ISD: First Report From Indo

posted by / News / June 20, 2009

This ISD afternoon I walked up the beach collecting trash with a dozen or so local surf groms. When I told the young organizer (just a grom himself) how great it was that he set this event up for International Surfing Day, he said, “International what?”

Turns out: these kids weren’t cleaning the beach for ISD, they were just cleaning the beach. How cool is that? I remember my first beach clean-up with these same young surfers when my local friend started stuffing our collection bag with rocks and seaweed. “These will hurt our surfing, right?” he said. I spent the rest of the clean-up teaching him about plastic. I explained to him that plastic NEVER GOES AWAY.

These kids are from a tropical paradise, where everything from the stalks from a rice harvest to the peel of the banana you just ate is perfectly bio-degradable. On the island their parents grew up on, it was perfectly okay to toss your garbage aside wherever whenever. No problem. But PLASTIC is a new phenomenon. And in many Third World countries — most, in fact — you’ll often watch locals tossing it out the window or burning it on the side of the road simply because they don’t know any better. But today I saw something different. It’s a really good sign. This is working.

And to tell you we had great waves today too, well, of course we did. This is Indo. The swell’s been well overhead (if not double overhead) for a week straight now. Everyone just got back from scoring the swell of the year somewhere: Sumbawa, Java, Sumatra and Mentawais. And although today was the first day the swell finally started to drop, it was still pretty much just pumping.

There are heaps of pros around. All of them, I think. Euros. Brazzos. Aussies. And Yanks. My mid-afternoon rinse-off session was included just Taylor Steele, Benji Weatherly and Michael Ho. As we were getting out, Dusty Payne, Mike Losness, Ricky Whitlock, Yadin Nicol, Julian Wilson, Jamie O’Brien and Kalani Robb all paddled out for the evening light photo session. That’s just at my local beachbreak. The Bukit was pumping. Ulus. Bingin. Belangan. The Mentawais are like a surf studio right now — couple foot overhead and perfect glass. There are parties, barbecues, random big nights and schedule big nights.

Does anybody know it’s International Surfing Day here? Well, it’s been International Surfing Month for a while now, so it’s a bit redundant reminding someone “hey, make sure you get in the water today?” when they’re still dripping wet or just coming out of the barrel in front of you.

But this International Surfing Day, two sights really stuck in my mind:

The first was that pack of young local surfers taking care of their local beach for no special occasion at all.

The second was watching surf filmmaker Taylor Steele walk his two young daughters out on the reef and showing them the crabs and starfish and prickly black urchins. The simple, joyful wonder of a child discovering and re-discovering life on the reef, that’s why we need to do this day. That’s what this is all about.

Although, don’t get me wrong: the surfing part is nice, too. I really like that.

I’m just saying: children, reef, fishies, puppies…it’s all just so damn cute.

Anyway: Happy ISD, Indonesia.

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