We’re proud to call Panama our home, and we take pride in the fact that we live in Pedasi. Many expats take to volunteering – be it teaching English to school children, helping control the pet population, or keeping the local fishermen gainfully employed. And sometimes we see expats become not only a member, but a pillar of the local community.
There’s one person who has been living in Pedasi for over eight years now and has done just that. We would like to introduce everyone to Kevin Conrad; affectionately known as…Papa Surf.
Originally from Ontario, Canada, Kevin and his wife Lynn decided to retire to the sunny and warm beach town that is Pedasi. They bought a Panamanian fixer-upper house in town and renovated it to suit their taste.
During the renovation process, Kevin noticed a young boy just hanging around his house, watching and eventually helping with the renovation. The boy’s name: Edwin (Aldair) Cerrud.
Over the years Kevin spoke broken Spanish, and Edwin learned a bit of English. Days were spent fixing and building, along with many trips into town for ‘tacos y tornillos’. And if you think that sounds like a cleverly named tasty meal, think again. It’s actually Spanish for wall plugs/anchors and screws…so you probably don’t want to eat those!
During the same time frame, both boy and man formed a bond as they renovated. But when the renovations stopped, the relationship kept going.
When they weren’t renovating, they were enjoying the waves at Playa Panamaes – an off the beaten trail beach known to locals and a few expats for great waves, especially for body-boarding. Kevin would drive Edwin and many of Edwin’s friends to the beach so they could learn and practice body-boarding.
Just recently, Edwin Cerrud’s sister brought new life into our world. Being of the Catholic religion, they had the baby baptized. The family extended an invitation to Kevin and Lynn to be part of their special day. It’s one thing to assimilate into the local ways and culture. It’s another to have a family accept you as one of their own.
The kids in town love Kevin, and their parents love what he does for their children. He offers them a ride to the beach and the kids stay out of trouble (as much as kids can). Oh, and Kevin gets a little exercise too.
Kevin usually brings his camera and gets some good body-boarding shots of the kids, or whales, or turtles, or just waves. Check out the Pedasi Surf Facebook page he created for some great shots of the kids doing what they love.
I’ve personally been out to dinner with Papa Surf and Lynn a few times, and whenever there’s a local kid within shouting distance, they make sure they say ‘hola’ and wave to him – and vice versa. And sometimes they stop to chat with him as well.
A few years ago, one of the other kids Papa Surf would take to the beach, Edwin Nuñez, became a body-boarding champion, winning a competition in Nicaragua. To add to that, he’s either won or placed top 3 in several other Panamanian events in recent years. Getting regular trips to the beach surely helped.
Sometimes people live ON a country rather than IN a country. Many of us are proud to say we live IN Panama. I’m sure the locals and their children would agree with us when we say that Kevin and Lynn made the perfect choice to live IN Panama.
Here’s to you Papa Surf!
Hasta Pronto Amigos!