Regressing Forward // The Ex Pat

While Cy is off traveling the world, filming movies and living in his van, the rest of your Korduroy crew is holding down the fort here in SoCal. Since he has made it a goal to have conversations with many of the characters he meets on the road, we’re making it our goal to keep tabs as much as possible. He started his Regressing Forward blog back in January, and today begins the first in an ongoing series of reblogs from Regressing Forward to Korduroy. With this, we bring you Tony Roberts, The Ex Pat. Keep up with Cy at regressingforward.com.

“One of the biggest things we gringos need to learn is that we will never be locals. Ever. We are forever guests.” 

Tony Roberts has been traveling the world full-time for nearly 20 years. Growing up in California, at 30 he decided to quit his life directing surf and music videos to travel the world in search of good waves.

“I’ve always been a hustler. I’ve made ends meet in Bali, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and many other idyllic places before they got crowded. I made it work by living cheaply like the locals and staying connected back home for jobs.”

He’s been a staple Quiksilver cinematographer for decades and today picks up local gigs with tourists looking to document their trips. He has settled into this quiet Central American town and is raising a 10-year-old daughter he had with a local girl. His quaint beach shack is smaller than the adjacent concrete patio covered by fruit trees. In the afternoon breeze he pops open a fresh Tona brew and sits in a chair next to his grill and potter’s wheel.

“Every surfer owes it to him or herself to devote a portion of their lives solely to surfing quality waves. I just decided I wasn’t going to get caught up the aspiration of accumulating material things to prove my worth, which is in one way or another what all of my friends were doing back home… It was scary at first, but one trip down here I remember bringing a tent and camping on the beach with my boards for months. I returned home and tried to get back in the flow, but I couldn’t shake how content I was down here. That’s when I set the plans in motion to bail. I don’t really ever plan on going back to the States.”

I could relate to most of his sentiments. Now 30 myself, I no longer have any desire to be apart of the Southern California zeitgeist. But I’ve always wondered what living a completely selfish life would do to me. While I mostly call my own shots, I do feel my obligations to friends, family and colleagues provides a sense of stability and grounding. So I asked about other things that might give clues to Tony’s state of contentment and overall happiness.

“It’s lonely for sure, you don’t have the family and support that you do at home. You’re always an outsider here. But I’m able to do things my way. I want to make a book about surfing longevity which incorporates diet, yoga and lack of stress,” he said smiling as he opened another beer. “Surfing well and being healthy and creative is all I’ve ever really wanted. For better or worse, I’m true to myself. I know my daughter looks up to me because she can see that I’m happy. And that means a lot.”

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