Living under construction, building a future

I have been passing this construction place for the past six months that I have been living here in Huanchaco. It is on Las Gardenias, around the corner one of the main roads of Huanchaco, and named Los Pinos. Sometimes I see him sneaking out some dogs, some days I see him hanging there with his friends. Other days, he is just hosing the salt water off his body after surfing. Many times, late at night, I have seen him sneak back in. It is a construction place. Nothing there during the night other than a house under construction, bricks and emptiness. During the day you could catch him sometimes helping out with the construction. Together with the other workers, he is lifting bricks, cementing walls or just cleaning up. Who is this kid? He looks pretty young. What is he doing there all the time? Does he sleep there? How? There is nothing there.

I think he smel my curiosity. He came up to me from nowhere one day and spoke to me in his broken put pretty good English. He thanked me for distributing the Huaraz Telegraph to Saksay because then he could read it and practice his English, he told me his life story and I couldn’t stop listening. I asked him if we could meet up another time and talk more because we were out at a bar and I could barely hear him. Pressing my ears against him trying to hear a: YES! Why not, I can tell you my story!

Who is Walter?

He struggled to answer the question; he almost shied off answering the question. Well, I love to work. I came to Huanchaco from Chiclayo for the opportunities. It all began one day at the restaurant My Friend. I am a family boy; since I’ve been a little boy, I have been working. I helped women carry their heavy shopping bags at the market or just deliver some grocery to families around. Anything that could give a couple of bucks, I did it. We are three siblings; I’m the oldest. In my head I persuaded myself that it was my duty to help my family, which is why I worked. No one asked me or told me to. I love animals, just like my mum, we lived on a farm and have always had animals around.

I ended up in Huanchaco when I helped my uncle to sell his vegetables; one of the places that frequently bought veggies from him was My Friends. I was 15 years old when I moved to Huanchaco and started working at My Friends. So I stopped school to work and support my family. I am 21 years old today. One of my younger brothers is working at a hostel here in Huanchaco.

My mum is still in Chiclayo, I am who I am because of my mum. She is an amazing woman. She just recently had her appendix removed and is still recuperating from that operation. That is also why I’m living the way I am, under “construction”. I need to help her economically. The construction and surfing kill me, so at night I sleep heavy and don’t mind how or where I sleep. I’m happy with the little things in life. If it rains, it is difficult to be at the construction but it is fun as well, I like it. You just have to be positive and flexible.

How does a day in your life look?

So I would normally go to sleep at 10 pm if my friends are not visiting and trying to get me out of the construction. They are probably worried about me and think I feel bad if they don’t visit. Sometimes I wake up at 6 am, I try to do some yoga in the morning to get the energy from my stomach up to my head. I then take my dogs with me, Risa and Briso; we watch the waves. If the series look good, I want to join in. With two bananas, I’m then ready to jump into the water and catch some waves. At the moment – since we are not building anything – I am just guarding which gives me plenty of time to ride the waves. So I have a light lunch and then head back to the water. When I come back from the water, it’s time for ‘five phrases of the day in English’, that is how I learned English, you know! On days like this, since I am just guarding the place, I get to surf three times.

What do you work with?

I have done tons of things. At night I sometimes work at Inca Surf, helping out with the barbecue, I give surf classes at My friends, sell surf trips for them sometimes; I also guard this construction place and when need I also help out with the building as well.

So where do you live?

At the construction site! It pays me money and helps me save. Isn’t it difficult without shower and toilets and other things?

I have angels everywhere here. I mean everyone in Huanchaco has been giving me an extra hand. Thalia from Saksay and all the people around in that neighborhood have been more than helpful. They all help out with showers and toilets and water in general. I feel it’s my home, I have seen it grow from nothing. I feel good here and I am just a block away from the beach. My mum wants me back home of course, but I am comfortable here.

What is surf for you?

I was 17 when I started surfing. I taught myself how to surf, the hard way, just threw myself in and learned it after a while. I gained respect in the waters and on the waves with time, since I am not from here and I wasn’t good: it was difficult. People around helped me with boards and equipment. I am so thankful for all the help I have ever received.

Surf is love. It is incredible. I can’t let it go. In my dreams, I see what I want to do on the waves the next day. The waves are like being in the hands of God. I have been close to death three times. The worst was when I saw some cool, right, big waves, series after series. I went in. The first one went well. The second was huge, it was my first tie in a big wave. Never seen big waves like that before. The next thing I just remember trying to catch my breath and heard my friend scream: Just relax! RELAX! I couldn’t get air. I lost the board. I finally did get some air but had to get help from my friend out of the water.
It´s important to learn how to swim before anything, when it comes to surfing. I have taught myself how to calculate the waves and now manage them.

Do you have a dream?

Of course! I dream of tranquility. A home where I can be safe. That doesn’t have a price! For me that is it! I want to be like Felipe Pomar, Peru’s first surf champion, and eventually cruise the world’s best waves. In the middle of our lunch interview, he got called out for work by Randal from My Friend. It was freezing cold and he had to go out for a surf class and we had to cut our interview short. He is an interesting kid with a great future ahead of him. I believe in him!

R. Amad Al Sadi

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