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- Begin Surfing 1969



Born May 13, 1953, in San José. Lives in Santa Ana, and has had a house in Pavones for 30 years. In the mid 70s the youngest folks called him “Johnny Tubo.” Begin surfing at age 16 in 1969 and has been riding waves for 39 years. He began surfing when he was in high school at Colegio Lincoln. A year before Randy Cooper and his sister Karen, from Florida, came to the high school. Their father Ben was the manager of the shrimp plant in Puntarenas and all the kids traveled 5 hours in train every Friday from San José to Puntarenas.


Sometimes John came with them. Randy had already discovered that there was a small group of surfers from the US (Ben, the Hawaiian, etc) that had a rented house in front of what is now the highway. Mr. Cooper organized a pick up for them in Boca de Barranca in the early morning and then again at 6:00 pm. With a 9 foot board, Randy, then John, Jasón and many more of the first surfers learned how and so began Surfing in Costa Rica. John’s first board was a Hansen, bought from Randy. It was a 6’4”. A story to remember was when he was in a big swell at Boca de Barranca with the 9 footer without a leash and he had his first “wipe-out.” He was left without a board, with his cut off blue jeans hanging by the zipper from his goods. He was drowning and had to see who would save him. He ended up on the beach where the Hotel Double Tree Resort by Hilton is now (the old Hotel Fiesta). John says that when he got up and was able to surf his first wave, the feeling of freedom was so great and accompanied by a sublime presence that has captivated him all these years. He remembers the feeling of camaraderie, respect, and joy during the first years. “We joked about who wanted the wave, the sensation of riding the wave to show off like the best did not exist… it was and continues to be the feeling of the ride.” In Costa Rica there should be a code of ethics to protect surfers.







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The situation in certain points is so aggressive and has such negative energy that the beauty of Surfing is being lost. In the 60s we would wave at each other with the peace sign and there was a real feeling between everyone. Today it is the finger and nods of challenge. (John speaking) My feeling as a surfer is that it is like getting to know yourself, a space of meditation and contemplation, of peace and a higher sharing of the interior self. With waves or even without them you can have a good time in the ocean. Surfers back then, with lots of wonderful memories, was one that enjoyed and had fun. Surfers today make me sad when I see what is in the water, but there are also many young people who are happy with a spirit of peace and sharing. I would like to be able to surf Ollie’s Point. I have been able to surf a lot in our country. I have met many people ‘key people’ in the surf industry like Bob Hurley, creator of Billabong-América. We have shared some good times in my house in Pavones and in California. I have ridden waves in Central America, South America, Argentina (Mar del Plata in 1974), Brasil, Perú, Portugal, Mexico, California and Bali. On the island of Bali there is a famous point called Uluwatu. You have to go down stairs of bamboo in a cave with various floors until you get to a tunnel where, depending on the tide, you walk or swim to be “spit out” of the mouth of the cave to the wall of a big cliff. You paddle like a roman slave, without mercy until you get to the “safe-side.” Imagine what it is to go back and go through the opening of the cliff. Of course I did not make it, by at least 3 meters and went back to the torture, with great care. If you do not make it you are going to get to Badan Badan and there they have to save you with a life preserver. My son John Paul was lucky, he went in the little cave like a master. I was laid out for 4 hours like Gilligan in a beach a few meters away from the entrance, waiting for the tide to go down. It was nice to have some Australians with me as castaways too. I did not participate in tournaments because there were none. Although I was a judge in the first championship at Boca de Barranca and the first in Limon, Playa Bonita (a wonderful point that is no longer because of the Limon earthquake.) I still surf and hope to surf until my body will not let me. My advice for the new generation: do not copy the violence, selfishness and narcissism of the age. Recognize the presence of the Divine when you are in the water, avoid anger and have compassion for the poor idiot that drops you, or insults you or gives you a dirty look and for the one who speaks crap in the water.


My favorite beach would be Doña Ana, obviously just in my memories since the Caldera port was built. The beach is no longer…we had to cross the river of Boca de Barranca swimming. “The girls” in Tono Arias’ little boat. We would walk along with walls and beach and we took our spot by the waterfall, the only fountain of water for the entire day. The ‘chics’ took out their beach towels and got settled near what was the first point. When we got a little braver we went to the second point, then after some years we went to the third and the the fourth. To get to the second point we had to go through a trail rocks, if we mis-stepped it was to the cliff!. If you made it, you paddled like crazy, but at just 10 meters you were in the safe-side, waiting for the wave to pick you up, get to the beach, pass by the waterfall, pick up a sandwich by the girls and then back again. By then leashes existed. Chus sold them to us…a rubber hole from the hospital with a cord inside so we would not stretch it too much and the strap, which was a red bandana with a good knot, all tied together in a knot around the fin, and the wax, well candle wax guys. Mi surfing style is “Front Side” “Goofy”. I surf toward the left with my chest toward the wave.

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