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Beach Grit

The Best Job for Traveling Surfers!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

Surfers dream of a job that allows for months spent in foreign tubes. We found it!

My arrival in Bocas del Toro, Panama, coincided with the last few days of Carnaval, a tradition of week-long partying that I believe started in Brazil but has since been absorbed by nations across the world. Much to my surprise, Bocas is not only a surfing haven, but also a renowned party destination for South America’s wealthiest and North America’s most “free-spirited” (see: no bras, blonde dreds, septum piercings) twenty-somethings. A Caribbean Ibiza.

I’ve not partaken because the waves here are best in the early early morning, and even slight hangovers have been known to cripple my delicate frame into the late afternoon hours. In short, I’m a pussy.

Every morning around seven I hail a cab out to the surf zone and see what the day has to offer. I surf either the terrifying beach break or the dribbly reef and by the end of my session attempt to cozy up with another group of surfers. Cabs are $15 each way and when you’re on your own that adds up real quick.

Today I surfed the terrifying beach break and my ride-share victims were a three-pack of Aussies, at least one of which was quite the talented surfer. After the session we hopped in their car and I asked what they do back in Australia.

“Well, Matt’s a sparky (electrician), John here’s a chippy (carpenter) and I’m a plumber (plumber),” the talented one tells me.

All of them tradeys (tradesmen). Here for a month.

This reminded me of the time when, in Indo, I met a traveling Aussie duo, one of which was a chippy and the other a miner. They had worked twelve-hour days all summer and repaid themselves with a four month Indonesian sojourn.

All of this anecdotal evidence led me to wonder, is a tradesman the best possible occupation for a traveling surfer?

I asked the car what they thought.

“Well, it’s a trade-off, ya know?” the portly one replied. “We work our fucking cunts off for a few months, but then we make good money and have long holidays. A lotta blokes are fucking around at home with whatever retail job, making shit money and eating pingers to pass the time, and then they end up with no cash and short holidays. Meanwhile, we’re here. So yeah I like it better.”

There you have it! Tradesmen work hard and play hard, and that is probably the ideal situation for an aspiring surf traveler. At least in Australia.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe most American handymen are on contracts that pay menially, dictate a nine-to-five presence and allow two weeks vacation.

So, what’s the best occupation for an American frother? Surely one of our readers is sitting on the secret to wealth and free time…