It’s a pretty common scene in stories where an aging character attends a friend’s memorial service and reflects that lately she’s been going to more funerals than birthday parties.
The first generation of Bali’s surfers are probably feeling that way. They’re starting to lose more of their own. A good number gathered this past week at the Nusa Dua crematorium and then a paddle out at Kuta (thanks Balibelly for the report and photos) to say goodbye to David Wylie, one of Bali’s surfing pioneers, and pioneering gadabout, who died the previous week of cancer.
Maybe gadabout isn’t the right word, as Wylie found his home in East Sumba, in the wild and wooly days, when you got around on bareback horses. His sister-in-law, an East Sumbanese now living in Bali, remembers when she and other children of the village first saw David and a couple other bulés under the beach’s pandanus trees, the first white people they’d ever seen. The kids were frightened out of their wits, because their mothers had always warned about the white man who came and stole children. This actually is a common refrain in the Eastern islands, and there’s probably a grain of historical truth to it, for in the 18th and 19th centuries European slavers would occasionally raid a village.
A surfer and keen fisherman, David Wylie never met a person he couldn’t tell a story to. Or sell a Sumba blanket to (at least in his early Sumba years). A larger-than-life character who loved the rustic life there in East Sumba, his sis-in-law saying how his office was his cellphone and his hammock.
Spin a yarn for Saint Peter, David. The Haloed One was a fisherman, too.