From Hossegor to Lisboa! Road-trip

 

 

After my amazing times in France, instead of going home, my Mum, brother and cousin came to meet me! We had planned to road trip through Spain and Portugal investigating hidden surf breaks and getting to know areas where we might come back to compete- living in a van! We stumble across some beautiful, unexpected places throughout Spain- it reminded me of Ecuador and I loved every second of it. The food was amazing but we didn’t go out for dinner- we could just grab some bread, cheese and tomato from the local markets and enjoy each other’s company from the comfort of our mobile home. We stayed 1 night in a camping site but the other 20 or so nights were wild and free- we had no schedule so we could soak in the culture and atmosphere of some old Portuguese and Spanish towns and villages for however long we pleased. I was so happy to be with my family, not seeing them for a couple of months made a lot of funny catch-ups! The surf was always a hit or miss- we would come at a wrong tide or swell and the amount of rocks along the coastline of Portugal made it unsurfable… But there were some amazing sessions with some new friends, our favourite place would have been a town called Ericera- not far from Lisbon, the waves reminded me of Snapper Rocks, especially Coxos, the best wave in Portugal. Dogging sea urchins and some chilly 6 degree mornings, our trip had no big problems- other than Mum getting stuck on the smallest roads with the van, and we all made it back home in one piece! Hope you can get a taste of our adventures through some of these videos.

 

https://youtu.be/QYpPmz9NB88

 

https://youtu.be/sesEYteOh6s

 

 

Hossegor, France! 

France… wow. I’ve fallen in love with the South-West. As we ride our bikes to the centre of Hossgeor to get a crepe and ice-cream, watching the sun set into the bay of Biscay, the words bubble up… Je t’aime. 
A week after i arrived in France, and ate my weight in crepes, the WCT event, Quicksilver and Roxy Pro began, Michaela and i got to watch the best surfing in the world from the VIP area. It was so amazing being able to meet my favourite surfers while on the other side of the world, watching and cheering them on as they show what’s possible on Hossegor’s best, punchy beach breaks. 
The event was held at a nudist beach and although no one was brave enough to bare it all during the comp, after the crowds disappeared, walking up or down the beach to surf was even more picturesque!
The weather was perfect all event – chilly before 9 am but clear skies and clear, blue water. After many exciting heats, the competition was over and the countless rows of camper vans started to head back to their homes for the oncoming winter. The days began to get colder and clouds covered the sky, welcome to winter!
Thanks to my friend/roommate/sister, Michaela, I even had the chance to go to a French school. Starting from 8am till 5.30pm, I soon realised how lucky i am in Australia, where there is plenty of time to surf before and after school, and in school with our PBC surfing program!
What did I learn about French culture? One thing that stood out was ‘le baiser’ – the kiss. When you meet someone, instead of a handshake, it’s a kiss on each cheek. At first, i was very weirded out that i had to kiss strangers but i got used to it and i feel like it brings people closer, you feel much more connected to them.
Surf sessions with my friend Maixent and his little brother Arthur were full of so many hilarious moments, the waves of Hossegore are never ending and there is always a good bank. 
I went into Biarritz a couple of times to surf and visit friends and it’s like no other place on earth- grand palaces that was built for the queen of France sit on the edges of cliffs and small islands stick out of the ocean, the streets of biarritz are very small but bustling with business men, surfers, farmers and tourists. 
There is such an amazing beach culture in the south west. Oh yeah the waves are pretty good as well. Of course, the food was insane, croissants, crepes, ice-cream, sorbets, baguettes and cheese i didn’t know existed! 
The French language is like music to my ears. The accent, pronunciation and all the strange expressions were absolutely incredible to listen to. I couldn’t speak a word when i arrived but was quickly introduced to the basics and i really want to learn more by the next time i visit. It was the emotion behind the words that i found really fascinating. 
I am so grateful to so many people. I couldn’t have stayed in France for so long without the warm hearts of the Weinhold and Dudez families, Merci! I have so many people to thank for making my time in France so wonderful, Merci to the Agnes family, i had so many amazing memories with you all, so kind! Thank you to all the groms from the Landes who shared their waves, so much fun surfing with you! Thank you to the Becret family for the fun surfs and filming, to Lou Surfou surf club for welcoming me, to Christelle and the Billabong family for keeping me warm! . Thank you to the Joly and Lacome house for letting me stay with you in Biarritz. And thanks to my family and all the sponsors and supporters who helped get me to to the ISA World juniors which led to this grande French adventure! https://youtu.be/Yc0qMT9aRW4 

After France, my family came over to take me on a vanlife surfing roadtrip through Spain and Portugal. You can follow all these adventures here: 


Azores! 

Sao Miguel , Azores Islands, Portugal… Spectacular landscapes, life changing experiences and one of the most changeable waves I’ve ever come across – representing Australia in the ISA world junior surf championships was a dream come true!
 
It was a historic gathering, with a record of 39 different countries represented in over 371 surfers, all on this small island, doing what they love! It was the first ISA world junior competition following the announcement of surfing becoming an Olympic sport in the next Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.
 
It was a long way away, the Azores – somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean! 14 hours to Dubai then another 8 to reach Lisbon, Portugal and after a night in Lisbon, 2 hours to Azores – 12 young competitors, loaded up with bulging board bags in our green and gold team shirts! It was the first time I had travelled without my family, so very far away – exciting and nerve wracking at the same time…a feeling so hard to describe…
 
But for me this journey began a long time ago – firstly competing in the state titles, then coming 2nd in the under 16 girls in the Nationals last November. We raised the funds for my ticket through GoFundMe, my friends, family and generous sponsors. Help has been there every step of the way in equipment, coaching and moral support – I’m so thankful!
 
Travelling with us was Clancy and Cameron from the HPC and the legend Jay ‘Bottle’ Thomson, who always gave us the best advice and constant support.
 
‘Relentlessness’, ‘Passion’, ‘Pride’, ‘Mateship’ and ‘Adaptability’ were our Ozzie team keywords. We were determined to find something good in bad situations- by smelling the roses! These values helped us through our wins and losses as well as our many, many good times.
 
Being in such a remote part of the world made me think about how lucky we are to surf every day and hopefully forge a future life out of this profession.
 
We stayed on one side of the island with the competition site was on the other side. Every morning we were blessed with views to a volcano on our left and cute little towns and villages on our right on our way along the narrow road, driving (very slowly and carefully) through small communities along the way– greeted by big smiles.
 
The beach where the competition was held, is hugged by beautiful cliffs and the town of Ribera Grande. Some of the local kids would hang around and grab any unwanted snapped boards and we would see them the next day surfing their new sled!
 
The town was so close to the beach, we walked to the supermarket for lunch almost every day – marvelling at the different kinds of food available in this part of the world. After long days at the beach, cheering our team, we would head back to the hotel for dinner then collapse on our beds to gather energy for the day ahead!
 
Every night, I would go to sleep and feel so excited for the next day- new experiences, exciting waves and new people to meet! There was so much adrenalin, for my heats, watching other team members heats – watching, learning and trying our best! I was so happy to reach the quarterfinals, but disappointed that my campaign ended there…I realised how much more I have to learn, practice and grow to progress in this brilliant sport!
 
It was such a good feeling to be part of a team. We all learned so much about what it meant to work together, cheering each other on, supporting and encouraging each other. With blow up kangaroos and screeching whistles, we kept up the Ozzie tradition of cheering on all our team members! I was happy to see my contribution help Australia gather the points to come 2nd overall in the world! France was so happy to win – the first time ever in history!
 
This competition, from a far, felt so daunting surfing at a world stage- but as soon as I got into the water, it was like any other and every other competition- it made me think how possible ‘big’ comps really are. Obviously with lots more practice, it makes the qualifying series not look as scary!
It was an experience of a life time and I’m so happy I got to be part of team Australia!
 
Now I’m in the land of baguettes and croissants, soaking up the incredible French culture!   

Azores Islands! 

I’m now on the Azores Iskands of Portugal to compete in the ISA world junior surf championships! It’s been amazing already!

I’ve tried to keep up with snapchat and Instagram and you can also find a video log here: Pacha’s Adventures: Azores

There was also a little clip on our local news before we left that you can find here: https://www.facebook.com/7NewsGoldCoast/videos/1017150761716945/

Channel 7 local news clip
You can also keep up with the surfing competition here:

ISA World Juniors web page
It’s incredible to think that, thanks to help from around the world, I’m in this beautiful place with a fantastic team of Ozzie surfers, doing our best to represent Australia! 

More soon!

Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

71558_119132488257997_829411303_nThanks so much to the Courier Mail and writer Greg Stolz and photographer Adam Head for an awesome article today!
I haven’t been busking very much lately, i wish i could! – but most of my focus has been on training and improving my surfing and getting all my schoolwork done!
I love music and I love performing and busking has been an amazing boost not only in raising money to follow my dreams, but in building the confidence to step outside my comfort zones and ‘seize the day’!
Busking is a bit of a family tradition – my Mum used to busk and always took a guitar around the world on her environmental campaigns, and my younger brother Yani is a regular outside the local supermarket with his cousin and assorted friends.
We always travel with a ukulele and I will definitely be bringing one along on this trip, but there’s more to busking than earning money and is why I’d love to encourage everyone to get out and give it a go sometime!
Firstly, it can be as scary or even more as doing a first skate ramp drop in, or taking off on a massive wave – it takes guts to get in front of people and perform, but once you get through those first nerves, you learn so much about yourself and connecting with other people.
The first time I busked at the Burleigh recycle markets, dancing to raise money to do a creative arts camp at the age of 9, I couldn’t believe how happy it made people – so many smiles and so much encouragement! These were the days I used to spend hours and hours dancing and I thought, I might as well do it in front of an audience!
When we travelled overseas for a year to visit my family around the world, Mum said busking was a way we could share something with the people around us – including family members! I got the ukulele out in Bali, went wild in the streets of my fathers hometown in Ecuador and even got my distant cousin to join in a dance outside the Koln towers!
Like surfing, busking can make you feel connected with others – even though sometimes it’s just hard work! It’s something (like surfing) where you can’t really control the outcome, but you do it because you love what you do and want to share it!
Follow your dreams. And have fun.
The journey is as important as the destination!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q1Bavdu_Sg

And here she is busking in Florence (3 years ago)

The countdown is on!

Thanks to the support from friends, family and super sponsors, I’ve been able to reach my fundraising goal to get to ISA World Junior Surf Titles in Portugal! I can’t believe the generosity of so many amazing people, helping me live my dream; it’s very surreal that in less than 5 weeks I’ll be traveling with Australia’s best surfers and coaches to the middle of the Atlantic! I didn’t know that the Azores islands even existed! 899km off the coast of Portugal, in-between America and Europe, I’m so excited to not only travel and compete there, but take you all with me through the power of social media! I’ll be snapchating all throughout, plus vlogs and blogs!

 

It all got a bit more real last week when I joined the Surfing Australia’s HPC preparation camp for those who qualified. We met our team manager and coaches as well as bonding with one another with a hilarious trust exercise (Thanks Botts!). We surfed out stormy Duranbah, imagining how unpredictable and ever-changing the Atlantic could get… And then I sprained my ankle! Emotional roller coaster! I was so sad that I missed out on the second day of the camp; it was just so much fun! But thanks to the people at the HPC, I met with my first physio, Tim Brown at Summit Physiotherapy and Shoulder Centre. He’s helped Mick Fanning, John John Florence, and Courtney Conlouge who have all had an ankle injuries recently. After some inspection he reassured me that it wasn’t a bad one –  I just needed 3 days of staying very still before starting the rehabilitation and strengthening. A couple of weeks out of the water for me, mind surfing and mental preparation, lots of core workouts and some homework. I’ve also made a short video of my training with Clayton Nienaber, who is the only coach on the Gold Coast that uses waterproof radio helmets so he can communicate with us while we are in the water! Here’s the link (https://youtu.be/AhPlfTKGtdw)

I’m so excited to see what the future has in store, but I’m even more excited to share this journey with you all!

Including, a fun night with some live music at the Dust Temple in Currumbin! On Thursday the 25th of August from 6-8pm, come along as a thank you for helping me achieve my dream!

PS. Thanks to Juan Medina for the awesome night photo!

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We’re Back! 

It’s good to be home in Australia after 6 weeks in Japan – we are so grateful for the place we live. At the same time being in Japan was so good, I learned so much about life and culture and who I want to be and how I would like to do it. 

Traveling has been such a huge part in my life since day one, moving from the high mountains of Ecuador to the Eastern coast of Australia. And with the joys of traveling in the back of vans, the three of us squeezing into double beds in small hotel rooms or good friend’s homes, comes indelible family bonds. 
We started this journey in Tokyo, and travelled all the way to the southern tip of the south island of Kyushu, mostly in a trusty pop top van. We visited friends, had concerts and events, ate the most amazing healthy Japanese food and searched our hardest to find some waves! 
I spent lots of time with gorgeous little children and my Japanese speaking level has now reached that of a two year old child (thanks Yamato!). We travelled along the windy mountain roads and rice patties, we find old friends and new and magical hidden gems that were far off the beaten track. 
We learned so much, on so many levels; from different cultural rules and customs to a deeper spiritual connection with the world. 
We learnt how when different things happen in your life you can’t judge the experience as good or bad, even if it seems bad (or good) at the time – like winning or losing in a competition… Whatever happened has just happened and there’s nothing you can do to change it. The real test is how you respond to the experience – it may lead to a whole new way of life. Feel your emotions but don’t seem anything as negative or positive – it’s all just learning!
I remembered that everything has a spirit, a life. Its outstretched roots or wild curly tail reminds us of how small we really are, just some animals trying to live in a world where our perspective means everything. We teach the young to draw in the lines, forgetting that life is a wild scribble of vines and trees. We don’t need a number to define us. Just our love and happiness. 
I tried to keep a video diary of every day along our journey and you can find most of these on my youtube channel: Pacha Light or in the last blog post.