Our friend, Natali, from Czech Republic, spent three weeks visiting Lobitos, Peru with WAVES. From surfing to soul-searching, English class to caves, follow along to get an inside look at her trip and how WAVES has impacted her outlook on travel and life.
1. What drew you to the opportunity to volunteer with WAVES in Peru in the first place?
Well, I think everything starts when I read this magazine called SurfGirl a couple of months ago and I found an article about a girl who was doing volunteering with WAVES. I never heard of this organization before so I googled it really quickly!! All the information was there and also I got in touch with Emily (one of the coordinators) through Whatsapp. After many many questions and long conversation I knew that this is the organization I want to do volunteering with! I love the idea of organizing activities for kids so they can have fun, be with their friends and learn surfing and English as well as the contribution for the community through the environmental awareness. I felt happy to find an organization which believes in the same values as I do.
Emily explained to me what I would be doing. First of all I would be helping during English classes which sounded perfect to me. I am not a native speaker either so I know the challenges of learning a new language. However I have to admit that the surf class was something I was worried about. I am trying to surf only for a few months and also I am a girl from the Czech Republic, where there is no ocean. Hey like seriously no waves!! So, what I definitely knew was that it is not gonna be me who will be teaching them surfing but the opposite. They will be teaching me.
Plus I don´t know for how long I was picturing this inside of my head. Take a trip out of Europe by myself, travel and live a life in a totally different way than what I am use to. Be surrounded with interesting people and practice surfing. Probably it was a curiosity of not knowing how life is on the other side of the planet too. What is their culture like or what is their normal life problems? I could have sat at home watching documentaries or reading book about Peru, but no that is not for me! So I booked my flight with shaking hands and on the sixteenth of August this year I took my flight to Peru.
2. Can you give us a few anecdotes on your favorite memories of staying in Lobitos?
One of my favorite memories is when Tuty the English teacher, let me prepare a project for the kids. I brought with me a couple of magazine about science, the universe, new technology, inventions etc, so everybody could choose what they like. The articles were short and surrounded with pictures. It was easy for the kids to translate it, write out the words which were new for them. I was in class without Tuty and because I can not speak Spanish the kids had quite a hard time to communicate with me. However we all had a great laugh while we were trying to explain to each other what we want or mean. They had to use English a lot because of me which was the main reason why I was there. Well, It is no surprise the body language and gestures were strongly present too.:) However it was fascinating to observe how innovative, energetic and smart they can be. At the end of the class every group created a big piece of paper full of new information and new English words translated to to Spanish.
Another favorite part was the surfing lessons. All the kids absolutely loved the time spent in the water and learning new surf skills. Thanks to Jhony they went through the warm up, pop up technique and than they were running quickly to the water to practice more on the real waves. From the beginning all the boys were giving me a no no face. As they were trying to tell me they don´t need any of my help because they know how to do it ha! I have to laugh! Fortunately my friendly, chatty and happy personality had forced them to leave their attitude and in the end all worked out well. The girls were doing brilliant progress while I was there I hope they will keep going surfing as much as they can! WAVES is doing a great job in supporting especially young girls to do surfing which I found important too. Surfing has many benefits for the young ladies such as mental health, stronger body or bond with friends.
Lobitos a is small little place where word tranquilo is the best description for it.
In the afternoon two lovely ladies organized Club de Chicas, preschool class and Club the Amigos. My favorite memory from this club would be when I was helping with reading and remembering vowels. I figured it out that the vowels are the same as in Czech language which made my job much easier. We made cards together with the kids. Always one card for a vowel with nice picture so they can connect it with something real. I was changing the cards and they have to say which vowel it is. I totally remember how confusing it was for me when I was small so I try to be as patient as I can be. They love the way we practiced the vowels and pretty quickly they learnt all of them. I admire both of these ladies because they do it in their free time and nobody pays them for it. Those kids parents are usually working long hours in their jobs so they do not have anybody to do their homework with or practice some basic school skills such as adding, multiplication, reading etc.
Lobitos a is small little place where word tranquilo is the best description for it. Even though it is small I would be lost without Henry and Junior. Both were a great help and support while I was there. They showed me Lobitos and a few lovely places around. They took care of me when I was sick or nearly broke my nose. Helped with surfing, and all useful info about it. Thanks for all the laughs and company during meals which we had together! I had a great time guys really!! You both are such a good and pure energy!
In the end the Peruvian food is here just simply delicious and I am so thankful for every single meal these lovely people made for me.
In the end the Peruvian food is here just simply delicious and I am so thankful for every single meal these lovely people made for me. I am missing ceviche so much already.. 😀 The best which I ever aet! But peruvian cuisine is not only ceviche, it is lots of rice, many different kinds of potatoes, many kinds of vegetables and delicious fish.
3. How do you see WAVES having an impact on the Lobitos community?
The impact is huge. Apart from the mentioned activities and each of them is really important I would like to mention another one. It was an event organized by Kike when each class was walking around their town with a local person who knows a lot about the history of Lobitos. In Lobitos there is a couple of information boards where we stopped and listened to the history speech. During this walk we carried plastic bags and we were collecting trash on the way. It was a great idea where the kids can spend time outside while they are getting some new information plus helping the environment.
4. How does your experience with WAVES compare to other surf or volunteer experiences you’ve had in the past?
I never did volunteering with other organization before, this is was my first experience and for sure not the last one. I am extremely happy I chose WAVES. Everybody was so kind to me, helping and supporting even though I have no spanish! So thank you for the patience you guys had with me! I really appreciate it and wish you all the best in the future!!..:)
This trip did not only change my view how to travel but also how to live. In Europe we often believe that we have to have everything that we see (new shoes, new type of phone,..) and truth be told we do not. Life is so beautiful when you keep it simple. For someone living in Lobitos It can be boring, uninteresting or slow. However I found it alive, honest and full of amazing nature!
5. How has working with WAVES in Lobitos changed your perspective on sustainable surf travel?
This trip did not only change my view how to travel but also how to live. In Europe we often believe that we have to have everything that we see (new shoes, new type of phone,..) and truth be told we do not. Life is so beautiful when you keep it simple. For someone living in Lobitos It can be boring, uninteresting or slow. However I found it alive, honest and full of amazing nature! Thanks to Henry I was able to see how the real people in Peru live, chat with them about their life, nature and hard work. I would not have experienced this If I was a tourist traveling through Peru.
6. What would you tell a fellow surfer thinking of coming to volunteer in Lobitos with WAVES?
Lobitos a is unique places with its own speed, atmosphere and energy. So I would recommend you to come with an open-mind, be ready leave your stereotype life and be ready to have lots of fun. Once you are willing to left your comfort zone and be ok with the simple life of Lobitos you can find many amazing truths about yourself and also the society you live in. You can meet new friends and for sure you will make memories which will be yours forever. So finally I would like to say a BIG THANK you to all who took care of me and for the opportunity to spend three amazing weeks in Lobitos! You let me feel like one of you! I wish WAVES all the best in the future and hope to see you all soon!!
Many thanks to Natali for such a detailed report on her trip and also giving back to the community of Lobitos. It was a pleasure to have you, Natalie!
Want to go on an impact surf trip to Lobitos of your own? More info here: https://www.wavesfordevelopment.org/volunteer-surf-trip-peru/!