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Ilaria Bagalini: The Surfing Architect Living the Digital Nomad Life

Listen on: Spotify | Apple | Google | Breaker | Overcast | Radio Public | Pocket Cast | Stitcher

Ilaria is an architect who escaped the 9 to 5 to pursue her deepest passions: traveling and surfing. A few months ago, she arrived in Costa Rica and headed north in Central America, looking for the best waves.

Ilaria is also on a journey to inspire other digital nomads who love to surf to pursue their passions and create sustainable designs.

She also has a guide called Become a Digital Nomad Starting From Zero about traveling the world and making money.

Social Media Profiles:

Topics Discussed:

  • Where are you now?
  • Where are you from originally?
  • How did you come to decide to travel?
  • Why Central America?
  • What it's like traveling on a chicken bus in Central America?
  • What do surfing and travel give you?
  • Architecture
  • Are you working?
  • How's it like working remotely as an architect?
  • What are the top 3 things one should consider for surfing nomad life?
  • Let’s talk about design—what makes something beautiful?
  • What has been your favorite place so far?
  • How do you pick where you go next?
  • What is surfing like in Italy?
  • What was your first surfboard?
  • Describe your best wave.
  • Where are you going next?

Location: Antigua, Guatemala

Transcripts

Saltwater High! Today, I have Ilaria with me from Guatemala. How are you today?

Hi, I'm good. How are you?

I'm great, yeah. So what's happening in Guatemala? You're an hour ahead of me, I think, in California.

Yeah, I am. I am.

Yeah. And where are you at exactly? What city?

Right now, I'm in Antigua, which is very weird because I basically travel. I mostly travel for surfing and I was in El Paredon, the surfing spot in Guatemala.

Okay, what's that like?

El Paredon?

Yeah.

It's nice. It's very unique in the meaning that actually people usually travel to most developed place. El Paredon started to be developed 5 years ago. Before, there were no roads, no hotels, no hostels, nothing of that. And now you have 6 hostels and 1 road. There is this interesting surf spot, which is quite marketed, but not very good for tourists because the currents are very, very strong and very messy. And now that rainy season is coming, it's really unsafe. So, I can surf. I am not a professional. And I decided to move here to Antigua for a few days to see some friends of mine before heading to El Salvador, where there's a surf competition happening next week. And yeah, I'm going to watch it because they're the best people from all the countries in Central America. And after that, I think I'm going to surf the whole time and work. Just focusing on that.

So El Paredor, is that what it's called? El Paredor?

El Paredon.

Paredon. And is it a beach break? Is it river mouth? What's the setup?

It's a beach break, but mostly it's a shore break. And that's when it becomes challenging because when the tide is less messy and better for surfing, still you have to pass beyond the first bar of waves that are on the shore. And yeah, nowadays, I was trying to pass the bar, but those waves were above my head and I was like, "Man!" And there wasn't a body in the water. And I was like, "No, I'm just going to surf, take one wave for the sake of saying I've surfed Guatemala, too."

Yeah, and then go back in.

Yeah, everybody was like "Don't get in." People were getting in and getting sucked. And I was like, "No, no, not a good time also." But yeah, it's part of the journey. It's interesting to see all the different spots. And there you have lefts and rights and they're going one towards each other. And yeah, maybe one day I'll be able to surf it.

I guess it's not very crowded because it's not very popular. So were there other surfers around?

Very few actually. Especially in May, now the rainy season starts and the swell create 6-feet waves with all the currents I was talking about. We were 3 surfers in the water. Hostels were full, though, because this part is very well marketed and there is not many hostels. And of course, it's things for people that are from Western culture, countries that have a little bit of more money than Guatemala. And you go there and you find the same things you can find in the United States or in Europe, like beach parties, drinks, and the same things we want back home, what we have here. So, it is still crowded. For the size it is, it's packed, but not in the water.

And how far from Antigua is it? Couple hours?

By car, yeah, it's between 2 to 3 hours. By bus, good luck. By chicken bus.

Oh, man. One of my favorite photos, I looked at your Instagram feed, was you on a bus and there was a guy on a motorcycle in the back of the bus. I was like, "That's crazy. How did he even get the motorcycle and how did he get it down the aisle?" It was such a good picture. I just love that picture.

I need to know what happened before and after.

Yeah, exactly.

Have you ever traveled on chicken bus in Central America?

I have. I have. Yes.

Yeah. They put anything on that.

Anything, yeah. And I remember you saying because they're old school busses, right, and they're made for children that obviously, most children don't have problems sitting, right, because they're small. But those seats are so uncomfortable in those school busses.

They are. They were created in 1970s.

Wow, I didn't realize that.

It was school busses for people in the U.S. and then the United States created new busses, of course, and they were like, "Okay, we're going to give it to Guatemala, Nicaragua." I don't know. And it's very interesting because most of them are personalized. But what happens inside? Man, you don't know.

What happens in the bus, stays in the bus.

Stays in the bus. Yeah. It's pretty uncomfortable, too, the seats. Because it's for kids, you don't have too much, how do you say, pillow thickness.

Yeah, yeah, cushion.

That's the minimum. Sometimes you end up with 5 chickens and people invading your space. And usually in Central America, in the villages, you don't have fresh fruit and vegetables and the chicken busses' main stops are in front of the city markets. So people basically go on busses to do the weekly grocery and they come back up with bags of fruits, bags of banana, a fan, a motorcycle, you don't know.

It's great. I love that. Yeah, I've done quite a bit of travel through that area and at one point I was like, "Man, my bus days are over." So I actually drove from California to Panama. And I'm telling you, it was amazing because I had my own car, good cushion seats, and yeah, it was a great trip. But that's a whole another story.

What? That's a long trip.

Dude, it is a long trip. But it was probably one of my most favorite trips that I've taken for sure. Yeah. So let's back up a little bit. You're from Italy originally?

Exactly.

Yeah. It's funny, I was looking on Instagram today and I saw this amazing picture of surf in Italy this week. I'll ping it to you later. But it was world-class. Obviously, it doesn't get like that all the time in Italy. But when certain swells, I guess.

Yeah, this week, this past week was very good on the west coast I know. I heard.

Yeah. So where are you from originally?

So I'm from the center, east coast. It's close to Ancona. My hometown name is Civitanova Marche. Not many people know it. And then I moved to Rimini, so I'm based there. It's a beach.

Where's that?

It's close to Bologna.

Okay.

Are you familiar a little bit?

Yeah, Bologna. Yeah.

It's close to Bologna. It's on the beach, east coast. It's a touristic town, party town. Not that many waves. You want to go to the west coast. Actually, that's the reason why I'm traveling mostly.

Yeah. I want to talk about that. So you're at home one day and you're just kicking back, having a little red wine or something in Italy, and so how do you get the idea you're like, "Okay, I'm just going to take off." Did you talk to a friend or you're on the internet going crazy during COVID, going "I got to get out of here." Tell me about the whole process. I think it's super interesting.

So, yeah, basically, I've been always passionate about traveling since I started university. I've studied at University of Bologna and we have a lot of international exchanges. I've done one in Spain and one in Portland, Oregon. After that, I've started full-time career and I stopped a little bit. Learning about new cultures, learning new languages, and I was always longing for this but felt a little bit like I have to fit the blueprint. I have to go to the office, I have to climb the corporate ladder. And that was making me unhappy. Also, I've been always in the water—I was born by the beach, always practicing a lot of water sports, and I wake up thinking about surfing. I go to sleep watching surfing videos. I always plan my surf trips as long as I can. My background of the computer is people surfing Banzai Pipeline. Favorite movie, favorite sport girl is Sally Fitzgibbons. It all revolves around it. And then one day, it was back in 2019 and I was in this rat race of always being efficient and productive, on top of everything, super hardcore. One day, I wake up and I realized, "Seriously, life is only this?" Also because we become more lonely and lonely because we get to be super self-centered about it feels almost you have to step upon somebody to be the number 1. But this is not life. Life is about doing what you want, of course, or respecting the others, because you're part of this society. And I am doing the same time span. Met this friend of mine. She's Italian, she lives in Spain. And after we met in Spain 8 years ago during Erasmus. So it's an international university exchange. Since then, she never stopped traveling. Working in Japan, working in the United States, working in Brazil, doing all kind of experiences. So what happens, I was in this kind of existence crisis and I meet her during group reunion because, of course, it's hard to catch up and meet when you're living in different countries. And she was just quitting her job in a multinational and living with a bag like a cabin bag for 6 months in Latin America. And everybody was like, "Lady, you're crazy. What are you doing? You're leaving a secure spot and you're going towards uncertainty." And I was like, "Dude, you're inspiring me so much." I got back home, I started grabbing all the objects I didn't need. I just started throwing away shoes, throwing away clothes, throwing away a lot of stuff. And I was like, "Okay, this is what I need." And this was November 2019. And by then, I started a minimalistic process, which was outside, but also inside. Because what I feel is that nowadays, we're going so fast that we're bombed with so many messages like be productive, be productive, work, work, work, money, money, money, so that you can buy things, things, things, things. Boring. And the more I was getting rid of things, the more I was able to find my values. And I was like, "What is it that I really want?" And it's traveling and surfing. So let's do it, so step by step.

Wow.

Yeah, it also happened thanks for COVID because we had more time for thinking and my job was a little bit hardcore in the meaning that contract, the conditions were definitely not respected. I was job strained, also mobbed from my boss, but I kept staying in that position because everybody was like, "You can't leave, you don't know what's outside." But when I quit, this was a little bit more than 1 year ago. I did quit because of a burnout. I had to get to that point and it took me a while to recover. And after that, I found myself without a job, without money. It was very hard. But I knew what I wanted. And as soon as you know where you want to get, you're like, "I don't care about what's in the middle." And I feel that there is so much life that happened between that and now. And I'm still learning and I'm not rushing anymore towards getting to the target. But recently, this is new. I've started to enjoy the journey.

Beautiful.

This is beautiful.

Yeah. So you said that you got clear on the fact that surfing and travel helps you embody or be clear about certain values. What do you think, because I'm the same way, and I'm wondering, what is it about surfing and travel? What does it give you or what does it make you feel compared to the routine and buying stuff and that sort of thing? What's the difference?

Yeah. Let's say that the routine was the continuous effort of trying to fit into a blueprint of you have to be like this, you have to have this job, you have to have this car, you have to own this kind of clothes, have this look, be this shape. And the routine is just unhappiness because it's desires stack one upon the other. And I'm always running to obtain those things which are not attainable, especially nowadays that cost of living needs raise and salaries are less than you have. It's very hard for our generation. But on top of that, nobody can have all that society tells you have to have in order to be happy. And these switches off our brains because you don't think about what does make you happy. Whereas once I started traveling, me with my backpack and not having super clear plans, just being like, "Okay, I'm going to go from here to there and there and there, but we will see." I've started a lot of things. I've started facing a lot of limits because there is COVID, so things change. There is a lot of things you have to face when traveling. I think as life and traveling both as journeys, but traveling is the journey that is speeding up because you have to face, as I told you, a lot of limits and you have to make a lot of decision making and thinking and develop interpersonal skills because, for example, you sleep in a dorm, and you have to put clear boundaries and you have to tell people what you want. This forces you to ask, "What do I want?" And this is very helpful because the more you face this, the more you get to know yourself. And you also understand this is mostly with surf. You also understand that there is a lot of things you cannot control because that's with surfing, because I think it's one of the sports where nature influences the most the sport. So there is times of the day you cannot surf, there is time of the days you have to do it in a way over the other.

Yeah, wind, tide, all that stuff.

Sometimes you travel 6 hours to El Paredon and pay a lot of money, spend a lot of time, and it's like, no, it doesn't work this week. Okay, it's not going to work for the rest of the month. Let's just accept it. There is things where my decisions impact, so it's okay, but other things we cannot control and I don't know, I think the more you know, the less you want. You feel like everything is due. And I feel more happy at the end of the day, more calm.

That's the goal.

That's the goal.

I think, yeah, reflecting on my own reasons for surf and travel, it's because of most of the things that you said. I feel so alive, right? I feel so alive when I'm surfing or when I'm traveling, I'm in a new place. I'm not in the routine. I'm kind of all these new experiences and new people, new places are coming at me. And so I have no reference point. I have no place to put them in my mind, right? I'm like, "Oh, wow, this is totally new or this is something I didn't expect or I didn't forecast." So I love that. Yeah, it's hard to explain to people who don't surf. Most surfers that travel, they're are a certain breed, right? And it's a community of people that we all have something in common that is so deep that you could try to explain it to other people, but it's hard.

It's really hard between travelers.

What's the famous Kelly Slater? Yeah, between travelers.

It's really hard between travelers because you have so many different kind of travelers.

Yeah.

And yeah, so for people that don't travel, man! Italians are not big travelers.

Some of them are. I have to say.

It's very rare.

Yeah. But the ones who do travel, they really go for it. I say.

Oh, yeah, I can say it. It's been a while. Families don't understand it because we give a lot of credits to family and family expects the person like the young person to always be available. Whatever happens, you have to be there. I am always there and I'm very close with my family, but if you get out, you're a betrayer. It took me a long time to make my brothers understand it. So imagine my mom, so much drama. "When are you coming back? You're never gonna find a man. You're never going to set up in life. When are you going to start a real life?" And I'm like, "Mom, I work a full-time job. I'm financially independent. I'm everything independent, and this is my real life."

Exactly.

"What do you want? Me to stay home, locked down, COVID, and crying because I cannot surf?"

Right. Oh man, that's so good.

Yeah, it's so funny.

Yeah, it's always a challenge, right? Going against not only our family but our culture, right? Our cultural norms and really forging our own path. I really think that's the challenge and the beauty of life and also the travesty, right? Because sometimes we have to leave certain friends or certain people behind that don't understand or support us. So it's great that you're living the dream. I saw you put on one of your communications, which I think that's what everyone should do, right? Just live your dream.

Yeah. It's very hard because I've started the journey and the more I do it, the more I'm sure about it. But as much as I'm narrowing things down and getting more sure about it, we are such social creature that if somebody that is close to us doesn't, let's say, approve or share our values, we feel bad. Yeah, I'm not saying I'm doing better than the other. It's just everybody has their own values.

Yeah. That's for sure.

That's true. I've left a lot of things behind. But what is coming back, I cannot describe it.

That's awesome. So let's talk a little bit about architecture. You studied architecture, from what I understand?

Exactly.

That's awesome. I love architecture. I've always felt the Italians have a special eye with fashion, architecture. There's something about that side of the Italian culture that, I don't know, I've always respected quite a bit. And are you currently working or did you save some money? And so, yeah, tell me a little bit about how that's all shaking out, breaking down.

Yeah, that's basically the reason why it took me a while to buy a flight ticket because my traveling, I didn't want to make my traveling to be experienced based with a timeline, based on consumption. Once I finished the money, I go home. I wanted to create, in French, they call it fil rouge. I don't know how to say it in English. A connection because I wanted it to be real life. So what I've done is after leaving my corporate job, I have had some times of readjusting when I've done everything I could in order to grab some money. Then I settled down as a freelancer, so I have collaborations and clients as well. And by then, I've started transitioning everything remotely, everything digital. And Italy is one of the last country for digital development in Europe. So it was like I was hitting a lot of walls with companies and clients telling them "Man, there is a part that has to be on-site, but there is a huge chunk of bureaucracy, papers, design. We can do it from remote and it doesn't matter if I'm locked down in my home or thousand kilometers apart, we can manage." So it was a lot of job for transitioning because there is no firm that works remotely architectural wise really. Yeah, so it's like I'm the pioneer.

That's great. Good for you.

And yeah, after that, once I had everything started, everything settled down, I was like, "Okay, booking this ticket. I'm leaving February 23." And the night before I was looking at the ceiling being like, "Oh my God, the demolition I have to do. I hope the client is happy." And all these things. But it's been a learning process. I'm learning every day. And it's actually going pretty well because I schedule the meetings in the morning. We have 7, 8 hours of difference. I schedule my meetings in the morning and then so mornings are mostly meetings and afternoons are mostly project development. And I do a lot of sustainability design and architecture that is surf-inspired on my Instagram profile. You can see some research, some renders.

Nice.

Yeah, some concept. Basically, my Instagram profile is about my surfing, my architecture, surf spots that I found traveling, and just whatever I like traveling.

Yeah, it's a great page. I recommend everyone check it out.

Now, I basically work as an architect from remote, and also, since I've done it myself, I'm helping people becoming digital nomads. So doing the transition.

Very cool.

Because we think we cannot do it, but everybody's working behind a computer. Most of the jobs, it's behind the screen.

Yeah, look at this. You're in Guatemala, I'm in California, we're doing a podcast.

Less leverage on that.

Yeah, I saw that. So you have a little course or some kind of like a download I saw. What would you say if there's some people out there that are thinking about doing this? The top 3 things that they should consider for surfing nomad life?

So top 3 things in order to make it successful?

Yes.

Okay.

Without giving too much away.

So, yeah, of course, a job that is on the computer, good wifi connection, and a quiet spot. Secure a quiet spot.

Perfect. That's good. Simple. That's good.

That's very simple, yeah. Because, yeah, the only problem when you travel a lot is that sometimes you take for granted. Usually people that travel are from North America or Europe and we take, from our perspective, for granted that we have the same things back home here and we don't. And you have to prepare upfront. Be ready for anything that happens. And sometimes you just have to survive. But it's the beauty of the experience. You develop so much creativity and your ability to face problems that afterwards if one night, one day, electricity shuts down, you know how to handle it. Whereas back home you'll see people freaking out, crying on the street. "What is happening?" Humanity has been living like this till like a few hundred years ago. Come on.

That's awesome. So from a design perspective, what do you think makes a good design?

That's a broad question.

I know, I know, it's broad. I'm leading you in.

So it depends. I like to design. I've done both commercial and private residential design. I like residential a lot more because it's more connected. It's more from human for human. And I think that understanding what your client wants, it's key. Because they hire an architect, not that much for reading the building codes and filling the papers. They have their lifestyle. They have their things they like to do when they're home and you want to understand it and translate it from mind to design. I think that I don't know what makes a great design, but a great architect is the one that is able to understand the other. And it's good because they come to you and you give back the environment built for them to do a life the more they want. I was saying like, "I want to design a life you don't need a vacation from." Because it's incredible how much the environment, like 4 walls, can affect our well-being. The way it's laid out, the way furniture is, the way it's lighted, it brings you to do more than others. I had this girl wanting a quiet space for meditation and yoga and actually telling me she pursued to be more consistent because she had that corner, and it sounds stupid, but if you don't prepare the ground, it's hard.

I love that. There's a show I really love. It's called Alive. I don't know if you've ever seen it on Netflix. Basically, they drop 10 people off in the wilderness and they're each given just a couple of things. And the last one that's alive, the last one standing gets half a million dollars. Right? But which is really interesting is everyone makes a shelter, right? And some of them make a really simple shelter, just like a tarp. But other people make full-on cabins with chimneys and a place inside where they can relax and they make chairs. They have to make all of this out of just whatever's there, right? They usually have an ax as one of the things. But what I notice is after watching a couple of seasons, the ones who spend a lot of time on a really good structure are the ones that end up winning. Right? Because there's something about having a home that they feel good in and safe in and warm in, which is what we all want, right? And spacious and meditative and surfboards all over the place, whatever.

Yes, please.

I think, I really think, space design and space is more important than a lot of us give credit to. Some people are very intuitive and very imaginative about their spaces, but others aren't. You can see they just kind of throw it together. And I think if you just throw together things, that's what your life is going to be. Just thrown together. Right? As opposed to being more, yeah, you put more care into creating something that makes you feel alive, right? So, yeah, you should check that out. You'd like that show I think.

Yeah, yeah. Maybe now, I will because back in Italy, Netflix doesn't have that big offer of a deal. But yeah, it's interesting seeing also the mood of the person. People that are in bad mood, how they live.

Right. Dark colors.

It reflects outside. It's messy, they never rise up the curtains.

Yeah, true that. Yeah.

It's a mirror into their interior. And yeah, I just like a lot also how people interact, how people are inspired, and I like helping them. If I can do anything for making their life better and they'll be like, "Ilaria, thank you so much. This was great and my friend loved it."

Yeah, that's great. I think it's wonderful work. I've always really loved architecture and yeah, it's really cool. Yeah. So I wanted to ask you what your first surfboard was? Do you remember your first surfboard?

Yeah, it was a foam.

It was a foam board? Okay, cool.

Foam board, 8'.

Okay, that's not too big. That's something smaller.

Used one from a surf school in Rimini. Weird, like why is there a surf school? So yeah, that was my first. Yeah. But let's say that I've never been a big surfboard owner because I mostly travel for doing it. But when I will settle down at some point, believe me, I don't know about dogs, kids, whatever comes to life, I'll take it. But I'm sure I'm going to have a lot of boards because I'm most likely going to settle down in front of a consistent surf spot. Those kind of spots that you can surf every day. And if it's not for the fish, then you have the longboard.

There you go. That's a great attitude. Everyone always asks me what kind of board I ride and I always say I ride the board that's right for the wave that I'm going to ride. Yes, very cool. So what's your favorite wave so far that you've ridden?

In the spots around?

Yeah. That you've been on this trip, let's say.

Should I say it? So it's called Maderas.

Maderas.

Yeah. it's this surf spot in the Pacific Coast, South Nicaragua. And I was staying in this hostel that's right in front of the ocean, so you open your room, you do the waves check and you're like, "Okay, so surfing now, working later or working now, surfing later?"

Or both. Surfing now, surfing later.

Exactly. Well, if it was Sunday, I would be like, "Okay, just surfing." And yeah, the beauty is that if there is no swell, you take a longboard. If there is swell, you do what you want and there is one left and one right. It's beach break.

Nice. Perfect. Is it in the south or where?

It's in the south.

Near San Juan del Sur, around that area?

It is near San Juan del Sur. It is half an hour. You cannot surf actually in San Juan del Sur.

You used to be able to surf at the bottom, on the little river?

I don't remember if it's Remanso or Yanke.

Yeah, something like that. Yeah.

But yeah, guides tell you go to San Juan del Sur for surfing but San Juan del Sur itself, there is no surf. I was going there and then this Nicaragua guy was like, "Man, there is no surf in San Juan del Sur." So I was like, "Thank God I didn't book any hotel, hostel." And I'm like, "Okay, what's better?" He was like, "Go to Maderas or Remanso." I ended up in Maderas and I just liked it. Also, I will settle there. I will settle there. From all the places I've saw so far.

Not too crowded.

No, and also because of COVID. I've got friends with the hostel owners because I was supposed to do a lot of trips here and there. When I arrived to the place, I'm going to go around this country. And then I'm like, "So if I go there, I'll take 2 days for buses and this means 2 days less of surfing." So asked if I could stay here. You have to make choices.

Absolutely.

Yeah, the owner make me see pictures and of course, there were much more people during COVID. But this part is not a beginners. So you don't have beginners, you don't have bunch of tourists that come there. And of course, beginners don't know how to respect priorities and a lot of other things, which is okay because they are learning. But if you want to surf a little bit more, sometimes they are in the way and you have to drop. And so it was just the right level and always consistent. Not many people.

Very cool.

Left, right. Cool.

Perfect.

I've loved the place and I've loved the people, too. We got so much friends with the locals there. Basically, there was a community of expats because it's a place where people go for long-term nomading. But I was always hanging out with the locals. I speak Spanish and I love deepening into cultures and knowing it. So we've been fishing together, they brought me to hikes and everything. And I was supposed to leave a couple weeks ago on Thursday and Wednesday, they come to my room and they greet me outside. It was Wednesday night and they prepared this bonfire for my farewell party. And I was like, "Man, that's so nice."

Very cool.

Yeah, I was like, "I don't want to leave."

Well, you have a family there to go back to.

I'm definitely going back, yeah.

How do you feel as a single female traveling? Do you feel safe? That might be a question for some females out there in the audience.

Yes. So it is not easy. It is not easy. You don't always know why. Because guides, books, or websites and blogs tell you something and other people tell you something else because that's their perspective or because they have some interests like don't cross the river by foot, take the boat so you pay. Not every place is unsafe. Of course, don't do stupid things, don't go to the neighborhood you don't want to go, walk alone during the night, and all these things. But there is places that are safer, places that are not safe. You can also hitchhike. Yeah, you can be grabbed from good people or from bad people. The same is with the taxi driver. I don't hitchhike actually, but it happens. You have to contextualize. As a rule of thumb, you want to contextualize. And by then, it's the more you learn how to read situations, cities, places, people, the more you know how to always put yourself in a safe place. But yeah, you can never be sure about anything in life. Of course, it's harder for a woman than a boy. For a girl than a boy traveling around. And I've been learning a lot.

Yeah. No, I think you're right. It's almost like a sense that you learn, right? That you develop when you travel, you're like something doesn't quite feel right in the situation or you feel like, "Oh, I don't know why, but I need to move, I need to move on, or I need to leave this place." It's almost like a sixth sense, right? That you start to develop.

Yeah. It feels it's nice because it's actually super useful for my job, because the more I understand people, the more I deliver a better quality of job, whether I'm designing a house, whether I'm helping you with transitioning from a normal job to digital nomadism. And it's the same when a guy tells me, "Oh, so you're going from El Paredon to Antigua, I can give you a ride." So you want to read the person. I will never accept the ride out of the blue, but if we've been hanging out for the past days and I've been knowing you and you start to understand if the person is actually authentic.

Sure. Trustworthy, yeah.

He just wants to share a journey with you rather than taking advantage of the situation for something else. So, yeah, so far so good?

Yeah, good.

I've had some bad experiences and that's back in the years and might happen others. Yeah, it's very sad that it's out of culture catcalling. It doesn't matter what you're dressing, what's your dress, what's your age, what's your weight, doesn't matter. If you're a girl, you're going to get catcalled in Central America and Northern America any time because otherwise, the guy doesn't feel like he's man enough. But yeah, I've been harassed a lot.

But nothing you can't take care of.

Yeah, nothing I couldn't take myself out of, and of course, it affects you, but some things happened, too, in Italy. In the main square at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Yeah, exactly.

You know what I mean?

Yeah, yeah.

Some people are just going to be like that. Doesn't matter. If it has to happen, it happens.

Yeah. Are you going to Mexico?

Maybe. But now I'm planning to go to El Salvador.

Yeah. You got to go to El Salvador. El Salvador is amazing.

You've been there?

Yeah. El Salvador's probably one of my favorite of all of those countries. Just because there's so much surf, the people are great. It can be dangerous, too, so you got to be careful. But as long as you do what you're doing, you'll be fine. But El Salvador is super beautiful. It's really an amazing place.

Nobody talks about it in Europe.

I know. It's the weirdest thing.

While being here, I met some Salvadorian people and basically are all about Surf Skate and Pupusas and I was like, "I want this life, man. What's the bus I have to take?" So, yeah, I'm going to be a little bit packed with a project. I have a due soon. After that PCR test, bus, and El Tunco. They told me it's a surf city. How do you call, the mayor of the city wanted to do El Tunco Surf City. So he's doing a lot of things for helping the surf tourism there. And he built this skate park. And I was like, "I want to do that. I want to surf." I'm happy to have a routine like surf, work, dinner, spend my life skating, my nights skating.

There you go. Wow, amazing, amazing.

Crossing fingers because there is COVID and you never know.

Oh, you'll be fine. Yeah, you'll be fine.

For now, I'm so close.

Yeah, that's true.

Working on this project that I have to hand in and I'm thinking about El Salvador.

Finish it while you're in Antigua. Antigua is a good place to get some work done, for sure.

Yeah. There's good wifi.

Yeah, good cafes.

Also interesting people. It's the most European thing I've seen in my travels so far.

Yeah, for sure. A lot of art there. It's kind of a cool town. I really liked it when I was there. It's really powerful, right, because it's got those volcanoes that are kind of on the outside. But there's also there's an underbelly, too, to Antigua. There's some kind of dark side I felt. But there's light and dark in everything.

I'm gonna learn about it. I ride yesterday and I'm already talking to people and they're talking all these things. I'm going to hike Acatenango?

Yeah, very cool.

This volcano this weekend. It's going to be interesting going to see an erupting volcano. Yeah. I'm the kind of person that suffers far from the beach.

Yeah, me too.

But being in Antigua, they call me "Mowgli". I have the beach instead of the jungle. Being in Antigua after 3 months and a half of traveling, I kind of like it because I get some Europe. Of course, I came here for traveling Central America, but my roots are there. So seeing the cafes, markets, and architecture, I'm like, "Okay, a little bit of these for balancing."

Yeah, you reset.

And then get back to the waves. Back to the waves.

A little bit of reset. That's awesome. Well, where can people find you if they want to follow your journey and see what's going on? We'll put it in the show notes too, but just give people a shoutout because I'm sure they'll want to.

Yeah. So I think the easiest way is to contact me through my Instagram profile. That is the_surfing_architect and you're free to add me and shoot me a message for whatever you need. I'm happy to help. Sometimes, I also get asked about travel design for surf trips.

Very cool.

I have so much fun.

Awesome.

Also, if they're a little bit more interested into technical things that could be a little bit more boring, I have a website for that. But yeah, everything revolves around Instagram.

Yeah. Very cool. It's been great to get to know you and hear about your journey. And I wish you an amazing trip going forward. Maybe we can do a recap once your trip is over and talk about El Salvador and Mexico and wherever else you end up in the world, I don't know. But yeah, it's been great.

Definitely, definitely. Don't tell this to my mom.

No, no. We won't tell your mom, I promise.

Well, she might find out. No, she knows. But yeah, it's just hard to accept that. It's beautiful the way it is.

Yes. That's a good way to live. It's beautiful the way it is.

It was nice meeting you and I'd be more than happy to recap at some point. Also, I really want to know about you driving from California to Panama. That's so interesting. I met this guy a few days ago. He was in Mexico and now Mexico is closing a little bit because of COVID reasons. He loves biking. He's so passionate about biking, the same I am with surfing. He bought a bike in Tulum and he made his way down from Tulum to Lake Atitlan in Guatemala by bike.

By bicycle?

Yes.

Or motorcylce?

No, no. Bicycle. He's a Belgian guy. Yes. And he tried to get in from Belize, but then frontiers are closed. And the police was like, "No, no." He was like, "Come on. I'm just a man with a bike. And the next frontier is 1000 kilometers." So he actually did the whole trip sleeping on a hammock.

So they wouldn't let him in?

No, they didn't.

That is crazy.

Getting crazy. He wanted to visit Belize, too, by bike. But yeah, he made it all the way down. And what's crazy is that Guatemala and Mexico are packed with mountains. Mexico is 70%, it's mountains. So this guy is just he arrives to the hostel with his bike and we're like, "Man, what are you doing with the bike?" And he's like, "I just came here from Mexico."

That is crazy. Oh, my goodness.

Yeah, I love meeting these people.

Wow, yeah, it's very cool. Very cool. Okay, have a great evening.

Likewise.

Okay. Ciao.

Ciao.

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