Why did two 31 year-olds sign themselves up for two weeks of surf camp in the little village of Gerupuk on the island of Lombok, and one of the many islands found in Indonesia? Well, simply put, why the hell not?! Or was it because of, and deep down inside, we wanted to reenact moments from Point Break and Blue Crush? I mean that's partially true, but Marco and I have been dreaming of the moment when we could proudly ride our own waves like the pros screaming "cowabunga" at the top of our lungs (just like our favorite pro-surfer Michelangelo does when riding those sewer breaks). And what better place to learn than in Indonesia? Freaking I N D O N E S I A ! Learning to surf there is like learning to make beer from monks in the mountains of Belgium.
Now you might be thinking to yourself that two weeks at a surf camp on an exotic island somewhere off the coast of the Indian Ocean would be the perfect place for full relaxation (think piña coladas in fresh coconuts by the sea after riding some waves), but no. Surf Camp Lombok was not your ordinary camp. Starting with the Spartan-like premises. A traditional Borneo longhouse made primarily of bamboo situated right on the beach, with private and shared rooms equipped with no air-conditioning, wide-open windows, mosquito nets, and a wide selection of random patterned bed sheets. Ours happened to be bright pink Hello Kitty ones (big SCORE!). The toilets were also shared with doors that barely closed using a wooden lock attached to a flimsy string, and the showers/sinks were salt water only. Hm. . . brushing your teeth should be interesting, but on second thought isn’t gargling with salt water supposed to be good for your throat? Although we never seemed to get used to the taste of Colgate with a dash of sea water, we would later find out that you really didn’t NEED to shower at all during those two weeks, but I’m ahead of myself.
Day one at camp was all about getting adjusted and introduced to your new camp mates, bunk buddies, and instructors. It was at this point that I felt I needed to start keeping a diary which would have begun somewhat like this:
It's the first day of camp and so far everyone seems nice. I think I will make a lot of friends. There is this cute boy named Marco…
Too bad I’m 31, married, and too old to actually make myself keep a diary. Although, I happily will pass out in my awesome Hello Kitty bed sheets, only to be awoken 5 hours later by roosters, motorbike engines, and finally our instructor's voice yelling “SURFING TIME” at the top of his lungs. All mornings began like this, as you dragged your exhausted body out of bed, and if you somehow managed to get through the day and make it past 9-pm, you were a GOD.
The first few days of camp proved to be crucial. The team of instructors was dedicated to teaching you the skills you needed to make surfing a lifetime sport, by learning the right technique with serious surf education and constant guidance, plus the perks of photo-analysis. This was definitely not the camp that claps and cheers, although your fully standing on your board in completely the wrong way. This was serious, and it was game time.
So serious in fact, that while most surf camps start you out on the kiddie waves that gently wash you out towards shore, we were out on a reef break riding giant beasts and getting tossed around in nature's very own washing machine. I even recall the camp director Scott saying, "it will all seem so easy after surfing these waves your first time." Oh GEEZ thanks, that makes us feel so much better. And the cherry to top it all off? We were learning to surf on short boards. Not exactly the teeny tiny ones that you are probably picturing, but they sure as hell were not long boards! Although terrifying, none of those factors stopped us from getting out there to ride or die. Ok. So the "die" part is a little over dramatic, although in the end we were known as that "one bad camp session". And that does not relate to our surfing skills, because lets face it, they were awesome. But it does relate to the amount of injuries per camper. Let's see, it was first Yas who dislocated her shoulder and had to be driven to two different hospitals over what seemed like the surface of Mars, just for her shoulder to be popped back in. Followed second by my collision with a fellow surfer while trying to get out of the white water, blowing out my knee (although I kept denying that anything was wrong as I hopped my way around camp the rest of time). Which was then followed by Jimmy's collision in the water, causing him to get 6 stitches in the head. Then there was Karin falling off the boat and bruising her entire ribcage, Em and Romain bruising their ribs from their surfboard (and obviously too much surfing), and finally Kim having a never ending infection on her foot due to scraping the bottom of the reef. As pathetic as we sound, we gave it our all and made surfing our bitch for those two weeks (or maybe it was the other way around).
Although surfing was the top priority, we did end up having lots of fun getting to do other things that didn't involve wearing a rash guard. That included barbecues of freshly caught barracuda, taking out the big boat for a day of swimming/surfing (but really just ended up chilling), playing against locals in friendly games of football and volleyball, and going all out with a bang at a "Famous People" themed camp party that ended in skinny dipping and major hangovers. You guessed right, no one went surfing the next day. We all thought that hiking and jumping off waterfalls seemed to be a better cure.
FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT SURF CAMP:
- That peanut butter smoothie at The Green Bean Cafe. Oh my! Even if you aren’t that interested in surfing but still find yourself in Lombok, make your way to the camp JUST for this.
- Having to surf practically fully clothed (Gerupuk is a Muslim community), but secretly loving it because if not i’d be completely naked after wiping out (how do pro-surfer ladies keep their bikinis on when I could barely keep my shorts from flipping the wrong way?)
- Watching Oscar worthy movies, such as North Shore, on the projector in the lounge room.
- The boys (and Em) playing football in a field that was a land mine full of cow shit.
- Learning the capital cities from Indonesian children selling bracelets on the streets.
- Getting a first look at how surfboards are made.
- Attending an Indonesian wedding and finding out that you are actually participating in it.
- Low tides are SERIOUSLY low tides and you will definitely end up scratching yourself on the reef, but it makes for a cool scar.
- Wearing wet bathing suits and being ok with it, because nothing really dries in that humidity
- Taking a small longboat out everyday to catch the waves on the reef break
- Waking up at 5am for the first surf
- Not taking a shower (before you start judging, there was absolutely no reason to take one since you would be in the water every 5 hours and plus salt showers don’t really work).
- Feeling like a kid again. Except one that drinks Bin Tang after surfing sessions that is.
- Having the "Lombok I Love You Song" stuck in your head for two weeks straight.
Two weeks later we not only possessed a great set of surf skills that we would continue using throughout our lives, but we were leaving with some of the greatest memories, new friendships, and a selection of different bruises and scars, that would always remind us of our time that September in Lombok, Indonesia.
This post is dedicated to the following people of First Session September - Surf Camp Lombok:
Andrey- the blunt Norwegian with the cauliflower ear therapies and addiction to cake.
Roland- the proper Brit, with his enthusiasm for questions related to surfing who doesn't like to use his fingers when he eats.
Yasmine- the Dutch NGO with a superb sense of humor who loves to cuddle.
David- the American and master at Yatzhee, always found reading in a hammock.
Tom- the German/Italian Leonardo Dicaprio that was very adamant about not using spoons while eating spaghetti.
Will- the funny American who knew exactly when to throw out a sarcastic comment.
Liam- the sweet Australian with one of the most beautiful glides across waves.
Em- the easy going Australian who can easily hang with the boys and has packed any possible item you may have forgotten.
Tess- the Australian with lots of cool bruises to brag about, and who was always down to have a good time (food poisoning will not stop her!).
Olivia- the Australian white-wash survivor that suggested the skate bowl be filled with water, instead.
Kim- the all American girl with a Terminators gusto for surfing.
Romain- the Frenchman with your classic French dry humor, who we were all convinced has surfed before.
Khalil- the Swiss with the greatest paper rock scissors skills, winning all the bracelets from Indonesian children.
Livia- the Italian fascinated by chicken's legs and an extreme fear of low tides.
Joel- the Swiss who loves chocolate on pancakes and who almost lit the boat on fire when putting out a cigarette.
Karin- the Austrian who had the guts to brave it out after badly bruising her ribcage.
Jimmy- the crazy Swede Sugar Daddy who plastic wrapped and ducked taped his head to keep his stitches waterproof, in order to keep surfing.
Doyo- the surf instructor who was like a squirrel on speed, but yet shy when he sang, and we secretly all wanted to steal his Munchies hat.
Johnsson- the surf instructor, a.k.a Kal Drogo, who had awesome aerials and wore really cool socks.
Bahri- the surf instructor with the teeniest tiniest board, who always shared his cigarettes with everyone.
Rin- the surf instructor with the biggest smile and most memorable laugh, as he pushed you onto a giant wave.
Sakir- the surf instructor that would always try to cheat in Yatzhee and had the slickest hair flip while riding a wave.
I now leave you with our camp anthem and a video of a dog skateboarding.