Entrepreneurial Surfer Mario Becerril is the focus of this second installment in our series The Saints of Todos Santos, a fun look at some of the Todos Santos residents who really put the magic into our Pueblo Magico.
Sometimes mother really does know best. Mario’s mother moved the family from Mexico City to La Paz when Mario was 12 years old, and she quickly prioritized her educational goals for Mario in their new ecotourism-centered home town on the ocean. “My mother insisted that I learn to speak English and that I learn how to swim.” Luckily for folks who come to Todos Santos for surf instruction, he learned to do both extremely well! Mario is now widely considered the best surf instructor in the area and has built up a successful surfing school that is unmatched in terms of equipment, instructor talent, student success and – let’s face it – sheer fun. But it took some hard work to get here.
Mario went to a high school in La Paz that specializes in preparing kids for a career in Baja California Sur tourism. As part of their coursework students are required to participate in all the main tourist activities in the area, including sport fishing, kayaking, scuba diving, sailing and so forth. So at the age of 16 Mario came to Los Cerritos Beach in Todos Santos to learn how to surf, the same beach where he teaches his own surf students these days. “After I caught that first wave at Los Cerritos I was completely hooked. For the rest of high school and all of college I came to Todos Santos every single weekend I could to surf. The incredible joy of surfing, the magic of Todos Santos, all combined to make Todos Santos the only real place for me to live once I graduated from college.”
Once he completed his degree in foreign business at the University of BCS in La Paz, Mario headed straight to Los Cerritos and hasn’t looked back since. He started working as a surf instructor for a small surf business at the beach, and soon realized that he had a natural gift for transmitting knowledge. His goal became to make the sheer exuberance of surfing accessible to everyone, so over the next 3 years he developed Mario’s Infallible Surfing Technique (MIST), the teaching tool that he uses at Todos Santos Eco Adventures’ Baja Surf Camp for Women. He’s serious about this. “If you don’t get up on the board during your first surf lesson I’ll give you your money back. We have a 3-step technique for people who come to us with better balance and strength, and a 4-step technique for those who need a little more work in these areas. But they all get up – and have fun doing it.” Mario notes that Los Cerritos is a particularly perfect beach for learning how to surf. “It doesn’t really matter what the weather is like or how big the surf is. The Cerritos magic is that we can always find a safe area for beginners to learn. The smooth and sandy bottom is a big plus as well.” And unlike some well-known surf spots there is no pollution in the ocean at Todos Santos.
To get the money he needed to build up his own surfing school Mario taught surfing 7 days a week at the beach and tended bar 6 nights a week in town. He even built his first 10 surf boards himself. Now, 12 years after moving to Todos Santos fulltime, Mario simply is surfing in Todos Santos. Even the big surf outfits out of Cabo and elsewhere on the Cape admit that Mario’s got the best equipment around, as well as the best-trained, most effective instructors. “We have such a great group of instructors. They are all Mexicans and they’re all from around this area. And of course they are all masters of the Infallible Technique!”
In addition to his surfing school Mario also runs Mario’s Bar at The Hotelito on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. His mother now lives in Todos Santos too!
© Copyright Sergio and Bryan Jauregui, Casa Payaso S de RL de CV, 2011