Thursday, June 23, 2011

indo report 6

"Proper out there!"

That's how my Sumba trip mate commented what he was seeing 5 minutes into the taxi ride from the airport to our destination on West Sumba.

He couldn't have been more right. But before we get to that, let's see what happened in the meantime.
In the last proper Indo report, I was still enjoying my stay in Ulu Watu.
Below is the last low tide sunset I enjoyed there.

One of the guys staying at at Thomas' (Paul 24yo from New Zealand) was ready to move and wanted to go somewhere remote, wild and uncrowded.
Another guy (Pete from Australia, 46yo travelling since 5 months in Indo... what a myth!) recommended Sumba.
"The left at Pero is really fun, I surfed it always by myself. There's also a right and the accomodation is right on the spot and it's cheap and the people are nice."
Paul was looking for mates to share the adventure and it all sounded good to me: "I'm in!".

But it was too hard to organize the flights from Ulu Watu, so in the morning of Sunday 19, we moved to Kuta, took a room and started the investigations on the available flights.
This is the final bill at Thomas. The guests are supposed to write down everything they consume and calculate the bill by themselves... my total for 12 nights was 1,733,000 (1 million 733 thousands) rupias. That's pretty much 200 bucks!
Oh, the one to the right is the map that Josh (another Kiwi with a really good energy) drew to show me how to line up for the best Impossibles take off spot.

Sumba has two airports, and we were looking for the West one, so that the taxi ride to the spot would only be one hour (as opposed to six). I couldn't find anything, but Paul had better luck and found a flight for the morning of Tuesday 21.

The two days in Kuta were extremely pleasant. I surfed Airport Lefts twice and that, as I said already, is the most fun wave I've found here so far. Crowded, but not too bad. Sometimes the local kids forget to take turns, but I had my share of waves.
I hooked up with Pete for dinner both nights and he took me to local non-tourist places were the food was both incredibly delicious and cheap. I also enjoyed a bit of people watching. So many tourists in Kuta!

At 9am on Tuesday I met with Putu (the taxi driver from the first night from whom I was renting the bike) at the airport. He picked up his bike (for 17 days it was 3 bucks a day) and was so kind to bring me the 6.10 Kazuma from where I left it in Canggu.
The check-in went smooth and there was no need of taking advantage of airport facilities like the ones below.

A new swell was supposed to hit that day and what I could see from the window undoubtedly confirmed that (that's either Lombok or Sumbawa).

Another good news was to find out upon arrival that there were plenty chicks! (look in the boxes).

Soon we found a car driver (or better he found us) for the transfer to Pero.
And now I feel like mentioning that a good friend of mine from Croatia is called Pero. He was a really good roomate in my first years in Rome so it felt like kinda nice to go to a place called like that.
Once in a while we would meet a local mini bus and it looks like the most desired seats were on the roof.

When we got to Pero, we were overwhelmed by the smell of the main local food resourse. They fish squids in great quantity and (not having freezers, I guess) dry them in the sun.

This is the local fishing fleet.

They go out at sunset through a narrow opening that connects that natural river mouth harbor to the open ocean.

This was my room and I really enjoyed the presence of a mosquito net (there's still traces of malaria in Sumba).

The hole in the roof wasn't quite as enjoyable, but you can't have everything.

The interesting living room of the Pero homestay.

Praying room here too.

The toilets (I've taken a photo of the inside, but trust me... you don't want to see it).

Squids everywhere.

We got there just in time for lunch. Yes, squids. But not only. Everything delicious.

It was a bit windy so we decided to wait for the sunset session. It was my first nap inside a net.

And that's how the left looked after that. Pretty good, don't you think?

And that's the right.

Unfortunately, and that's something I definitely learned here in Indo, not all waves that look good are good. There were sections that we just could not make. It was low tide (supposedly the left works at all tides) and we didn't feel like pushing ourselves deep in the break, because the inside looked pretty shallow. So we hung out on the shoulder, but right there there was punchy section that punished us unforgivinbly. I managed to make only one wave all the way to the channel and that was not a fun session at all for neither of us.
"Maybe it needs a bigger tide, let's see how it looks tomorrow", we both agreed.

Back at the homestay, we found this lovely fellow on the floor. It was big (my foot is there for reference), but it looked completely innocuous and peaceful. I didn't want anybody to accidentaly step on him, so I gently pushed him out of the way with my sleeper.
He did not like that and expressed his feelings with the most unexpected, loud and unnatural skriek. To the point that I literaly jumped (provoking the laughter of one of the local ladies).
"Hey Paul, come check out what our friend can do!"
I pushed him and again and he skrieked again and this time was Paul's turn to jump.
You see a bug in Sumba? Let it be.

Time for dinner came, but the electricity was cut off. Nonetheless we enjoyed a romantic candle light dinner. Bintang (warm), rice, vegetables, eggs and, you bet, squids.

After dinner, still with no electricity, we smoked a couple of cigars (that I had brought under Pete's suggestion as giveways for the locals) and chatted on the porch. It was a nice way to connect with a young man half my age.
Glass half empty train of thoughts:"damn, I wish I started that young to surf and travel the world"
Glass half full train of thoughts:"I'm twice as old as him, but nonetheless I surf and travel the world. Good job!".
Guess which one I went for.

After a mosquito-less night (the nets do work!), we went to check the surf. This was the brand new catch of a single household. Holy squid!

These nets must work too!

We made friends with this local guy. He wasn't too enthusiast that I took a photo of him. Then I remembered that some of them believe that taking a photo of you equals taking a bit of soul out of you... sorry brah, didn't mean to do that.

And here's our left again. This time we weren't fooled. It looks perfect in the photo, but the sections still weren't makable. Sooner or later it would close out on you. Heavily (plenty overhead).
Our explanation was that Pete had it good because of a different swell angle.

This is a panoramic view that shows the beach (to the left there's the boat harbor), the left in the middle and the right to the right. A perfect setup. That's what it would seem, but it wasn't.

We waited till 10 in the hope that a higher tide would make it have a better shape. It didn't happen. It actually got worse, because the wind picked up.
"the other waves nearby will be windy too... fuck it, let's go to the airport and get on the first plane back to Kuta! If we're lucky we can catch a sunset surf..."

Well, we weren't lucky. There were no more flights with available seats and the only available one was going to be for the day after: Thursday 23 at 1pm. Hopefully still in time for a sunset sesh at one of the Kuta reefs.
"Well, what do we do now? (it was 2pm). Nothing, let's get an hotel, some lunch and chill."
There was only one hotel in town (the one below) and all rooms were taken because of a government convention. I mean, what are the odds... maybe we should have used those praying rooms!

After a second look at the book, the hotel clerk said:"if you wait till 5pm I'll have a room for you".
"Sure, can we have lunch somwhere in the meantime?"
"Yes, upstairs".
We went upstairs and all we found was the leftovers of the government convention buffet. But it was all free for us and the vegetables were delicious as usual. We took it as a sign of a turning luck.

The countryside view of the hotel was actually very nice and relaxing (if it wasn't for the combined sounds of a loud radio and tv) and that's what I actually have in front of me, while I kill the time and write this post.

Well, we tried.
We took a chance to go to a remote place to score uncrowded waves and we didn't get lucky. But if you never try, you will never have a chance. And we enjoyed the experience anyway.
Despite the extremely poor living conditions, the people were very friendly and seemed relatively happy. We were treated a bit like celebrities or, more realistically, like novelties. Each single kid shouted "Hallo mister" to us and waved and smiled. I felt like Queen Elizabeth because of the amount of waves and smiles I gave back.
You can be happy without having anything. This trip was another confirmation of that. Two lost days of surf are a bummer, but we did get something out of the experience.
If anything, the confirmation that the "never leave waves to find waves" saying is still the wisest ever! :)
Till next time.

Wait! Can't finish a report like this wihout the three pages of the Indo Wave Finder dedicated to Sumba and Pero.

PS. I'm back in Kuta, I enjoyed airport Lefts again and I'm loving restaurants with Wi-Fi.
PPS. Bart started his amazing crossing.


Anonymous said...

you got the life man !
it seems like surfing more and more often becomes an instrument,
not the target of living, in my opinion that's the best way to approach to travel like this !
you start searching for something and for some reason you find something unexpected even better than what you were looking for !
thanks for this blog and keep searching .... !

Anonymous said...

No Pero no party.
Have fun

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you are having a great time. I'll be in Bali in 2 months time. To get to Airport Lefts, do you need to catch a boat out to it ? If you want to go see a different sight in Bali, go for a ride on your scooter to Timbis, its inbetween Nusa Dua/Ulu Watu on the coast. lots of guys paragliding, I have some friends there at the moment.

mystery bob said...

Very enjoyable travelogue Giampaolo, you're voice is pretty smooth. I feel like I was along for the adventure. Like National Geographic.
That praying room was much larger than the closet some of my friends were banished to by overzealous parents. Yikes!

Anonymous said...

I want to see a picture of you praying on one of those mats.

Sharon said...

What a great read, your inner journalist is a good companion on this trip.