We had a situation.
Six of us were trying to get from Bali to the Bajo Baji anchored up Savu. Three of us (Mike, Clayton, and your blog correspondent) were on Friday’s Garuda flight to Kupang. The big jet had no problems taking our bags, the four boxes of delicate chilled provisions packed in Stryofoam, and Clayton’s and Mike’s board bags. However, the next morning we flying on Susi Air, a small single-engine plane, from Kupang to Savu. The 30+ knot winds were keeping all ferries in port, and the two Susi Air flights were fully booked. We’d been lucky to get seats. It was uncertain the little plane could carry all our stuff. (I am reminded of a story of a missionary pilot in Papua who told the five local passengers getting on his plane that they couldn’t carry the two banana stalks they had with them– too much weight. So the passengers sat down on the grassy field and ate all the bananas before boarding.)
Our back-up plan was to leave whatever could not get on the plane at the hotel where we’d be staying, although we didn’t know where yet. Steve, Tim and Murray, arriving on Saturday, would then add these to their gear and get on whatever boat to Savu they could finagle. Things were uncertain. The winds were howling. The harbormasters were refusing boat clearances. It appeared that for Tim and Co to get to Savu, they would have to quietly scout around for a local boat and practice some of the Magic that Must Not Be Named. This trip was getting more expensive than planned.
But we were motivated by the swell forecast. So were a lot of other surfers on the same flight to Kupang and then on to Rote via the afternoon Wings Air flight. Old days, you’d have to spend the night in a flea-bag Kupang hotel and next morning catch the slow, the very very slow, vehicle ferry to Rote and then a slow bus, a very very slow bus, to Nembrala.
I ran into “Bingin” Mick at the airport. Oddly enough, for all that both of us call Bali home base, I’ve only ever seen him at Rote, where he has a place away from his small boutique Bukit operation and where he takes a busman’s holiday to surf by himself. Rips, too. He said he’d sailed to Rote for one of the previous large swells and it wasn’t really doing it. He reckoned chances for this swell were pretty iffy. I kept this to myself. Why bum the boys with negativity?
Although Clayton is impervious to negativity. Even though he is the artist as a young man (his age relative to us greybeards), he’s not one of those tortured artists. You know that song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” ? That’s Clayton, beaming out positivity and good cheer. The perfect guy to have on a small boat with many people, his presence wafting a combination of aerosol Xanax but more organic and uplifting, and that soothing background decor you find in good mental institutions.
(Clayton with Chef Danch’e)
I can imagine it, me wandering back to Clayton and Mike in the airport waiting lounge. “Looks like Savu isn’t going to have any surf and we’re going to be stuck there looking at a flat ocean.”
Mike curses and frets as only Mike can curse and fret.
“Hmmm,” Clayton says, as he continues doodling at his portable drawing pad, “we’ll go in search of the Snake Lady of Savu and have adventures anyway.”
You’ve no doubt seen Clayton’s art work, as he is the artistic director of Surfer Girl. Just like some people read books when in waiting lounges, or twitch through the Internet on their smart phones, or play solitaire or some other application game phones if there is no Internet signal, Clayton doodles. He has with him his small pouch of colored drawing pencils and skinny rectangular drawing pads cut from a full-sized drawing pad. It’s mesmerizing to watch him doodle as he chats. He draws a smooth line and then just as smoothly puts in a small kink. It’s effortless. Water flowing downhill. You have no idea what the doodle is going to be, and then voila, there it is.
(Snake Lady Ridge, as drawn by Clayton …. would we find her coiled upon the peak?)