It was a sunny afternoon on an almost deserted beach that could only be reached by an half hour hike through the first national park of Costa Rica, founded by a man who gave his life in protecting this area and his wife. Playa Grande is it called, and indeed it is a large beach. Kilian, Kobe and Flora were in the water having surf class and Lieve and I were sitting on a tree trunk that had washed ashore at high tide. It is impossible to say who saw him first, but when we did, we looked at each other and said: “Look, Mauï coming out of the water”. The resemblance cannot be denied: this was the reïncarnation of the real Mauï of Vaïana. Even better, when he reaches us, he introduces himself as “the kids call me Mauï”.
Mauï turned out to be Manuel, the founder of Young Vision Surf School in Montezuma. He was born almost forty years ago in the only house on that tropical paradise beach. This had been his playground, the ocean his friend. No wonder you pick up surfing to get as close as possible to this majestic friend.
Manuel was raised by his grandparents because his father and mother weren’t ready to raise a kid. They were more involved in the party scene that “Montefuma”is reputed for. Founding Young Vision Surf School years later is for him a way of giving back to the community. It is his vision to give the kids something to strive for, a sport that connects them with something as magical as the ocean. A sport that demands your full commitment and focus. For many of the kids he coached surfing was a way to find meaning in life, to focus on the good, to reach out to a higher goal. Until today he is still coaching kids who are competing in the national championships and bringing medals home to Montezuma.
This giving back to the community is the cornerstone of everything he does. Young Vision Surf School is, unlike most surf schools, run by locals only. All the teachers are Montezuma natives for whom Manuel created an opportunity to earn a living while doing what they love most.
Like Allejandro (pictured above), the surf teacher that was in the water teaching Kilian, Kobe and Flora to surf, who won the silver medal in the youth category. Allejandro has earned a special place in Flora’s heart as it was her first surf teacher ever. With him accompanying her she rode the waves like a pro!
And now she’s hooked on to surfing as much as we already were. Surfing is a great sport. As Kilian’s first surf teacher Gonza said, it is a sport that you need all your muscles and your full concentration for. And he’s right. I haven’t experienced a sport before where you need to be as fit and concentrated as in surfing. I cannot remember being more completely exhausted then after my first surfing lesson in the blue water (that is riding the “real” waves, not the already broken one). It took me a day or two to recover from that one. And by the way, it was indeed Mauï who took me out there and taught me how to read the waves, how to know when to paddle and what to do! Since then, I’ve been practising daily. I felt what I was lacking in power and skills and want to get out there again as soon as possible. So the goal is set, al I have to do is practice in order to reach it.
Another thing we talked about with Manuel that day on Playa Grande was the wonderful art of parenting, of letting go and seeing that these kids find there way in life themselves. And it is a different way for each different child, and it is maybe not the exact path you would have send them on. But it is their path and that’s good. By letting them unfold in their own beautiful way, by letting them learn and grow and flourish, we also learn to unfold ourselves, to learn and grow and flourish ourselves. We will be forever grateful to our kids for giving us the chance to learn and grow together with them…