Stab Magazine | A Very Roundabout Way Of Saying The Surf Ranch Is Hiring

A Very Roundabout Way Of Saying The Surf Ranch Is Hiring

Read from the top for the plight of entrepreneurship in Nica, scroll to the bottom for why you should pen a lunchtime surf into any Surf Ranch employee contract.  

style // Feb 21, 2019
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 6 minutes

I’ve never been a fan of the amount of work/stay arrangements you find at the hostels/hotels/camps surrounding popular surf destinations. I mean, I get why they exist- it’s hard to earn a buck catering to surfers, traveling is expensive and work/stay provides an opportunity for young people to see the world. It’s a good way for predatory owners to keep a running stream of young ass coming through their doors.

But it sucks money out of economies by denying the locals opportunities for employment and, typically, leads to service that sucks. Which makes sense. Why would this blonde kid from San Clemente give two shits about my stay when he’s getting paid in the form of three hots and a cot?

I stayed at a place in Playa Gigante, Nicaragua, four or five years ago that was almost totally staffed by work/stay kids. It was annoying watching the only two Nica employees bust their asses keeping the grounds swept clean and the interior spotless while a mixed bag of a half dozen Californians and Australians lounged about ignoring my requests for a cold Toña. “Get it yourself and let us know so we can keep track,” I was told.

They did take the time to decorate a tip bucket in a wildly elaborate fashion. I watched them do it while I sat waiting for them to ask what I wanted for dinner, staring at them passive-aggressively before giving up and asking one of the Nica staff for help.

“I will get them for you,” she said. She prodded the group until one of them peeled off and drug his feet the few yards to our table. “Yeah? What do you want to eat?” he asked.

On another occasion, I was showing an attractive female guest some of the pictures we’d taken on our trip when another of the layabouts posing as staff shoehorned himself into the conversation. He wanted to show us pictures of himself surfing. I was prepared to see some dork stinkbugging through a terrible cutback, instead he pulled out a sequence of a tippy-toe airdrop into a chandeliering backdoored barrel. They were great pictures and he was, obviously, a very good surfer and that made me angry.

The owner was a decent sort who went out of his way to show us around, lent me a board one day and didn’t make a fuss when I dry docked on a shallow bit of inside reef and fucked up a fin. “I’m sorry,” I said. “But I did ask if there were any hunks of rock I needed to be aware of. I didn’t expect to see it suck dry in front of me.”

”I didn’t think you’d take off that far inside,” was his reply.

At one point the owner fell to bemoaning the work ethic of his ‘staff.’ We were at a tiny art show some soul-stealer was putting on at a bar located a bit inland. It was one of those situations where the pictures were pretty good, in that I’m-a-dedicated-hobbyist-who-has-never-bothered-to-take-a-photo-class kind of way. Slightly crooked horizons and a tenuous grasp of the rule of thirds.

Here’s a clip from 2014 of Nick Rozsa surfing in Nica because you, like us, likely miss the days of a Nick Rozsa clip being almost as exciting as Dane Reynolds’ next Marine Layer Productions edit.

I wanted to buy a picture, but the photographer had priced all his prints in the $300+ range. They weren’t that good, and I didn’t want to lug around a delicate hunk of paper for which I’d paid enough money to be super bummed when it was inevitably crinkled and torn in transit.

“The Nicas work hard,” the owner told us, “but foreigners always just want to sit around and fuck off.”

That’s what you get when your employees work for free, I thought. But I didn’t say anything because he was a nice enough guy and was, no doubt, aware of the situation. He was just another poor fucker that had looked south and seen cheap land and believed he’d be able to turn it into a reliable source of passive income. He’d already told me how badly he was struggling, financially. That what had begun as a dream had swiftly turned into a nightmare. He couldn’t turn his back on the business for a second without everything falling apart, the constant upkeep had sucked his pockets dry, and he was desperately searching for a buyer in order to divest himself of the boondoggle in which he was trapped.

He named a sum of money for which we could, relatively easily, attain a loan. Maybe even beg and borrow the down payment from friends and relatives before retiring early to an easy life as middle-aged hoteliers do in Central America.

It reminded me of all the times someone has taken a drink of something, a cocktail or soda, then pulled a face and said, “That’s terrible,” before offering a sip. You know it’s going to be bad, but there’s something so tempting about learning exactly how bad it will be.

Maybe they’re wrong. Maybe you’ll like it. But you never do.

It’s a mental battle I fight each time I visit Central America. Spending my life in coastal areas I’ve long given up hope of owning a home. Whether it’s Southern California or Hawaii, my wife’s income and our DINK status notwithstanding, I don’t ever see a future in which I’m willing to tie myself to a minuscule million dollar property destined to be eaten by sea level changes. “But down here I could afford it,” I tell myself. “Own a piece of the pie. God ain’t making more land!”

Then I remind myself that I live nearly five thousand miles away, that Nicaraguan adverse possession laws are tricky, and that I’ve only ever encountered one man who seemed to have made the dream a reality. But I’d met him in my capacity as a Stab writer and can’t be sure he wasn’t painting an overly rosy picture. It’s what I would have done.

He lived in Nicaragua full time, had fully immersed himself in the country and its culture, and that’s not something I’m not quite ready to do. More likely I’d end up like the poor fucker I met in San Juan del Sur the year prior. He’d moved down from Canada, part of the land snatch gold rush that had taken place in the latter part of the first decade of this century. He’d opened a beach front surf shop in anticipation of the wealthy class the new airport in Popoyo promised to deliver to the area. But they failed to materialize and he, instead, was doomed to chase profit by renting Surftechs to destitute backpackers until, one day, the government pulled his franchise and chased his shop a few blocks inland. Now he was trapped, throwing good money after bad in pursuit of an exit, growing more morose with each glass of Flor de Caña. I’d rented a board from him and he warned that, if I broke it, I’d be charged full retail value.

“Good luck with that,” I told him.

In any case, my wife would leave me before she moved to a sleepy coastal Central American town. Kauai is too far removed for her tastes already. Which is why we take multiple trips to mainland cities each year.

She spends a week or so going utterly insane, terrifying me with her total lack of control. While she’s sucking down cheap blow in a Vancouver gay bar bathroom I’m out front nursing a beer and politely explaining to the cute young Irishman we just met that, no, we will not be having sex with him later that night. Yes, I know my wife said we would. Yes, I know she told you that I said you’re handsome, but I meant that in an objective sense. No, there’s nothing you can do to change my mind. Yes, I will admit that I’m a bit of a cock tease. Men find me more attractive than women ever have and I enjoy the attention. Yes, you can buy me another drink. Sure, I’ll do a shot of tequila with you. No, it probably won’t change my mind. But you’re welcome to give it a try. I respect people who chase their dreams.

Even if, all too often, the dream ends when you wake up to reality. It’s the case when you’ve finally relocated to whichever sun-drenched paradise you’ve got your eye on, achieved the career goal you’ve always sought, or slid yourself into an intoxicated pile of flesh in whatever luxury hotel my wife picked out.

Living a dream always involves far more work than you realize and too often ends in tears, a headache, and the newfound knowledge that at least I tried is often followed by but I wish I hadn’t.

Which is all a long way around of saying, “The WSL is hiring.”


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This is Big Tony, head of security at the inaugural Future Classic at The Surf Ranch. He eventually gave Stab staffers, Michael Ciaramella and Morgan Williamson, access to surfing’s worst kept secret back in the heady of days of 2017. Photo by Lyon Herron

Right now there are two positions open at the Lemoore Surf Ranch. You can slave away as a “Facilities Technician,” or chase off locals and uninvited media types in your role as a Security Guard.

Both positions are full-time, which means you’d need to relocate to Lemoore, a town that’s nowhere near the coast. It’s possible you won’t see the ocean again for years, piss away your meager earnings at the nearby Tachi casino, then impregnate a local and spend your twilight years paying for your offsprings’ revolving door rehab treatment. Or, if you’re on the front foot, write a lunchtime surf into your daily contract and be a frontrunner for the Olympics 2024, which may or may not be held in Surf Ranch technology. 

But you never know. People dream of working in the surf industry. Here’s a chance to get your foot in the door. You’ve just gotta hope it doesn’t slam shut and take a few toes with it.  


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