A Bumpy Road To Joy

Air travel for surfers continues to be the worst
By Chas Smith


It isn't easy being a traveling surfer. First, a board coffin is totally unruly. Like, the most! Skycaps don't want to touch it. Porters glare. Second, every single person in line wants to be one (a traveling surfer). They aggressively dream of white sand beaches and gorgeous blue water and slather their lust all over the place. I have taken to wearing my sunglasses in the check-in line so I don't have to make eye contact. Third, girls just want to talk and talk and talk. I'm not in to talking with girls these days. I am only in to catcalling from street corners or leering. Talking is out.

I wear a suit always when I travel. Currently it is a taupe Dolce & Gabbana four button, slim through the pant. And a white Helmut Lang shirt underneath. And because I am a traveling surfer in a nicer not grey suit the Transportation Security Administration thinks I abuse and travel with cocaine.

And then they look at my passport. I have visas from Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Lebanon, Portugal, Mexico and Australia inside. Once, a border official said, "Isn't it illegal to travel to Lebanon?" No it is not. I have surfed little nuggets near Beirut. And once I was detained by Hezbollah officials (for calling in locations for Israeli airstrikes even though I wasn't. But a bomb did hit v v near to where I was sitting).

Once, a border official said, "Those people don't like us. Why the frick you goin' there?" after seeing a stamp from the United Arab Emirates And once a border "official" stabbed my surfboard with a screwdriver (in Djibouti) to see what was inside.
I have heard stories of surfers being held in cells overnight for being surfers. I have heard stories of visas being rejected and stories of young Africans who will absolutely not stop touching blonde hair. I have heard stories of surf cameramen being forced to shove undeveloped film into rusty old x-ray machines.

I was delayed to my European flight, yesterday, because of my passport and surfing and whatnot. It left without me. I was on my way to Australia to cover the tour. Going the long way around because I want to sit at sidewalk cafes and drink espresso and chocolate milk while eating foie gras with a fig and balsamic reduction (while listening to Carla Bruni) before watching Kelly take Snapper.

Once, I was asked to chew my surf wax in Colombia to make sure it wasn't an explosive. It tasted like cheap wine and misunderstanding.