Rafael Quijano wasn’t exactly what you’d call a surfer. The resident of Cancun had paddled out a few times in his life, but he didn’t surf regularly. Instead, he stayed busy with his modelling career and traveling around Mexico, the US, and other international destinations.
That all changed abruptly a few years ago, when Rafael was in California. He was riding his motorcycle and got hit by a woman in a car who ran a red light. The accident pretty much destroyed his foot. He lost a good portion of it to road rash and was rushed into surgery, which unfortunately resulted in post-surgical infection that ultimately led to amputation just below the knee.
Virtually overnight, Rafael’s life had taken a complete 180. Many people would have let this sort of misfortune get them down, but instead Rafael did the opposite and began embracing life more than ever. Ever since the accident, he has been pursuing his passions with more energy and stoke, pushing his limits in a variety of ways.
Last week, with Puerto Escondido once again pumping, Rafael found a new way to push himself. He had surfed a handful of times since his accident, but still wasn’t what you would call a regular surfer. His prosthetic leg wasn’t customised for surfing, and he certainly had never been out in anything like triple-overhead Zicatella.
Sometimes it takes a person like Rafael, who has faced real tragedy and yet somehow managed to come back stronger and gnarlier—packing triple-overhead bombs at Puerto!—to help give us some perspective
But around midday, when the wind came up and the paddle crowd went in, David Langer suggested that Rafael might like to try his hand at towing a few bombs. Rafael had never towed before, of course—but once you’ve survived an ordeal like his, your idea of what is and isn’t possible changes.
Rafael immediately jumped on the ski and headed out into the empty, chaotic lineup, and over the course of the next hour towed into a handful of monsters. He didn’t bother wearing a vest or any sort of floatation—just packed bombs, took beatings, and went back out for more.
It’s easy to get caught up in the small misfortunes that we all face throughout life—trivial things that, when we look back at them a few days later, are probably nothing to get worked up about.
Sometimes it takes a person like Rafael, who has faced real tragedy and yet somehow managed to come back stronger and gnarlier—packing triple-overhead bombs at Puerto!—to help give us some perspective and remind us of what’s important in life. Here’s hoping that Rafael will pursue his newfound passion for surfing. There’s no telling what the kid is capable of.
Vid from Maria Bastidas.