Kepa decided to make a 180 degree turn in his life and head for Africa
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 25 December, 2015 - Outerknown has launched a series called 'The Nomadic Life' which features notable adventurers from around the world. In their fourth installment writer Zak Bush focuses his attention on solo adventurer Kepa Acero.
I follow your amazing Instagram feed and love your solo pursuits to the edges of the globe in search perfect waves. What sparked your interest in this type of solo travel?
Kepa Acero: I used to travel the world doing contests all around. We would go to places like Brazil, Australia, Japan, California, and surf trips to Indo in fancy boats. These things were already a privilege, but after years that I started to realize I was traveling the world but not learning anything about it. In contests you are so focused on that beach and that hotel – and that´s it. It’s the same every time. How can you travel to Brazil eleven times and not know anything about it? I started getting curious, started to ask myself what was next, and discovered an all new universe of waves, people, culture, life and human experiences that would take the sport experience and elevate it with universal knowledge and authentic experience.
I was also very influenced by surfers in the 70´s like Wayne Lynch, who one day decided to grab their backpack and leave, or writers like Jack London or Thoreau on his individualist anarchism.
So, in 2010 I decided to make a 180 degree turn in my life, grab my backpack and surfboards and simply leave for Africa. Of course I lost all my sponsors when I made that decision, but I felt like I was doing what my heart was feeling even if it felt like I was jumping from the edge of a cliff.
When I got to Africa, I found myself solo-searching for waves in a completely unknown universe. I thought I would be fine searching for perfect waves, but I realized what you mostly need as a human being is to communicate with other people. You need protections, and you have to look for them.
I spent a long time by myself in the desert, and nothing moves there, only your mind and thoughts, far away from this unstoppable society, there is silence, sand and sea, starry nights and hyenas, and it really feels like life stops and you start to think about things you did right and did wrong… it´s a fascinating human experience.
A solo journey gives you a more real perspective of how ephemeral life is. You live solo, and you focus on waves and on an intimate relationship with nature, but you realize that you need people and love, so you start looking for people and you end up having a family everywhere. And there is a moment that you have to say goodbye to brothers and sisters that you will never see again – that is the hardest part. But it´s a solo journey and it´s a reflection of what life should be. We arrive, we fight for our dreams, we love, and then there is a good bye – as hard as real.
You live close to San Sebastian, but where in the world do you feel most comfortable? Where do you call home?
KA: Well, I come from the Basque country, which is a very little country between Spain and France. We have our own indigenous language completely different to any other language in the world, and they don´t know where we come from. We have a very singular culture and I feel deeply rooted to this land. Traveling gave me a lot of knowledge about other countries and a deep love for many of their cultures, people and landscapes. Even one or two times I thought about staying and living in Africa, like that time in a village in Namibia. I met this super nice, beautiful girl staying in front of a perfect left point setup. I fell in love and thought I was gonna stay there forever, but it wasn’t necessary because she found another guy (laughs)… so I kept moving, to Indonesia, Chile and then Alaska.
In my years traveling solo I realized that traveling is the best university to get to know the world. But also, to go back home and appreciate my own place, with its singularities, my family and friends and of course my girlfriend that somehow still supports me...and my dog... traveling solo helps you to understand that a simple thing like taking a walk with your dog can be the most valuable moment. So that is what I call home.