We have all made decisions in life, it’s just that Kepa Acero has made better ones than most. He’s the guy travelling around the world, surfing unknown world-class waves by himself with just his camera and whoever he meets on the road. He has given himself the life of his dreams, but says that no, the more you know the world, the more you want to travel.
IB: First off Kepa, where are you at the moment?
KA: I am back at home in Basque Country, and missing Indo so much.
IB: Where have you gone so far on your amazing journey?
KA: It started in 2010 when I decided to travel solo. I decided to buy an around the world ticket. I bought some cameras and I travelled by myself to Africa, Indo, India, Australia and Chile. My goal was to surf unknown, world-class waves around the world. I didn’t know much about filmmaking. I didn’t know much about the places I was supposed to go. It was just me, my surfboards and my cameras.
Since then I haven’t stopped traveling ’til now. It’s been a dream to me.
IB: So, what are some of the highlights, some of the most amazing things you’ve seen and experienced, and things that have changed your life?
KA: It’s hard to say, because every little place has its beauty. To me, the most intense experience was spending 40 days in a sailboat travelling to Antarctica. After many days of sailing, you get to this new universe, all white colours, with lots of animals, seals, penguins, whales, killer whales. And no one around, nothing else, just untouched nature and animals. Going surfing with penguins everywhere is pretty hard to describe. Makes you think about how beautiful nature is and the importance of keeping it like that.
Sleeping in the desert for 10 days by myself was also a great experience. Nothing moves around, you spend a lot of time by yourself, and it’s a very intense internal experience that changes your way of thinking.
As a human, you see many things, especially in places like Africa where you see beauty, culture, colours, music, but also poverty and injustice. You grow to love many places on the planet, but you also go back home and appreciate your own culture and people from a new perspective.
IB: What have you learned through this journey that you never thought you’d be able to learn?
KA: Well, travelling solo is like being born into life again. You arrive in a place solo, you are looking for waves, but you are also looking for human relationships, because you need it, you need to communicate. You end up making a family everywhere you go. And then you leave and you have to say goodbye to people that you know that you will never see again. And that is life.
You have many good moments but also bad ones, and you need to overtake those moments; you have to be strong and then the good moments come. I think that this is a lesson for life, because everybody in life has bad moments, and the art of living is overtaking the bad ones to be happy in the good ones.
IB: What part does surfing play in the whole journey? I mean, it’s the goal to find amazing waves, but what else does it do for you?
KA: Finding good surf is what keeps me motivated and makes me want to travel thousand of miles to get a few waves, a few unforgettable moments.
I believe that surfing is a way to be in a close relationship with nature, but also a way of life to be in a close relationship with people and cultures you find along the way. The waves keep me motivated, but in the end, you carry all these experiences inside yourself forever. That is the important part for me in a surf trip, not only as a surfer, but also as a human being.
Do it the natural way, on a bike, by land. You experience everything that is going on around you, in straight contact with people and nature. It is a great feeling.
IB: Is it possible to have some of what you have in everyday life, for people who can’t leave it all behind quite yet?
KA: Of course. But at the end, what I am trying to communicate is that everybody should try to make their dreams come true. Mine is travelling, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that. everybody should have the capacity to dream and to try to make their dreams come true, because life goes really fast. That’s my mission.
IB: What was it like traveling through Africa? You said you had some special connections there.
KA: Due to social, cultural and economic difficulties, many of the countries I went to in Africa have not seen any tourism, so they have retained their culture and a more distinct identity. That is what makes it so difficult, but also so special.
IB: Would you recommend this to others? Why or why not?
KA: I recommend travelling as a mind opening experience. It’s a great experience for your soul. You see many things, the good and the bad, and you meet many people and observe many cultures.
You will always find someone that wants to meet you, to help you. Sometimes I watch the TV and the news and there is only bad things around the world, but while travelling solo around the world, you always find that at the end we are all human beings. That gives you hope and helps you become a more completed person. At the end, a better person.
IB: How does one get started on a journey like this?
KA: For me, it was a personal needing. I was travelling the world competing and not finding what I really wanted. When you are in a contest, you have to be very focused on what you are doing and never have time to discover new places.
One day I decided to make a u-turn in my life, and basically go away with my surfboard and backpack, back to the roots.
Mentally, it takes effort to know exactly what you want to do in life and I think that’s one of the problems we have in our society. To me, that’s one of the hardest parts of life. Once you know what you really love, it’s much easier to do it.
IB: Your last video, “Freedom Fighter Finds Liberty in Epic Indonesia Surf Session,” seemed to have a message in it – what’s your definition of freedom?
KA: That was a casualty of life hahaha. I arrived in Bali and I rented a motorbike to go and explore the coastline of different places in Indo. When I rented this scooter, I found out that it had an old army helmet. I found that to be a contradiction; looking to have an intimate relationship with nature with an army helmet on.
I am philosophically against every army and war, and Charlie Chaplin is to me a human symbol of love. I just wanted to send a message of what liberty is to me and a message to the soldiers to think about whether they are doing the right thing in life.
IB: What’s next for you?
KA: I am planning to go to the cold again, maybe Russia. To me, the more I know the world, the more I want to cover it. There is so much to do, it’s never ending. My purpose next time is to keep making the dreams come true and never stop asking myself what’s next.