It’s the people you meet that I love so much, especially the girls. Last week, chasing the tail end of a big swell, I headed back to Las Flores (El Salvador) to surf its perfect, peeling point break. I knew I’d have a friend in the water encouraging me to take off, deep on the point. You can’t go to Las Flores without meeting Mathilde Hamdi. She’ll be the one charging out the back, carving up and down the wave like only a French girl could. She is mesmerising and her confidence and attitude is nothing short of inspiring. Mathilde has said au revoir to life in France, and bonjour to surfing the perfect wave everyday… and to falling in love and following her heart.
It’s funny how life throws you opportunities. The trick is to know which ones to take. Lucky for Mathilde, an invitation came just at the right time; when she was back home in Biarritz, France and feeling a little lost. A friend working for Surf With Amigas (a women’s surf camp), urged her to return to Central America, this time to El Salvador. It was game-on from day one, with an opportunity to go to a beach called Las Flores the next day and surf with a group girls. Of course she said YES! It was love at first sight for Mathilde. That day, everything changed.
Mathilde has only been surfing for four years. Yup. FOUR YEARS! It’s Las Flores’ perfect right-hand point that she owes a lot of her progression to:
The wave is long which gives you time to practice maneuvers and think about what you are doing. You have more time to improve here, then surfing a beach break.
But it’s not just the wave that keeps her here. It’s the combination of living the simple life, the fresh oysters, and the peace and quiet (when the Brazilians aren’t there!). But living in a very small fishing village like Las Flores isn’t all easy. She has been without running water for the last month and the electricity goes out frequently, making daily home life a challenge. When you need to get cash, you have to travel hours to the nearest ATM and when you get sick, it is really hard. There isn’t a lot of options for food either with no market, just small tiendas with minimal fruit and veg. Living the dream is not easy by any means.
This is also part of my paradise! ? @cesar_portillo503 #oysters #beer #beachlife #savagegirl @savage_officiel
But it is worth it. The wave keeps her here alongside her love of surfing and it’s life-lessons. Sharing the feeling with her boyfriend Cesar, the local she met on day one and fell in love with, makes it all the more special:
Surfing makes you explore and learn a lot about yourself. You have to be patient for the wave to come, for many things. So you have to work on yourself to be surfing good. You really need to practice but mentally practice as well. When you get a good wave or do a good trick, the feeling is unexplainable. It makes your day, your week, your whole year. Sharing the waves with my boyfriend here is even better.
A photo posted by Mathilde Hamdi (@matouhamdi) on
It’s when the waves get big that she misses her girlfriends the most. There is something about having that female support that is so precious and sadly not many local girls surf. So she goes at it alone (with Cesar by her side). Like most of us women surfers, she wants more girls in the water and has great advice for anyone thinking of picking up the sport or battling through the learning stages:
Go surfing anytime you can. I’ve surfed when there is snow on the sand. Any conditions are good. You need to practice your paddling as paddle strength is going to get you waves. Going surfing is always a good idea. You don’t often come out angry, always happier. Go surf every day and get a surfboard that goes with your level. Surf the right size at the right moment. Surfing with other girls is key as it will make you want to go surfing all the time.
Living the simple beach life brings her closer to the community, especially the children. With no local surf shop or supplies in the area, the kids surf anything they can. Wax is so hard to come by, and suncream… forget that! If you come to Las Flores to surf, bring some wax for the kids, an old rash vest, a leg rope, left over suncream. Anything will help.
Cruisin’ ✌️? #surf #surfergirl #coco @oysurfapparel Thaaaaanks ?@melissamaephoto
A photo posted by Mathilde Hamdi (@matouhamdi) on
So what does the future hold for Mathilde? Her and Cesar are currently looking to buy some land and build a house with surf bungalows. Getting the local kids involved will be a priority and inspiring more of them to surf, especially the girls.
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