For us, traveling to a new place is so exciting. Ecuador was a country we have thought a long time about until we got an email from a local woman named Patricia White telling us about their cozy little town and the great kids she works with. Patricia is owner of Betty Surf & Yoga School, a local business aimed to offer just that…yoga and surf. She invited us out to be a part of their weeklong surf/yoga program with some of their amazing youth. After a few emails back and forth we came up with a game plan and I booked some tickets.
I didn’t know much about Ecuador aside from it being so close to the Galapagos. I did a quick search on Google to get some facts and the more I read the more excited I got. Soon the day came and Jeff Biege and I packed up the surfboards and boarded a plane. Jeff is a local photographer and friend of about 12 years. I met him soon after I moved to Florida and loved his chill vibe. It also never hurts to have a great photographer on a stoke mission with you that can take photos like this.
The first day we spent most of the day traveling to get to Canoa, which was a five-hour drive from Guaycil where we flew into. As soon as we got our first glimpse of the ocean we could see there was plenty of swell and no wind. We were amping. We got to the hotel just in time to get about a 45 minute long surf sesh which was the best way to wash off the stress of traveling. We waxed up and put the fins on and bolted for the ocean. Jeff took off on a fast sprint to the waves. Usually it is me who is frothing so hard to get in. It was nice to feed off someone else’s stoke.Photo by Jeff Biege
The next day we got to meet up with the kids and all of the amazing volunteers for the youth camp and practiced some yoga. I got the sense it was hard for the kids to keep their focus during yoga knowing that in an hour or so they were going to go shred.
Soon enough we were all suiting up and going for that surf together. We broke up into two distinct groups: the ones who were already shredding and the ones who will be shredding soon. In situations like these the kids are always pushing themselves and going for it in order to impress us. It is so cool to see. That night we had a little outdoor movie night party with them where some of the locals made treats for the group.Photo by Jeff Biege
Over the next couple of days we surfed, practiced yoga with the kids and drank a lot of coconuts.
Our last day there we had organized the surfboard giveaway. Patricia and the crew decided which kids would receive the boards based on their attitude, who shows the most interest in surfing and who will be able to use them the most. As the kids were showing up you could feel their excitement. Even though we didn’t tell them they were getting surfboards I think they knew something cool was going to happen. And it did! We were able to give six kids a surfboard, fins, leash and wax to help them follow their dreams of surfing.
Valerie, one of the girls who got a board was telling me how much she loved it and she was giving the board kisses. Each kid I asked if they liked the board just smiled from ear to ear saying yes I love it. I was stoked! If the kids are happy we are happy.Photo by Jeff Biege
Later that night the volunteer crew met up for dinner and drinks. We all laughed and carried on knowing that what we had done was give the kids some confidence by giving them the gift of surf. There is a freedom in having your own surfboard and not being limited to when you can borrow or rent one.Photo by Jeff Biege
Later that night Jeff and I traveled the five hours back to the airport, waited in line to check in for our flight for two hours (that was loco) and took the red eye home. This was a great trip. I don’t always feel sad leaving but this time I did. I really bonded with the crew and had such a fun time sharing their little slice of paradise.