Under Desert Sun With Dane Gudauskas

Kevin Voegtlin captures Kepa Acero and Dane Gudauskas as they explore the African desert, culture, and waves in his latest film Under Desert Sun. On Friday, November 22nd, we're hosting a screening and celebration of the film at our Brooklyn flagship store from 7-9PM. In lieu of the film, Dane chatted with us about the people and waves in Angola, located on the west coast of Southern Africa, here:

Pilgrim - Tell me about Angola and why you chose Africa for the film.

Dane Gudauskas - I’ve been friends with Kepa a long time, and Kepa calls me up and asks, ‘Hey, do you want to go to Angola with me?’ I was curious, you know? I was like, I’ll have to see where that is on the map. He was like, ‘It’s going to be a really hardcore mission, it’s going to be the gnarliest trip you can imagine.' I didn’t even know where we were going or what. I was like hey, sign me up because I just wanted to go on a trip with Kepa to see how the guy operates. We end up going down there, and it was exactly as raw and unfiltered Africa as you can imagine. But it was actually so beautiful, I never really knew how beautiful the desert landscape was, it was just so orange, and these crazy rock pyramids would come out of nowhere. The water was super blue, it’s neon. There were so many fish and so much wildlife. It was really dramatic how impressive the landscape was.

P - Did you spend time with the locals?

DG - In Angola, there’s the tribespeople and then there’s the people in the city. They all coexist, the people in the city just got out of a civil war not that long ago, so there’s guys on the street, not police officers but regular guys, wielding AK47’s, just roaming around the street with them. And then right next to them, you’ll see these tribe members walking with all the gold rings on their ankles, necks and wrists, carrying a goat over their shoulders with a giant spear. The traditional clothing is really bright colors and really beautiful prints, so that was fascinating. We spent a lot of time with them at the bus station where we had to wait to go down to where we wanted to surf. We ended up waiting in these bus stations for about six hours. We just started hanging out with all the people waiting for their buses, and then getting on the bus with the same people you were waiting with -- and I can’t really speak much Portuguese, so the communication was low. We must have looked so absolutely foreign because there’s no tourists there. On the bus ride, we were squished into these tiny little seats and I remember and I was sitting next to this really nice bigger African woman and she had her little 8 year-old daughter standing on her knees and she was snuggling my leg, and then there was me, and then there was this other little lady, and then there was this family of six stuffed in the other two seats. The way the families were caring for each other was just beautiful. They were really looking out for each other even though it was a tight cramped space. No one was really complaining. I remember I hadn’t eaten anything for almost 30 hours because we were flying and I didn’t have any cash on me yet, and you get off these bus stops and there’s fruits and vegetables and meats for sale, it’s real rustic, and this lady must have seen me struggling and she holds open this orange to me. I was tripping that she was giving it to me. It was the best orange I’ve ever had. It was little acts like that that were surprising, their kindness was amazing.

P - What was the surf like?

DG - The surf was fun. It was all left handers, which was awesome, especially because I’m goofy foot. We surfed pretty much every day, and we never saw another surfer while we were there. That’s pretty much the best circumstances you could ever ask for.

P - Did you take away anything from this trip?

DG - Africa, for me, always just instills patience. Just to take it easy. Everything is just going to happen at the time it’s going to happen. There’s no way you can predict what’s going to happen ten minutes from then. That’s the one thing I learned, patience and enjoying the whole process of it, being lost and just embracing your vulnerabilities.

Check out the trailer here, and make sure to stop by Friday to celebrate the film with us!