Troubleshooting Life

IMG_4074bChris Igou – Fernandina Beach, FL

I took this photo yesterday. It was our first summer day. Maybe not on the calendar, but all the elements created sunshine and glassy waves. I could hear Beach Boys’ music playing.

Chris Igou is a stand out surfer, and I have many pics of him, but this particular move was exciting to watch. Being behind the lens and following the surfer is a thrill that I hadn’t expected. I’m very fortunate to be a surf photographer; the local documenter of the Fernandina Beach, surf community.

Secondhand Surfer Blog is my journal and it helps me stay grounded.

I’ve been journaling since 1994(?). When first traveling to Costa Rica, I would keep track of my costs. I can look up what a liter of gas and the price of an egg breakfast was in 1996. I can tell you about people that I met, complimented by pictures. Continue reading Troubleshooting Life


Yesterday, I surfed at Playa Avellanes. I did two unusual things. I took my shorter board, a 7’6 fun board, and a kid with a boogie board. The board is one I use to ride, before I changed to 9′, 9’6 and now 10′ boards. It’s nice to know that I can still ride it if I want to.

The boogie boarder is our caretakers son, who has always lived here on our place, La Huerta. My husband and I taught him to swim. He’s a natural in the water. He swims like a fish. He’s my husband’s shadow.

Today, I will not surf. I will take my camera and go check out Playa Grande. It should be good. There’s not much swell here, now, but Grande attracts young rippers, who shred the beach breaks.

The point of this is, there’s a natural flow in life, that slows one down.

I’m in a stage of giving back.

I never dreamed I would be behind a camera lens when there was ANY wave breaking. I never thought I would be caring for a Nicaraguan youth, like a grandson.

But I always envisioned, that I would surf, for the rest of my life.

God + Service to Others = What I want to do, with my life.

I’m exactly where I’m suppose to be.


February 17th, 2013. As the days go by, I drift.

I wonder how did I get here? But I know how. It was the tide. That’s how life works; like the rhythms of the sea.

Were you ever taught what to do if you’re stranded in the water? You’re advised to FLOAT. Otherwise, you will expend your energy and you will soon begin to sink.

I’ve had times in my life, when I thought I was sailing along and everything was grand. Then out of nowhere, I encountered a gail force wind; or, I felt a hand push me overboard and I found myself having to swim to shore, AGAIN.

My life is not what I thought it would be. I’m older. Older than I use to be.

So today, I’m going to float.

I’m not going to fight the current of my family, or the undertow of Costa Rica.

Secondhand Surfer both the blog and the page are my raft. And we’re going to bob into a aesthetic existence.

Fueled by the breath of the Holy Spirit.

I don’t want to drown.


Home Again

I’m home again. I’ve returned from a four-day, road trip; first to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica and then Parrita, a small coastal town, south of Jaco. I allow myself to sink, in the comfort of my little house again; back to my coffee pot, air conditioner and Big Bang.

The trip to town was brought about, by my need to see the dermatologist. I got a good report from the Doc. That was a relief. Then we were out and about town, visiting friends and mostly traveling in cabs. We did take the bus line one time. Traffic is so anti-systematic here. Cars dive for space; seemingly each driver is anticipating the other’s move, and it’s on! I’d much rather sit back and let a cab drive wreck his car, than take a chance on our rental. Continue reading Home Again

Good Morning

It is a good morning. It’s ten til four. I keep waking up, so I decided to rise and write. The reason for my restlessness is a trip I’m taking. I’m going to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. It’s where one has to go for anything important. In my case, the doctor.

On a bike ride, a while back, water splashed on my leg, and I suspect a parasite has now taken residence under my skin. Yuk! You never know what’s going to happen here in the wild. So, off to civilization.

It’s a four-hour drive, that can be maddening. We, my husband and myself, will be crossing narrow, winding, mountain roads, behind big trucks, aging, loud tractor trailers, smoking trucks, old farm vehicles on their last leg and slow-moving cars. All the while, dodging occasional cows and meandering pedestrians. Not to mention, simultaneously being passed, by insane little cars that don’t slow down for anything. Double yellow lines are meaningless to them, as well as oncoming traffic. They don’t put this in the travel brochures.

I am carrying my board, as I am going to take this opportunity for a surf trip down south. I’ll have my camera in tow.

During this hiatus from photos on my blog, I have taken a lot of pictures.

Some are good, some aren’t.

My camera is far smarter than I am, but I would like to be more in control. I am very inspired by other photographers.

I wish I had a witty story to tell this morning, but hey, it’s four o’clock.

And all is well.

  • I’ve inserted this related article. It’s by Brian and it has pictures!

Painting a Life

Picture this ~ A world with no cameras.

I have not been able to upload pics to my blog, since arriving, in Costa Rica. Today, I have been here one week. This alteration, of my posts, has interrupted my life, like the internet has twisted my reading. It’s an upheaval. This visual denial has shifted my thinking. My brain is climbing the Continental Divide.

I rely on my photos to not only tell my story, but to allow the reader to create, with their imagination, a hybrid. A creation of their own, that I do not control, nor do I want to. That’s what my posts are all about. Sharing my thoughts and my life with others, but in an artistic manner, that allows the reader to choose their own interpretation. That is art. And what is life without art.

I think I am going to break out my paints.


Shawn Messer

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


394463_2626974885499_344919733_nThere goes Eve!

Eve is from Switzerland. She has been a world traveler most of her life, like many of the people, who I meet in Costa Rica. She is a skater and snowboarder, as well as a skydiver.

It’s going to be nice to meet up with a friend in Tamarindo, and warm up on some small waves. There are bigger waves there at times, but on average, it’s the Waikiki of Costa.