Imagine you live on an island where you can surf everyday. You have everything you want and everything you need, all fitting in your van. Let’s say you live a humble, stress-free life (the fact you can surf everyday might influence the stress-free thing).
I’ve met people throughout the years who actually have a life like that, and they are happy to live it. Read about the vanlife of Richie. Maybe it can inspire you to take a leap of faith and start making some of those dreams come true.
“It’s all about balance and not complicating you’re life with what society tells you that you need to have to be happy. The less I have , the happier I am. Keeping life simple.” -Richie
We are on the Canary Islands, North Shore, close by a spot that should be working the next morning. Ricardo settles down for the evening. When I arrive, I see he already changed from his wetsuit into a pair of blue shorts and a white, freshly washed t-shirt. His sandals placed neatly next to his van. He invites me to step into his home. I look around in the van. I see paintings and travel collectibles neatly hung up against the wall. His books are hidden and yet visible at the same time.
The woodwork, the ethnic colored tapestry on his couch, a cooking pot simmering on the stove gives me a warm feeling of home. I always thought a van hasn’t got lots of space, but everything has it’s place, nothing is cramped together. I sit down in awe – I could live in a van like this.
“If you feel like looking at the ocean, you can just drive to the beach and open up your doors. You’ve got the island as your garden.
This is my reality.” – Richie
How did you end up on this island?
I did not plan to stay in Fuerteventura for more than 2 years. But I’ve met good people and discovered good breaks and I decided staying there. I do make plans, but I also go with the flow.
How was your first experience with surfing?
I got hooked straight away after me and a few friends hired some gear and went out. None of us knew what we were doing: wetsuits inside out, back to front, and so on… but WOW, when that first wave pushed me forward, I found my path in life.
My friends did not get the surf bug, so I just went on my own, taking all the wipe outs and trying to figure out how to stand by myself.
Even though I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, I was so stoked just being in the ocean. Slowly (and I mean slowly) I got the hang of it.
I have to admit: if I had a few lessons I probably would have learnt it faster. But, I was so stoked all the time, I didn’t know the difference. Now I’m 20 years down the line and I’m catching tubes and overhead waves. So in the end, I wouldn’t change anything.
What’s your favorite type of break?
Living on an island, we have many different types of waves, so depending on the conditions and the mood I’m feeling, I make my decision. If I’m feeling getting smashed about a bit, I hit a beach break like El Cotillo. If I fancy a lazy day in the ocean, I hit a slow fat wave and if I fancy getting tubed (which is always), I find a nice shallow reef. Every break and every wave has it pro’s and cons. It just depends on the day. But a long tubing reef break is the best!
What’s the difference in the surfing world, comparing now and back in the days?
Well, the biggest difference since I first started surfing is how popular surfing is now. The water has become very crowded and getting in a surf with just a few people is rare. But when it happens, it’s like heaven.
Apart from the crowds, surf knowledge is far more advanced such as surf apps and so on. I remember to get a surf report, we had to phone a surf shop and they would leave a message on the answering machine.
The best was when it said: “take the day off work.” Haha!
What do you do when the surf gets really big?
How big a wave is depends from person to person. What I would consider a big wave might not be a big wave to others, and vice versa. But anything overhead is a big wave to me. I have to admit: when you catch a double overheader, it’s an amazing feeling. Riding down the face of the wave and you’re aware of the fact that you’re still going down the face and you look up and it’s way above you’re head.. It’s wicked. I’m not a mad man and have to be really focused and in good conditions to go out in big surf.
But, it doesn’t matter the size. It’s all about getting stoked. Big or small, it’s all wonderful.
What does simplicities of life mean to you?
It means to me just that…well, keep life simple.
As Buddha said: “the middle road is the way to enlightenment.”
It’s all about balance and not complicating you’re life with what society tells you that you need to have to be happy. The less I have, the happier I am.
For example, I don’t need to buy a house and spend the rest of my life paying for it, when I can just buy a van and live in that – Keeping life simple.
Why do you choose for this lifestyle?
Richie: I love living in my van. It gives me freedom. If I want to live in the mountains, I just drive there, or if I want to live by the beach, I just drive there.
I can have a different view everyday if I want. I feel more at one with nature too, as I have the doors open and I’m right there in the environment. For the lifestyle I live, vanlife has no drawbacks. I have everything I need inside. It’s my home and I love it.
What advice would you give to newbies in the vanlife?
When you buy anh kit out you’re van, I would say: keep it simple, then you have less things that can go wrong. You will be surprised how little you actually need to make a van your home. I have a simple shower, but it works.
There are many types of vans. I have seen vans that look like you’re grandmothers kitchen inside, and vans that are kitted out like a mobil disco. Vans in all shapes, sizes and with different interior designs. Hit the road and see where it takes you, it’s brought me where I am now.
What’s your song of the day?
I’m not sure what it’s called but it’s been stuck in my head for days. I think it’s a song of Harry Nilsson.
Wait, it goes like this: