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Catching waves in El Salvador

I was taking a Karuna Yoga class at Chashew Hill Lodge in Puerto Viejo and the instructor, Avani, asked us to choose one thing to place on our heart that we dedicate our life to. I thought: friends, family, teaching, surfing, but none of them were all-encompassing. So I settled on the ocean. I feel such a connection to the sea and the life its depths. It dissolves my stress, and forces me to be present. I am enthralled with a pelicans glade over the swell, the near silent breath of a dolphin, the palette of colors on the reef and the fish who swim over it. When I’m waiting for a wave, I’ll even check out the kelp and sea grasses, running it through my fingers, nipping it to taste its saltiness, tying it around my head for a crown. The sea keeps me youthful, hopeful, and humble.

Since I started CRsurf in 1998, I’ve done all that I can to protect it as well. When I lived in Dominical, Costa Rica, I started the Basura Busters beach cleanups and tracked sea turtle sightings. In Tamarindo I helped create their first Surfrider chapter, and even was ostracized for suggesting a surf contest should be moved since the location was situated too close to a leatherback turtle nesting site.

When I lived in Florida, I chaired Surfrider’s Sebastian Inlet chapter for two years, hosting dozens of cleanups, dune restorations and fighting to keep a dredge and fill project off the near shore reef. We protested cruise ships dumping sewage and led a three-year campaign to get a law passed requiring gambling boats to offload their waste rather than pipe it directly to the sea. And in Miami Beach I helped organize the first Hands Across the Sand event, to fight offshore oil drilling, three months before the devastating BP spill.

In California, I volunteered with the San Diego and San Francisco chapters to protect the coastline from erosion, educate others on non-point source pollution, and collected 1000’s of cigarette butts. When your passion is surfing you want to keep your playground pristine. I thought, “If not you, the who? If not now, when?”

The mission of CRsurf is to support local communities through sustainable surf travel. One important way we do that is through our partnership with 1% for the Planet. Since 2011 we have donated over $2,500 to the non-profit, with half going to PRETOMA.org (now CREMA), a Costa Rican group that works to protect sea turtles from nets and poaching, and shaks from finning (a heinous act where the fins are cut off and the shark is left to die on the ocean floor) We also fought together to prevent an ill conceived plan for a tuna farm that would have been placed down current from Pavones, one of the world’s longest left point breaks.

So as I lay in Shivasana, I felt that the ocean was the right choice to place my heart. And now as I sit on the shore of the Caribbean, contemplating the gentle lapping of the waves and answering these questions, my goal is to share my experiences in saving our seas, in the hope that others will follow my example and find a cause, a place, or a community to dedicate their lives.

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