Ramadan. Another surf-enture. Sunset games.
This Dynafit bumper sticker in remote Lombok S Coast blew my mind, shouldn’t have, duh, same same (you can get your jollies on mountains, or in waves, or BOTH)
Careful out there old man. Looks pretty but . . .
Love the day
This post starts last night — when something went down I think signaling the start/first day of Ramadan as today, for here. Nobody has known for sure as the guys calling to ball don’t decide the EXACT day until right at the end. This would be like “christmas is gonna happen between the 23rd and 27th, and we’ll let you know if it’s the 23rd on the 22nd, and if not the 23rd we’ll let you know when we know”. Still asking folks and reading trying to figure it out. Singing/chanting/services pretty much through the night. I guess if it goes down tonight I’ll know more. Not all of the song/prayer/chant from the same place (3 overlapping blasts on loudspeaker), not all if it the beautiful and enchanting Muslim prayers I’ve grown to love these last 2 weeks.
So, first day Ramadan, and sure enough our local / cheap warung are CLOSED all day (and a few this eve, too, even after dark). Just wild to be experiencing this, not all of it comfortable for us (“noise” all night, limited food day, etc.). But awesome. Nice fam break-y and coffee and some sorting and planning and then I head back to Mawi beach for a surf this morning.
Again, the ride there is half the fun (at least until my epic holddown but more on that in a sec). Seriously this has to be one of the coolest roads I’ve ever been on. Like a roller coaster. I want a good bike (bicycle), but the motorbike will have to do. Rains yesterday have dusted the access road. Cars / Vans can’t make it. There is 2 inches of the slickest insane mud on the rutted/rocky/blown track. I almost bite it 5 times my moto has city slicks on it. Both feet out outrigger style, flip flops scooping mad goo, surf fins trimming the jungle on the side when forced close on the only passable line . . . bringing all bike skills to the table here, it is legit technical and I’m riding this thing w/ my core and feather throttle and hopeful if not expert line selection. I am envisioning what it would be like to crash to the left w/ left foot down in between the bike and the surfboard . . . stomach still churning thinking about it, LT blows Theisman leg 10X I think — compound for sure and I’m laying in the mud miles from nowhere w/ a twisted heap of honda scooter/moto and fiberglass surfboard all up in it.
So yeah, parking at the end of the road is cause celebre! And there is some Indo juice flowing here — but not clean and maybe too much for me not sure. 15 minutes of zoning on the beauty and scoping the conditions are fine. I note a few folks working a break that is slightly smaller/more subdued off the point and tide is higher than the other day (and swell too) but I trade more reef danger for less wave danger/being in way of experts, for now. And the truth is in 15 minutes I saw THREE rides from the full rippers on the main reef so that told me what I needed to know if those guys weren’t catching waves I sure wouldn’t be in that spot.
Lo and behold Fun session! Me and 2-3 others have it kind of figured out in the “intermediate” area I guess (no shame, sorry) it takes a while to figure out the take off spot but the waves are fun and the aesthetics are insane and sure you have to be on your toes at all times but it’s rad to be riding in some varsity conditions w/out TOO much stress.
As the tide continues to drop the spot gets a little shallow for my liking and I head out to the main break just to check it out and see if there is shoulder I can hop here and there w/out bumming peeps and man why can I never resist mixing it up :) I pay.
Paddling for a few fast beasts is enough, I don’t get too far inside, I know it’s too big/fast/confused/etc. for my level it’s ok. I decide I’ll work my way in I’ve been out a couple hours and pretty cooked. Sure enough, here comes the clean up set. All are jamming to get outside and none make it. My duck diving is good enough to get me through the first wave. And then on the second a dude is paddling in (way too late) to the wave but I need to make sure I’m not underneath this dude and also do the right thing and head for the inside (heavier breaking) portion of the wave and just these few extra strokes / seconds lost not getting DEEP under and through this wave are enough — I’m too late on my dive and the wave is breaking on top of me and I know as I’m diving into the face of it late I will not come out the other side, I will take a ride. And it’s a ride, the holddown of the trip, of my surfing life, of my swimming life/ocean/etc life.
Despite best efforts I can’t hold my board not strong enough. As it is shoulders are torqued hard. I’m in the wash and have done a backwards-ish twist over the falls-ish so to speak and have been pummeled down deep by the lip. I know I’m deep because when I open my eyes (which should have been open sooner) it’s damn dark, really dark and no idea which way is up.
Now, all I’ve done to be better in the Ocean physical and mental — not to mention straight “wilderness / ski / falling / bike / survival” etc. skills — come into play. Relax. You can be scared but you can’t panic. I find my leash and confirm it’s not caught on the bottom. I take one hand over hand on it knowing the board is more buoyant than me. I’m cautious cuz that board has sharp fins for my face/hands. The leash shows me the light.
I force more relaxation and easy stroking for the light. I am no longer watertight, this is learning, my eyes were too tight going in and my mouth/nose were too loose (among other mistakes). The light is still far away. I stroke lightly focusing on not inhaling water and not panicking and, uh, not blacking out!! I pop up. I fully acknowledge by the way that the drama I feel around this experience is just relative to not facing it at this level, yet. Like if someone tried to impress me with a story of how they were skiing and fell and slid for a while and it was scary or something. Or got caught in a sluff and sucked in some snow. But it’s all relative and the learning curve is the learning curve and if this had happened 4 months ago oi, it really would have been DRAMA!!
So I’m facing shore and know it’s not over. Focus is oxygen and board and what is too come. It never gets crazy after that. I have enough to get under and around and what not the rest of the set which is nuts but super focused duck diving actually works . . . comedy it really is about duck diving and paddling in these conditions (expert) zone — popping up and making a drop and turns/etc. is the EASY part, for sure.
Again, my ski mountaineering analogies come to mind. Holddown / caught inside not unlike a sluff-a-lanche if not a real avalanche . . . skill of duck dive is like some crazy combo of being able to mad kick turn w/ skins on any terrain + mix ice/rock/snow climb (climb out of danger) . . . the ski turns are the easy part, just like actually being on the freaking wave!! Not a perfect analogy I know.
Anyway, flopping out on the amazing sand/beach has never felt so good I’m like a half drowned rat but it’s cool. Time to head back for some afternoon awesomeness w/ the fam.
We do yoga, markets/lunch, pool, and I ride the crew 4 up on the bike to a killer spot on the hill (Ashtari) and it is really one of the coolest spots we’ve chilled on the whole trip. Amazing views from Kuta Bay to Gerupuk Bay. 4 up on the bike up the hill is a riot I didn’t think we could do it (thought I’d get to the base and do a couple ferry trips) — but the poor bike makes it!! WE are laughing.
I hit this place (Ashtari) after surfing 3 days ago. Everything is smooth concrete / painted/ no shoes / right music / right vibe / mats and pillows and views — and our Backgammon board (me/Megan) and go fish deck (kids). Coconut / Chocolate shakes are mad fresh — and the “sweetener” is sugar cane water/syrup on the side in a shot glass!!! This is local cocoa and coconut and milk/cream totally unsweetened and blended all frothed up w/ the “add your level of sweetness” kind of thing in a shot glas on the side. It is Indo, it is French, it is amazing. Organic French meets Indo cafe w/ coffee/teas/shakes/etc.
Megan and I play backgammon best 2 out of 3 for full dinner chores. She’s knocked the rust off and I get some lucky roles in the rubber match to take the third game. We’ve found our local/cheap/delicous warung for dinner take out but it’s closed for Ramadan but the one next door is not and all good we sort it and I drop her off and ferry kids back and we bath/shower it up. A legit Java style thunderstorm threatens but Megan just beats the downpour home and fam picnic/camping is on. Tomorrow we head to the Novotel (4 stars!!) — what will they do w/ our dirtbag family :) All good, stoked to hook it up w/ the Garners, in fact, can’t wait. As prior mentioned in this Trip Journal — they’ve had such a profound and positive influence on Megan and me and in some ways I wonder if we would even be in Lombok on July 10, 2013 w/ our kids if not for them!
Tomorrow, I write about the Indo/SE Asia styles of motored stereotypes I see, love it.