A Man With A PhD In Homelessness Walks Into God-Tier Mundaka…
Dr. Mendiguren could write a dissertation on the War on Drugs AND get aqua-portaled by lunchtime.
“I spent my life in the library,” said Ander Mendiguren, PhD, “but after so many 10, 12-hour days in there I decided I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would and I needed to put more time into surfing.”
Ander is a 31-year-old surfer-turned-academic-turned-surfer from Lemoiz, Spain — a town atop a hill overlooking a choice slice of the Iberian Peninsula which sits only a 30-minute Peugeot drive from Mundaka.
When Ander was a teenager, he competed in Pro Junior events and was even sponsored by Billabong. But then, life happened — he demoed his foot and was out of the water for a year. So, he decided to pursue a Masters, and then a Doctorate, degree in Social Anthropology, he got a girlfriend, and he spent his days limping to the library and slowly becoming a member of Spain’s intelligencia.
What Ander specialized in was the study of homelessness, addiction, and the various political and socioeconomic engines that conduce to those things.
“The Spaniards are good at many things,” observed George Orwell in Homage to Catalonia, “but not at making war.” This aversion to, and suspicion of, conflict seemed to have seeped into Ander as he studied a different kind of “war” — the “War on Drugs”.
Anders spent many of those 10 and 12-hour days reading and writing about the “War on Drugs” and the subsequent heroin epidemic in Spain in the 1980s. “So many of us blame the addict for their behavior but I tried to make a critical, political study of the situation,” said Ander, “I wanted to find out what was actually causing the process of abandonment.”
During his PhD studies, a team manager from Vans reached out about possibly riding for them. After graduating, Anders decided to take 2 gap years and take surfing seriously again. He traveled up and down the coast of Mexico in a van, competed at the Duct Tape Invitational in South Africa, and just recently got back from many months in Indonesia.
Now that he’s home, he said he’s still “landing”. He’s trying to figure out what comes next in his life. Does he keep going at surfing, pinching pennies to do what he loves? Does he go back and try to be a professor? Or a high school teacher? The future, Anders admitted, still looks uncertain.
But we’re selfishly hoping we get more footage like this with good music, smooth surfing, and near-perfect waves at one of the most fickle surf spots on Earth.
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