The sixth typhoon of the year looked promising. Like its geographical brethren, the southern cyclones and northern hurricanes, typhoons may deliver the yin or yang of nature: joy to some and devastation to others, depending on your location and desires.
Never was this more evident than now, for while I was en route to a hopefully wave-rich rendezvous in the North Pacific, a triple-pronged horror show led by Hurricane Irma was destroying the Caribbean, also staring with its three malignant eyes at Florida. Meanwhile, as if nature’s wrath wasn’t enough, the demented despot Kim Jong-un was firing missiles around the place like a naughty kid with a slingshot. Why is it that dictators so often seem to be comical, even ridiculous figures, yet are simultaneously murderous psychopaths? Something about their childish natures make them even more threatening, in a sense less likely to be tempered by reason. We cross our fingers and hope that the leaders of the world don’t cross an indelible line. Surfers chase bombs, but not the metallic kind.
As far as interesting – and reasonable – characters go, I couldn’t have been happier with the two I would be teaming up with. One of them was Tom Curren, who, if you need an introduction to, you probably shouldn’t bother reading this. In his fifties, he surfs better than the vast majority of surfers on earth, and frankly, is so far ahead of his peers and elders it is a little bewildering. The same as it ever was for them, I guess. Mason Ho was to be Curren’s foil, and has gathered a lot of fans for his hard charging at Pipeline, as well as his crazily entertaining web clips, boosting airs over startled heads and olleying over dry rocks. And, of course, his unique post heat interviews – hilarious stream-of-consciousness gems that are more than a breath of fresh air – they are pure personality. And in today’s world, originality like that is priceless. Compare them to the banal “I’m taking it one heat at a time” drivel that poor Rosy Hodge usually suffers through, and you realise how fun things could be.
These islands boast a culture as old as time, and a language as different to English as the desert is to the ocean.
The written form of the language is equally alien to our own Arabic letters. The characters are more like hieroglyphics, except they are stylised versions, like pure abstract artworks. Sometimes you can almost make out a figurative, representational idea from them, but just when you get close they seem to dissolve back into pure design. They have an ethereal beauty, and I’m not sure if that comes from the novelty of them or if they are just simply wonderful works in their own right.
In keeping with this paradigm, the people seem to live and build and even eat in a similarly elegant way, in a sense reminiscent of the Balinese who live out their entire existence in the most beautifully artful style. In the front yards of many of the houses here, people have grown surreally twisted and contorted trees. They have a crooked, almost tortured, look – like old men bending into the breeze. They bring to mind giant bonsai plants, although as far as trees go they are small. We passed many of these as we drove south from the airport to meet Tom, who was already staying down the coast. Local friends and surfers – Nalu, a Rip Curl team rider, and Kai – had picked me up, and would help guide us through language barriers, cultural mores, and hopefully into some waves as well.
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