Saturday, June 02, 2018

2018 Fiji trip wrap-up

Just five years ago I would have started this post with: "My 2013 Fiji trip was a disaster". Instead today I'll start it with: "My 2018 Fiji trip was epic".

Garrett McNamara's incredible wave.

If you read the report of the first two days (which you will find scrolling below this post, or in the labels section under 2018 Fiji trip), you'll remember that on day 2 I had a close encounter with the reef at Restaurants which left me with a pretty intense pain in the impact spot, the top of the right fibula. That's where I'm going to start the rest of the story, randomly intermitted with some wonderful shots by the legendary photographer Peter "Joli" Wilson, who was part of the Kalama Kamp crew.

Chilean Ramon Navarro is always at the forefront when the waves get huge. Here's the video of that wave.

On the evening of that day 2 (Friday May 25th) I limped my way to the hotel's restaurant in Nadi to have dinner. After which, I found out that I wasn't even able to walk back to my room. A lovely local lady saw me and sent her niece home to grab a pair of crutches for me.

Kiter Ben Wilson is now one of the two managers of Namotu.

At that point, I was pretty sure I would have to cancel the Namotu week and change the flight for an early return to Maui. But the morning after my leg felt better, as I could put some weight on it. The perspective of witnessing the upcoming massive swell and of a possible (but not likely) quick recovery for some surfing action towards the end of the week, made me choose to go anyway. Last but definitely not least, it was all paid and non refundable, so what the hell!

My not so glorious arrival on Namotu.

Unfortunately, the destiny had different plans and none of the two above mentioned things happened.
What I didn't consider, in fact, is that with such a big swell in the water, getting in and out of the boat to go watch Cloudbreak on Sunday and Monday would imply getting my leg wet. I didn't like that idea because in addition to the fibula impact, the razor sharp reef of Restaurants also left me with plenty cuts.

The raw power of Cloudbreak.

So here's the dilemma I had to face: was witnessing a possibly historical swell going to be worth the risk of slowing down the healing of the cuts and possibly even getting them infected by the different (than Maui) bacteria that populate the Fiji waters?

The interaction between tow and prone surfers saw no friction at all, as the biggest waves were clearly tow only ones. Here's Laurie Towner on a bomb.

I was still hoping for a miraculous recovery by the end of the week, so I decided to stay dry and watch with the binocs from the distance. Definitely not the same excitement, but at least I could enjoy the tales of the epic action from the other Namotu guests, including legends like Dave Kalama and Jaime Mitchell.

The beach bar was the place for the epic stories of the swell (and not!).

The week went by and every single day my leg consistently felt a little better, but not good enough for standing on a surfboard. Not a problem. With the help of some enlightening spiritual books, I found myself accepting reality without questioning and judging it. Here I'm probably reading a book with the brilliant title of "Loving what is".

Elevating the leg on a bean bag pillow while elevating the spirit by reading great books on my Kindle. Could be worse. A lot worse.

The last day of the week, my cuts were pretty much healed, but the inside injury still didn't allow me to stand on a surfboard. Nonetheless, I finally got in the water and caught a few belly down waves on a Wave Storm. A lot more fun that I thought, actually.

The end of a long dry spell immediately brought a big smile on my face.

My guess is that before me there have probably already been Namotu guests that, for whatever reason, couldn't surf for their whole week. And there have probably also been guests that did not spend a single penny at the bar (drinks were not included). And there might also have been guests who decided not to invest $110 in the wi-fi for the week. But I bet I was the first one ever who pulled off the combo of the three! Oh well, at least I'll be remembered for something...

The SUP squatch team in action.

That pretty much sums it up and I bet that now most of you guys are wondering why I started this post by claiming an epic trip.

The lovely Melanie helped me with a couple of rehab exercises.

Well first, let's not forget that on day 1 I managed to catch five perfect waves at Restaurants. My friend Michelle has been going regularly to Fiji in the last 10 years and she hasn't got it as good as I got it yet, as it is a fickle wave that takes specific swell size, direction and period plus favorable winds to be excellent. I can now add a check mark to the list of world class waves I wanted to surf.

Another great image captured by Joli on Kava night.

But most importantly, what really made it epic was the fact that I managed to stay truly happy throughout the whole week, despite the very significant amount of money I spent for just a total of three and half sessions, none of which at Cloudbreak. Everybody in the camp was impressed and inspired by my positive attitude, and I was surprised myself. What we think means nothing. What counts is the reality. And the reality is always perfect, no matter what happens. As long as we're alive to witness it.

Beach bum fire on the last evening.

PS. Got some time to spare in Nadi before catching my plane back to Maui, so here's the uninteresting list of world class waves that were on my wish list and that I managed to surf so far:

- Cloudbreak (Fiji)
- Restaurants (Fiji)
- Uluwatu (Bali)
- Padang Padang (Bali)
- G-land (Java)
- Desert Point (Lombok)
- Macaroni's (Mentawais)
- Bells Beach (specifically Winky Pop, Australia)
- Honolua bay (Maui)
- Chicama (Peru)
- Malibu (California)
- Lance's right (Mentawais). Actually, this last one never was on my wish list, I just happened to stay in a surf camp right in front of it and caught a few waves before wisely deciding to stick to the much more manageable left on the other side of the peninsula.

The food was excellent and abundant. This is just a small part of the sunset snacks served before dinner at the beach bar.

Other waves I'd like to surf:
- Telescopes (Mentawais)
- No Kandui (Mentawais)
- Nihiwatu (Sumba)
- Blacks Beach (San Diego)
- Ponta Preta (Cabo Verde)
- Pavones (Costa Rica)

I have no interest in extremely hard core waves like Pipeline (or anywhere else on Oahu's north shore), Teahupoo and Skeleton Coast. Also no interest in very cold water waves like Jeffrey's Bay or Raglan.

Calling a wave "the best in the world" makes no sense in my opinion, as it is too personal of a preference. But for me, that's what Cloudbreak is.


Ely Spivack said...

Beautiful post, GP! Glad you had an epic time, not much surfing but I'm sure Mel and Meesh made up for it! Looking forward to you getting back to your "regular web duties".

Brian S said...

Great trip report GP! I thought I understood that you were there for the Kalama Kamp, which I also understood was about SUP surfing. No mention of that?

cammar said...

Thanks guys.
I was there at the same time of the Kalama Kamp, but not really part of it.
They didn't have the best conditions, but they had a lot of fun and with the high level of the instructors, they all learned a lot.