For someone who has lived out of a backpack and board-bag for over two years, I don’t actually like to travel. I prefer to be at home, to know the back streets, the secret beach breaks, the best place for a great cup of coffee and the names of the people I say hello to on my way to surf everyday.
That’s why I approach each town that I visit in the way that I do: open, seeking, gracious and sociable. The second best thing to being home is feeling like you are — wherever you go. When you’re in your hometown you have an intimate knowledge of life, the ebb and flow of daily activity. You have a pride for what your town boasts and a sensitivity for what it lacks. You can tell by the wind outside your window how the surf will be. You know when the giant mango tree behind the school will be in season. You know how many people it takes to clean up the beach after a holiday weekend.
When you travel you can feel like an outsider. You can pass through a town and never see any of the good that it offers. You can go to the beach and find nothing but small blown out waves and not know that just down the little dirt road there’s a reef break that’s pumping. You can miss out on the backflips off waterfalls, the rainy day ping pong competitions, and the sunset beers around bonfires.
All of these experiences and more are waiting for you. When you are willing to ask for someone to show you their way of life with respect, with gratitude they will proudly take you everywhere. They will teach you the local slang and secret handshakes, they will dance with you and laugh with you all night and cheer you on in the surf the next day. Wherever you go there will always be locals and you have the opportunity to connect with them, learn from them, and feel at home. They will take you to places that look like postcards and you will be awed. You will learn a lasting respect for their way of life and the land that they call home. You will have adventures that will bond you in friendship forever.
Please travel. Please look for home wherever you go. Please seek out locals so you can recognize them as neighbors and friends, so you can feel a connection to the land and a desire to preserve all the beauty for the residents and future travelers to come.
*For more information on Alia, check out her website. <3