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On the board, and in the surf.

beautiful reef break

I finally did it…

After some encouragement from a friend over evening Bintangs  – who had read my blog and now knew that I just wasn’t doing it out of a little fear –  I was convinced me to finally grow a pair and get out in the surf. I’ve been putting it off, I’m not really sure why. It’s something I really want to become good at – and what better place on earth to practice than Batu Karas beach…

So, this morning I met Paul and he gave me a quick run down of what to do and got me out in the water. After a few spectacular nose dives into the white wash, I stood up… and oh what a feeling.

Bobbing around in the ocean with the hot sun beaming down on you and the cool chrystal water lapping against the edge of the board, is a perfect way to spend a couple of hours. It’s an excersise in waiting. You sit, straddling your board, waiting for the ocean to give you a wave to ride. It’s social. You talk to the other surfers waiting near you and you watch the horizon. As the wave comes tumbling towards you, you swing your board around and you paddle, cupped hands dipping into blue sea one after the other, quickly, quickly, gaining speed. Once the energy of the water hits you, you lift, first from your arms, your chest rises, then quickly your feet leap into place. You stand. The wind rushing through your hair and the water lapping around your feet, knees bent. Feet placed on the cool hard surface of the board, and you ride… and then if you’re me, you tumble. But the ride is worth it. Under the water you get thrown around in different directions, the sea is bubbles all around you, fighting to hold you down as you kick your legs. Then comes the release, the water moves away, leaving you in it’s wake and you find the way to the surface with a gasp. The board bobs on the surface, as if it’s been waiting for you all along. You swim for it, climb aboard, and paddle out again… searching for the wave…

Growing up on the West Coast of Australia which boasts some of the worlds best surfing beaches, I never got on a board, but I am very used to being dumped by waves and fighting my way back to the surface… Being a strong swimmer certainly helps I’m sure. But getting to an age now where I am hanging on to my youth by a shoelace, the biggest thing I have to overcome is my fear. Age does that to you, you become more aware of how hopelessly mortal you truly are… and things like getting up on a board knowing you could nose dive into the white wash and get pulled under can hold you back… A fear of failure. I’ve been told that as you get older you realise that everyone isn’t watching you and you can do what you like. I’m straddling my adult years and my youth. One foot either side. Aware that it doesn’t last forever, but still with childish insecurities. Time can be as kind as it is cruel.

I’ve always thought of myself as fearless… And I’m sure that is much more of a hopeful self image than actual reality. In fact, I’m a bit of a baby when it comes to finding the courage to do certain things. But today I did it, and now I’ve done it I plan to do it over and over again until I can stand properly, ride the wave and not fall off until the wave disappears into the chocolate sand.

Thunder has begun to ripple through the blue soaked sky of Batu Karas. The day is finally reaching its cooling point, a small moment of relief from the sticky heat that the days bring here. The sky roars with a ferocity that I’ve never heard before. Harvest time  is ending and the sky is often mottled with smoke and the smell of small fires burning. The sweet fragrant smell of rice feilds burning after the harvest curls around the village, making the air thick with its scent. The freshness bled from the sky, replaced with the smell of village work that is never finished.

Another day in BK. To a fish restaurant tonight with friends to feast on the oceans best…

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