by Ricardo Bravo
A big guy with big hair and even bigger grin. A grin the size of a house.
He is a sizable human in many dimensions.
When the surf gets big, he goes pretty big.
When it’s medium/small, he throws big ol’ buckets.
He dwells at the bottom of a big Portuguese coastline where a big yellow sun burns proud.
Alex Botelho a 23-year-old Portuguese surfer who used to work in restaurants to make ends meet, but now just surfs and surfs. And he has no plans to downsize – much less down tools – any time soon.
The coast in the south of Portugal, particularly around the town of Lagos, has been a place of immigration over the past few decades. Its gene pool mightily more cosmopolitan than the surrounding sun wizened fields of rock might have been mid way through the 20th century. Today, in the schoolyards or out in the lineups, you’ll find kids with parents of mixed nationality, parents who maybe went there on a holiday from a northern land and promised themselves never to leave the balminess of Europe’s most southern extremity. A well-known case would be the Lipkes and former WCT surfer Marlon (Danish/German parents). There’s pro surfer twins the Guichards from down in Tavira (French/Norwegian parents), and of course, there’s big Alex Botelho. Born in Oshawa, Canada in 1991 to a Dutch mother and a Portuguese dad, the only coast around was the frigid northern shoreline of Lake Ontario, where winter temperatures can dip to a brutal -40 degrees C. Mercifully, the family moved back to Portugal when Alex was 6, something he’s pretty happy about in retrospect. “As far as I’m concerned it was the best decision they ever made. I can’t really picture myself in a red Mountie uniform chasing outlaws up and down the mountains on horseback, so Portugal was an inspired move.”