I once read about a surfer in Central California who would only surf spots he could reach by bike. I liked the idea. It mustn’t have been easy. His conviction limited him to spots he could pedal to, while his brother and friends drove up the coast. And they would come home by car with tales of excellent surf at points and reefs further north and out of reach for the man and his bike. He must have seethed. But the idea really sunk in with me.

I still like the idea of only going to where you can reach by bike. I’m not much of a practitioner, really, because I don’t own a bike here in Argentina, where I live. And I drive to the beach. But what I don’t do is drive on the beach. That’s out of order. That’s not cool. But you wouldn’t guess that here in Pinamar, where driving on the beach is the craze. It gets so bad at the height of summer in Carilo, a ritzier beach to the south of Pinamar, that the beach turns into a 10-lane highway like 9 de Julio, the main thoroughfare in Buenos Aires. It’s chaos.

But it’s cool. For most visitors, at least.

I don’t think so.

Of course, I’m written off as an American with different ideas.

But I do have a few ideas for change. Ideas to make a difference to our lives and our environment. For me, walking on the beach is cool. It’s exercise. You can wiggle your toes in the sand. You can burn them, too. But race across the hot sand. Go on, race. You will laugh with your friends. And you won’t leave oil stains or fumes in your tracks. And you won’t pollute the vista with your huge-ass trucks. You’ll have a clear and relaxed and quiet view of a blue ocean and shrub-covered dunes and kids playing happily. You won’t block the view of kids surfing and swimming. You won’t run the risk of driving over kids or grownups in your 4WDs and quad bikes. By walking you may run into a few friends or a man who is enjoying what you are enjoying – an unhurried day at the beach. A day away from the city. A day in the waves. A day building sandcastles. A day in the sand.

So leave the car and the quad bike on the street. And walk on the beach. Take up surfing if you want a fast thrill. Or kite surfing. More people will check you out if that’s what you’re thinking then when you’re stood next to your kitted-out, double-whammy Dodge Ram with 36 HP and a trailer stacked with hyper-speed quads. What culture did these vehicles ever breed? The Hummer? Yup, a culture of consumerism. What about surfing and skateboarding? Now those changed fashion, changed vocabularies, changed the world. Well, maybe not that much. But they changed my world for something slower and more in tune with nature. A car? It’s just to get me there and back – to the edge of the beach.

The rest of the way, please walk.

Try it.

You’ll like it.

And if you all do it, I’ll teach you all how to surf. Or at least lend you my board. And my flip-flops for the hot patches of sand.

So walk.


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+Pin on PinterestEmail to someonePrint this page

More stories on: Living Abroad
{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Mark Hunstable January 10, 2013, 12:04 pm

    Mr. Newbery,
    I just discovered your blog this morning, how refreshing. My wife and I have spent every January in Pinamar since 2002 and many of your observations ring true. Never quite understood the monster vehicles on the beach business (or for that matter, the quatri races that occur every evening as I take my sunset jogs.) Anyway, I’ll keep reading.

    • Charles Newbery January 11, 2013, 7:45 am

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks for reading. We may run into each other on those jogs, though most of mine are in the forest behind our house.
      Talk soon,

Leave a Comment