The Kupang to Flores Toast Surf Trip: The (Almost) Curious Case of the (Nearly) Missing Artist

We have lost the plot.

The Kupang to Flores Toast Surf trip has already receded into the mists of time billowing over this blog correspondent’s wonky memory. As I recall, I’ve written a dozen posts and we haven’t even boarded the Bajo Baji. Where was I last? What happened next? All mist and haze, fog and vapors.

But I shall persevere! Use dental drills on the old neurons! Jackhammers! Or perhaps memories will flood back on a tide of Prost beer, which I tasted on the trip, in lieu of Bintangs. But it is only ten in the morning, and beer o’clock does not come until the sunset hour.

So. To help us get back on track, here are the dramatis personae:

the boys

L to R : Mike, Clayton, Murray, Robert, Yours Truly, Tim, Steve

According to what I have written, Michael and Clayton and I were at the Kupang hotel, waiting for the next morning Susi Air’s flights, while Tim, Steve, and Murray were arriving the following day to find a fishing boat willing to slip under the harbormaster radar, downwind with 35 knot gusts to Savu Island, where the Bajo Baji was waiting.

So, what happened next? Ah. Of course. How could I forget. The artist who vanished (almost).

This below is the Susi Air plane, just big enough for eight passengers including Mike and Clayton on the first flight, and boxes of food including Steve’s chilled tofu burgers kept overnight in the hotel restaurant’s kitchen fridge, and one small surfboard Clayton pulled out of his coffin bag.


This is the Wings plane, which flies about the outer islands but is considerably larger than the puddle-jumper.


Now it must be admitted that the departure lounge at Kupang’s airport is scrum mixed with chaos, overlaid with screeched boarding announcements. The Susi Air flight was among several called. Mike charges to the front across the tarmac to get the best seat on the single-prop plane (of which he has experience from his sky-diving days). Clayton toodle-doodles along in the absent-minded way of an artist tracing cloud patterns in the sky, following by instinct a group of fellow passenger to a “small” plane. There he shows his Susi Air boarding pass to Savu to the flight attendant, who glances at it and waves him aboard. As he sits down he is somewhat puzzled, because the plane is large and spacious, and so why all the fuss about full flights and very limited cargo space? Why couldn’t they have loaded all his boards? Why, look at all these empty seats in the back.

In the meantime, at the Susi Air plane, everyone boards, including Mike…but not Clayton. Where the hell is he? The Susi Air manager races around trying to find him and double checks with the Wings flight staff, who then do another count of their passengers and sort out the confusion. Lo and behold, Clayton was just about to fly off to Bima. The manager hustles our awol artist across the tarmac to the right plane. Mike and the Western pilots in the cockpit are cracking up with laughter.

I was on the next flight two hours later. The same pilots, still chuckling. There’s a number of these foreign contracted pilots based in Kupang. Apparently a number of them are surfers as well. I’m pretty sure that these pilots at times deviate slightly from direct point A to point B flying to check out reefs and coasts and take note. When we flew over Savu, my pilot banked around the Bajo Baji at anchor a thousand feet below. The pilot was filming his airstrip approach on a mounted Go-Pro, and he swiveled the camera to get the Bajo Baji in on the footage.

A beautiful sight, the blue sky and blue sea and green palms and a boat riding the iron in a channel, a gentle swell breaking on either side in white triangular swaths. No boards in the water, so it was obviously too small, but the real swell was due the next day.

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1 Response to The Kupang to Flores Toast Surf Trip: The (Almost) Curious Case of the (Nearly) Missing Artist

  1. Michael McHugh says:

    Like the of old TV series ……car 54 are where you

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