One of the tenants of a Traverse Journeys trip is local partnerships. We make every effort to keep our spending in the community because we see it as a cornerstone of making travel sustainable. We are absolutely thrilled to have found Alex’s Surf Shop in San Juan del Sur, and can’t wait for his team to lead our surfing at our Nicaragua Yoga & Surf retreat this fall. We interviewed the founder, Alex, for deeper insight. Read on to learn more about the integral part his work plays in this colorful, lively beach town!
Tell us about how you started the surf shop.
Since my early childhood I've had a deep passion for the ocean and surfing. I was born in Nicaragua but raised in Costa Rica and since I was 16 I've been working very hard day and night in the itchy fiberglass dust to learn all the perks of the surfing industry. I've worked with some pretty amazing names in the surfboard shaping world who made me want to be a shaper too, they taught me discipline, modesty and patience.
I met my girlfriend Meli in 2014 and after a few months being together we opened a small surf shop in San Juan Del Sur and not much later Alvarez Surfboards was born as well. Alvarez Surfboards is a LOCAL surfboard brand and is quite popular in the area already. We shape these surfboards from scratch here in San Juan.
You sponsor kids in local surf competitions. What kind of impact does this have on the kids? What about the community?
Sponsoring kids in Nicaragua is a huge responsibility because if you just keep giving and giving and you never ask anything back it does not necessarily have a good impact on the kids. We help them for them in the long run and not just for today by teaching them to work hard for what they want. These kids mostly need help with schooling (to study English), learning how to be motivated, how to pick goals and how to achieve them.
In the past 2 years we’ve been sponsoring a local 14 year old surfer boy who has great talent, style and motivation. He was the best surfer in 2016 in Nicaragua in class sub16. We’ve been providing him new surfboards to practice on and compete with, covered all the costs to be able to attend on national competitions (transport, accommodation, food) but what’s more important we tried to guide him, showing him a good example in life outside of the water as well.
Talk to us about your team that runs the surf shop. What excites them about work every day?
We are two owners, myself (Alex) and my partner in crime Meli (from Australia), we also have a girl from Chile (Dani) who helps us out in the shop and assists us with conducting surf lessons. Besides this we also work with several superb local surf instructors who all speak English and Spanish and are taking their job very seriously. Everyone is different, every surf lesson is different. Some people are scared of the ocean, some people don't have confidence, some people cannot even swim so for them the challenge and the most exciting part is to make everyone happy. We want to see those smiles in the water. :)
How do you feel that Traverse Journeys is aligned with the surf’s shop’s values?
We are super stoked to work with Traverse Journeys simply because they want to give something back to the community. They organize tours where you’ll get to be part of the local culture and get to know the local people, educate yourself about the area. Many tourists come to Nicaragua and want to eat donuts and are looking for McDonalds and are scared when a local says hello (I’m not joking). Traverse Journeys will show you a different experience. These type of trips will make you grow and teach you how to have an open mind and be more sensitive towards others.
What are the 3 things you’re most looking forward to in the surfing with Traverse Journeys retreat attendees?
Fun, Fun, Fun! For us the biggest reward is when we get to see a spark in your eyes when talking about surfing. It doesn't matter if you will continue to have more lessons with us or if this was just a one-off thing for you, you will remember your first wave for the rest of your life and we were lucky enough to be part of this experience :)