Import / Export: Matt Davies.

Import / Export: Matt Davies.

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

Hello, my name is Matt Davies, but known to most as Mave.
I live on a small holding in the south of Portugal with my better, Portuguese, half Joana and our two dogs both named Luz …it’s a long story….

For work, I am the co-founder of Mossy Earth, a social enterprise on a mission to restore nature and fight climate change through reforestation and rewilding projects. I also run trips for Rob Barber’s Bodyboard Holidays here in Portugal.

I began boogin on a Gul G-force Air in the late 90s in the Witterings, on England’s south coast with a few friends from school. Really it was on extended trips during my late teens to the usual booger haunts such as Canaries, Oz and Indo as well as time spent in Cornwall while at university, where I really learnt to bodyboard.

What prompted you to move countries?

Growing up in the Witterings, where the waves are very inconsistent and of a low quality, I always imagined I’d one day live abroad where I could get regular, quality surf in warmer waters. But it was meeting a girl in 2006, who was moving to Hossegor, that saw me leave the UK and never return.

After a year or so in the South of France, and a break up from the aforementioned girlfriend, I headed to Portugal in 2007 where I am still here today, fourteen years later. Albeit with an interlude of two years living (and surfing) in Italy, Switzerland and Northern Spain.

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

Having left France with a broken heart, I made a last minute impulsive decision to take a teaching job in Portugal, having never been there before. I recall, when at the airport leaving the UK, thinking “right, let’s make an effort to learn the language in Portugal” and so headed to WHSmith to buy a Spanish phrase book. Naively and unbeknown to me, in Portugal they speak Portuguese and not Spanish,a lesson I quickly learnt the hard way when I tried making small talk from my phrase book to a rather disgruntled taxi driver!

In terms of bodyboarding, I had previously shared a hostel dorm in Australia with a couple of Portuguese boogers, who weren’t all that friendly and had that aggressive untidy, leggy style, and so I ignorantly went to Portugal assuming most boogers would be the same.

Have these expectations been confirmed or altered?

On both counts my expectations were completely wrong! My taxi driver certainly didn’t “habla español” and the local boogers were not only friendly and welcoming, but they had a high and stylish level of riding.

What do you love about your new home?

I love the fact that, if you’re willing to drive a little, you can find a variety of world class bodyboarding waves on a regular basis. I am also lucky enough to live equal distance between the sea and the mountains, so when there are no waves, I head for the trails. Needless to say, I also enjoy the regular sunshine, warm water, strong coffee and cheap red wine.

What do you miss about your old home country?

Radio 4, British banter and comedy, and of course all my friends and family in the UK.

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

Nothing major stands out but many linguistic misdemeanours through the years.

Key advice you would give for anyone visiting?

It’s still Europe, so to really score, you should come for at least a month. Also, a rental car is a must if you want to sample as many of the good bodyboarding waves here as possible.
Alternatively, if you’re pushed for time to plan a trip and/or you’ve nobody to go with, I suggest jumping on the Bodyboard Holidays camp in Portugal. It’s guaranteed good times, great people and lots of booging.

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

It’s been a while since I was a part of the UK scene but from what I remember and see via social media, it is much like here. – A close knit bunch of friends not taking life too seriously, looking out for one another and planning their lives around the next swell.

Since arriving here in 2007, I have lived in several different areas of Portugal and in all those places, the local bodyboarders have been super accommodating and friendly. – For example, a year ago, I moved to the south of Portugal, where a local booger Joao Mendes who I’d only met a couple of times previously, has gone out of his way to make me feel at home down here and a part of the local bodyboarding crew. Just today, I received a message inviting me to take part in a tag team bodyboard event followed by a Christmas shindig. And tomorrow, I’m being taken to hidden gem of a wave.

I also had a similar experience living in Sintra, Portugal under Nic Rosner’s watchful eye and in Northern Spain, where Simon Murphy took me under his wing for a year and introduced me to a sound bunch of guys in Cantabria and took me to a heap of good waves that I’d have never found otherwise.
The collectiveness that exists between bodyboarders is special and difficult to find in other sports. Foreign stand-up friends of mine who have been in Portugal the same length of time as I, say that such a brotherhood doesn’t exist in their sport.

What do you hope the future holds for you?

To be honest, I’m pretty content with how things are at the moment; having a positive impact with Mossy Earth, hunting good waves, running up mountains, and cruising with my dogs and Joana on our farm.
Finally, I’d like to say a special thank you to all the boogers I have met and that have helped me along the way in Portugal, I’m grateful to you all. I’d also like to give a quick shout out to the Bodyboard Depot, who keep me kitted out with gear all year, to do what I love most, bodyboarding!

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