Import/ Export: Tommy Kitson.

Quick introduction on who you are and where you began boogin’?

Tom Kitson- originally from Christchurch, New Zealand. Got the surf travel bug while at University and ended up spending most of my student loan on my annual 2 months in Indonesia. After teaching for a couple of years and completely a full dry season in Indonesia I was convinced to head to the U.K for 6 months.

I ended up landing a Head of PE job at an inner London school and what was meant to be a 6 month trip ended 14 years later. Three months of annual paid holidays for being a teacher allowed me to get my surf fix- Hossegor, Morroco, Canary Islands, Indo, Sri Lanka and Portugal. Every holiday I was abroad chasing waves.

What prompted you to move countries?

Covid and not being able to travel put life in perspective. I was counting down the days to my next school holiday(surf trip)I also had the pleasure of a new boss whose vision I was not aligned with.

Before arriving in your new country what did you think it would be like?

I assumed that everything would be perfect and easy. I think we all look at fresh starts this way.

Portugal.

Have these expectations been confirmed or altered?

I love Peniche, Portugal but it does take time getting used to Portuguese systems. In some ways it’s like Indonesia- you go to a government organisation and you get different answers depending who you speak to and on what day. The only difference is that you can’t pay to get an issue sorted. It literally took months to simply get registered at the doctors. They just kept saying no whenever I turned up with the correct details(passport ,proof of address etc). Luckily I found a lady online who sorted it for me so I could switch my U.K. Covid passport so that I get into Indo. To this day I don’t know how she convinced them.

What do you love about your new home?

The plan is to splt my time between Portuguese(9 months), Indo (3 months dry season) each year. I’m extremely lucky to have a partner who is on the same page as me on work/life balance.

I live directly over the dunes of Supertubos which is an amazing boog wave. Kiwis and Aussies love a dawny, it seems the Portuguese are not on the same page so you normally get pumping surf without the crowds at first light. The local boogs are also next level. I would dear to say that the level of the average boog in Portugal would be higher than anywhere else in the world. The top riders blow my mind. Only a matter of time before there is a Portuguese world champion.

Portuguese bread is unreal. Baked fresh through out the day at the local bakery. Eating and drinking out is also cheap compared to U.K. and Australasia. Think €1 beers and €5 mains.

Baleal in Peniche reminds me of Byron bay If that’s your vibe.


What do you miss about your old home country?

Mates, family, pies and lasagne toppers (it’s a NZ thing).

Have these expectations been confirmed or altered?

I love Peniche, Portugal but it does take time getting used to Portuguese systems. In some ways it’s like Indonesia- you go to a government organisation and you get different answers depending who you speak to and on what day. The only difference is that you can’t pay to get an issue sorted. It literally took months to simply get registered at the doctors. They just kept saying no whenever I turned up with the correct details(passport ,proof of address etc). Luckily I found a lady online who sorted it for me so I could switch my U.K. Covid passport so that I get into Indo. To this day I don’t know how she convinced them.

What do you love about your new home?

The plan is to split my time between Portuguese(9 months), Indo (3 months dry season) each year. I’m extremely lucky to have a partner who is on the same page as me on work/life balance.

I live directly over the dunes of Supertubos which is an amazing boog wave. Kiwis and Aussies love a dawny, it seems the Portuguese are not on the same page so you normally get pumping surf without the crowds at first light. The local boogs are also next level. I would dear to say that the level of the average boog in Portugal would be higher than anywhere else in the world. The top riders blow my mind. Only a matter of time before there is a Portuguese world champion.

Portuguese bread is unreal. Baked fresh through out the day at the local bakery. Eating and drinking out is also cheap compared to U.K. and Australasia. Think €1 beers and €5 mains.

Baleal in Peniche reminds me of Byron bay If that’s your vibe.


What do you miss about your old home country?

Mates, family, pies and lasagne toppers (it’s a NZ thing).

uNZed.

Any funny cross cultural misunderstandings you’d like to share?

Pao is the Portuguese name for bread. I was pronouncing it the way it’s written – POWl. Apparently this is not the way it should be pronounced. So it seems this word is slang for penis. “ can I please have four penises please” was a daily request for a few months until I found out how to pronounce it properly.

Key advice you would give for anyone visiting?

Get up early for surf.
Visit lisbon- epic city. Great nightlife.
Although outside temp is nice, the water is cold. Make sure you have a good wettie during the winter months. Most locals wear hoods…
Houses are made to be cool in summer. This means they are freezing in winter. Make sure where you are staying has heat pumps or log burner.
Don’t paddle out at the same time as all your mates. Standard advise for anywhere in the world.

Try and buy an annual excess car insurance in your home country. We used to have one from the U.K. when we visited before we moved. Circa £50 for the year and it means you don’t have to pay €20 a day at the car rental company.

All car rental companies are crooks. Especially the ‘cheaper’ ones that don’t have a booth at the airport. Avoid these companies at all costs.


How are the Boogin’ Community similar and different in the two countries?

The close knit element is exactly the same. The difficulties I have is that I’m still learning Portuguese so I can’t have chats with most locals in the water. I miss this element of surfing here.

There is also a higher percentage of boogs in the water. On a good day at supertubos I would estimate 75% boogs 25% stand ups. This is completely different to New Zealand where it would be 99% surfers, 1% boogs most of the time.


What do you hope the future holds for you?

Given up the teaching gig and looking for a healthy and happy life with my other half in wave rich Portugal. Also hoping to put more time into surf photography.

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