Opinion: El Salvador has become a marvelously abnormal country

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By Pablo Zanocchi of DUKE.*

What’s going on in this Central American nation is an example to follow all around the world; salt water pours in every corner of the presidential cabinet

It is hard to understand or process what is happening in El Salvador right now; it’s not normal that a whole cabinet of ministries visit an opening of an international surfing contest, or that in the same context the president of the nation hosts personally the athletes and event staff.

President Bukele meets with representatives from all delegations ahead of the Surf City El Salvador ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans
President Bukele meets with representatives from all delegations ahead of the Surf City El Salvador ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Also, it is not normal that the Tourism Minister is present at the competition every day, paying attention to the athletes, staff and invited journalists. That she is there speaking to everyone and willing to help in everything, without intermediaries, personal guards or any form of diplomacy or protocol.

It is not normal that a president takes a whole hour, face to face with surf journalists, answering to all their questions and statements, with absolute generosity, without rules or restrictions; how it should be.

It is not normal that he defends skateboarding in his city and surfing in his sea, or that he understands that surfers like a simple and comfortable guest house, and not a 20 story building, and also understands that this building doesn’t do good to the sea.

When you’re talking to friends and when talking to yourself that life is better when surfing, that you get out of the water being a better person than when you came in, and is not normal that a president of a nation says that if everyone goes surfing, this generates better health and prevents sedentary related diseases.

It is not normal that a president gets involved in the well-being of the best surfers of his country, or that he treats them like elite athletes, that their results and their future be backed and promoted by the same president. How many presidents know the name of a surfer in their country?

It is not normal that a presidential candidate has as one of their main campaign arguments to make their country an epicenter of the surfing world and thanks to this, wins with an overwhelming majority.

Also, it is not normal that a president be so young, 38 years old, that defends surfing and that has never been to the water to ride a wave (he said that if he does surf, he would break the board and himself).

It is not normal that this same president lowers the benefits to their ministries to reduce costs to the State.

It is not normal that this same president introduces himself as “Layla’s dad” on Twitter, instead of using his position as “president”, and it is not normal that Layla became protagonist at a UN Assembly, that he takes a selfie in the middle of his speech to teach all the dinosaurs that the world today works in a whole different way.

Also it is not normal that this young president takes on Maduro (Venezuelan President) and that his disruptive commentaries end up pleasing a character not so friendly like Donald Trump.

Surfing is not “normal” (ask anyone that wanted to surf in the sixties and seventies). In a football field there are two goals that don’t move, a net that doesn’t move in volley, and the same applies to many activities. In surfing, everything moves, everything shines, scares and defies. And what is most appealing is not the physical aspect, it is the spiritual and mental aspects.

In any case, it is normal that an abnormal government adopts as normal to motivate something so marvelous like seeing the sun rise surrounded by waves, with the breeze blowing from the shore and a whole life breaking ahead. There’s nothing more beautiful!

Don’t let the enchantment break, El Salvador! That every government become more surfer, that we can go work barefoot, that salt water drips from our bodies 24 hours, 365 days a year!

*This article was originally published in Spanish by www.dukesurf.com and it was translated and published with the written consent of the copyrights owner, Pablo Zanocchi. You cannot copy and paste it.

About the International Surfing Association:

The International Surfing Association (ISA), founded in 1964, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing. The ISA governs and defines Surfing as Shortboard, Longboard & Bodyboarding, StandUp Paddle (SUP) Racing and Surfing, Para-Surfing, Bodysurfing, Wakesurfing, and all other wave riding activities on any type of waves, and on flat water using wave riding equipment. The ISA crowned its first Men’s and Women’s World Champions in 1964. It crowned the first Big Wave World Champion in 1965; World Junior Champion in 1980; World Kneeboard Champions in 1982; World Longboard Surfing and World Bodyboard Champions in 1988; World Tandem Surfing Champions in 2006; World Masters Champions in 2007; World StandUp Paddle (SUP, both surfing and racing) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012; and World Adaptive Surfing Champions in 2015.

ISA membership includes the surfing National Federations of 108 countries on five continents. The ISA is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (ARG). The Executive Committee includes four Vice-Presidents Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL), Athletes’ Commission Chair Justine Dupont (FRA), Regular Members Atsushi Sakai (JPN) and Jean Luc Arassus (FRA) and ISA Executive Director Robert Fasulo as Ex-officio Member.

Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California (USA).

For more information, please visit www.isasurf.org