Selamat jalan, Pak Made. Adieu, Wally. We’ll miss you, Cynthia Nichols.

It’s a well-known sociological/psychological fact that the older we get, the more we’re interested in obituaries. The first thing we look for as we read the obits is not the deceased’s accomplishments, but how old he or she was, and the cause of death. We want to stack our own fate against theirs, in a way. Of all living creatures, we are the only ones who know that one day we will die. When we read of someone dying who was younger than us, we shiver for just a little moment as the Scythed One’s shadow passes over us. We think, he died of that disease, what are the chances of me getting it? We think, she died in a tragic accident, it could happen to me tomorrow.

Then the moment passes. The simple troubles and pleasures of the day, and the prediction of an eight foot swell next week, provide its own anesthetic.

Yesterday, 12 March 2012, a hundred or so surfers paddled out on the noon high tide at Nusa Dua lagoon in memory of Captain Made Purnabawa, Geger beach boat/ferry captain and surfer, and his family, tragically murdered, and for Wally, the French surfer who died in a surfing accident at Nusa Dua. Some had surfed fun four foot plus Nusa Dua that morning. The paddle out was organized by Michael O’Leary of the R.O.L.E Foundation—good on you, bli.

We’re each one of us “satu langkah dari maut” — one step, one breath away from death.


Cynthia Nichols was full of life and laughter and love.

(Early Nusa Lembongan)

The first time I met her in 1979 or so, she was giggling at me. I’d borrowed her husband’s Rob wet suit at Hollywood-by-the-Sea beach in Oxnard, California. I’d never worn a wetsuit before. “How can anyone surf in this thing,” I complained. I’d put in it on inside out and backwards.

She opened her home to me numerous times, made me feel welcome. Got me deals at Patagonia clothing company, where she worked.

In the 80s and 90s Rob was an Indo regular, at least one adventure a year on small boats to distant locations. Cynthia sometimes came along. A real trooper, she was always upbeat and laughing, no matter the misery of the moment, and there were plenty of those. She lived healthy, took care of herself, ran marathons, so the news of her unreasonable cancer came as a shock. Because I knew her, her death in January stirred a real sense of loss, of mourning for a unique bright light gone too soon.

(another delicious meal on the Hati Murnih, underground surf adventuring boat–the guy is a good friend. That Bintang stubby bottle real dates this photo)

(Rob Nichols, with company. A very early Hati Murnih trip to Hu’u and Lakey, the police taking a keen interest in these first ever Westerners who’d shown up out of the blue. Note the sergeant’s report book, our names and IDs duly noted. Some coffee and cigarettes and chat, and we parted good friends)

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s