Amy Kotch's story starts with day dreaming of perfect waves, watching the sun drop into the never ending crystal clear tropical waters of the Maldives, and coconut palms littering the white sand of the shore. Understandably one can be completely envious of Amy Kotch's dream job…Being the first woman to land a job as the resident surf guide at the Four Seasons Resort back in the day. Amy now lives a nomadic lifestyle with her Husband working in the Maldives for six months of the year on 'HudhuranFushi Resort' and this year helping out Allois at Pohnpei Surf Club in Micronesia for the remainder of the year.
Amy can you tell us about following the calling of waves and sunshine?
Born and raised in Southern California, I didn’t get into surfing till a bit later in life. I was about 19 and in Uni, but it changed my life in a heartbeat. I went from wanting the 2 1/2 kids white picket fence family to dreaming of soaring the skies in search of the perfect wave, warm water, white sand beaches and many adventures along the way! My mom said I was always independent, but I don’t think she thought I would be living on the other side of the world for good!
A year or so after surfing took a hold of me in 1998, I moved to the beach to live in a tent at a surf camp and help others learn to surf while I tried to improve my skills. I rode a longboard at the time and even did a little tandem surfing but wanted something a bit more travel friendly and exciting, so I progressively started using shorter boards, honing my skills while helping kids learn to surf.
Heading to Indonesia for the first time in 2001 with my boyfriend at the time; I fell in love, with Indonesia that is, and vowed to move there someday. I wanted to quit Uni and move over immediately but my mom convinced me to finish my degree to teach. I never regret getting my degree and I am very thankful for her wise advice!
Though still in Uni, my world revolved around surfing, working jobs as a waitress to be able to have my days free to surf , I lived and breathed it knowing someday I would be living somewhere warm and tropical, though not sure how that was exactly going to happen….. I had faith and spoke what I wanted. In the mean time I did some local contests to try to improve my surfing and meet other girls who were like-minded. They were fun times!
So how did you make the move to Indonesia?
After many trips back to Indonesia, a lovely women Kyla, who’s kids I had taught how to surf, invited me a on a surf trip to Indo, knowing I had been there many times. She wanted to have someone who knew the area share the Indonesia experience with her and some friends. I jumped at the chance and we ended up going to Nihiwatu Resort on the island of Sumba on a holiday. The second day of our trip at Nihiwatu, I half-jokingly asked the Resort Manager at the time if they every needed anymore help (ask and you shall receive) he turned to me and said, “Actually, if you are serious we do need someone. The couple doing the surfing and yoga is leaving on maternity leave and I have just got a job somewhere else and we really need someone to finish out the season!”
I couldn’t believe my ears! of course I wanted the job, but what about all my stuff back home? My job? My friends? My family? No, this was my dream, if it was meant to be it will be. I sent a few emails back home and like a dream come true, everything just fell into place. My good friend was out of a place to live and offered to sub-let my apartment and look after my things, my job was covered by the many people in the recession who were looking for work, my family said “Go for it, its what you dreamed of!”
They didn’t have to tell me twice, I took the job on the spot. Claude and Petra, the owners of Nihiwatu are amazing humans, who have done heaps for the local community via the Sumba Foundation. They have set up Malaria clinics, contributed to education, dug fresh water wells, provided mosquito nets and so much more for the people of Nihiwatu…. I learned so much about Malaria, the Sumbanese culture and loved every minute of it! The only downside was that I was the only western worker there and while the local people were the nicest you could ever imagine, I got lonely after a while….
Was it a case of being in the right place at the right time to land your first surf guide job in the Maldives?
When Noosa resident and owner of Tropicsurf , Ross Phillips and his wife Di, came to the resort and offered me a surf guiding job in the Maldives for the following season I felt the universe pulling me in that direction. In another amazing turn of events, this was a job that I had desired when I visited the Maldives with some friends 3 years prior in 2006. I had asked the surf guide at the time if there are any female guides in the Maldives, to which he responded, not really and then I turned to one of my best friends Jess and said “this would be my dream job”. You can imagine my shock when 3 years later in the middle of the Indian Ocean on a very remote Indonesian island someone offers me a job in the Maldives as a surf guide, I can’t very well turn it down! I knew that the gorgeous couple who run the surfing and yoga of Nihiwatu, Christian and Ka’ale were coming back to Nihiwatu the next season and felt that maybe I was called to go to the Maldives. Though Claude and Petra couldn’t have been sweeter to me, I needed to follow my heart.
After doing some training on the Sunny Coast with Ross I headed for my next adventure to the Four Seasons Resort as the resident Surf Guide. Challenging and very culturally different than anywhere I have ever been, I loved it! The waves were so fun, the Maldivian people so sweet and the resort life so different. I truly enjoyed the challenges and very abnormal lifestyle you lived as a resort guide.
Can you tell us your love story of meeting your soul mate, Richard?
Of all the places in the world to meet your future husband, I surely didn’t expect it to be in a Muslim country while working on a resort full of honeymoon couples! My first month there, Richard and I met in the water. He was working as a surf guide for a neighboring resort called Hudhuran Fushi. After a friendly chat in the water, he got my number “strictly for professional reasons of course, checking the surf and all that” and we started texting and talking. After a month of chatting on the phone, a few dinners in Male (the capitol of the Maldives) and a lot of sharing of waves Richard told me he was going to marry me - five months or five years in the future, it didn’t matter to him but he knew I would be his wife…. Six months after that we were married -the best decision I ever made! I just knew in my heart he was the one for me, the peace I had about this man being my husband, though I only new him for a short time was unmistakable. Now 3 years later, it is still the best decision I have ever made in my life.
Once we got engaged, Richard’s boss Shaun at World Surfaris offered us both a job at Hudhuran Fushi resort to work as a team, we couldn’t have asked for a better offer! We were living our dreams separately and now we are living it together, it just all came together. I know all things happen for a reason and the way everything worked out; it couldn’t have been planned better if I tried!
What has been the most 'life changing' thing you have learnt over your years of traveling and surfing?
The experiences I have had while traveling have been the best education I could have ever received. In traveling I have learned so much about other cultures, governments, people and much more. My experiences have made my desire for others to not judge, love more and make peace, skyrocket exponentially. We are all made of the same elements and we need to remember that when we look at those who seem to be different than us.
Though this lifestyle has its challenges; Richard and I are so thankful to be living the way we do. I am so thankful to companies like Hive Swimwear, Zeal Sunglasses and Primal Surfboards for supporting me and helping me. While we miss family, friends and the confines of normal society every now and then, we wouldn’t trade this nomadic existence for the world!