Mauro Tapullima is a surfer I recently came across in Peru, currently working as a hotel receptionist in Chicama, a small village home to one of the longest waves in the world on the Peruvian northern coast. How he got there is the reason I’m writing this article: A remarkable story of overcoming fears and challenges.
Mauro is 32 years old and originally from Iquitos, a small and dangerous city in the vast Amazonian jungle. It’s the last city for boats heading up the Amazon, where they stock up on food, water, supplies… even weapons. Coming from a humble family, his life while growing up was a bit different than what was yours – or mine. Hunting anacondas, fighting crocodiles, living surrounded by monkeys and sharing his room with cockroaches bigger than your hand was a typical day for him.
As a teenager, Mauro had to work to support his family. He started working as a carpenter and learned to be a sculptor. A few years later, he found a job in a sawmill, and just as he was getting started with his new job, an on-the-job accident left him without 4 fingers of his right hand. Living in such an environment in the Amazonian jungle, this would become a huge challenge for the future. Without any state support, Mauro was struggling in life. Unable to use his right arm for over a year, he slowly recovered its mobility of his arm, though the Amazonian jungle was becoming a place where he was loosing his faith and hope.
Never having been anywhere close to the ocean before, Mauro decided to leave all his fears and struggles behind him. He left the jungle, his home and family to search a new life that hopefully would give him a new opportunity.
It wouldn’t take long until he found a bit of luck on his side.
Mauro found a job offer at a new hotel built in Chicama, a tiny fishing village a few hours north of Lima. When he arrived at this town, he had no idea where he was getting into. A magical hidden place on the Peruvian coast, with one of the best waves in the world. A wave you can ride for a mile!
Now, 2 years later, Mauro is one of the most positive, smiling people I have met. He has become a well known surfer in town, has a good job and teaches surfing to tourists. Having lost 4 fingers is no problem for him anymore. He paddles stronger than anyone in the lineup, and is fearless when charging the biggest waves and barrels in the area. He dreams now of travelling to new countries and going to university.
Little could he imagine when living in the Amazonian jungle what the future had prepared for him. He may lack four fingers in one of his hands, but surfs better than you and I and lives in a small town with a world class wave right in front of his house.