Before my first trip to Indonesia a friend had proposed a unique training program for the waves I would encounter and the potentially bad wipeouts that awaited me. He wanted to tie my hands behind my back and push me off my roof, while other friends waited below to throw rocks at me while I was being simultaneously choked and sprayed with a water hose. I decided on a regiment of swimming and running but I secretly wondered if his program would better prepare me.
After surviving a week on Bali I decided to move on to Lombok.I rented a car and headed for a hotel at the beach. While cruising around and checking different surf spots I came across an old man walking along the road. He had two bamboo poles over his shoulders holding several dozen cocnuts in bags. The old man seemed so weak and the midday sun so hot, that I felt I needed to offer him a ride. Although I spoke very little Indonesian, through rudimentary sign language I was able to convey my intentions of assisting him on his journey. He seemed reluctant at first but ultimately gave in. We loaded his coconuts in the car and strapped his long bamboo poles on the roof racks next to my surfboards. After he got into my car I began to realize his apprehension…it seemed he had never been inside a motor vehicle before. He grabbed the dashboard with both hands and the look in his eye was like that of a seven year old kid on the roller coaster at DisneyLand for the first time. We spent the next hour delive ring coconuts to severla remote villages and parted with an exchange of smiles and handshakes.
After returning to my Lombok hotel (having a vehicle by myself had a horrible effect on the my ability to get a decent room rate…but that is another story entirely), I relayed thedays events to some curious locals. They assured me that my act of kindness would soon be rewarded through the powers of karma. I slept well that night knowing that good fortune would soon shine upon me.
The next morning showed fresh swell…easily the biggest waves I had seen yet in Indonesia. It looked like karma was working for me just as had been predicted. While checking the waves I was approached by a local fisherman who promised to take me to a “very good secret spot” in his boat. Feeling eager for a taste of raw adventure and confident karma was on my side, I readily accepted. AS i loaded my gear into his delapadated boat, I was approached by another local Indonesian who whispered to me “If you go to sea in that boat today, your family will say ‘why he stop sending postcards'”. I didn’t have time to tell him about the coconut man but I assured him karma was on my side.
After an hour at sea bailing water constantly from the slowly sinking boat we arrived at the “secret spot”. It seemed the secret was out though, as two other surfers had arrived in another boat and two more were paddling off the beach. The waves were thick and hollow …easily double overhead. It was a welcome relief to have other surfers in the lineup. The peaks were shifty but after a few succesful rides I felt more comfortable and paddled deeper into the takeoff zone. Then it happened…I heard the fishermen hooting from the boat and looked over to see him pointing frantically toward the horizon. I scratched over the first wave to see my impending doom…a huge set, much bigger than anything I had seen yet. I paddled hard for the channel but realized it was hopeless. In a few seconds it was finished….but so was my surfboard. I swam back to the boat with the splintered remains of my favorite board wondering what had happened to my promised good karma.
After another hour of bailing the boat we were back at my hotel and soon found myself in the midst of the same group of locals who had promised me good karma the day before. After I relayed my misfortunes to them they paused for a moment. Then in classic Indonesian optimism one of them said “Maybe you still have good karma today….maybe a shark is coming to eat you, and because you break your board you get out of water just in time to be saved”.