Meanwhile, at J-Bay, South Africa, two gnarly Afrikaner cops with bullwhips stand as a gauntlet in front of the keyhole…
So I am sitting out front of the Best Western Mini Mart, wiping my bottle of warm beer down with a baby wipe.
I happen to be looking through the rickety bamboo beach closure barriers and out at the empty line-up of “halfway”. The spot where every single famous Indonesian surfer in history rode their first wave (and to this day, much to the chagrin of funky visitors, still surf it with the same enthusiasm).
Near me is the most infamous surf photographer in the world. He’s working the neck of his bottle with a baby wipe too.
We are both thinking that it’s not such a bad thing, this lockdown. It’s like a Global Nyepi Day.
Which, by the way, just ended here on the island.
The ceremony where you must stay indoors, shut out the lights and reflect on your life for 24 hours or get thrown in the slammer. Except this year, as mentioned before, Nyepi was government decreed to be 48 hours.
Hence the need for a beer in front of the Best Western Mini Mart as soon as we were able to roll away the stones from our self-quarantined dwellings.
The first places to open were the mini-marts. Seems everybody could use a bag of potato chips and an ice cream bar after all that reflection. Warm beer too (The fridges were on self-quarantine as well).
This afternoon, the infamous photographer and I are watching a trickle of people making their way down to the empty beach past the Happy Face Surf School billboard. Some triathlete guy in a pair of sluggos and goggles, a super skinny longboarder (is this a pre-requisite these days, or is it because that kind of physique combined with those short shorts remind us of Stephie?).
A pair of Russians bodyboarders strolled by.
You know they are Russian because they carry their bodyboards like AK-47’s and are peppered with those scary tattoos you see in all those movies about Russian assassins. These guys never have to worry about social distancing, ever. No one wants to go anywhere near them on a good day.
There are a few pedestrians out, dodging antiseptic spray trucks and the hungry hookers who are zooming around on their scooters looking for the lonely. Both male, female and in between.
The hookers, I mean.
I do not see one single Indonesian citizen, other than the hookers, out and about.
The Indonesian devout know the rules, respect their beliefs and stick to them.
There is a reason this island has never fallen to a foreign power even though Bali has never had a military.
Unlike the asshole American the other day who wanted to “exercise his personal rights” by going to the beach on Nyepi day. He looked pretty chastened when he was roped in chains and thrown like raw meat into a cell of mouth watering criminals at the Hotel K.
The photographer six feet away from me was telling me about what was going on over at J-Bay in South Africa.
He owns some apartments there that he rents out to the LOST team during the contests (Hoping against hope they don’t burn them down or graffiti clever slogans on the walls).
Anyway, he’s telling me the a big J-Bay swell is coming but the beaches are shut down.
Now I don’t know if any of you have ever had to deal with South African cops, but I have and I can tell you I would rather face the Russian bodyboarders.
Aside from Afrikaner cops being among the world’s gnarliest bruisers they are also really, really bright.
So how to keep the surfers from a perfect J-Bay swell?
They shook down two surfers for the info on where the best place is to be stationed to stop surfers.
So there they are today, two gnarly Afrikaner cops with bullwhips, standing as a gauntlet in front of the keyhole.
One can close one’s eyes and imagine Bruce Brown’s dulcet tones about all those millions of perfect empty waves breaking right now.
Unfortunately the surf in front of me was only ten inches.
An advantage in a certain sweaty industry, but certainly not in ours.
But taking it all in, all in all the photographer and I reckoned things were going okay here in Bali.
So fear not for us expat sinners.
All is as well as it could be in these troubling times.
After all, the sunset was beautiful, and the beer, though warm, was at least in hand and somewhere a speaker was playing the music of our mutual friend Jack Johnson singing about a monkey.