Outdoor People: Meet Pia V - Surfer, Hiker & Curly Hair Stylist
— By Katie Godec
Pia V did not grow up in nature. She spent the majority of her young adult life exploring the streets of her Midwest town, where harsh winters and the mundane day-to-day of a sleepy suburb upbringing shaped her aspirations to get out and wander. Pia currently lives & works as a curly hair stylist in Los Angeles, CA and like many SoCal transplants - she could not resist the pull of the ocean.
We met up with Pia to ask her about her unique experience as an adventurer who found her love of the outdoors much later in life. She credits her time spent living in the crowded cities of New York and São Paulo for ultimately inspiring her to build a lasting relationship with nature. This is the conversation that followed:
Do you have a family history of being active outdoors?
No, not at ALL. I grew up in front of MTV. When I wasn't watching TV, I was drawing and painting in my room or riding bikes to the local burger joint or ice cream parlor. I also went to the gas station nearby for candy with my best friend who lived a few blocks away.
Because my family is from Honduras, we would go visit somewhat regularly when I was young. I remember being petrified of nature because the critters in the mountains there are gnarly. I'm talking big a** spiders, roaches, iguanas, and huge mosquitos.
What do you enjoy doing outside?
Everything! Walking, hiking, camping, surfing, rollerskating, snow shoeing, snorkeling, observing nature with my binoculars. I spent a long time researching just the right pair to buy. I love how they feel in my hands and using them to look at the world through "new eyes."
I picked up surfing back in 2018 after seeing View From A Blue Moon with John John Florence. I really love watching short board free surfers but I also follow female long-boarders on social media - particularly Sally Cohen, Tina Cohen and my friend Lala in Waikiki. Hawaii is a major destination for me to surf.
My most recent trip there was in 2021 - and when the waves weren't too big, I surfed as much as I could alongside the amazing community there (...and before passing out)! Preparing my body physically ahead of that trip was really important to me as I was not formally trained in any kind of sports that required me to move my body like you have to for surfing.
How can your experience help others feel empowered to move their bodies through nature?
I don’t know if I can make anybody feel empowered to move their bodies through nature. BUT...
I can say that if one wants to see the brightest stars, the most breathtaking views, experience the most peaceful silence and do things like surf or ski or dive or snorkel...they are going to have to get strong and flexible in mind and body. They are going to have to become observant and honest with their own limitations, while also knowing how to push through them at the right times. I know some people find their way into a healthy lifestyle through big milestones like losing weight or wanting to look a certain way. That approach never motivated me enough to get strong, eat well, and be truly healthy. Feeling comfortable in nature has been the best motivator for that (for me).
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Deep into the Cascade National Forest where the morning views are mountainous and the night sky is so dark that the Milky Way is very clear. It would make it easier to feel that there is no “outer space”. We are already IN it!
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