Over the years, I have had some real adventure seekers come through my doors. One example is Jesse Aizenstat. Jesse started working with me as an assistant guide just out of high school. He was a local kid who was recommended by friends – a good surfer and hard worker. As a young and new guide, Jesse was first given the toughest duties. After cleaning many kayaks and fixing constantly broken gear, he worked his way into trips and quickly became a core member of our crew.
I hadn’t heard from Jesse since he moved on to attend college full time. Then last month he was on the cover of the Santa Barbara Independent with a feature article about his travels to the Middle East and new digital book, “Surfing the Middle East.” I caught up with him between book signings and publishing meetings. It was great to hear he was still seeking new adventures and doing well.
Birthdate: June 12, 1985
First Job: Grease Jockey @ gas station
First Car: 1962 Ford F100
Favorite Surfboard: 6’3 Dave Johnson short board
Favorite Spot in Santa Barbara: Jalama
Philosophy of Life: “They train young men to drop fire on people. But their commanders won’t allow them to write FUCK on their airplanes… Because? It’s obscene! ” Col. Kurtz, at the top of the river, Apocalypse Now – or Everyone gets everything they want.
When did you guide for SBACo for how long?
I guided for SBACO for just over a year. While going to City College. And, well, frankly, had a hell of a time doing it!
Did working as a guide help you in your current journalistic adventures?
During my years at SBACO, I learned the dedication and care it takes for planning any such adventure. Like sharing our beloved California coast on guiding trips, surfing the Middle East was a journalist stunt that drew on my practical skills as a guide.
Rule number one: empower yourself to help others. Surfing from Israel to Lebanon was no easy gig – the basic idea was to tell a story about a region divide, plagued by war, deemed by the New York Times as being the “worlds must combustible region”. It was the pre-trip planning and ability to problem solve on the fly that made this adventure possible. Many of these skills I learned from my time guiding at SBACO.
What where your first trips like? What was your favorite trip?
My first trips were very much like writing Surfing the Middle East: “It’s like Maui with rockets”: sharing my passion with people. The natural coast of California is something I dearly cherish, and helping people understand its magic was definitely the vocation for me.
What was your funniest SBACo memory?
The funniest thing that happened to me while working at SBACO was flipping my kayak after trying to set some kind of example of what NOT to do.
Thanks for catching up Jesse. I am looking forward to reading about all your travels.
If you want to read more about Jesse’s travels, visit his blog “Blogging The Casbah” or download his fascinating three-part e-book “Surfing the Middle East”, the first installment of which was just published for the iPad this month. Catch a preview in the video below.
Is this the Jesse who was one of the brightest students at SBHS?