An interview with Diamond Surf
By: Mario Dillanes V.
Surfing saved my life!
“The truth is, there’s no greater medicine than the ocean and surfing...” Wise words spoken by David Escobar (better known as “Diamond Surf”) who speaks from personal experience. Four years ago, David had cancerous tumors removed from his thyroid gland. He went through chemotherapy and then came to Acapulco to recuperate in the waves. Since then, David has practically regained his life and been reborn!
Surfing is a lot like life—sometimes you catch good waves, sometimes you catch bad ones, but with each wave, you must try to surf. If not, a heavy wipeout usually follows...
My name is David Escobar. I was born a “Chilango” from Mexico City, but with a heart from Acapulco. I remember I arrived in Acapulco from Mexico City really sick. I had two cancerous tumors in my thyroid and had been undergoing chemotherapy. For those that don’t know, the thyroid is the gland that regulates the entire body. I came to receive the ocean’s ‘blessing’, since the sea is said to cure all that ails you (for everything wrong—the ocean; for everything right, the same). I had wanted to try surfing ever since I was a kid, but my sickness left me weak and my knees weren’t very good, so I switched to boogieboarding. Fortunately, catching waves and having your body enveloped by the water is a marvelous thing and gradually, when you’re amongst the ocean, the place, the people, you begin to find yourself, especially when the people around you are so unpretentious.
Eventually, I was totally cured of my severe illness. Wanting to give back to life all that it had given to me, I started a project with my now compadre and good friend, Fernando “Anafre” Garcia, one of the best longboarders in Mexico. Since we were located in the Zona Diamante of Acapulco, I had the idea to name our project “Diamond Surf”, using the English translation of “Diamond” and then “Surf” because that’s what we do. A lot of people don’t have a clue about the good waves that this area has; the majority just come to the Costera and don’t explore. Fortunately, this area exists in Acapulco and it’s a whole other world, with a different setting and different people.
This is how it all started... One day, I was walking along the beach and I met Fernando and we started talking. I mentioned that I wanted to get back into surfing and he said, sure. But before I could do that, I needed to train first in order to achieve any good results because I was very overweight and unmotivated at the time and he didn’t want me to die trying! We started to train and under the spell of the waves, my perspective about life began to change and, thanks to the sea’s “magic”, I began to feel a lot better physically and the idea to support this sport was born, as a way to give back a little of what life has given me and also to reclaim a little of what life had taken away in terms of my health and desire.
So, I came up with the idea for Diamond Surf, which we started about four years ago, to support and train kids, to take their photos at the small contests that they participate in and post those photos on social media sites like Facebook to promote them as well as surfing in Acapulco. Our hope has been to give these kids a sense of team spirit and union and provide them with things like T-shirts, hats, stickers, etc., whatever we can to distinguish them as being a part of the Acapulco Surf Team. Fortunately, we now have over 4,000 followers, which might not seem like a lot to some, but for us, that’s 4,000 people that are largely from Acapulco and people that are interested in the team. They’ve offered their support and in the past couple of years, we’ve managed to produce champions and brought the complete and well-represented team to the Reef Mazatlan contest. Last year, we also helped sponsor the Acapulco Pro and have participated in many similar tournaments, well represented by celebrated surfers like: Jose Manuel “Yuco” Trujillo, Anna Paula Castillo, Fernando Garcia, and Luis Rey Hernandez, among others.
We sent boogieboarding champion, Ulises Rodriguez, to Chile and Spain; he was our first champion. I’ve been able to support all these surfers with my own effort, strength and resources; money doesn’t come from anywhere else and Diamond Surf doesn’t sell anything, we simply give and support these young surfers with our own resources so that they can find a way out of their problems. We want to create a good team so that they feel like they belong to something and so that they can surf and not wander down the wrong path. This whole experience has given me good things, good vibes—mostly good, sometimes bad, but, in one way or another and during both the good and the bad, I always feel good about the work that we’re doing.
Surfing is somewhat complicated and difficult, and people who don’t surf may think it’s a sport with a lot of money, or that there’s this element of glamour surrounding the waves and their high degree of risk, but for those of us in the water that enjoy the waves, we know perfectly well that it’s not like that at all. A lot of these kids are barely scraping by as it is, and we’re not even talking about surfing, but basic survival. In my opinion, a lot of surf brands are moving in the wrong direction and should take a step back and look at who is actually sporting their name so that they can follow kids that are actually surfing. They’ll receive that promotion in the waves because people admire these surfers. We have local heroes like Anna Paula Castillo, Yuco, and others that should be receiving more support because they’re doing some incredible things. Surfing looks so easy from outside the water but inside is totally different; you’re at the mercy of God, who decides if you’re going to catch a good wave or if you’re going down. That’s why the support of the people, of private businesses, and of brands is important because we’re creating a generation of surfers that are dedicated to the sport. We’re changing the face of the youth in Acapulco and every day more people are getting into surfing. Each time I go to Playa Bonfil, I see more people like you and me living a real party in the water, almost 200 surfers! Girls, boys, young people and not-so young people, and even entire families are getting involved in surfing.
Now, we’re like a tribe—the Acapulco/Mexico City tribe, brought together by surfing and surfing alone, as we haven’t received any type of outside support. It’s all been about coming together as a community in friendship and with heart and we’ve managed to make surfing somewhat of a weekend tradition here in Playa Bonfil, Princess and Sea Garden. People are starting to buy more products and gear from surf brands and yet the brands aren’t turning around to look at the surfer, they’re focusing on doing things in other areas when they should come straight to the source—the beach—and promote their products while supporting young surfers, thus creating more stars so that we can compete at the same level as places like the United States, Australia, South Africa, and Hawaii because, here in Mexico, we have the same quality of waves.
If you go to Puerto Escondido, we have members of our Diamond Surf team there as well, including surfers from the Corzo-Lozano family. We’re trying to create a triangle between Puerto Escondido, Ixtapa and Acapulco and are working on strengthening our team.
My first encounter with the ocean was as a kid. Since the age of 5, my parents always took us to Oaxaca and Salina Cruz, we loved the ocean and it’s been many years since my first time. I’m 46 years old but the ocean is...total health. I experienced that with my own body and there’s nothing more terrible than suffering from a serious illness that limits you.
Everybody has their own limitations and obstacles and nobody can fully understand what it means to suffer unless they put themselves in the person’s shoes, but what is certain is that if you come to the water to surf and you fully embrace the spirit of a surfer by dedicating your time, your passion and your effort, you’ll be greatly rewarded. The ocean isn’t for lazy people. It’s a lot like life, if you wipeout during a set, forget it, you’re going for a tumble. You have to enter the ocean with a strong desire and never stop paddling because if you do, the ocean will take over and handle things like it promised it would, much like life.
I think that everybody who has some kind of weakness, sickness, and exhaustion or suffering should surf, even though it means fighting or facing the waves. Once you catch your first wave, you’ll feel totally alive and motivated to do a million other things. I used to weigh over 260 lbs. and have lost over 65 lbs. thanks to my surf training. There’s nothing more motivating than being with your friends in the water. It’s something that distinguishes you and that doesn’t have a price; something that money can’t buy. What matters is your effort, your will to live and your dedication to yourself.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of support in Mexico and if you don’t support yourself, nobody will. Surfing heals and is a positive pastime, just as much outside of the water as inside, as much the consciousness, the spirit, and the soul as the physical. It brings you back to a point where you feel 20 years younger. Sometimes you feel down, like right now I’m going through a serious crisis, as much related to work as it is spiritual and for situations that one should control but can’t, and when I come to Acapulco (because I always wind up in Acapulco somehow or another), I always return to Mexico City feeling brand new, whether I come alone or with company. Acapulco, the ocean and its waves will always give you something good, it’s a guarantee and I’m speaking from the heart.
The Diamond Surf Team has been together for four years now. Four years of recuperation and now I feel, if not 100% at least 90% in terms of my capabilities, as much inside the water as outside. Gradually, the cancerous tumors that were removed from my thyroid through chemotherapy are being left behind. I don’t recommend chemotherapy for anyone, it’s a very strong method of treatment to go through and later heal from, definitely not for the faint of heart. The recuperation is long, but fortunately the path has been shortened thanks to surfing and the truth is, there’s no better medicine that the ocean and surfing and I invite you all to try. Surfing has given me everything: a new life, new friendships, travels, love...it’s brought the smile back to my face!
*** ***If you want to learn how to surf or want to follow the latest adventures of Diamond Surf, check out the Diamond Surf Acapulco page on Facebook and join the ever-growing surfing community of Mexico.