Should I Stay or Should I go now (to Ghana)?

Although I’ve been hoping to raise my spiritual awareness and cultivate a keener relationship to the God-head within, I admit that I am a surfer who puts catching waves at my local reef break paramount to anything else in my life.

It’s a hedonistic, beach boy lifestyle that I am very grateful to live.

Still, there are many times when I think that there could be so much more I could do for fellow human beings, especially those with a lot less luck than with what I’ve been both born into and have created for myself.

As a surfing homeboy, I rarely take any surf trips. But I am seriously thinking about travelling to Ghana of all places.

It’s not a popular surf destination but because of one person I’ve been communicating with, it’s seriously on my radar.

In the classic surf film “Endless Summer”, director and narrator Bruce Brown travelled with Mike Hynson and Robert August to Ghana.

I watch Endless Summer every once in a blue moon, perhaps twice a year. One morning after watching, I was curious about surfing in Ghana. I’m not sure why, call it intuition. None of the footage in the movie seemed compelling or epic.

My intuition has led me to live in the mellow, classic beach town where I live. It’s also led me to follow a few career pursuits (such as Thai Massage Therapy) without really knowing too much about the careers before deciding to invest time, money and energy into pursing them.

So with this intuition, I searched for surfing videos in Ghana and came across a mini documentary produced by Black Star Surf Shop in Busua, Ghana.

Peter Nardini owns the surf shop (and surf school). He’s an average surfer who lives most of the year, in all places, New Mexico.

He’s a profound example of how one average surfer can make a huge difference in improving the lives of those less fortunate.

Peter’s long laundry list of achievements in Ghana includes:

  • Teaching the locals how to run and manage Black Star Surf Shop and its adjacent restaurant
  • Teaching some of the locals how to surf and how to teach surfing
  • Establish a local tourism office that would require visitors to make a donation to the community
  • Establishing the region’s first Internet center and getting computers donated to the center and teaching the locals how to run it
  • Using his previous non-profit connections to acquire a cargo ship container worth $300,000 in medical supplies, delivered to the nearby hospital
  • Leading turtle conservation programs
  • Putting together beach clean ups
  • Sponsoring the first surf contest in the area
  • Sponsoring and paying a salary to a few local surfers
  • Clean-water solutions to the local hospital
  • Forming AfricanHealthNet.org, a non-profit that seeks to eradicate malaria through a unique mosquito netting with solar-powered fans and lights within the net

Peter has travelled several times to Ghana over the last few years. In Busua village, the chief insisted that Peter sit in on all village inner sanctum meetings and even adopt the local dress at such meetings.

I’ve been in touch with him several times over email and a few times by phone.

He really wants me to go to Ghana and document the nascent surf scene and the progress of the community improvement projects.

It’s been a professional goal of mine as a wanna-be surf journalist to break into a respectable literary surf magazine.

If I go to Ghana, I’m confident that what I would document would be accepted by at least one publication.

But here’s the big but…. It’s not easy for me to leave the comfort and predictability and first-world luxuries of the surf town where I live.

Going to Ghana might also be expensive. Once I get there, I probably wouldn’t be spending much money but with the plain ticket and the money I wouldn’t be making at home, it could be a costly trip.

But at the end of my life, I’m not going to reflect back on all the money I saved by not travelling somewhere; I’m going to remember all the travels and wild experiences I’ve had.

My intuition is telling me to go to Ghana and that it will be an amazing cultural experience.

I still have four or five months before I would go, so there is still time for me to be contemplative.

The health factor plays a role in my hesitation as well. Even though Ghana is a relatively safe country, often called “Africa Lite”, it still has widespread malaria, which Peter himself has contracted twice.

“Africa is gnarly!” several friends have warned me.

Well, if Bruce Brown, Hynson and August, as well as well-known peripatetic surfers Kevin Naughton and Craig Peterson, made it through Ghana, I’m sure I’ll be fine.

It will be a spiritual struggle for me to get out of my comfort zone, but if I go, I’m sure I’ll be rewarded tremendously, if not economically, then certainly spiritually.
And after all, isn’t that why we’re here: to help others and raise our spiritual consciousness?

My intuition says yes.

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