Traveling for waves is a funny thing. Too often, the search for far-flung waves can lead to a serious lack of experiencing the culture that surrounds them. The traveling surfer runs the risk of only traveling to surf–the singular focus on one small part of an entire country can give one very dark blinders. Kepa Acero, however, isn’t so much a traveling surfer as he is a traveler who surfs. He’s spent a large portion of his life simply looking at the world. And yes, the waves are the backbone of his travels, but the body and the meat is the experiences that occur around them.
Back in January, Kepa broke his neck at Mundaka. “When I paddled for that wave, I never thought that could happen,” he said afterward. “I remembering being sent flying to the bottom and suddenly feeling a strong blow to the head. I do not remember much more. It was like when you turn off the television. My head went out. Seconds later, I woke up under the water. I tried to give several strokes to reach the surface and breathe, but I realized that my arms and legs did not respond. I literally thought I was going to drown. I cannot believe how close I was to death.”
Now, though, nine months later, Kepa is back in the water. He took a tentative trip to Indonesia in August and found himself right back where he wanted to be: in the tube and in a place that he loves.