A feel-good story...
Picture your local highway on any given day. If you live somewhere with a relatively dense population, this means lots of people in lots of cars — all of them headed somewhere that, while important to the occupants of each vehicle, is completely irrelevant to everybody else. We only care about those inside our own automobile.
Humans live on the same plane, but mostly remain within their own personal bubbles. It’s safe, comfy, and easy to do so.
Yet, when traveling solo, this is not the case. We’re forced to seek out new relationships in order to live and prosper in a foreign land. I did this in Panama with the Aussies, and as a result I was invited to their home for a swell. Here’s why that’s so valuable to me…
I arrived in Melbin, Austrahlya with high spirits and low expectations. Despite the promising forecast, I wasn’t putting much pressure on the waves to produce. This part of my trip was a bonus. The contemptible cookie before my steak and potatoes.
Out of respect for the locals, I’d rather not divulge much, or anything, about the wave I surfed. All I’ll say is that despite conditions not being quite ideal, it was clearly a world class setup. I had a number of exciting rides and saw many dreamy numbers go unridden. It was challenging and scary and wonderful.
So yes, the surfing was good. But that’s not what this segment is about. The real subject of this story are the people.
From the moment I was picked up at Tullamarine, I was meant to feel welcome. Not in the way that rich people tell you to please, feel at home!, while you sit on their imported sofa and attempt to dissuade your lemonade from inching off the coaster. A droplet on the mahogany would be in bad taste.
No. It was a throw your boards here, flop a mattress there, and take this beer you wild cahnt!
The Aussies did make me remove shoes off at the door, though. The carpet had recently been steam-cleaned.
My Panama pal lived in a woodsy cabana with three of his mates. One was a brother-by-blood, the other two were lifelong friends who happened to be phenomenal surfers. All of them affable as aardvarks.
When not chasing waves, we spent our time sinking beers, watching Margies and partaking in randomly amsuing activities like fishing and golf. I find Aussies to be delightfully wanton in every aspect of their lives.
Despite being halfway around the world in a place I knew nothing about, I felt like I could’ve lived there my whole life. The housemates made me food, showed me their town, and even rousted this little Seppo like I was one of their own.
This type of experience isn’t exclusive to surf, but it sure seems to happen a lot within our saline society. The reason is simple: there are waves we strive to ride all around the globe, but without loads of cash, seeing most of them would be unattainable. In order to offset the financial burden, we create a network of people across the world with whom we can trade waves, knowledge, and sparkling ales.
Then that carbonation leads to gaseous pressure and… boom! Bubble expanded!