Many say the old days of surf exploration have gone the way of the dodo with the advent of the Internet in our pockets and Google Earth. That may mostly be true, but there are still a few nooks and crannies in this world that have yet to be seen by the eyes of a surfer. Or maybe we hope there are.
Pro surfers Dane Gudauskas and Kepa Acero teamed up with SURFER Senior Editor Kimball Taylor and SURFER Photo Editor Grant Ellis to scrutinize just this notion. The research subject was the little known country of Gabon on the West Coast of Africa.
‘Journey To The Center’ (the “center” referring to Gabon’s claim that it was once the center of the supercontinent Pangea) appeared in the Modern Explorers issue of February 2016’s SURFER and is a tale of Gudauskas, Acero and crew discovering a land that is completely alienated from the rest of the world but is also being slowly consumed by it.
“The idea is a romantic one, but what Gabon is now is still central to a lot of notions: untouched wilderness, the last stand of certain species, the last outpost of languages and cultures. Few understand this better than the American conservationist behind the MegaTransect … what he wanted to do was walk 2,500 miles from the interior of Africa all the way to the sea … The MegaTransect became world famous and directly led to the establishment of 13 national parks, about 10 percent of Gabon’s landmass.”
Yes, there are plenty of reeling lefts that Acero and Gudauskas come across and make good use of. They make some good friends along the way and see what it is to be in a world that is in total flux. What Taylor is really posing though is if all our discovering, all our exploring, all our conquest engrained within every surfer since Mike Hynson and Robert August set forth in search of the perfect wave has caused these discoveries to be lost the second they’re discovered.
It’s a valid question, and one all surfer travelers (and really humans as a species) must think hard about before we continue down this ever-consuming 21st century route. Will it all just be lost before we even realized we had it?
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