This Week’s Wandering Soul: Chicho Huamanchumo, 41, Huanchaco

Upon learning that I’m Australian, people tend to exchange a meaningful glance with their partners, cast a disparaging look at my general whiteness and beg to differ.  Then, when told that I am not a champion surfer, they seem elated – having seemingly justified their suspicion as to my nationality.  For this reason, I was very pleased indeed to meet Chicho: the man who was responsible for my standing on a surfboard and baptism by the waves.  Born in Huanchaco (outside of Trujillo) and raised on a diet of poetry and philosophy, Chicho discovered his passion for surfing almost by accident when as a small child he was lent a surfboard by a Chilean traveler.  Forced to make his own way with his siblings as youngsters when their parents died, Chicho has won national surfing championships and now dedicates his time to shaping boards and getting anyone from aged 5 to 500 riding salty waves to the shore.  The family surf school Muchik is based in Huanchaco.

Surfboard Shaping
Chicho now uses the comically large longboard I took my first lesson on as a workshop table…

How has being Peruvian left its mark on you?

I think that with respect to its stories and history, I feel connected to Peru.  Our story is made of our past and we have to live with it.  Since I’ve been able to, I’ve understood our past and felt proud of being Latino because of it.  Peru’s history has a bit of everything:  friendship, lots of mysticism, but also simplicity.  Our ancestors lived simply and sometimes very happily.

In order to feel Latino, I have to know my roots and try to understand them as well.  If I was a Latino who didn’t understand their history, I wouldn’t have love for my father – and there are a lot of Latinos who don’t.

What would your 13-year-old self think about you if they met you?

I’ve been an adult since I was very young, I hardly lived my childhood, I didn’t have a lot of opportunities.  I think he’d be proud.  He’d say “Look at all you’ve achieved with so much against you.”

If you could meet your 13-year-old self, what would you say to him?

I’d have a lot to say to him.  I’d firstly tell him to never lose what it is to be a child.  I’d beg him to dream big and promise him that one day he’d touch his star.  I’d tell him to hold many banners (particularly “LOVE”), and to know that learning is falling down and getting up again.  I’d remind him to be honest with himself.  But mostly, that he never stop dreaming.

How do you make decisions?

It’s a great question, but I’m going to answer it in a kind of crazy way.  Very recently, I began to feel that there was something very special in me, a sort of spirit who guides me – others might call it “The Holy Spirit.”  Sometimes I don’t listen to it or let it help me, but I’m learning to “polish” and perfect myself and I feel happy to feel that this spirit is working each day in me.  I feel that this spirit is within me, my thoughts and prayers.  This is the reason that when I shape (a surfboard), I always finish it with these words:  “I’ve been blessed by God.”

Do you think you’re on the right path?

I don’t think about that very much.  I’m happy.  If you knew me better, you’d know more of course – but I feel happy.  I want to keep on learning, I always want to learn more.

How do you feel when you think about your future?

Well, for me the future I think begins in the present.  It’s begins in the past, enters into the present day where you work hard so as to create a better future.  I don’t “believe in” or know the future, as it’s made in the present.  With sacrifice.

What fascinates you about Peru?

It’s culture and past…ahhhh, everything!  I think I’d say the food and the three distinct landscapes:  coast, mountains and jungle.

About humanity?

I think it would be the lack of education and manners demonstrated by some people.  Without this, it’s impossible to learn and understand oneself better.  I don’t mean that everyone demonstrates this lack, there are obviously lots of very good people in the world too.

About yourself?

I’m fascinated by always dreaming and trying to be a better person.

What scares you about Peru?

A lot.  What scares me most is that we fight over race; envy; and finally that one Peruvian can be the enemy of another.  Basically, that we don’t accept everyone.

About humanity?

War and that we stop dreaming and believing in god.  Of course, God is something defined differently by everyone.  Dios, Allah…God exists in each place though is named differently.  I believe in God, but I can’t say that “my” god “is” God.

About yourself?

I’m scared that I’m changeable and of being a good person (or of trying to be).  Sometimes, when you’d good people step all over you.

What do you hope happens in our world in order for us to live better together?

I hope for so much – but the first thing would be for love…for there to be more love in the world.  Also that we believe that God exists (and again, I say that “God” means many things to many people).  I’d also wish for us to have be aware of action and repercussion, have better marked morals and walk carrying banners high saying Honesty, Respect, Truth and Happiness.

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