Surf and skate prodigy back surfing, post-heart surgery, in Bocas del Toro!
Recently I took a cab, boarded a plane, took a cab, then boarded another plane to the Caribbean archipelago of Bocas del Toro, Panama. The trip was designed for the sake of surf and to earn another big, red pin on my proverbial world map. I spent my first day, yesterday, finding a place to stay and dealing with a quirky if slightly disconcerting hostel owner/roommate. The following week should be interesting.
This morning was my first session at Bocas’ most notorious break, Playa Bluff, a wave that would send me home with a broken board and a disproportionate sand-to-orifice ratio. But before that, in fact just before the noted splintering of my sled, something amazing happened. While performing my twice-minutely scan of the beach (bags seem to walk away when left unattended in Central Am.), I saw a young man running down the beach.
His on-land presence was telling. Fast, focused, committed.My instincts screamed “good surfer”.
No one runs into a four-foot shorebreak like that unless they know what they’re doing, and how they’re gonna do it.
When he gained the lineup, maybe fifty meters from me, the guy turned on the first wave that came his way. It was a chunky, ugly closeout. No way he goes. He went. Finally emerging from the brine, he gathered his board and did it again, and again. I inched towards him.
Who is this lunatic? Closer and closer I crept until – Aha!
Kalani freaking David! Surfing a lonely, awful-looking Panamanian peak well past the groomed morning hours! What are the odds?
On top of being surprising, the Hawaiian’s presence was, to me, strangely coincidental. I’ve been trying to get a hold of Kalani since his heart surgery back in January.
Aside from that debacle, he’s recently launched a new website, lost his sponsor of eleven years, and his Instagram has raised some personal questions that I’ve been dying to ask.
I am oh-so-positive that Kalani has an interesting story to tell, and this chance encounter was my best opportunity to make it happen. A cursory chat in the lineup fortified my beliefs.
I’m still at risk of having seizures – I actually had one on the plane ride over here. So surfing is yeah… a little sketchy I guess.
What are you doing here?!
I just drove down from Costa Rica. I was visiting my family there, and my sister and I decided to come over here for the swell.
How’s the whole heart situation?
It’s been a pretty crazy ride. For a while I was on all this medicine that was making me act without thinking. That was a weird time, but it’s over now. Done.
(Kalani catches another shitty wave and returns)
Sorry, I haven’t surfed much lately so I’m all wired.
Are you fully cured? Like, is it safe for you to be surfing?
I mean it’s definitley better, but I’m still at risk of having seizures – I actually had one on the plane ride over here. So surfing is yeah… a little sketchy I guess.
After promising me an interview over the next few days, Kalani took one more closeout and snapped his spanking-new Lee Stacey. At the rate he was going, it was inevitable.
Kalani David from Chad Christensen on Vimeo.