Selling the Surfing Lifestyle
Evelyn Rodriguez on Passionate Work
His simple watersports storefront and surfer cafe have yet to be rebuilt, but that doesn't stop competition kite-surfer Chris Fernando from being confident that tourists will return by April and he can regain his foothold and 'grow back up slowly.'
I spent the better part of a long afternoon and early evening with Chris and some of his staff. Right through tea at sunset, which the Zanzibar native who is half-Sri Lankan explains is a Sri Lanka custom.
He has thoroughly sold me on the virtues of the surfer lifestyle. Although I think he was actually trying to sell me on kite-surfing lessons. Or, once he sensed I was a kindred spirit, a possible romance.
'Ten years ago women did not wear trousers in Sri Lanka.' (Yeah, I'm not wearing the traditional dress or skirt.)
Yet Western influences are changing Sri Lanka. He explains that people don't realize the trap they are falling right into. While a local skirt may cost 150 rupees, the Western-style trousers are 500 rupees. So they end up working longer hours just to obtain the desired fashions.
'I have easy life. When customers come, I teach. If no customers, I relax.' I wonder how he can say this with evident ease. After five hours, I've ascertained that his situation is precarious from any rational, analytical, balance sheet perspective.
But after five hours of conversation I've also ascertained he surfs life itself. And unlike many, he's seen enough of the world to actually know that he lives an enviable life.
'They have money,' says Chris of his foreign friends, mostly European, that come to Negombo to surf after they've amassed enough vacation time to head back to Sri Lanka, 'but they not free.'
(Adapted from my longer post.)