The waves keep rolling up onto Kuta’s wide golden beach and for the past three days or so, feeling much better, I have been looking out to sea with longing. Now that John has safely arrived, it was time to go surfing.
It was a calm day—barely a breeze to cool the sweat off our skin—and the surf looked shallow and inviting. Not a problem, I thought; we had after all been to a few surfing weekends in Newquay, Cornwall, about five or six years ago. It should be like riding a bicycle: get into the water and—after a slightly wobbly start—off we’d go.
However this is Bali, not Cornwall. The waves here are like rolling walls stretched across wide swathes of water. And they can suddenly come in very close together, each packing a punch that can throw you. Once past the foam, I was faced with a yawning blue jaw with white breakers on the top gnashing down on me. It looked even more threatening because without my glasses everything appears bigger, as well as fuzzy. And it was too late to turn and run: first the board went overhead, then I quickly followed.
Washed back up on the beach I remarked to a passing Australian: “Not really conditions for beginners, eh?”
“No mate, I wouldn’t get in there if I was you.”
It was John, the sensible, who finally made me see the way: “Are you crazy to try and go out behind the surf? You can’t even get onto the board! Why not stay where you can stand up and where the waves aren’t so strong?” And off he went, looking like a complete surfer dude. A passing tourist stopped and lifted his digital camera, hoping to catch a picture of him surfing against the dramatic backdrop of the waves; but to his disappointment John turned around before the water reached his waist, threw himself onto the board and was promptly washed off again. To his credit, after a bit of practice he nearly managed to stand up.
Not to be outdone, I grabbed the board as soon as he staggered back and waded into the water, assessing the surge. When I deemed it strong enough to catch a wave I turned around—and found that I was all of five metres away from the beach. I nonchalantly waded a bit further out and did manage to catch a few waves—I even got into a kneeling position several times before they fizzled out.
I suppose we can’t really say that we have surfed Bali. —Not yet.