There was trouble brewing about the beer.
Robert Wilson, who’s as efficient as an atomic clock, had started his usual meticulous planning months prior to our departure on the Kupang to Flores Toast Surf Trip. The lead item on his planning was not the overland trucking of our surfboards to Labuhan Bajo on Flores, where the Bajo Baji would depart to Kupang for pickup, but the beer supply. That, of course, is how it should be. Beer first, boards second. He emailed us, asking us how many Bintang or Prost cans we each wanted for the two weeks.
Michael “Toast” McHugh said he would like Bintang bottles, please. The tall ones.
“Mate,” Robert said, “glass bottles and boats don’t go together. Cans can be crushed flat, and they don’t break into shards.”
“I don’t drink cans,” Mike said. “Bottles, please.”
I personally agree, for beer in a can has a lingering finish on the palate that is faintly reminiscent of frog urine on the tongue, but I understood Robert’s reasoning and was willing to go along with cans. Mike remained brusquely adamant.
That’s the Toast for you. This is how it is, boys. Concise and definite about what he wants and how he wants it, one reason why he’s a successful, if occasionally stressed, entrepreneur. He came to Bali and was not only enchanted by the island and its waves, but also the prospect of setting up a business that could allow him to stay and surf. Quite a number of the early day surfers (the Toast Crew being a representative sample of a whole bunch of other guys and gals I could name) could sniff their fortunes in that early Bali air, one such prospect being Indonesia’s artisanal batik and embroidery products, hitherto unknown in the West.
Mike lugged a couple suitcases around California flea markets, a young Aussie in America long before Crocodile Dundee, which led to him and his Balinese partner establishing the Uluwatu brand of embroidered women’s garments. You still see the stores around Bali (although Mike is no longer involved — he and his wife own a couple silver & handicraft stores in LA, and to hear him talk sometimes, those shops are like his personal La Brea tar pits, he’s gotten stuck in them and can’t get out and is going to end up fossilized right there on Melrose Avenue.)
So, anyway, Robert graciously agreed to bottles, and prepared a suitable disposal unit for them. That beer crisis was averted, but another would soon rear its foamy head.
The Beer Supply, before being loaded on boat
The Toast Tallies bin: Robert custom-made that that heavy wooden lid, by the way