20/ 05 / 21 

20:40

Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría

San Jose

Costa Rica

It’s hot. 

Sticky and oppressive. The lounge air conditioning last worked in 2008 and I’m hungover, sweaty and beyond tired. I’ve got a bag full of broken surfboards and half of my toe is hanging off, bandaged, and I’m ready for a joyous 24 hours of transit, starting with this night flight that’s going to get me back to Madrid. Back to European home turf in time for the lifting of restrictions and yes, by the time you read this we’ll be sipping 10€ pints en terrace which have never tasted so good. What a time to be alive. 

So here I am. SJO. Seat 56b en route to Spain, with no proof of residency and technically no longer a European citizen. Needless to say, I do not meet the criteria for entry. But this is a problem for roughly 14 hours time. Nor do I feel like I meet the criteria, my clothes are filthy and yes, my toe is still half off. Yet, wearing a wry smile, I feel invigorated. Revitalised. 

The world seems like it’s finally getting its shit back together. It’s been a long, boring road to get here. Lockdowns. Restrictions. Travel nightmares. Curfews. Exemptions. Essential travel. Proof of residency and PCR tests. After the initial excitement of a pandemic, 15 months down the track it’s easy to feel downtrodden. Weary. But yet, on the broad horizon of bigger picture thinking there are glimmers of hope. The world’s opening up again and by god, are we ready for it. 

Crystallised in the making of this volume, our ninth lil puppy, navigating the complexities of the world at present hasn’t been the easiest. Visa exemptions. Embassy pleading. Refused boarding. Negotiations at passport desks with a mix of coy admiration and detached rationality.  But with some graft, a slew of good luck and friends around the world, we’ve made it. But made it where? Well, in an age defined by staying at home, local scenes have come to the forefront. And those who thrive in their home environments, well, they shall inherit the earth. We’ve spent time with the Basque Country’s favourite daughter, Ainara Aymat, at her home in Zarautz and learnt to appreciate our immediate surroundings. We checked in with Dane in Ventura and saw how arguably one of the world’s best surfers juggles a pro career, family, and running a brand and platform. Inspirational stuff indeed. Continuing to feel inspired, we discussed the modern age of photography, courtesy of Daniel Pannemann, and spoke exclusively to artist, musician, writer and the most famous skateboarder to have his name on a shoe, Mr Stefan Janoski. We pleaded our way into Dakar with Senegalese embassies across France and Spain and spent a glorious seven days experiencing the purest scene we’ve seen in a long time, courtesy of my new favourite surfer, Cherif Fall.

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Yet, despite living in an age defined by staying local, on the world scene there’s bigger rumblings out there. Things are happening. Wheels are in motion. We tapped out and spent a month in the French Caribbean with Issam Auptel, a talented young man and living proof that the flame of free-surfing spirit is still burning. A sentiment reaffirmed when we joined the world’s free surfing elite in Costa Rica for a week of poolside debauchery based around a surf contest. And boy did it warm the cockles of my heart seeing the world’s best coming together, old friends and new, purely for the fun of it. I hardly dare say it, but in our little sub-sub-culture it seems like surfing is in a good place right now. Who’d have thought it? 

And as for us? Well we’re still doing our little thing. We published our first hardcover book with our good friends Nick Green and John Respondek. We’ve got some bits in the works for this summer in the South of France, a new retail space and something special penned with our good friends at Former. If you do find yourself around SW France or Northern Spain this summer, please swing by—we’ll get the beers on ice. But more on that later, as all we have is now, and you, and us. But more you, as if you’re reading this, we’re engaged. And isn’t human engagement the most beautiful thing?

 So here we are. Together. Again. 

 “Life begins on the other side of despair.”

Jean-Paul Sartre

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