For many of the people who live in Tarifa, the place has an addictive quality, a certain something that they can’t quite describe but could never live without.
Ask any number of expat residents and they’ll tell you that they fell in love with Tarifa the moment they arrived and couldn’t bring themselves to leave.
This is most definitely true of Marcin and Paulina who came to Tarifa on holidays eight years ago after they’d finished college. Instantly hooked, they never left.
‘From the first moment Tarifa was perfect for me,’ Marcin explains. ‘I arrived here with my windsurf equipment and knew that Tarifa was a good spot for the sport. But when I saw the beach, I knew I was home.’
Marcin and Paulina are from Szczecin in Poland, a small town near the German border. Once they finished college, the packed up Marcin’s old Opel Kadet and headed south, arriving in Tarifa in July. High season. They had no money and no place to stay. They spent their first two months in Tarifa living in the car.
They knew only one thing: they were not leaving Tarifa. On the third day, they set out to find jobs, promising themselves they would not rest until they found work.
They were both lucky enough to find jobs with a local surf school and shop. Marcin arrived in Tarifa with a Master’s Degree in Physical Education so he quickly surrounded himself with the school’s surf instructors and learned how to teach the sport.
After six months he was working as a freelance kite surf instructor. This was a really exciting time for the sport as it was new, fresh, easy to learn and fun to teach.
After two and a half years, Marcin burned out. Working flat out in the intensity of summer is tough and he knew he’d had enough. He took some time off and decided to invest in camera equipment.
With his free time he began filming wind and kite surfers on the beach. Because of his expert knowledge of the sport, he was able to capture the best kite and surf moves.
He filmed, edited and released two kite surf DVDs, one of which is called, ‘Tarifa Kite City.’ He quickly built up a reputation for himself as an innovative film-maker and photographer and spent three years in serious demand. At one point, he worked with kite surf world champion, Gisela Pulido, filming her on the competition circuit.
‘I have to say that was the best time of my life,’ Marcin says with a wide grin, ‘I got to meet some of the best people in kiting. I travelled a lot. I had creative freedom and I even had time left over to hit the beach and kite.’
Unfortunately the crisis hit and Marcin’s film work was immediately affected. Once again, he was at a crossroads in his life. Never ones to shy away from a challenge, he and Paulina decided to take the bull by the horns and fulfil their Tarifa dream.
‘Actually we had always wanted to open a shop in Tarifa. That was the real dream. So when the opportunity came to open Big Surf, we jumped at it.’
Although Marcin admits that running the shop has been one of his greatest career challenges to date, he is totally confident about his choice. All the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle have slotted together.
The shop sells surf clothes but specialises in surf equipment. They also run a school which both Marcin and Paulina are involved in. Paulina runs Hijas del Surf, the only surf school in Tarifa that caters specifically for female surfers.
‘And to think,’ Marcin smiles, ‘when we arrived here, we didn’t even have enough money for pizza.’
For more information or expert advice on moving to Tarifa, contact Tony at Tarifa Direct today.