gave me my first board. Everyone had started surfing on that board. It was so good. That board died coming back from the beach after the rack those friends left me fell apart. I came back with just the fins. Another time after a magical section in a super stormy afternoon in Doña Ana, and since there was no bridge in Boca de Barranca at that time, and the river after that afternoon of rain was very, very full and had impressive tree trunks in it. We decided to cross it to get to the car on the other side of the ocean and I do not know why we thought of it…the current grabbed us for 4 hours and I think it took us through the entire gulf because the paddling we did got us nowhere. I left by the hospital and we started to cross at 5:00 pm. We left at night at 8:00 pm. The police were looking for us. Another time going to playa Naranjo like we always did right after we got of work on Friday we came down the bad part of the road, and it was always late at night and since we wanted to get there, one of the first times we were flying and we did not realize the branches in the road were low and we hit the branches with… guess what…the fins. More than one board arrived without fins. We made our own leashes. They did not exist here unless a gringo brought some just like with wax. One time we were stuck in the marsh at Playa Naranjo for 3 days. No one could get us out. We surfed Naranjo when the marsh went out by the corner of the beach, not like it is now in front of the Rock. Another time going into Matapalo when there were no bridges toward the Jimenez port, we passed three rivers really tight together but the fourth was impossible to pass. Since we were going for a week we decided to go back and head to Pavones and guess what…we could not cross the river we had just passed so we could leave and we were stuck between 2 rivers. After the 3rd day of being there and sleeping in the chicken coop of this house…we got in touch with a friend that had a plane and we got out by plane and left the cars. We came back 3 days later and it was the same or worse. You know how we got those cars out? We went to Golfito and the pilot knew some people that had a type of ferry and we crossed the gulf until we could get near the cars by the beach. We got them on the ferry and that is how we got to Golfito and out of that mess.
Yet another time, after some epic surfing in Pavones, I and my friend the Dany Faully farm veterinarian, started to head back to San José on Sunday at 4:00 pm. We went to cross the river and we were in a hurry to get back to San José and we did not calculate how big this river was and guess what…we started to cross it and the river started to carry the car with us inside but not to tire you with the story, way on down the car hit a massive rock and with the pressure of the water it stopped there. We got out as fast as we could to look for help and we found a back hoe to pull the car out. We spent 3 days drying everything. That car never worked again. I will not tell you more stories but I could go on and on after being in this beautiful sport for more than 25 years. The best from back then was surfing the best of all sizes in Costa Rica. I do not like the ball of people that sometimes I have to take to for example, Salsa Brava in Puerto Viejo, when you should only pass that middle section without company, or in Salsa Grande. Costa Rica is a rich surfing paradise…definitely. My feeling as a surfer is to take care of what is ours and live a free life. I have lots of respect for Surfers from back then, those that were and are ‘beaching it,’ and to those true ones that like to leave satisfied for having gotten a good wave. Surfers now are good, they have to take our torch and carry it to heaven. I wish them the best. I have surfed many places in our country and there is always something new. I went to Peru, Nicaragua, Panama, and Mexico. Something happened in those countries. Surfing does not always have good stories. I did not participate in local tournaments. I just organized the first one in Langost with Mario Sotela. I still surf, but these last three years I have been working a little bit. I organized National Mountain Bike championships. I would tell a young surfer to never lose your goal, you can do everything if you have that sense. Well, I can tell you who were the first 5 to arrive at Playa Hermosa of Jaco…yes I can tell you who discovered Playa Hermosa.
Oscar Antonio Pérez Guevara, born August 18, 1951 in Venezuela, lives in San Jose, Costa Rica, known in surfing as “OSO.” Began surfing at age 15 in 1966 in his country. Has been riding waves for 42 years. The idea to surf was because my parents were members of a beach club that had a beach front ocean (open to the ocean, with waves). At that beach club, Puerto Azul, the first Venezuelan surfers began. From the first time I saw them I knew it was the sport for me. I just needed a board. I got my first board from a neighbor who came back from California with 10 boards and I bought one. My surfing style is Soul Surfer. It is the wave and its characteristics that take me. The first time I came to Costa Rica was in 1975 until 1984 and then in 2001 to today. As long as God allows I will continue living here. I began surfing Costa Rica in November 1975. I rode waves for the first time in Boca de Barranca. My first contacts were gringos: Jasón Menair, Bret Harter, Ken Matley, Steve Love, Gary (bigotes) Jones (he had cabins in Barranca), and Ticos Chus and Cundino. I remember that Ken was the boyfriend of my neighbor in the Carlisev apartments in front of the University. I had only been here a few days and I saw them with boards. The next day we went in my car (a camper W.) to Boca de Barranca. When we got to San Ramon and started to go down, they started to shout like crazy. They told me they saw the foam on the points; that the ocean was big. When we got to Boca de Barranca it was at 6 solid feet with offshore wind. I remember that day as if it was yesterday and I knew I wanted to live in Costa Rica. The best was realizing that my decision to move to Costa Rica with my wife and daughters was the right one. Costa Rica, like its name implies, is a privileged place for everything that has to do with water sports, especially surfing.
It has remained relatively natural with a harmonious development with nature and it keeps the magic of surfing. Sadly we have lost some excellent breakers like Mata of Limon and the third point of Doña Ana. If we keep up the tourism, the best value in the future will be countries like ours, NOT the destruction of more breaks, NOT the Marina in Salsa Brava. My feeling as a surfer is that surfing has marked me in my life and has become its north, from the first time I rode a wave my soul stayed in our mother ocean. After everything that has happened in this setting, at 57 I feel as fresh and alive as in 1966 when I started. Each time I can and there are waves you will see me in the ocean enjoying the freedom of riding a wave. Surfers back then were my partners in adventure in search of the perfect wave. Together we traveled hours to be able to surf. We spent time getting cars out of the mud, bugs bit us, we slept bad and wet, but when you saw one of us on an awesome wave all was left behind, because I enjoyed it as much as the one on the wave. We were ‘brothers in the ocean.’ Surfers today are each in their own deal, each one alone in their own search. The brotherhood disappeared with the ego of wanting to be #1. Of all the places to surf in our country, I think I am missing only 2 or 3. For several years my Oso surfboards sold well in Costa Rica. Later the Becker boards of California came. In surfing I have met many surfers, the most famous ¿¿¿¿ Phill Becker, Rory Russel, Garry Lopez, Buttons Kaluaikalani, Oswaldo Trejos (RIP). I have surfed in the USA, Mexico, Guatemala, Salvador, Puerto Rico, Panama, Aruba, Venezuela and Costa Rica. On one opportunity we went Panama. Oswaldo Trejos (RIP), Gonzalo (Chalo) Lizano, Jean Larsson and I went to the first championship between Panama and the United States sponsored by NSSA and the Bronzed Assuies, Ian Cairs y Petre Towned. I had the blessing of becoming good friends with Brian Clark, the poster winner of the event. He gave me his board. That board radically changed my surfing and it is one of the most incredible things that could have happened. I have not been a surfer of competitions, my OSO boards speak for me. Multiple Costa Rican champion Oswaldo Trejos (RIP) began on my team. Today I have a factory for food and frozen desserts and I also surf. I would tell a young surfer to respect the ocean and the waves, respect nature, respect other surfers and above all respect my wave. Let’s save Salsa Brava in Puerto Viejo of Limon, one of the best and most potent waves of Costa Rica, not the marina.
Jorge Loria Núñez, born April 23,1956 in the city of Puntarenas, lives in Barrio del Carmen in Puntarenas, known in surfing as “Loria”, began surfing at age 19 in 1975, has been riding waves for 33 years. I began surfing one day when I got to Boca de Barranca and there was a group of people surfing. It caught my attention and I decided to learn. There were such good waves back then in Boca de Barranca. My surfing style is ‘back side’ or putting my back to the wave when it goes to the left like in Boca de Barranca or the second point of Doña Ana. Back then the wave break was excellent at the second point and third point. It raised your adrenaline. It was already a fast wave with a good wall to do maneuvers with your board without permission to fall. It was bad when I hit my right eyebrow with the fin of my board at 6 in the morning with 8 feet waves at the second point in Doña Ana. I got 4 stitches in the hospital. The best was to go to different beaches in the country like Guanacaste, the Southern Pacific or Limon and find camaraderie between the surfers that we do not have anymore, we did not compete, we enjoyed the moment of sharing a good wave at whatever beach in the country. There were not as many hotels at the beaches like there are today. In general we camped on the beach, at Tamarindo, Avellanas, Langosta, Mal País, Santa Teresa, Roca Bruja, Pavones, Potrero Grande, etc… on the Pacific coast, on the Caribbean. In general we connected with the ‘tiger brothers’ (as they were known in the world of surfing), excellent surfers, with Hugo Chollett, “the stuff,” and the good surfers from Salsa Brava in Puerto Viejo. My feeling as a surfer is that we have an immense variety of beaches with excellent waves, be it in the Pacific or the Atlantic. You can surf excellent waves one day in Boca de Barranca in the Pacific in the morning and later in the afternoon be surfing the Caribbean.
I think you can only do this in Costa Rica. Surfers back then loved the freedom the ocean gave you and the beach was not full of people and you could actually see the beach. We were adventurers, we were the waves, we were the beach. Surfers today are excellent athletes and really good with their acrobatics. Some of them have contracts from sponsors. I see that as good. I have surfed Boca de Barranca, 2nd and 3rd point at Doña Ana, Caldera, Playa Corralillo, Jaco,Hermosa, Esterillos, Quepos, Manuel Antonio, Dominical, Pavones, Playa Cabuya, Santa Teresa, Punta Guiones, Garza, Playa Coyote, Playa Negra, Avellanas, Langosta, Tamarindo, Roca Bruja, Potrero Grande, etc. and the Caribbean in our country. I met surfers like Roberto Miranda, Oswaldo Trejos (q.e.p.d), Mario Sotela, Frank Mora, Secundino Arias, Jesús Li, Rafael Li, Jorge (Koki) Reyes (q.e.p.d), Nain (Chus) Castillo, Fernando Reyes, Álvaro Vizcaíno, Marco Pacheco, and many more that at the moment escape my memory but they were excellent surfers. I also rode waves in Panama and El Salvador. I participated in tournaments held in Boca de Barranca, Jaco, Langosta,Tamarindo, Playa Bonita in Limón and Quepos. Today I work in the Monseñor Sanabria Hospital in the X ray department. I would tell a young surfer to put forth effort, have discipline and enjoy the contact with nature and do not touch drugs. One story, in a surf tournament that I organized with the collaboration of all the local surfers of Puntarenas, especially Jorge (Koki) Reyes (RIP), one of the best surfers of Costa Rica at that time, there were good competitors, good waves, good prizes and a great party between friends like it should always be. Lastly, always look for the best wave and enjoy it.
Nain Castillo Solís born December 24, 1949 in Alajuela, lives in Boca Barranca, southside of the bridge, known as “Chus.” Began surfing at age 26 in 1975, has been surfing for 33 years. I began surfing when I had a business called La Cátedra in front of the University, and I met a friend named Francisco “Pancho” Oreamuno and he invited me to the beach. I did not know that what Francisco did was surf, so that is when I started to learn. I got my first board through a North American friend, he sold it to me for 300 colones, it was an Ocean Site 5 foot 2”. I learned with that board what you should not learn. The story of my life, to begin to surf for me was weird because it was like riding cows. The best part was the connection with the ocean, something very different.
The level of surf and tourism is very good, both nationally and internationally to bring controls to Costa Rica in all types of business. As a surfer I think we are lazy like no one else, but some with excellent plans. Surfers back then were hard working people and very professional. Surfers today are bums without future, without generalizing. I would have liked to be able to surf in the Atlantic. I met many North American, Costa Rican, Brazilian, Venezuelan, Mexican, Hawaiian, Dominican and Swedish surfers. I participated in a tournament in March 1983 and won my first trophy for the biggest wave of the tournament and got 4th place, in 1984 2nd place, in 1986 national champion and 15 years later I stopped competing. Today I work in general tourism, fishing, and handicrafts. I would tell a young surfer to study first and ride the waves later. When I surfed I had some hits from the board, broken fingers and good memories from all the beaches.
Hugo Robles Díaz, Jaco born on December 7, 1957, he started surfing only at the age of 20, in 1975, surfing at the beginning with a balsa wood board lying down, because at that time he did not there were surfboards in Jaco. Then I bought a Surfboard at ₡ 1,000 colones, he tells us that in a magazine that surfed standing on the board, and he practicad for 5 months until he suceded in surfing, he was the first local Surfer of Jaco. In those times the waves were very big, and Playa Hermosa was very dangerous in those times with many blue sharks. He started alone and then accompanied him to the “Macho Ñajo” (q.e.d.p) and took turns surfing. When he made a trip to the United States, he bought a surfboard at ₡ 1,000 colones from the Sea People brand, then he brought another one and sold it to Macho Ñajo, who never paid it.
He tells us that “Macho Ñajo” was crazy. to surf. In the years of 1978 began to arrive people like Frank Mora (q.e.d.p) and Guillermo Montero to organize tournaments of Surf, which I do not manage to compete for a family affair. At that time I teach Carlos “Kike” Villalobos, the place to surf was in front of the old Hotel Jaco Beach. He liked surfing a lot because it was something new, and he had no other choice in sports or football games on the beach, and when surfing they for up to 5 hours a day, with the tides and good waves. Many times the Lynch was broken, the wax for the table was candle or paraffin, and their stomach was damaged. Once I was with “Macho Ñajo” were about 6 pm and were about to retire, were separated in the water from each other at a distance of 3 meters, and in the middle between the two a macarena fish and from behind a shark appeared that bit to the fish and split it in two. The boards he used helped him a lot to rescue people who were drowning and save them. I recommend today’s surfers or the new generation to have discipline, delivery, and combine the sport of surfing with the studios. He continued surfing for 10 more years until the year of 1985 and retired due to work responsibilities. He is currently the owner of Hotel Roble Mar in Jaco Beach.
OWEN ATKEY, START IN THE YEAR SURF IN COSTA RICA 1975
SOON ITS HISTORY
Steve Love was born in 1950 in Toronto Canada, lives in San José and Playa Carate. Known in surfing as “Canelo.” Began surfing at age 20 in San Blas Mexico in the summer of 1970, has been riding waves for 38 years. I started surfing because I had a poster of Fred Van Dyke at Sunset Beach on the wall of my room at my private school during the winter and the snow in Canada in 1963. My first board was a 7 footer, a “Micro Platapus” Texas funboard that I bought from a girl from Texas at Playa de Mazatlans, Mexico at ‘Lupes Trailer Park’ with a 8 foot wave above the coral. In front of the park the break is called “Lupes.” I always use a ‘funboard’ for whichever wave. My surfing style is very Gooooooofy…really crazy. I came to Costa Rica 1976 when I was 26 for the waves, the girls and the adventures. I surfed the waves at Boca de Barranca.
My first contacts in surfing in Costa Rica were Mario Urpi and the famous Frank Mora. The best was the primary forest of Cabo Matapalo and Carate. Costa Rica always has waves, the water is warmer and the beaches have hotter women. My feeling as a surfer is to respect the ocean and the planet. I went to Europe, France, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Peru, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico, California and the Bahamas. Today I am dedicated to my sons, daughters, my ex wife and my tica. I would tell a young surfer to get a job. The waves are second place to your family and the planet.
Gonzalo Lizano Arias was born on November 18, 1961 in San José, lives in Pavas Rohrmoser, known as “Chalo,” began surfing at age 15 in 1976.
Has been riding waves for 32 years. I began surfing in Boca de Barranca with a board with one fin that was at my uncles in Puntarenas. I tried and got up on the wave and never came down. The waves were very consistent, back then when there was no internet, there were always good waves.
Everything was good at that time, incredible waves and not so many people. Costa Rica is a privileged place to have 2 coasts – The Pacific and the Atlantic – at such a short distance and with a great variety of waves to surf. You are able to surf the waves of the Caribbean in the morning and the waves of the Pacific in the afternoon.
My feeling as a surfer is that surfing is very spiritual. Back then it was difficult to access the beaches and all the gear, it was more from the soul and spiritual to ride a wave. Today there are many good and commercial surfers. I am a surfer, Goofy style (right and left). Before they called me the ‘tube man.’ Today they call me the ‘exorcist.’ I have a maneuver where I can see the waves towards the back from the sides.
I have surfed many places, but I would like to be able to go in a boat and find other points in Costa Rica. I know Central America, Puerto Rico, Mexico and various national and international surfers. I participated in various tournaments and got 2nd place in some and in Langosta I got 5th place. I still surf today, I have not gotten down from the wave. I do surf trips and am a tourist guide throughout the country.
Tel (506) 8394-6683, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org I would tell a young surfer that the most important is to not surf just one point, it is to try to do what one believes. I was with people from the Hawaiian surf culture, with Kart Vandai’s father, Ian Kent (Australian), Marvin Foster (I surfed Boca de Barranca with him), and my personal interview with Kelly Leiter.
Carlos Montes de Oca Chavarría was born in 1958, began surfing at age 18 in 1976, known as “Montes.” My surfing began when I was living near La Sabana park and I met Álvaro Vizcaíno and he talked to me about going surfing. He loaned me a board that he called the killer whale. I bought my first board from a gringo in Alajuela that was going back to the US. After using it for a good while in Playa Hermosa in the palo del Sapo, he asked if I would buy it, I told him yes but that I was going to get in one more time and ride the last wave and that is how it happened, the board broke in two. … To surf Doña Ana at night with a full moon with phosphorescent tubes.
Our country is a good tourist spot and there are lots of people in the water, but this is good for the local business. I have surfed Pavones, Doña Ana, Boca de Barranca, Corralillo, Guacalillo, Tivives, mini Valor y Valor, Playa Hermosa, Tulin, Esterillos, Bejuco, Playa Tamarindo, Playa Langosta, Avellanas, Playa Negra, Junquillal, Peña Bruja, Escondido, Playa Agujas, Portete, Playa Bonita, Isla Uvita, and Puerto Viejo. I met surfers from the US, Venezuela, Brazil, China, Israel and countries where I surfed like Panama (Bocas del Toro), USA (California) and in California, they are very aggressive. In places where you are not a local, they will mess with your car while you are surfing. I never competed, I was a judge. Today I am an aviator pilot.
Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Echandi was born in San José on April 16, 1960. Lives in Escazú. Began surfing at age 16 in 1976 and has been surfing for 32 years. I started in Boca de Barranca because we had some friends that were starting to surf there. I got my first board from a gringo that left it at my friend’s house and he sold it to me for ¢ 800 colones, a little over a dollar. It was a 7’6 single fin. At that time, it was really nice, there were few surfers and we just surfed with our friends. We explored beaches looking for points and we found waves that are now very well known. We did not have wax or leashes. There were no stores so we made everything by hand. There were not even racks for the roofs of the car and many times the boards would fall off.
The best was to discover new waves in Guanacaste and the south, and to get to know rural Costa Rica in a really beautiful natural state and to surf epic waves and sets. I do not think that you can say that things are better now than they were then, they are different. But we remember well the times of the pioneers of surf and above all to be surfing now with as much enthusiasm as before. As a conservationist, I think it is important for surfers to be good examples for change in the development of high environmental impact and that would be a force of change with the employers of environmental alteration and especially with water contamination and the loss of marine ecosystems. I remember perfectly when we were surfing Boca Barranca, before they put in the Roble water treatment plant. The contamination at the point was frightening. It was common to see friends with hepatitis as a result. Once the plant was put in the quality of the waters got substantially better. Surfers back then were hippies and natural, friends for life, it is a shame that some are no longer with us. I have surfed all the Surf Spots, we keep some secret. I have surfed in the USA, Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Chile, Brasil, Indonesia, and South Africa. What surprised me most in other countries was how cold the water is and how we should thank God for the water temperature we have for surfing in Costa Rica. I participated in all the first tournaments and the stand-out was the first surf tournament in Playa Langosta in 1981. It was spectacular. It was like the Costa Rican Woodstock, with a 1000 people camping on the beach and prize trips to go to Hawaii. At 48, I am still as active as before. Today I am a nature conservationist. I have been the director of national parks, vice minister and minister of the environment; I am currently the Vice President of Conservación Internacional, a conservation organization that works in 42 countries. I would tell a young surfer- first: respect your elders in the water and second: be a part of the fight to conserve the marine ecosystems. To add that having surfed in Limon, Pavones, Matapalo, Roca Bruja and others for 15 years without people. Great and memorable waves.
OSCAR “MAWATA” AGUILAR CALDERON, START IN THE YEAR SURF 1976
SOON ITS HISTORY
Carlos Galli Taylor, was born in 1960, is 48 years old, known as “Galeno”, began surfing at age 17 in 1977, has been riding waves for 31 years. How I started surfing began with the skateboard, but we came to the point where the natural progression was towards Surfing, that gave me bigger challenges. Also, several of my friends already surfed. I got my first board when I bought it from another surfer who had painted it with a brush. When I got in the water I realized why. The board had a thousand wholes and it sunk. It sweated in the sun all over. One memory was when I saw the first surfers on a trip with my father. It was 1973 in Doña Ana and I was 13. All of them had long hair and boards with one fin. They surfed with a classic style and really near the rocks. I remember my father saying, “Don’t even think about surfing one day, because you will break your head.” If I had know what was going to happen…at least I have not broken my head… yet.
The best from back then was when a gringo explained to me that I had to experience the ‘fourth green,’ which was the best of surfing. When I experienced my first tube in Langosta a few days later, I was hooked. My feeling about our country is that it is an excellent place for surfing, but everything is changing so fast. As a surfer, I feel there is no other sport like it. Surfers from back then, they are all crazy. Surfers today have by-passed us on all accounts and their level of surf is really high. I have surfed almost all the Surf Spots of Costa Rica. I went to Hawaii, Mexico, Indonesia and Nicaragua. I lived in Hawaii for 4 years during the 80s. It influenced me a lot as a surfer, from the culture to the ocean. I had unforgettable experiences like seeing 40 foot wave sets. I never competed in local tournaments, but the best is surfer against wave, not surfer against surfer. I am a painter and you can see my work at www.galli-art.com I would tell a young surfer to be proud to be tico, this country is amazing, let’s take care of it, the beaches and respect one another in the water.
Luis Diego Ugarte Castro, born January 30, 1959, lives in Guanacaste, began surfing at age 17 in 1977, has been surfing for 32 years. My first exposure to surfing was in 1969. My father worked in Limon and during vacation I spent time with him. In the afternoons and on the weekends he took me to Playa Bonita and there was a community of hippies that lived there and in Portete. They surfed. Apparently they were young people fleeing from the Vietnam war. I was 9 at the time and the image stayed fixed in my head and I always wanted to do it. It was in 1977 that I was able to find a borrad for ¢ 85 colones. I bought it from Rolo Masis (RIP) in Barrio Escalante. Literally it was in bad shape. But it worked for me so I could learn to paddle. It was yellow in the shape of an egg with one fin. We made our leashes with rubber tubes and nylon rope. Back then you could spend a week in Boca de Barranca with 7 colones, living in Cundino Arias’ house.
The best was being able to camp under the heavens at Playa Langosta, Tamarindo and Avellanas without fear of being robbed. It was enough just having a hammock for sleeping. Sadly the beaches have been filled with foreign surfers that think they own our beaches and on the other hand visitors do not respect nationals. Some come with Long board and it gets ugly, lots of fights in the water. My feeling as a surfer, is that each surfer feels it their own way, for me it is contact with Mother Nature. Surfers back then were really good people. Surfers today, there are all kinds, but undoubtedly many surf very well, better than during our time. I have surfed, I do not know, almost all spots in our country. I met many nationals, people from the US, Hawaii, Indonesia, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Ecuador y Brazil. I always dreamed of surfing Hawaii and when I had the chance I was old and I thought I was wrong to think that I could surf Pipeline. I participated in local tournaments at Playa Hermosa, Boca de Barranca, Langosta and Playa Bonita. I got third, second and first place. I retired from tournaments in 1985. I still ride waves today. Today I contribute to the humanization of the earth! I would tell a young surfer to stay away from drugs. Surfing today is better than from days before.
Pablo Gordienko Mateo, born April 12, 1962 in San José, Costa Rica, lives in Santa Ana, known as “Pablito,” began surfing at age 15 in 1977, has been surfing for 31 years. I began surfing because I was a skater from La Colina and Oswaldo Trejos (RIP) came to skate. I heard them talk about surfing. I started to go to the beaches of Doña Ana and I learned at the first point. I got my first board on a trip to the USA, a Lightning Bolt, Gerry López. Back then it was all good, a great time. The only thing was not being able to go at times to Roca Bruja because you could not go through Liberia during the Nicaraguan war when they used Murciélago for training.
The best was getting to know the country and the beaches, running Roca Bruja with my friends and camping on the beaches for weeks (Roca Bruja, Avellanas). Costa Rica became popular simultaneously with the growth of the Surfing Industry. My thoughts and feelings as a Surfer, it gives me life and relaxation. Back then with Surfers, it was mystic and there was lots of companionship. With Surfers today, there is everything. I guess I have surfed many places, but I still have not gone to Silencio. I have met a large amount of Surfers and ridden waves in Puerto Rico, California, Baja California, Hawaii, Maldives, Mentawaii and Panama. In the first surf tournament in Langosta I was disqualified in the first round. I have not retired from surfing and I do not plan to. Today I try to have balance in life. I would tell a young surfer, take advantage to the maximum as you can, it is worth the effort. I remember Álvaro Coto el “Burro”(RIP), as a great athlete and surfer. I have no doubt that the Point del Burro in Roca Bruja is named after him. I always admired Oswaldo Trejos (RIP), as the best surfer of the 70s-80s.
Mario Alberto Rodríguez Alfaro, born December 7, 1960 in Alajuela, known as “Marion.” Began surfing ata ge 17 in 1977, has been active in surfing for 31 years. As a child the sport was in my blood. I practiced the sport with passion and emphasis. I was 14 and went with my brother to some activities on Sunday. It was there that I had visual contact with a surf board. I was decorating a bar in a place in Heredia in 1975 and things of life worked out so the board became mine. I still have it a Californian Horse board. I had that large thing with a fin in my imagination, and even playing other sports it was on my mind. I got my first board in Alajuela by the wide road, where someone I knew was ordering a Peruvian board. It was beautiful and fat. It cost me ¢ 650 colones. It was expensive but it was new. Such goo things like this great sport, which is a style of life. I woke up with my illusion of surfing. Something bad was that I was a professional motorcycle racer. I had large lesions on my left arm. I was in a cast for a month and a half, and more bandages and ribs. When I recuperated I told myself to try out the surf board. I was so into it up to the point of going crazy. The best is remembering the beaches with their complete natural state. Everything was discovery from the leash, the wax, to the board, and to see surfers so excited, discovering surfing just like you. We went discover our oceans in Costa Rica, the prettiest; the most blessed with 2 oceans.
It is the Central American Hawaii. I think that surfing is like the presence of life with God and it represents everything, even my prayers. Every day I do it is a special day. If I have good sessions with the tubes it is better energy for living. I am proud of all the surfers from back then, they are my inspiration. Surfers today have to get better and they should give emphasis to the style of strength and speed. I have surfed many places in Costa Rica. The local and nature are a little reserved. I have met surfers like Butons, Greg Noll, Pat Curren, Tom Curren, Bud Llamas and my good friend Rusty Freyser. I have surfed in California, Mexico, Puerto Rico (World I.S.A). In Mexico at Puerto Escondido, it was incredible to watch the locals sitting on the beach waiting for broken boards. During my time of competition they gave sponsorship to 2 surfers. Later between my competitors they helped me with my costs. That is how I was able to go to 2 international tournaments and the World championship. I was third place for Costa Rica in Boca Barranca in the 2006 Master category. I am happy for having established A.S.A (Asociación Surfistas Alajuelense). I directed it for 4 years and we had 16 local and international events. I am 47 and I retired in the 90s from surfing. I would tell a young surfer to fight for your dreams and have good mental and physical preparation. Surfing and good qualifications in life go hand in hand.
Enrique Ugarte Castro, born in San José on July 23, 1962. Known in surfing as “Pocho.” I live in San José, or in Guanacaste or at a beach where I think there are waves at the moment, even if there aren’t any. I began surfing at age 16 in 1978 and have been surfing for 30 years. I began surfing in Doña Ana and Boca de Barranca. My brother, Luis Diego and his friends influenced me and a few hippies and Vietnam veterans that lived in Boca de Barranca. My first board was a “gajo”, 7.4 fin, islander brand, full of water. I bought it for ¢ 1.000 colones from a gringo in Boca de Barranca. It was cool to skate in 1976, 1977 and in the skate magazines there were photos of waves and my older friends talked about how surfing in Boca de Barranca was really good. That is when the pressure began to do the sport. I have a “stiff” surfing style. Many people helped the first surfers, while many other people stigmatized surfers as bums, hippies and pot heads.
They categorized them and the still categorize them. The best was to see 10 footers for 200 meters at Boca de Barranca back then, almost every weekend, and also for having surfed Doña Ana at 6 to 10 feet and to see that panorama of a place with waves almost always. Yes there are good waves in Costa Rica, turisitically speaking. But what I do not like is that the tourists stay here…to live. My feeling about surfing is, Surf for a lifetime, because it keeps me sane. Surfers back then were good people, there was not as much violence in the water, it was more an art form than competition. Today they believe that surfing is competition or its soccer and you have to win. I have surfed in many well known places, though there are a few I have not. I met Mikala Jones, Rizal Tanjung of Indonesia, Bob Hurley, Alejandro Monge of Jaco, my friend Steve from Limon, Macho Estrada from San José, DeDee of Mentawai, Tamalon from Peru, and Chon from Liberia through surfing. I went to Australia, Hawaii, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru, Ecuador and Panama. I surfed tournaments in Boca de Barranca, Playa Langosta, and placed 3rd in the younger division at Playa Bonita of Limon in 1980. Today I am retired from competitions. I surf as much as I can…SURF FOR A LIFETIME. I would tell a young surfer that drugs and partying are a waste of time and energy. What you need is in the ocean. Good waves, Pocho.
Marco Antonio Pacheco Mc Cormick, born August 4, 1959 in Hospital San Juan de Dios, in San José. Lives in Playa Langosta, Tamarindo. Known in surfing as “Gory,” the surfer that climbs trees. Began surfing at age 19 in 1978. The idea to go surfing came in Barrio La Granja in San Pedro, known as the Tico Down Town in the 70s, with the influence of the group at UCR (University of Costa Rica) and South American students from Venezuela and Peru. My group of friends adopted it from the ticos of the neighborhood that were involved in the new style of life. I bought my first board from Tito Cabada, it was an enormous “gun” at the time that everyone wanted shorter boards. I ended up losing it while camping the following year in Pavones. I always like to think I left it near the shoreline of high tide and the ocean carried it to some island far away where someone found it and learned to surf with it. Most likely it was stolen. I never thought that 30 years later I would be writing about it. I am a Costa Rican sheipiador who can be found in the genealogy of The Surfer’s Heritage Foundation. I was part of the cast of The Endless Summer II. When I finished answering these questions I went looking for some waves to satisfy my need to keep living. The best from back then, well to be sincere at that time everything was hard. My father died the same year I started surfing and my mother had to pay the debts her left. I was always difficult to get to the beach. Sure, once you got in the water all was happiness. My feeling as a surfer, well I have one image in my mind. The thought that being local means you should be respected, etc. is valid when the local is a respectful person. Being Tico does not give you the right to bother whoever you feel like and act like a pig. One thing certain is that we owe Surfing, this implies respect for the ocean, life and the well being of our neighbor. It does not matter where they come from. Like a friend of mine says, it is easier to be a good surfer than a good person. I have always thought that the Tico surfer is different from any other, especially those that come from the Golden Age of Costa Rican surfing. Everything was virgin and super natural.
The aggression of our times is something that began to permeate much later. I am proud of the competitive level of today’s surfers. But they should think that they will not be young forever and learn the value of money, even more so, the value of their name. A surfer that impresses me is Gilbert Brown. When I read his interviews it makes me think that he is a spiritual leader of his generation. The guy has philosophy. There are many places I have not surfed, but I have surfed places that no one surfs. Costa Rica is my favorite country. A while ago I was in the Mediterranean with my family in the Liguria zone. We stopped to watch a wave break beside a levee. There was a sign that said “respect the locals.” There are things that never change. I participated in numerous tournaments, but there was one special category, The Heat of Gold. The first time was in 90 for the guys of La Liga…Marion, Pupi, etc. Up until that time they had not had a champion. Caliche was their hot card. I won that meeting with Carlos Matarrita in second. The second time I won it again with Eladio Castro in second. I went to live in Europe and I think they had not surfed since not long ago when I suggested to the organizers in Boca de Barranca that they invite the “men” from back then. In the final was Mario, Johnny Arrieta, Cundino Arias and a servant. Cundino started really strong and Johnny followed him in second place. I do not know how I did it but I got a tube where there were none. 18 years later still at the peak. In international tournaments I got 5th or 4th place in the Greg Noll Longboard Classic in Jaco. I would tell a young surfer to be a good person.
Johnny Arrieta Ríos born November 21, 1967 in Boca de Barranca, Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Lives in the Fiesta Del Mar-El Roble Puntarenas. Began surfing at age 11 in 1978, has been surfing for 30 years. I started surfing because I was born in Boca de Barranca, I always liked the ocean, and at that time surfing in Boca Barranca became one of the best places to practice the sport. I took advantage of the opportunity that life gave me and began surfing. I bought my first board from Chato Valdeperas for 300 colones, less than a dollar. There were many good stories; there were lots of big waves and few surfers. It was bad when there were good waves and I did not have a surfboard. It was hard to find one back then. The best was going through the tube of an 8 foot wave for 400 meters. Costa Rica is privileged to have 2 coasts, very close to each other, where you can surf one coast in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
Both coasts have great surfing potential, with waves of differing form and size. This makes it an important attraction for surf lovers; if there are no waves in one place you can move on to another place where there are waves. My thinking as a surfer is: Surfing becomes a way of life; it makes one a lover of nature and it becomes a necessity. Many surfers from before were respectful people and very considerate, if you took a wave, they respected you and did not ride it. I would like to be able to surf Mata-Palo, Potrero Grande and Puerto Viejo. I participated in many tournaments, in short board I placed 2nd and 3rd in different tournaments, and in long board I have placed 1st. I am still surfing today. I run my family’s business, Hotel Rio Mar in Boca Barranca. To a young surfer I would say, if you want to become a good surfer, you have to dedicate a lot of time and give it a lot of energy. Try to go to all the beaches that you can, because the waves are different everywhere. Thanks to surfing, I have met many people and have made many friends from Costa Rica and from other countries, when we see each other we remember the tales from the good waves we had and the moments we have shared.
ANDY SEIDENSTICKER, START IN THE YEAR SURF 1978
SOON ITS HISTORY
Alejo Pacheco Echandi was born in San José on September 18, 1962, lives in Guanacaste, known in Surfing as “Alejo”, began surfing at age 17 in 1979, has been surfing for 29 years. I began surfing because of my brother Rafael Pacheco and my cousin Carlos Manuel Rodríguez. A friend of my brother, Diego Carranza loaned me my first board. Back then, it was all positive and the best was to be able to ride the waves in Guanacaste. In our country, we are full of surfers since we have great waves in the Pacific and in the Caribbean. My thought is that it is a sport where you are in contact with nature and there are many positives vibes.
The surfers from back then, we were a unified group and we were dedicated to getting to know our country, surfing was not as competitive, it was more of an adventure. Surfers today are pursuing the same goal from before, but it is Surfing more for showing who the best is. I have surfed almost all of the Surf Spots, from the Pacific to the Caribbean. I have been to Mexico, Ireland, Nicaragua, Spain, etc. I think Mexico had good waves…Mystic. I participated in local tournaments like the one in Langosta,1980 and in Playa Bonita Limón, 1988, but I never really liked the competitions much, it was more fun to ride the waves with friends. In international competitions I participated doing Surf Kayak in Santa Cruz in the world championship and in my category I placed well. I participated in Ireland, Spain, and the world competition we did in Costa Rica. I still ride waves, but I ride them with a kayak, not a surf board. Today I work in project development in Venado Hills, Guanacaste. I would tell a young surfer that surfing is a positive way of life, stay away from drugs, so you can be the best wave rider. To finish, my respects to a great friend and former wave rider who is no longer with us Oswaldo Trejos (RIP).
Jesús Li Ying, born July 22, 1962, in San José. Lives in El Roble of Puntarenas. Known as “Chuchi.” Began surfing at age 17 in 1979. I began surfing in Puntarenas and it was because my father bought one of those old Longboard with a rope and a piece of leather as a leash. I water skied and wanted to try out surfing. I bought my first board from Chus for ¢ 800 colones. It was a cool 7 foot 3, one fin, Sunshine brand. One of my best stories was the first trip to Avellanas, going through the mountains and cutting through private property and just 400 meters away from the beach we go stuck in the mud and we had to sleep right there. We spent all night hearing the waves and imagining them. The best was waking up and realizing that 10 meters before getting stuck there was a short cut. We had the best time, it was like being in Paradise, there were no people and it was virgin beach. For me, Costa Rica has nothing to envy of other places in the world. At our beaches you find all kinds of waves…for the beginner or the professional. My feeling as a Surfer is as a free person like the waves in the ocean when you are surfing.
It is just you and the waves do not care about anything else. Surfers back in my day practiced more for pleasure. Surfers now do it more professionally. Actually I went to few points to surf: Avellanas, Langosta, Tamarindo, Roca Bruja in Guanacaste and Boca de Barranca where I had my best moments in Playas of Doña, what waves!, El Hoyo in Caldera, Jaco, Playa Hermosa, Corralillo, Bejuco and Tivives. I competed until 1984 or 1986 I do not remember but we were champions for the Channel 7 team. I retired 8 years ago. I go at times but not like before when it was like a bad habit and I did not leave the water. Today I am a store owner and I sell kabobs in my business called CARNITAS SURFING because I keep it in my memory and the best time of my life. I would tell young surfers to surf clean, no drugs, they do not clean up the bad image that some people gave the sport. It is a sound sport. I think that my group of friends, Pepe, José Mafio (q.e.p.d), José Chow and Luis Chow (Maguito), my brother Rafael known as Pecho (rest in peace) and I were the first surfers in Puntarenas of the modern era. Before us there was Chus, Cundino, David and others that escape me.
Elizabeth Barreto Peñaranda was born November 21, 1964 in San José, lives in Puntarenas in front of the Parque Victoria. I began surfing at age 15 in 1979, when my high school classmates started in the sport and it was reaffirmed even more when a student from California came for foreign study and was a surfer. My first board was given to me by an ex-boyfriend, who has now passed away. My experience is all good memories. I was spoiled by all the surfers with more experience. The best was meeting many great people with good moral values. My thought as a surfer back then was to go to beaches with good waves and enjoy them.
The surfer from those days took it as a sport, to be the best, to have the best board, small, light and a name brand or from someone famous. I was a native surfer of Boca de Barranca. I only rode waves there. I was not able to participate in any tournaments for the main reason of there not being any women. I rode waves just for exhibition. I could only hand out the trophies. I retired from surfing at age 22. Today I am a mother, wife, and small business owner. I play tennis. I would tell a young surfer to be careful of accidents and say no to drugs. In Puntarenas the locals started surfing where the construction of the bridge was and from the street to Caldera and we did it swimming on our surf boards. 10 of us started. Back then it was hard to find wax for the board so we would make balls of candle wax to later cover the board or we bought paraffin and waxed the board for surfing.
Oscar Arquedas Pérez, was born on September 5, 1958, known as “Pucho”. I arrived to Jaco Beach to the age of 16 as a free boy, lived in a tent by the old Jaco Beach Hotel, learning to make necklaces, coconut oil to survive. Start surfing at 21 years, at the beginning, was very fear, and by that time, was working in El Hicaco Restaurant. The Surf Shop started by exchanging meals and drinks with surfers from florida, in a small corner in the restaurant El Hicaco. By the year 1983, he founded the PACIFICO SURF SHOP store in the center of Jaco in the house of Mr. José de la Cruz Zamudio (d.e.p.z) in the runner of the house, and we exhibited the elements to be shown to the public.
The name was born for the peace of being peaceful, first called PACIFICIO SURF CLUB, which was the first SURF SHOP in Jaco for 14 years was open from 1983 to 1997 when it was unfortunately closed for personal reasons. I made fashion shows in those days with Mauricio “la Morris” from Puntarenas. He was the sponsor of the famous Álvaro Solano, Víctor Fallas “chancha” for 5 years and many more from the Jaco area. The Surf Shop grew and expanded to Puntarenas, Orotina and the Riviera of Belen, there were no difficult times at that time were always glorious times, the surf shop generated to open a soda of meals which were received by many locals and foreigners.
He competed in 91 and 92 was the best and the main thing was the excitement of participating. Today Oscar has a personalized service of transport to tourists with the company Transa Celestial S.A, during the last 8 years, with tours of monkeys, waterfalls, horses, crocodiles, caldera beach on a farm. At Surf level he met Greg Nohll “Toro Da Bull”, Fernando Aguirre and many others. The surf of those times was a way of life, and today’s surf is to rebuild those times and never forget where we came from.
I suggest a young surfer who surfs with love, be humble and not stop surfing until the end. After many years and at the age of 60 years, 20 years later return, and he says that surfing I hope, the first board when he starts again I ask Edwin Villalobos “Carton” for his return. I am an uneeboard-y surfer with fingers on the same board. It would be interesting to include Surf in education in Costa Rica.
Note: To try to find all the information on the history of Surfing and all the people, was an exhaustive job of more than 16 months of research. We were able to find many, but others we tried to contact and could not. The information and each description of the Surfers that followed were authorized by their own person, with their own photos and testimonies. Also for the interest and importance of Surfing in Costa Rica, in this section we will include the following names of Surfers with whom we were unable to obtain information, or they are out of the country or they have passed on.
- Albin Acosta 1968
- Otto Cataricho 1968
- Macho Rodríguez 1968
- Guillermo Miranda 1969
- Oscar Eduardo Ruiz “El Nica” 1969
- Carlos Sayan 1970
- Carlos Alfaro 1971
- William Rodríguez (Seco) 1971
- Fernando Figuls 1972
- Javier “Pana” Palacios 1972
- Walter Kelloy 1972
- Delbert Deni More 1972
- Alvaro Vizcaino 1974
- Diego Carranza 1975
- Roger Jaggli 1979