· By Maria Nilsson
‘mushroom man’ says to you “we are all one
Places. A space contextualized by a diverse set of contributing factors, moments in time highlighted by circumstances that either amaze or horrify us. Memories are an important role in the development of our perception of the world around us. Another important factor is our attitude at the time that, in hindsight, affects our idea of the memory. Feelings dictate our memories in such profound ways that even the mundane sections of life can become amazing based upon how we were feeling.
Or the non-mundane, such as surfing, in java, with your best friends, for 30 days; now that’s contextualizing a place.
I’m trying to remove myself from any cliché documentation associated with a surf trip with your best friends, but when a little Indonesian man you’ve dubbed under the pseudonym ‘mushroom man’ says to you “we are all one, connected by one mutual endeavour; love and peace”, how can we not be cliché’ in all of it’s beautiful relatable glory.
For the second time in my life, I see what surrounds me; it’s weird. Strange. I have been here before, nearly 1 year ago, and when I left for that first time I knew we would be back. What a strange sensation, to know when a place leaves a dint like this one did. All we can do is return, to feel those feelings again. We try to limit our expectations, of good waves, the people still there, the smoothe sailing, the food and the feelings. It’s difficult, because that’s what made it so good the first time.
A small fishing village, somewhere in Java, Indonesia, where the people find themselves in the middle of Ramadan, the month of Islamic devotion and sacrifice; fasting from dawn til dusk everyday for the month. Here we were, three salty minions from Byron Bay sacrificing work, study and life at home for a month of surf devotion in a balmy $2 a meal paradise. Kind of the same as Ramadan, ha ha, yeah – ‘surfing is my Religion’ (Kelly Slater, 2013). So here we were, for the month of Ramasurf and we were such good little devotees.
It’s hard to always be grateful and stay present and lather in the beauty of having a month away doing such splendid activities, and sometimes the waves weren’t performing to our expectations, so, sometimes we kind of just sat around and looked at people. This, in the end, became a challenge, as we were forced to use our down time wisely and perhaps a little more creatively. Yeah, we read books and scrolled the gram, yeah we stretched and went on snack hunts to find magnums and nutella, but we also met a guy called Dickie, who, I believe, is the lord of Java. One day, we followed Dickie for two hours hunting for waves, but we didn’t find any, so we went to this random amazing pizza joint instead. Blessed are those random experiences, for without them, life would be so normal. Any who, Lord Dickie also makes everything under the sun; like his spoons, his bowls, his fins, his surfboards, his surf wax, his chocolate, his coconut oil, his house – an enterpriser, some would say.
Along with Dickie, we made a bunch of lovely local pals, like Giang who took photos of us and taught us inappropriate Bahasan phrases. There was Lily who was the biggest little guy ever, tiny man, massive heart – best adventure guide in Java. Then there was Deni and Tedi and Wahu and Theo and Yusuf; who all made our surf-less moments into much more marvelous memories, and this is why we love it here, because of the people we met and the moments we shared.
On my second last afternoon of surfing, I was experience high, I was in the later half of the seventh hour of surfing for that day, perhaps dehydration and delirium contributed to my weird lightheaded euphoria, and I was so goddam full of beans. I guess too, because the end was approaching, and I had to exhaust the time. I was giving taxi rides to the little short-boarding ‘groms’, they held on to my log and I paddled them back to the point, then they would let me drop in, and always laugh at my dismounts, which were so bent because the waves were bollocks, but that surf was the cherry to my time here and I felt so lucky.
So long ‘somewhere in Java’, I get so sentimental about places, especially ones that I know have the potential to continually create memories of such high quality. Our experiences make us who we are, right? They are the archives we return to for help, like instructions for our future selves. So we may as well make them as special and as meaningful and as kind as we can.