• Boat Story: Indo 2010 - Part 2

Continued from PART 1...

While Serena was doing some Snapper rocks tail slides I was busy removing the swimmer protector from the bottom half of my swimmers and sticking them to Serena’s pillow. I gathered a collection and they looked awesome sitting right in the place where she placed her head. There were card tricks from Sarah, Claire epiladying my back when I had my back turned and I am thankful to her for my bald spot on my lower back (no I don’t have a lot of hair but fine and soft blonde hair which I am hoping will not grow into something similar to my Dad’s growth when it grows back).

Cocktails all round in the evening sometimes turned into happy hour and mast jumping was initiated. The new comers to the boat had to jump the mast before they got off. The mast is about 4 metres high and as you climb the little silver ladder wrungs as the boat sways it is one of the most intimidating happenings of the trip. Sarah did it at night first before everyone and threw her bra off the top of the mast, it managed to hit the Captain in the face on the way down, he swatted at it thinking it was a bat and she jumped with no hesitation.

Paige did her jump relatively easily, no fear and no hesitation, which is how she approaches a wave. Ornella was a trembling on the climb but jumped easily. Claudia to her credit jumped after much peer pressure though she was very scared on the climb and jump. She completed it with no Latina finger waving in sight. It was Sofia and Sage who we were most disappointed in as they flatly refused. Sofia claiming ‘I don’t do things like that’ and Sage ‘I am afraid of heights’.

Special mention must go to Claudia and Paige for putting on sun cream at 11pm at night in preparation for their surf the next morning, taking very seriously their slip, slop, slap regime! And to the Swiss ball in the lounge room for always being in the way as everyone went to the toilet at night. If we could have left a night scene video recorder on, we would be able to observe everyone walking down the stairs in the pitch black, hitting the ball mid way down tripping, bouncing head first across the video room, landing square on there arms and head, rolling down the second flight of stairs and slithering into their bunk to sleep.

As the swell dropped to near nothingness on our second last day we decided to take the opportunity to go up river and meet up with some of the local villagers and a Shaman. A Shaman is a selected community leader of sorts who has much wisdom of his local environment and surroundings. To learn from such a person is an amazing cultural experience and the way they live is so far removed from where we come from it is a massive eye opener to what is really important in this world. Arriving at a small hut on the riverbank, we were invited in with open arms to their dwelling. The Shaman though somewhat intimidating looking with tattoos running from foot to head and a loin cloth covering his nether regions, smiled a half toothy grin at us all and we were all put at ease. The women in the hut were interested in our hair and appearance and the beautiful little kids were collecting the blonde hair off our heads, so intrigued, staring at it like it was gold.

What I found ironic about the whole trip up river is that our world is now so technologically advanced, that we are amazed by the most primitive ways of life. It is like an adventure to view simplicity. It was an eye opener for me because I asked myself where exactly has technology taken us? Has it made us closer or more isolated? When you are away, talking to your loved ones on a screen and you say bye and turn it off do you ever feel hollow and alone on the other side of the world? Have you ever gone to lunch with your friend and they Facebook the entire sitting?

Technology has created some very nice creature comforts and convenience but I think these villagers grasp the importance of existence. I question whether those chasing money, fancy clothes and self -importance have got a grip on reality…

We observed the women fish with their hand woven nets and catch shrimp straight from the river. Then the men flatten fibrous plant material into cloth. Waving goodbye to the smiling happy kids and welcoming people we climb back on the boat and I think about the rat race I am again about to join when I arrive home in a few days.

We have our last two fun surf and snorkel sessions of the trip on the last day and all begin to pack our mess that is sprawled from one side of the boat to the other. Everything is then locked away for our bumpy ride all night back to port. The music starts pumping, the Bintangs are flowing, the dancing starts up and the small 2m by 2m deck up the back turns into a pumping break dancing space. With the hand plant and worm, that Sarah is renowned for, being extra hard to balance and land due to the swell hitting the boat. Every time someone fell on the ground it was a stacks on with everyone landing on top of each other and scrapes and bruises all round. The guys watching on and laughing at such craziness as it is usually them being the ringleaders and head banging until late in the evening.

Being surrounded by these amazing people for ten days straight has shown me the power of the human spirit. Some girls or guys especially as non-surfers may read this and think how they could not think of anything worse than living through some of the happenings of the last ten days, especially the carnage and ask why would we put ourselves through this?

It is the challenge. That feeling of putting something in front of you and asking yourself to do it even if you may not know if it is possible. You either succeed or don’t succeed, but you know at the end of the day that you have tried. The age old saying of it is better to try and fail then to not try at all (and live with regrets)! This happens to all of us in everyday life, we just may not recognise it.

I feel that females have poor role models and sometimes get lost in the wilderness of society's expectations instead of living for their dreams and beliefs. Coming from Australia with a fairly liberated democracy it is very interesting to observe young girls and the females who are placed in front of them as role models and how this influences them. For example Paris Hilton. I am glad this is now changing to Taylor Swift and Dakota Fanning, Beyonce and Rihanna. There is no direction for the youth. Half the time young girls think putting nice clothes and make up on will be the answer to all their dreams and not taught that it is amazing what a person can achieve once they put their mind to it. The nine females on this boat are everyday females who have found a passion for something and stuck to it with the belief that nothing is unattainable.

Sometimes the surf industry questions how to market females in this sport but I really am not sure why it is such a problem when mothers and daughters at every beach I go to and sons and fathers alike while we are on the boat comment on the level of girls surfing on our boat. One South African friend we met along the way saying we had ‘totally changed his perception of female sports women in the world’. I feel that every female on this boat is amazingly talented and beautiful in there own right, and should not just be objectified. I love how the rest of the world is slowly changing, you can be talented and rewarded for such talent. With many guys stuck in the past and the surf industry following with the mentality of "I will never date a chick who surfs better than me". At the end of the day most girls don’t surf better than guys most don’t care to compare to others or how their boyfriend surfs. It is just a shame the ego of our sport holds back the whole industry and it is passed on from one generation to the next, even if their mother’s are the best females in the world.

The divide of the sexes is old school. Can we all not just respect each other in the water and enjoy the creativity of our unique sport because it is true ‘Only a surfer does know the feeling’. To the people out there who just love surfing for the waves, the vibes, the experience and the feeling, it is you who keeps the spirit alive and I am grateful for your existence.

To the other eight women and all the crew from the Mangalui thankyou all for making this trip an amazingly diverse, exciting and different experience!

The Mangalui Ngulu - pic via mangalui.com