It was a beautiful end of summer weekend in the Far North of New Zealand when I randomly met Amy and her husband, Richard Kotch. Recently married, they enraptured me with tales of their Maldivian romance and lifestyle as surf guides. Overlooking an empty bay with small but perfectly formed waves, we dined on tea and birthday cake and – thankyou Universe! – 2 months later I was their grasshopper and working alongside them at Hudhuran Fushi Resort.
Amy, you embody living the dream of being paid to surf and travel to exotic locations – how did you find yourself in this line of work?? Its kind of a long story…(author interjection) so long story short: a series of serendipitious and self-made opportunities found Amy randomly working at Nihiwatu Resort on the Indonesian island of Sumba which lead to a random meeting with Tropic Surf owner, Ross Phillips, who offered Amy her dream job of working as a surf guide in the Maldives which led to randomly meeting her future husband in the lineup. I love this story!
Where are you currently and what are you doing? Currently we are in Micronesia at P-Pass, a beautiful island full of foliage and a lot of rain! We are helping out at Pohnpei Surf Club. We organize boats, help with the hotel and guest services.
After living in the Maldives and Indonesia, how are you finding the cultural differences of Micronesia? What have you been learning about this archipelago? The culture of island peoples are quite similar in many respects save the religion aspect. It is mostly Christian here in Micronesia, the biggest difference is the open alcohol here verses in the Muslim countries where it is prohibited. America has a very strong influence here as well because it used to be a US territory after the war. There are some really interesting historical sites here and the old war relics that were left from WWII make imaginations go wild with . The people here are happy, very friendly and lovely. One really interesting aspect of this culture here in Micronesia is that if you do something wrong, say get in a car accident and its your fault all you have to do is ask for forgiveness from the person you hit and all the consequences go away if they forgive you!
Where`s the next pit stop before starting back at Lohis? We will go to Indonesia after here for a month before we head back to Hudhuran Fushi in the Maldives. We love Indo!
The Maldives is a 100% Muslim nation. What`s it really like living in a Westerner`s view of paradise with this religious and cultural background? Great question! I truly hope that the western world view of Muslim nations will change, too many westerners think of the “muslim” culture as fundamental extremists who are ready to suicide bomb and automatically associate Muslim with Terrorism…..it is a fallacy that needs to be radically changed. Most devout Muslims want peace as much as the next person and this western view of terrorism actually creates more of a divide between the two cultures. I feel more and more that the extremists come from the dislike of the Muslim culture westerners put out there….. we need to change the cycle and respect their beliefs as many of them do us. There are too many fingers pointed at the other culture both ways.I have so many Maldivian friends who are some of the most warm hearted beautiful people I have met. We need to change the way we relate to them and as Ghandi says, “be the change……” Recently I saw a photograph of Christians in Egypt encircling the Muslims who were praying so they wouldn’t be hurt by the police, this is truly what I am talking about! I got tingles when I saw it, that was the true definition of “loving others” and I wish more people would embody that.
And the surf?? Fun fun and more fun! The more I travel the more i realize how incredibly great the waves in this part of the world are. The reef is very user friendly, the waves are playful when small and can be barreling and powerful with a bit of size. It’s a very dynamic place to surf, with something for everyone! It’s also a great pre-curser to surfing heavier places like Indonesia and P-Pass, not to mention so gorgeous!
You used to compete back in the States. Has this experience helped your surfing and if so, in what ways? I did some local comps for a few years specifically to improve my surfing, which it did, heaps. Surfing contests forces you to surf when it looks not so inviting and you learn to push yourself a bit harder, striving to make that more vertical turn or land that floater that you may normally not go for. I also met a great group of other girls to surf with and made life-long friends. I would have to say if it wasn’t for surfing the contests, I probably wouldn’t be where i am today, it pushed me just that little bit more.
You picked up Hive Swimwear as a sponsor last year. How did you go about it and what do you have to do in exchange? To be honest, I just emailed Hive telling them about me and what I do and asked if they would be interested in sending me a few bikinis. Since my husband takes photos I have been sending them photos and talking them up to all the surf girls I come in contact with. Girls really do look for a great looking but comfortable suit to surf in. They really are the best bikinis i have surfed in EVER! They even stand the Cokes backhand flogging test! haahaahaa! Also, Zeal Optics has started throwing some sunnies my way, all sunnies are polarized which is great for the tropical waters and they are so comfortable! Since surf guiding doesn’t pay in much besides waves these sponsors really help!!
How do you manage living and working with your husband in such close confines? Any advice?? Yes, as a married couple we spend extraordinary amounts of time together, it seems to be almost easier than living in a normal society because we can’t escape each other so we must work things out otherwise you just end up miserable. In normal marriages you can run off to friends houses or family or even the other side of the house to escape but we cant do that in our small room. We forgive a lot and say sorry a lot and we try to always remember that we are in it together, we are a team and must form a united front, always supporting each other especially in front of others. We never talk about our problems with other people and have no secrets (ie. facebook,emails, bank accounts everything is combined and no secret passwords. So if you see a very blokey post on my facebook page? It’s probably my husband being naughty on my page!!). I am very blessed to have a man who loves me so much and communicates so well. He isn’t afraid to say he is sorry and has taught me more about unconditional love than I could have ever imagined.
Who and what inspires you? I am inspired by those who love others regardless of their sex, race, thoughts, ideas. It could be anyone I meet and changes all the time when I see someone who embodies love, its what I strive for and often fail at. My friend Jess Cramp inspires me, she left a extremely well paying job as a scientist to travel the world doing philanthropic work. She is currently in the Cook Islands saving the sharks! Also, and most importantly, my husband inspires me, he has been through a lot in his life, has such a passion for life, forgives easily, doesn’t hold grudges and always looks for the good in others.
What`s one piece of advice you`ve been given that`s resonated with you? Life is like a box of chocolates…. hahaha, nah just kidding but really i think the best advice I have ever got was to create positivity wherever you go. I definitely need to put it into practice more but we create the environment we live in by how we behave to others. You get back what you put out…. I am learning more every day….
Favourite surf destination so far? Tough question! Probably Nihiwatu, that is a magical place but I also love Lakey Peak in Sumbawa and of course my “home break” Lohi’s in the Maldives 🙂
Any surf spots/countries yet to check out? Yes! So many!!! I would love to go to Chicama in Peru and I have never been to the Mentawaiis….. definitely on my to do list.
What`s on your bucket list? To be a momma someday, but I think I have a few more barrels to get before I go down that road! Also I am dying to go to Italy…. eat pray love and all that!
You can also read more of Amy`s story here at Australian online surf magazine, Surf Sister.
A multi-talented couple, Amy and Rich work for World Surfaris as surf guides in the Maldives where they also maintain regular swell journals for Coastalwatch throughout the season. All photographs of Amy, unless otherwise stated, are courtesy of Richard Kotch Photography. Check out Rich`s photographic work here.