Safari Instructor Profiles
This week on the Inside Peak, I begin a series of interviews with Safari Surf School instructors.
Since moving here I have long been fascinated by the amount of heart that our surf instructors put into their lessons. They take it all very personally, in the highest sense. They want their students to experience the same joy, inspiration, thrill, and spirit that surfing gives to them. The essence of the art of teaching is the genesis of Pura Vida. The nature of surf instruction is very intimate. People trust their instructors. Everything is very close, tactile, visceral and in motion. Its wet and salty, its warm, the sun is shining, and all around you are people stoked and hooting, feeling it!
To me you can’t put a value on the experience. I have seen surfing change people for the better!
This is the rhythm of the place, Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica. It is about living the in the moment and finding your place in the ocean.
Alonso Aragon (Chumino)
PL: Everyone calls you Chumino or Chumi. Is there a story behind that?
AA: “Chumino” refers to having coins or ‘change’ clanking around in your pockets. The change here is clunky and heavy, it weighs down your pockets. When I was a kid, I always had a pocketful of change so they called me ‘Chumi’.
PL: Are you a local boy, born and bred here?
AA: I was born in Nicoya in April 1984. We moved to Nosara Centro when I was a young boy.
PL: When did you discover the ocean?
AA: I was introduced to the water at a very young age. I grew up by the Rio Nosara where we fished and went shrimping. The river provided so much food! I fell in love with it immediately. I began surfing when I was 15….I’m almost 30 now so I have been surfing full on for 15 years.
PL: What are your early memories of the area?
AA: Everything was simple and slow. We were very in tune with nature. People shared and helped each other. Lots of families, we were happy, I remember that. We always had enough to eat, a home, family and friends.
“Everyone fished, even the dogs!”
AA: My mom and grandmother are here. I have 6 brothers, 2 sisters, and heaps of aunts, uncles, and cousins. I live with my son Jay (7 yrs). His mother (Dunia) is my novia!
Son Jay following in dad’s footsteps
Alonso and Dunia
PL: How did you become interested in teaching surfing?
AA: I was a waiter at Casa Tucan, Safari’s old home. It was a small hotel and great restaurant. It was a surf place. I could see how much surfing stoked people, especially the beginners. I decided I wanted to help people learn to surf, to share all the gifts the ocean has given to me my whole life. It seemed like a dream job. I have been with Safari now for 8 years.
PL: Did you have training for this?
AA: Yes. I had to meet all the requirements and standards for ISA (International surfing Association) certification. There is a tough final exam and swim test. I passed!
PL: What do you like about teaching?
AA: The people and the joy they have when they catch a good ride. It is very satisfying and rewarding to pass this happiness on to people. I also love the kids. At Safari we have a program called ‘kids camp’. It a full or half day camp where we surf, play games, make art, and eat together, I love it because I’m a big kid.
LEXIE – PERFECT FORM!
PL: I remember Prado (former Safari instructor) telling me that all the best local surfers in the area aspired to become surf instructors. He said there was a “code” amongst his peers that set very high value on “giving the best lesson”.
AA: Yes true, we all wanted to be the best. Everyone wanted to teach for Safari, that was considered the premiere place to teach.
PL: Any coaching tips, common mistakes, etc.?
AA: It is very important to always stay pointed out to sea. You don’t want to get caught “broadside”, that can knock you down hard. We do lots of beach exercises, pop-ups, that kind of thing. Proper stance, knees bent, back straight, hands by your sides. When we hit the water I am with my students at all times. We all (instructors) wear bright yellow rash guards so they can always find us!
PL: We hear a lot about your fishing accomplishments. Safari even has an activity called “Fish with Alonso” where guests can spend a morning with you at your favorite fishing spot.
AA: Fishing has always been a big part of my life. I just love it. There are huge Robalo (snook)
at the Boca (river mouth). These are excellent eating fish. I have heard these are illegal to take in Florida and other states. Not here!
PL: Favorite Food
AA: fried fish!
PL: Dream surf Trip?
PL: Biggest waves you’ve surfed
AA: 8-10 feet in Nicaragua. I love big waves. I would love to try tow-in surfing.
PL: Describe your perfect day
AA: Starts with early morning at the boca fishing, then surfing big hollow waves. After that I give surfing lessons at Safari. The rest of the day is for being with my family. And fried fish!
Safari’s Guests Last Week–see you next year!
THE NECHALA FAMILY
CHARLES, LILLY, KELLY, JIM
SUSANNAH AND STEVEN
BEN AND ELLIE
Thanks for reading!