I touched down in Bali at one in the morning. A small guy, probably called Made, flagged me down and drove me into the wet streets of Denpasar and eventually a dark complex somewhere vaguely near Dreamlands.
I was greeted in the driveway by Renet, Plettenberg bay native and stewardess of international waters and Melanie, Spanish surfer babe and longtime resident of Tofo, Mozambique.
I didn’t really want to be in Indo. To be frank. There were a gazzilion other destinations with far greater allure that I could think of going with the limited cash in my bank account, but I was never going to let the debauchery of the paradise islands slip by without my attendance.
So there I was. Sitting on the floor of an apartment, blurry eyed and sleepless, with familiar faces and mosquitoes lurking all too close to my ear lobes. For all I knew, I could have been right back in Tofo.
We had one scooter between us. The following evening saw us missioning to Dreamlands, three chicks, three boards and one scooter wandering through the jungle. The waves were cooking, the post sunset drive home was a hazardous one. Eventually, after a few wrong turn, no phones, no money and no petrol, racing to get back in time to dance the Sunday night away, we ran into some friendly South Africans who pointed us in the right direction.
“What on earth are you ladies doing out here?” they said.
It was a good way to kick off the trip.
We had to bail from the party after a few days, heading west to the quiet village of Balian. The wave is an A-frame peak, set against a black sand beach and murky rivermouth. It breaks over river stones, having a distinctly sharky vibe, made even worse by the stories from the locals – probably made up to keep the wave count up and the surfer count down.
There were a few days that it cooked, our lives became early morning stumbles to the waters edge, lunch time mie goreng in a tiny warung with the same sun affected Australian and backhand hacks as best we could.
Collapsing in bed as the sun disappeared.
We drove into the jungle one afternoon. Craving the wind in our hair as we flew into the mountains on our break-free, automatic scooters. Cocks fought in the street and people waved at us like they had never seen foreigners before. Eventually, after frantically pointing us in the direction of fried rice, we sat in a tiny shop, eating some version of strange food and taste testing samples in plastic bags, which could have been pretty much anything.
Bali has the kind of views to make you wet yourself. Some might say that you want ‘drink in’ the scenery, but I’m more inclined to say I want to chop it up with my credit card and put it up my nose. It’s addictive to say the least. This impromptu drive into the mountains was no different.
Eventually we got sick of the simple life and took a boat across to Nusa Lemongan. A tiny island just of Bali, undergoing some drastic developments as more and more cashed up foreigners make themselves comfortable.
After our transport boat nearly getting dumped on a reef we were amping for the swell on its way up from Western Australia. Spending the afternoon nearly getting washed off the island in a turning tide current, the following day was a whole different story.
The island is basically set up with three main breaks next to each other -each varying in direction and difficulty. We stayed in front of Shipwrecks, a hollow right-hander where we pretty much moved only between the waves and the bar.
With the arrival of Ghizlane, our fourth counterpart – Moroccan seastress and Tofinho local, along with some serious swell, we all spent some serious time with the reef on our second day. Stumbling up the beach one after the other, our dreams of barrels for breakfast all but shattered.
By the following day though, I had it wired. Some of the bombs of my life. A half hour dream session with only girls out and water so clear I could see sharp fangs of coral through the wave face.
We returned to the mainland that afternoon, in the pouring rain. Dancing the Sunday away over the cliffs of Uluwatu.
There were no more waves to speak of, so we turned to the bottle (long-neck Bintangs specifically) until finally we our last night took us to the fish market. South African expats, Marshall living in Sumba, Lance in Bukit, Sue and Rohan, at Dreamlands, all of whom had been to Tofo, Sue and Rohan having lived there in a past life as well.
Krusty, also a part-time resident of Tofo, played his guitar as the sun sunk below the shimmering waterline. Blocking out the stench of decaying fish was the six kilogram tuna before us and the mountains of shellfish. Delicacies in numbers I would never see at home.
I could have sat at the table forever.
Krusty’s voice fading in and out of the conversations, occasionally accompanied by the others that knew his songs.
I flew out early in the morning. Teary at saying goodbye.
Wishing my flight was to Africa. Not bloody Australia