Thursday, November 13, 2014

Week 6 // Part 2 // Indo Coffee, Coconuts, and Instant Noodles

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The palm tree window.....
     There is nothing like falling asleep to rain pounding on the roof and a cool breeze wafting in
through the window making it’s way into your mosquito net. Then knowing your waking up the next day to a picturesque beach on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. As my mind starts to slowly awaken from my 5th REM cycle and my hearing goes from peace fading into the sound of crashing waves in the distance. Once my eyes fade from black to the vision of our wall full of palm fawn’s swaying with the light morning wind. If only this could be the way I woke up from a night’s sleep every morning, then everyday would be bliss. But for now this is life in Indonesia and has been for the last 42 days.

     The following days were filled with lots of surfing just out front, where we could view the wave right through the arch of palm trees out front. Waking up around 7:00am each morning, wandering onto the patio for a quick 5-minute surf check usually followed by a trip down stairs to get the thermos of hot water for our packet IndoCafe Cappuccino coffee we had all got addicted to. Once I had prepared my packet of coffee the guessing begins, since this spot impeticular was frequented by boat charter surf trips. We would all guess how many boats were moored in the channel hiding behind the palms trees to our left. Chest high waves, a lil bump on the ocean’s surface, 15 guys out, must be at least two boats on there first day of the trip and maybe a few guys from the land camp down the beach.
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     By the time 8:00am comes around I’m getting restless after finishing my coffee, and sweeping the table and floor. Yes I am on a 3-month surf trip to surf and relax, but as most of my friend’s and family know, I don’t really lounge around. I am always tinkering with something or on the move to somewhere to do something active. So nothing has change even on the other side of the world, so I grab my board; scrap a lil wax on it, apply some sunscreen, and head out in the board shorts I had already woken up in. Walking down the stairs into the ground level of the losmen (local term for homestay) were staying in I make eye contact with one of the elders this morning being the grandma and exchange a sincere smile before walking out the door.

     Between the 200 feet of sand leaving the losmen ending at the beach, my ears are full of sounds; palms brushing against each other, every insect and birds chirp, and of course the waves breaking and rumbling across the reef. Upon reaching the sand and getting the full view of the bay, the peeling wave, and channel where I can confirm there are actually 3 boats. Submerging myself into the water for the first time today you can hardly feel any change since the water here is a warm 81-83°F. The
next few minute paddle to the lineup starts to loosen up the muscles, while I observe how the ocean is moving, and scope out a position to get some of the better waves. The lineup here is like most others with the beginner/intermediate surfers sitting inside and the more experienced surfers looking for better, longer, and bigger waves farther out! But luckily at this break since there are always new boats coming everyday anchoring up for only a 3 or 4-hour session, the people staying on land get priority and position on the better waves.

travel surf live     The first few days of surf were epic, being head high to overhead and quite a few make able barrels coming through. Between dodging some people sitting or paddling in the wrong places we all had a few great waves. Travis on the other hand took the first 4 days off and shot some photos and video since he was still recovering from some pretty bad cuts that got infected again. It worked out for all of us since there were some good waves, since our two friends Alex and Jay had got caught up in Bali figuring out there Visa extension. Most evenings started at 6pm everyone usually out the water from the evening surf and watching the last few guys get some waves before you could only hear the ocean but not see it through the palm tree window. We all usually grab a beer and wait for dinner which is promptly served at 7pm, dinner consists of a bowl of rice big enough for a football team, a few bowls of veggies with a delicious broth, and hopefully a piece of chicken or fish! Everyone gathers around the table like a family and chows down hardly saying a word, after dinner the cards come out and we play games for hours. With the card games comes great laughs about the day, talks with Ben from Australia and advice on spots he has been and surfed in the area, which is always good knowledge to know from a first person perspective.

     Lunch was a mystery everyday, if Ibu (mom in Indonesian) was home then we had the choice of fried rice or fried noodle. If Ibu was not home then we were basically shit out of luck, so we had to resort to our bag of snacks and instant noodles. All of us had spent $20 or so on a huge bag full of our favorite goodies, I picked up 10 instant noodles, 3 lbs of peanuts, chips, Oreos, bread, peanut butter, and jelly. The other land camps on the beach were not much better except one 100 meters down or so that our friend Todd was staying at. They had a pretty decent menu he had told us multiple times out in the water, after drooling over him talking about the burger and fries he had I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Only eating rice and noodles for 5 days at this point I had to go check it out, but upon arriving and trying to order food they said no, guests only here. We were all disappointed but what can you do but go back and have another PBJ and instant noodle soup before heading out for the second surf of the day.

     At this point we had been on the island for 5 days with no internet, so we were wondering where or if our friend’s Alex and Jay would even show up? They were supposed to arrive Wednesday evening if all had gone to plan with flights, ferries, etc. The waves were a bit smaller today so Jeremy,
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Wrangling some coconuts!
Travis, and I decided to go for a walk down the beach we told David and other new Aussie friend Ben that we’ll be back in an hour or so. After getting around the first point and seeing a few other in sight we just wanted to keep going and explore around the next bay and the next bay! All we had were our two GoPros, a hat, and sunglasses, no water haha. Obviously after 30 minutes or so in the sun, walking on the hot sand paralleling the thousands of scenic coconut trees lining the beach, we were thirsty. We tried our hand at wrangling ourselves a coconut from the treetops, our first goal, get up the tree trunk!

     Most of the tree trunks had these little steps cut into them at a 45° angle every 2 ft or so, we could now get pretty far up the tree. But once at the top of the steps the inch or so groove that our feet were in would get uncomfortable and the coconuts were just at our finger tips, with nothing to cut them off with other than hitting them with a stick of bamboo found nearby. After getting nowhere the 3 of us resorted to throwing rocks and pieces of coral at the low hanging coconuts to our surprise we got a pretty decent sized one down. Now step two opening the damn coconut with anything we could find, I initiated the attempt with a solid coral head that I pounded into the soft part of the coconut head. After a few minutes I was getting somewhere but was also exhausting, took myself about 20 minutes to finally crack it open. The first sip was actually delicious even though there was a good amount of sand mixed in, we didn’t care much, after finishing the coconut the wandering continued down the beach. Finally returning back to the losmen with a few coconuts to properly chop open with a machete 3 hours later…..

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Week 5 // Part 1 // The journey to the perfect right....

     First off sorry everybody for not keeping this blog as up to date as promised, sometimes it is very hard to sit down and concentrate for hours on typing up an interesting post. I do post as regular as possible on my instagram ( @travelsurflive ) and on facebook ( ). I like to keep all my blog post full of story and adventure, I have a few backed up half written posts still saved to be published later on. But this part of my trip was way to cool to wait and post so I want to tell you now!
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Airport, Bali, Indonesia prior to departure.
     The journey to the Mentawi islands and this specific island in general is quite a bit of planning involved, my mate David has done it twice so he had a good idea on what we need to do. None the less last time he traveled there was 2 years ago and everything in this country changes everyday without notice or updates to websites! The whole journey would take an estimated 30 hours of traveling going something like this taxi, plane, plane, taxi, ferry, taxi, boat...... After we all sat down and went over prices for a few hours couple days in a row, the decision was made and we headed to the airport to book flights leaving on Thursday morning in two days. After getting all our gear packed and inside and on top a van heading to the airport for the 7 am flight to Jakarta (Java), which was of course delayed an hour. Arriving from Jakarta to the city of Padang (Sumatra) at 2 in the afternoon we waited for our bags to come out the baggage claim door. Once realizing we were the last ones standing there and no more bags on there way out we instantly had all sorts of thoughts and emotions. A friendly local Indonesian in the same situation told us to come with him to the counter and told us this happened to him before, after some translating we found out the bags will be on the next flight arriving from Jakarta in 4 hours.
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Approaching the beach after a 2 hour boat ride.
     We had heard form some other traveling surfers that the ferry we were trying to get onto is being fixed and is not working anyways so we wrote off that were not getting onto that later in the evening. So wait we did for 4 hours and sure as shit our bags had finally arrived we got outta that airport as fast as possible right as the rain had started.... Getting to a hostel near the port the ticket office for the boat was closing in 10 minutes, we threw the bags off the car while David and myself hurried to the ticket office 1 minute away. Upon arriving they told us the boat the next morning (Friday) was now full, just like most third world countries pulling out a stack of cash will change there minds pretty quick. Walking out of there with 4 tickets for the 7am boat the next morning, finishing off the night with a few beers, and some locals lounging out front the hostel talking about the season and the people they have come to meet.
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Heading to the village to find some necessities.
     Walking through the humid morning down the street with 70lbs of board bags and backpacks sweating in places you didn't know you had is a wonderful start the 2nd day of travel. Getting onto the ferry finding out the last minute tickets we got were basically standing room only, but screw it we were almost there, or so we thought. We didn't mind much until 30 minutes into a 3 hour boat ride were surrounded by 30 people chain smoking/ throwing up from being sea sick. I think we all agreed that was one of the worst parts of our trip by far! Finally landed on the island of Sipora, all the bags off the boat and put off to the side we had another surfer join us trying to get tot he same place we were, a guy from California named Todd. After trying to haggle with a few people trying to get a ride to our destination on the other side of the island we decided to find a spot for the night to get a shower, some food, and relax after two full days of travel.
     Having a walk around the small town of Tuapajet there is not much going on other than what is the necessities in life. You won't find WiFi, a nice restaurant, warm shower, maybe just a little TV if you really search for it. After a bit to eat the hammock I had purchased the day before we left sounded awfully nice to sprawl out in, play some cards and wait for dinner. Dinner was a fish curry, everyone knows I'm not the biggest fan of fish but when you know that meat is a rarity on this island you eat all of it you can. a good nights sleep and we were off on a boat to the south tip of the island where our destination was. I would more so call the boat a canoe hollowed out from a large tree, with a make shift roof, and two 25hp engines on the back. Surprisingly we fit all 5 board bags and gear in the boat without it tipping over, and to our surprise it actually made it's way through the water decently fast. After two hours of mild choppy conditions, water squirting through multiple holes whenever the boat smashed a good size wave, we cruised right up onto a perfect white sand beach in paradise.
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     Now the two weeks on an island in the middle of the Indian ocean begins. The place we are staying is located right in front of the wave, it is a families house that they have added some extra rooms to. The family is much older now but still very nice, helpful, and still cooking and cleaning everything for the guests. The price was 60K (5 USD) a night including dinner, over looking a white sand beach, with a view of a perfect right through the over hanging palm trees. The four of us took over 2 rooms upstairs with a nice big room to keep our boards bags in and a large patio with dinning table to converse. There were two other people staying as we arrived, one being Francisco from Spain and the other Ben from Australia. Both super easy going guys, Francisco did a lot of spearfishing, basically all day everyday unless he was fixing his spear gun or the waves were to big. Ben on the other hand loved to lounge in his hammock and read whenever he wasn't getting ridiculously barreled sitting way out the back ever session getting some of deepest barrels I've seen in person!
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     A few hours after arriving, settling in, unpacking, and getting a quick mie goreng (fried noodle and vegetables) Jeremy and I headed out for a surf. There was nobody out and we saw a few fun lil waist to chest high fun rippable waves coming through with nobody out. We were careful for the first few waves since it was lowtide and quite shallow on the inside, after about 30 minutes we slowly made our way deeper and farther out to better waves. On my 4th wave, 45 minutes into our first session I took off on the biggest wave we had seen so far only about 5ft and had a late drop, air dropping a few feet before landing and unfortunately sticking the nose and falling over the front of the board. I had penetrated the water luckily and popped out the back unscathed until I pulled my board toward sme and saw there was only half remaining. I quickly yelled out a few curse words as it was a basically brand new board and one of the favorite shaped I've had in a long time, but what can you do.
     It wasn't the best way to start the two weeks here but luckily I have 3 more boards knowing this would happen eventually. I didn't surf the rest of the day but sat behind the camera lense and got some shots of the boys getting some fun ones till the sun went down and the Beer caps started popping of the bottles......

Look out for Part II coming in the next few weeks!
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