This is a pictureless post.
It’s about an old friend, Shawn Messer, may he rest in peace.
If you’re from Fernandina and you die, chances are you’re going to be cremated or buried at Bosque Bello Cemetery. The funeral homes are still-somewhat-segregated, and if you are white, Oxley Heard are the lucky caretakers of your last ride, your bon voyage.
The gathering for Shawn’s dismissal was overwhelming. The small, quaint chapel was filled with attractive, young people; mostly surfers. My strongest memory of that day were the sunglasses. Everyone had on sunglasses. Having recently purchased a pair of Oakley’s, for one hundred and ten dollars, I was counting the money involved. That’s a miserable, throwback from my days as a professional buyer.
Shawn was killed in an auto accident on a dirt road somewhere in Costa Rica. I don’t know where he was going, but I know that he had been at the Mono Congo Lodge, near Playa Negra. He was escorting a mother and daughter from Texas, showing them the country. Those were the days. Back then there were no road signs and few tourists. Only the most adventurous souls were here. The days were filled with empty beaches, waterfalls and solitary sunsets. Any traveler’s dream would be to hook up with someone like Shawn and claim their ticket to paradise.
He had been successful back in the states. He was a builder, landing contracts, on our booming island. He was one good looking man. He bought himself a red corvette, pulled his long dark hair back in a pony tail and hit the town. He was a stand out.
In his bathing suit he looked like Tarzan. He was buff and had a beaming smile.
The real thing about Shawn was ~ he was nice!
I just love people like that. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body.
My husband and I had planned to come down and let him guide us around. We were going to pay him to take us to the breaks. Why not?
I’ve often thought about that trip that never was.
Making my way here on my own wasn’t easy. I would go into the one and only local surf shop back then and ask questions about Costa Rica. They would blow me off and tell me to read a magazine. So, I did. I hooked up with Surf Express, my first few trips, and began to find my way around.
It came to light, how jealous Shawn’s “friends” were of his new life. How they offered him no support. How they wanted to just come down and sponge. Hey, what are “friends” for? That was another thought on my mind that day, sitting amongst that sea of death and beauty. The words that I had overheard. People degrading Shawn for his lifestyle choice. It had the ring of sour grapes to me. So many people want to live an adventure, but they just don’t have the guts.
Shawn Messer was a pioneer. A modern day Daniel Boone. He unwittingly paved the way for others.
He was my hero.
Long live Shawn Messer. May you be riding the big wave, in the sky. I know that you’re of the soul ~ embraced by the best of the big wave riders.
We are only here on this earth for a short time.
Do we want to be remembered as a mean spirited individual, or a loving aloha, pure vida surfer, secure in our place on the earth and in the heavens.
We could all learn a lesson from the beam of light, that was Shawn’s life.
In Memory of Shawn Messier