This is weird. Truly, a weirdliness beyond words.
For several days now, I’ve been trying to get this post written on the Mystical Wave of Snake Lady Ridge. I know we were there. This is an absolute fact. We did find Albert Taylor’s mythical wave and we surfed and rejoiced in it. Surely we did. I know this and I believe this as surely as I believe there is a God, or at least a Kelly Slater, both of whom have been in Bali but neither of whom have I met in the flesh, only in the spirit.
But yet as I try to write this post, as I try to summon my memories of the Wave, they rise close to the surface of my consciousness, and for a fleeting moment I glimpse it, empty blue perfection. My soul stirs with excitement. But then a mist comes over the memories and wisps away and I find myself instead grimly remembering Serangan Island of the past few days, the westerly winds blowing every surfer and surf school to the spot, soft tops and longboards and short boards and SUPS flying every which way, and my soul shrivels.
Was the Wave a left? A right? A peak? I cannot recall. What is vivid as blood is the horror of a Russian surf school instructor shoving a shrieking student over the falls and directly at me.
And where exactly was this Wave? The Kupang to Flores Trip was a long journey threaded through many islands. Sumba? Flores? Sumbawa? Rinca? I do recall a Komodo dragon on a beach, and I do recall a sinuous ridge where the Snake Lady dwelled in her splendor, but were they the same place?
None of the boys on the trip remember, either. Except Clayton did draw this from one of his fevered dreams. “I think it was somewhere around here,” he said.
Or maybe that’s just what they say and don’t want to tell me. The Snake Lady put the fear of fangs into them should her wave be revealed to the swarming masses. Perhaps Albert Taylor is her vassal of doom. He will cart away anyone speaking publicly of the holy place and feed the offender to the wild civic cats slinking through his coffee-plantations slurping ripe coffee beans that they poop out and you drink as $10 luwak coffee.
And the Snake Lady herself. Did we meet her? Some of us. Mike did. This is the lad before he entered her lair. Notice those original Ripcurl Bali booties, possibly the only extant pair left upon this earth, but more importantly notice that beaming smile. Little did he know that he would not be smiling for long.
I did not meet her. Certainly not I. I stayed put upon the boat for I feared what I might find, the magic she would weave, as evidenced by the jabbering chatter of the others and their darting eyes that would for an instant go still and glassy.
No, I did not set mine eyes upon the Snake Lady. I most certainly did not.
And yet, dear God, what is this that appears from the mist? No, no, oh have mercy upon my soul–