By Alex Navarro
I asked my good friend Axel Gutierrez if he would like to answer a few questions, for DESTINO LOS CABOS, about surfing in general. He kindly accepted and I would like to share this interview with you because I believe it truly conveys the spirit of surfing and the surfing lifestyle. Axel is a very cool guy and is very involved within the Los Cabos community, and the surfing community all around. He is 33 years old, was born in Mexico City and is currently the Director of the popular Organic Market in San Jose del Cabo, and the commentator and beach announcer for the Los Cabos Open of Surf in past years, and for the contest taking place this month. He is into permaculture and a very passionate surfer. So here is Axel telling us some wonderful things about surfing being a big part of his life.[/vc_column_text]
AN: Hi Axel! How are you my friend? So nice to talk to you…so yeah, I just want to chat a little bit about surfing in general and all that is beautiful about surfing…how it motivates us…how it makes us feel good all day after we’ve surfed…so, let’s flow a bit…I have a few questions and let’s see what comes out of all this! So, first question. Why did you start surfing…how did it happen?
AG: Hey Alex! Always a pleasure talking to you bro…thank you so much for doing this and giving me this space…so, my experience with surfing…well, I’m going to tell you a bit of some background information…when I was young I was terrified of the ocean…it was something that I saw very external to me and I saw it more as a threat…something that would harm me…I saw it bigger than me…very powerful…so that happened until I was 8 years old…then I started to lose the fear, and when I was about 12 years old my father bought me a little boogie board and we used to go a lot to Cozumel and go to the other side of the island for the waves and spend the day there…so, that was the first time I actually started to have fun in the ocean and stopped being afraid of it…and it changed my relationship from one of fear to one of love and respect and connection…then one summer I went to L.A. and my uncle Mario taught me to surf…so, he asked me “do you surf?” And I said “no, I boogie board”…and he said, “no, you have to learn how to surf”…so, he took me to many beaches in L.A. (Venice Beach, Manhattan Beach, Malibu, Redondo Beach)…and one day on a very long surfboard…on 1 to 2 feet waves…was the first time that on my own I paddled into a wave…I stood up on the board…and, it was the most pure and loving moment in my life so far haha…it’s hard to explain, but it was very intense for me…it just opened up a whole different level of emotions and perspective and magic…it just started a fire inside of me and that really changed my life…really, in terms of my decisions…in terms of my appreciation…in terms of the people I met…the travels I went on…the decisions regarding my life…everything started to revolve around surfing…my work…I started to work in surfing…then I started going on surf weekends with my friends…maybe 15 surfers…that all lived in Mexico City…so we would just get together and plan surf trips…it became like a brotherhood…and eventually I moved to places where I had a beach…so, it just really took over my life…I don’t see myself not surfing…or not having the surf around me…in whatever form…I really consider it a very important part of my life…something I want to keep exploring…because, that is one thing…the more you know it, the more you want to explore and the more you want to become a better surfer…you know…to improve yourself…it’s really a life journey…I see it more as a life philosophy…I respect very much the competitive aspect of it…I enjoy it as well, but I think the soul part of it really serves as a philosophy of life and keeping in the flow…keeping exploring…being good to each other…respecting…connecting with nature…meditation…fighting your fears…adrenaline!…it really brings together many elements that make it addictive.
AN: How did you get involved with the Los Cabos Open of Surf and being a commentator and beach announcer?AG: In 2009, I was working for a marketing agency that had a brand of Swiss watches that sponsored the National surfing event in Puerto Escondido…when I was there I started to meet everyone…all the surf Mexican pros and the commentators…that was my first contact with the Mexican Surfing Federation…with the surf industry in Mexico…and then I was part of the organization making the surf festivals…and we made the National in Mazatlán and other tour stops in Acapulco and Puerto…then I went to Australia to study my masters so I got disconnected a little bit from the industry…and came back in 2013 to Los Cabos with the Los Cabos Open of Surf…now working for the surfing federation…so, I came with them to the event…and I was ready to leave Mexico City…wanting to come back to the coast again after living in Sydney…so when I came here to Los Cabos and I saw that it was a beautiful place, with beautiful people and beautiful waves…it was a very easy decision…it was just flowing very naturally…and of course surfing being part of my life.
AN: Tell us a little bit about the Los Cabos Open of Surf.AG: The Los Cabos Open of Surf is in its sixth edition…it’s the oldest international competition in Mexico…we’re going to have the Women’s QS 6000 and then the Junior Pros…the Junior Pro is all the best in the world under 18, which is a pretty big deal because we’ve had past champions that have made it directly to the world tour…and then of course we have the great concerts.
AN: Tell us something that comes from your heart about surfing.AG: That’s a good question…I would say for me it was a new vision for life…it really changed my life…it changed my way of thinking…it made me travel and meet new people…and just really connect with something I was looking for without knowing….it just opened up a lifestyle really…it means adventure to me…it means passion, family, respect and connection, it means freedom…it means lessons…and you also have to fight your fears….in surfing your flowing with nature…flowing with the energy…expressed through liquid…in a natural environment…that is surfing…your being stimulated in so many ways and the vision and the feeling and the sensations…and the chemicals inside you…the adrenaline…and everything your body is releasing…so, it has multiple ways of being very stimulant…surfing gives me so much…it has given me friends, work, travel, it has allowed me to meet my heroes as well and it’s great because then you see them as human beings…very focused and talented…you appreciate everything that he or she is and you know we all have to continue with our own personal journey…whatever it is. Surfing really is a way of life…I think.
AN: Please tell us something you would like to express about our surfing community and surfing lifestyle here in Los Cabos.AG: Well, I think our Baja community, as a surfing community, is a very privileged one because, first of all, we have abundance of waves…we have waves year round…and then you run into everybody…so it’s a fa
mily…it’s like finding your tribe…it’s a community that I really love and that I get inspired by and that I respect…and we share the same love for our land which is the Baja coastline…I feel very fortunate to belong to this surfing community and it’s really a family that is growing and I see a beautiful opportunity for everyone…so of course, I want our kids to surf and keep passing on the stoke and love for our land and our coast.
AN: What is your favorite beach?AG: Right now, my favorite beach…well, I’m going to have to say it’s Costa Azul because it’s my home beach and I’m in love with the wave Zippers…I’ve been in beautiful waves in mainland Mexico like Barra de la Cruz, which I love very much…Nexpa, La Ticla, Pascuales…Mexico is just so rich in beautiful amazing waves…yeah, I think those would be my top spots.
AN: Are you regular or are you goofy?AG: I’m regular. *(“regular” means surfing with your left foot forward and “goofy” with the right foot forward.)
AN: What have been some of your most memorable surfing experiences?AG: One of them was in 2013 on a trip to Michoacán…it was pumping waves…the biggest waves I had ever surfed up to that moment…and it was just so beautiful…the color of the ocean…connecting with my bros…and, playing music…I think for me it was the true spirit of a surf trip…just full of adventure…with all this life around you…and you know…as a surf that trip really marked me…like a whole different level! And here in Zippers I had a beautiful session doing full moon night surfing and that for me was also very beautiful…I was with a friend of mine, Jeronimo, who moved to Myanmar and is now a Buddhist monk…I shared that with him…so those two sessions seem to be the strongest in my mind.
AN: One last little dynamic here…I’ll say a word and please say the first word that comes to mind:AN: Surfing > AG: PassionAN: Wave > AG: EnergyAN: Sand > AG: On my feet!AN: Sun > AG: IntenseAN: Surfboard > AG: Good designAN: Beach > AG: Fun Park!AN: And finally! Swell > AG: Anticipation