03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Choosing a Safe Surf Instructor

While walking on the Puerto Escondido beach as the sun turned red, I passed a young Italian with a surfboard. He had just taken his first surfing lesson...

"In these waters?" I asked. "But this is where people drown!"

"Oh my teacher is excellent! Really good! Yes!"

"Yes? But he chose these waters for you... And you a beginner!" The last time I stopped along this beach, a crowd surrounded a cadaver of a man who had "tripped" in the current...

"It was totally safe! Of course, my teacher had a little accident."


"He sliced his foot open with the blade of the surfboard..."

"Wow! Your own! Did your board go out of control?" After all, a beginner is dangerous.

"No, his own! He got caught in wave. Come, let me introduce you."

So we walked as the sun set barefoot to a surf shop where Riccardo, bearded and hairy chested, came out and said he could not give me lessons for a couple days, as... he pointed... he had sliced his foot. He pointed to a strong black line of blood that cut under his sole.

Mentioning he had a daughter, I asked, "And does she surf?"

"Well no," he said. "She took a fright at her first lesson, and never surfed again."


"Her board slipped from under her and went over a boy, and sliced his head open, and the blood was everywhere. So she never wanted to surf again. She was only nine, you know."

"Oh," I said. "Let me take your card..."