Up Now

Easy Company

Ano Mac and the Deus crew sought out a remote corner of Indonesia to shake off the tyranny of modern life. Images: Harry Mark.

The sounds from out my window is a village mixture of quiet, construction hammers and birds. The odd scooter winds in and out of ear shot and the tempo is set to the whir of the fan. There is a certain pureness to it that you don’t find back in the metropolitan muddle. We are finally in a place that offers the chance to decompress. It allows us that spare moment to wallow in the tranquil, meet and greet with the local people. And there are the quiet moments where I get the chance to reacquaint with our self.

Most surf trips these days end up being frantic adventures. No downtime nor relaxing. Chasing swells that start on a screen as brightly coloured lines in the seas well south of Africa. Lines that grow up to become massive waves carrying with them a burden of consequences as they crash upon reef and rock. The frantic stressed travel. Tickets booked, bags packed and bolting out the door to make it in time. Convoluted flight plans that leave you sleeping on airport floors. Nothing coasts, the whole thing is a frantic 100 miles an hour.

This time it’s going to be different. We’ve set our sights on a scenic spot because beauty is part of the mental picture I’ve painted. This is the search for small and perfect rather than the chase for gigantic and menacing. This is the antithesis of what a surf trip has become.

In this rash of rapture, we arrive where time stops and small perfect waves peel past the point. One after another. Time after time they break in the same spot. The same way. We get to do it over and over again. Calm is bestowed through repetition.

We’re a weird medley of mates, made up of friends and some ring ins who just happened to be in the coincidence of location and like-mindedness, so laughter and the chance to share moments are guarantees. There seems to be a game going that we’ve all entered, us and the concurring around us, no one is planning to be a winner. Prize goes to the person with the most smiles and looking around we can see that everyone’s counting themselves lucky. Yelling and calling out each other. One-upmanship abounds. Conversations with different mates are laced up along different tacts. One thread takes a pregnant pause as I capture a wave and then slowly paddle back out to the lineup. I start up another hot topic with someone else before my old pal from before comes back out. I throw in some more thoughts I’ve had with a sentence or three on the thread of before, then acknowledging the unspoken word that the next one is mine, I spin my board around and paddle for the wave, throwing one last pertinent point back over my shoulder as I am picked up and carted away.

And so, the day goes. Hour after hour we take wave after wave until I reach my fill. I flick off one and decide it’s my last. I’m near the shore, I simply plop straight down, sitting in the shallows. The hours of exertion have left me tired but with it there is also a lightness. I know what it is without looking. I’m lessened of the urban burden, after only a day in it seems to have lifted as quickly as the coolness of morning disappears here. The wet season feeds us a personal body compress that the warm waters don’t seem to lessen. But its embrace is empowering. I collect my board and wits, traipse up the sand and retire to sit on the shore in the dappled light landscape of tree strewn shade and watch mates satisfy the more.

One morning after a fair few there, we wake and find the surf has gone from small to not at all. As if in a hive mind, we roll over and sleep a little late. The banter has moved to crowd a local restaurant where breakfast is taken. By eleven we’re beset with boredom and eyes wander over some reasonable looking two stroke motorbikes that are scattered about out front. You have to take your fun where you can find it, should be no surprise to hear minds and loose tongues conspire to add adventure to the itinerary. We negotiate with the owners to let us use them. They, of course, have already thought us as reckless and laugh as they go away counting their handfuls of good fortune.

There’s talk of a coffee plantation up the hill. Rather remote, to get there we have to travel for about forty minutes up a road that resembles a riverbed at the best of times. Presently it is the middle of the wet season, the daily showers would be sure to be keeping the sludge level high.

Legs are thrown over the once regal relics and with some coaxing of the kickstarts, we get them all ring-a-dinging. Down the highway in a loud cloud of exuberance, we head, fifteen minutes later, coming to the turnoff. We slow to turn right and see the road go from tar to clay, let out another collective gust of glee and twist the throttles downwards launching along the terracotta track and into the jungle.

The road, if you could call it that, appears to play with us for the first thirty minutes before growing bored, then it seemed to be throwing little obstacles in our path to pitch us off. Steep runs and slippery bends did indeed manage to dismount a few of us, the rest made it through. We crested the last bend and a clearing with buildings and machinery made us slide to a stop. On three sides we could see out and down. The canopy below cut off any glimpse of the sea left behind but the blue sky gave us the encouragement we needed.

Seeing the activity around us ripped me back to reality, the jungle had been uncommunicative and portentous but here people moved once again with purpose. There were beans being cleaned, coffee roasting and even a café that served rich fresh coffees to all of us while we sat in the dirt down one side, backs to the wall regaling stories of this corner and that. There’s that slide in my minds apostrophe eye where I thought for a couple of seconds I was a gonner before pulling it back into line.

Glancing to my left and the past the clearing out across the sea of green, split in half with a bright blue sky, I knew we’d found a hidden corner to slow from the metropolitan monotony all the while never actually slackening the speed at which we devoured things, I looked back to my compadres, laughing and chatting, taking in their slowed manners and decelerated speech. Laughter was rich, real and from the heart and watching them there I thought that perhaps it had only needed the addition of this very easy company.

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