After Roberto’s passing, my great love and life teacher, a dedication to him was published in the Ecuadorian surf magazine Radical. I was asked to write some words about him and his famous nickname as “el profesor” and i would like to share these words with you in English too.
“Deseo poco, y lo poco que deseo, lo deseo poco" (I wish for little and of the little that I wish, I wish little) is what he told me the first time we met in 2011 on the blue Montañita Ecuadorian ocean shore. I was looking for a surf class, but instead of only a great teacher in surf and a very attractive man, I also found an amazing teacher in life hidden, in that faraway corner of the world.
And that seemingly simple life realization “yo deseo poco”(I wish for little) – to consciously give up all those objects most of us chase lifetimes–bank accounts, status, name and fame–that is a unique expression of character. I think that was the first thing I grasped upon meeting him, something that directly brought me to his essence and just to be really honest (and why not?), made me love him instantly. And so that is how our story – and the last chapter of his life – began (and that is why my words about him are about him as a teacher, and not just as love and life partner).
As a four-year long witness of his interaction with people I can say that the most prominent power of Roberto’s personality was, and why he obtained the famous name “el profesor” even outside Ecuador, that he actually was the embodiment of the words I now write here so seriously on this paper. Putting simple truths into action, unpretentious and always happy, sharing the little material things and the abundant energy, time, and insights he had. And I believe that being that living example is what opened a little doorway to people’s hearts. Yes, some didn’t see it, some didn’t like it, some didn’t appreciate it, and some even abused this generosity to some extent, and at times I even wondered if people outside of Ecuador grasped his uniqueness more profound–like sometimes we don’t realise the things right next to us and we grow up with, which we only come to appreciate when it’s gone. Because I experienced the impact he had first hand in the many countries we visited, and through the many people from all over the world we came in contact with. The Hawaiian shaper Matty Raynor wrote his thoughts about Roberto beautifully and to the point on his blog:
“I knew him as “the professor.” It took me a few visits to understand the nickname–he was one of those people that you wanted to pause mid-conversation so you could locate a pad of paper to take notes. More one-line wisdom came out of him than anyone I’ve ever met. He was sincere and humble. He was mega positive and would give anything he had to anyone who needed it. I think he looked at life as an art form, and he was a master.“
And the “art of living” is exactly what we tried to bring to perfection in these last years living, loving, and traveling together. Roberto taught me that the key to his philosophy – for anyone who wants to pursue a little of that wisdom themselves – is “detachment.” Giving up our old and familiar security. Our security to things and thoughts. Because in our unawareness we imagine that we can derive happiness from objects and images around us, but in the end (and especially when facing death), we find out that there is no happiness on any object or image of the world, and we will only find it in true bonding with our self and doing good to each other. Not in the material things we try to attain. Not in the role we try to play. Not by trying to be the person who we think we should be. And the miracle is, that by not appearing more than we are, by just being no one in particular, by plunging ourselves into this insecurity, we will stand out as remarkable. And that is where the excitement and magic of being happens.