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Interview with surfing's latest celebrity Alison Teal

Alison Teal all smiles at Cloudbreak © Sarah Lee



Surfersvillage Interview

Alison's Adventures: Real-Life Tarzan child hits television

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 7 June, 2014 - Anyone who’s gone feral on a surf trip knows that travel requires mad survival skills in some form or another. With the risks of sunburn, starvation and dehydration out in the bush, come rewards: empty waves and a memorable trip. And if you’re lucky, a life-changing experience gets tossed in.

But increasingly the biggest risk to today’s travellers is carpal tunnel syndrome from either blogging and instagramming about their experience or from the wrist motion required to slap down a credit card to pay for 5-Star resorts.

Previous generations explored Indonesia with little more than a sack of rice and some weed. So, when did surfers get so soft? Well, There’s hope to regain our collective gnarliness with surfers like Alison Teal.

The star of the Discovery Channel’s “Naked and Afraid” - an ‘Adam-and-Eve-meets-Survivor’ themed show (with no prizes!) - Alison used her skills to survive on a Maldivian island naked without packed-in food or water for 21 days. And here’s the worst part: There was no surf.

We talked with Ms. Teal (aka the 'Oprah of Adventure' according to the Huffington Post) about the pros and cons of a semi-feral upbringing in a grass shack in Hawaii and how survival skills are best learned from a young age.

How would you describe what you do for work to a very small, inattentive child?

I’m like a female version of "Indiana Jones," with a pink surfboard. I journey into ancient cultures and share global secrets of survival, sustainability, and happiness through my funny film series: Alison's Adventures.

What is it that you do professionally that you are most proud of?

I love being a bridge between cultures and people. When a chick with a big smile and a pink surfboard rocks up to a village with a flower in her hair…well…I am welcomed with great curiosity and have become part of a great global family! Many call me a walking global social network. Huffington post called me the “Oprah of Adventure” the other day and that made me smile.


Alison Teal © David Blehert


Tell us what has been your biggest mistake?

I was home schooled around the world by my adventure photographer parents — growing up on the pages of Patagonia and National Geographic  – on the back of an elephant, on Mt. Everest, or on a camel safari in the most primitive, exotic and dangerous places on earth. Even though I had the “dream life,” my dream was to go to school and be “normal.” Even though I absorbed the most incredible form of experiential education, I wish I would have realized sooner that the grass is always green in someone else’s yard. It’s ok to be different, share rare stories, survive off of coconuts, and live in a 6 ft square tent with your parents. Always appreciate what you have and water your own grass because it will get greener!

What did you learn from that mistake?

Doubting myself and my alternative upbringing almost made me miss out on the greatest learning experience of my life. When the producers from Discovery’s (now) #1 show Naked and Afraid called me to be one of the first contestants I was said “no.” Partially because it was naked but mostly because I have never actually taken a ‘real’ survival course in my life. A year later I finally agreed to the challenge and went on to accomplish the highest Primitive Survival Rating of the season. This made me realize that the skills and wilderness experience my parents instilled in me were part of my soul and had, without me even realizing it, prepared me to accomplish the most gratifying experience of my life and most difficult survival challenging in the history of TV. My whole life had been survival 101. Never doubt that you have it in you!

Is there something going on in the world that makes you scratch your head and think: “But this is soooo important! Don’t they get it?”

My parents have been pioneers in GREEN LIVING and I was raised in a Swiss Family Robinson grass shack in Hawaii that we built by hand. Basing out of Hawaii and traveling the world I have grown increasingly more frustrated and sad at the amount of garbage that continues to pile up on coastlines that were once pristine paradises for surfing and wildlife. When people buy something or throw something away I encourage them to ask, “Where did it come from?” and “Where is it going?”


Alison Teal's completely sustainable home © David Blehert


Share with us your biggest Rocky Balboa moment.

In 2013, I was in Discovery Channel’s ‘Naked and Afraid,’ which placed me on a desolate island in the Maldives to survive with a male stranger for 21 days…naked. It was the Everest of survival challenges - a raw ‘Adam and Eve’ meets ‘Survivor’ show with no prize. While my partner became incapacitated from second degree sunburns, I managed to persevere and survive 21-day captivity on the “Island of Hell.”

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? Selling shoes?

I would probably be a pirate…or a mermaid. Or maybe start a coconut hat stand?

OK, you get to drop into five moments in history – surf or otherwise. Please name them and why.

•    I wish I would have been around to help build the pyramids and learn the secrets of the ancient Egyptians.
•    I think it would have been fun to help Indiana Jones find the Holy Grail.
•    I wish I would have been there when the first surfers discovered Tavarua  - it is one of the most magical surf destinations on earth!
•    I would have loved to meet with Walt Disney and ask him if he truly believes in magic…much of my mission with Alison’s Adventures is to show that the magical characters like Aladdin or the Pocahontas really exist in the world and that magic is real and if we don’t continue to pass on the stories of the past, then this highly inspirational wisdom of other cultures will be lost forever.
•    I wish I could go back in time and tandem surf with Duke Kahanamoku…if he could make a PINK wooden surfboard...


Youtube Link: “Alison’s Adventure" 
Facebook Link: “Alison’s Adventures" 
Twitter Link: @AlisonAdventure
Instagram: @alisonsadventures 
Bryan Dickerson

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