in waves we trust

By: Lala the Sunchaser.

The locals of Itacaréare known for two things: their appreciation for reggae music and their love of surf. For many here, surfing is a drug. I have witnessed the young and older running barefoot in the rain just to catch a wave. And I have spent  the past few days with one of these surf addicts who goes by the name of Felipe Almeida. Born and reared in Itacaré, Felipe began surfing at the age of seven. The first time I met him we were both on the same boat for a day trip along the Contas River. I had only been living here for three weeks. Felipe didn’t talk much but I knew there was something more to this mystery man than a great head of hair.
I met Felipe a few weeks ago at his surf shop on the main road aka “Pituba”. We talked for over an hour about waves, the surf culture in Itacaré and his life as the owner of Local Surf School and Shop.
“Why Surf?” I asked.

He closed his eyes as if he was floating in the ocean then quickly re-opened them and responded, “The first time I stood up. I knew I wanted to continue.”

I asked Felipe if he thought surfers were born with the skill to ride waves or if hardcore training was the key.
He shook his head and said, “Both. For me, I believe both.”
Who introduced you to surfing?
A few of my friends influenced me. In particular, Neto, Origenes, Adriano, and Bruno.

Name your top 3 favorite surfers and why.
Andy Irons was the most radical surfer, Danilo Couto because he exudes courage, and Origenes Araújo for his surfing style.

What is surfing about for you?
It´s all about the feeling. It´s very spiritual and it´s very personal. I surf to be ready when that perfect wave arrives. Each surfer brings his or her influences to the ocean. The type of wave you need may be completely different from the type of wave I need. It is an endless quest.
When did you first begin teaching and what are the first things you share with your students?
I started teaching in 1998 at the age of sixteen. During the first class, I review the landscape of the beach and its surrounding area, then we discuss safety, and next we warm up together by stretching before we enter the water.

What does one need to teach surf?
There are five different certifications. You don´t necessarily need them all but I have these from the International Surfing Association (ISA).
1. Professor Surf
2. Technical Surf
3. Judge Surf
4. First Aid Certification
5. Life Guard Certification
How would you describe the surf culture in Itacaré?
Itacaré is a small town with not a lot of construction which is great for surfing because the wind current is better and the surrounding nature is beautiful so many people travel here for this reason. The native surfers respect each other and the space of visiting surfers. Although it’s always more fun to surf where there are less people.

How would you describe Itacaré?
It´s my foundation, my home.
What do you like to do when you are not surfing?
Swimming, reading, and playing guitar. (He’s also known for lurking around with a bottle of white wine in hand.)

Where is your next surf trip and what are the 5 most important things you will bring with you?

I am planning to go to South Africa and Indonesia next year … I will bring:

  1. Pimenta sauce made my mother
  2. Five different surf boards (pranchas)
  3. My new camera
  4. Sunglasses
  5. My iPod

Speaking of iPods, what is your favorite song?
Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd.  Actually he responded by saying “Comfortable Numbers” and just to keep the conversation going, I acted as if I knew the tune. Felipe had been life guarding on the beach and not until my walk home did I realize that he actually meant this track from the album, The Wall.
I´ve managed to attend one surf class with Felipe and although, it was a formidable experience, I could envision riding a wave in this lifetime with a great deal of discipline and practice. There were three other students in my class: two from Holland and one from São Paulo. It was a beautiful day and Felipe taught the class in English since it was the common language amongst us four. After two hours in the water, we returned to Pituba craving food then hammock time.
Felipe is a staple in the community and a character amongst characters.

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