Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Time Flies

It’s amazing how busy you become when you retire. Leaving my company and my job behind as I set forth on this journey I naively imagined the vast expanses of time I was opening up would be used to explore new vocations, skills and pastimes yet there aren’t enough hours in the day to even write this damn blog. Since I last dispatched a month ago the grand tour has taken in Lombok, Bali again, excitement and fury at Singapore Airlines as they refused to allow us to board our flight to Brisbane due to a ticketing error, family & friends time in Australia as we rediscovered sofas, tv & booze (and realised we’re pretty good at all 3), a stopover in New Zealand and a week’s breather here in Tonga before our assault on Nicaragua, a country where our meagre budget will allow us to blossom again. During this time I’ve tried (and infuriatingly failed) to buy a shipment of Kush Kush caps from India to sell back in the UK, I’ve been developing and planning an e-commerce idea and designed and launched an early-bird website for our winter venture in Kerala, Soul&Surf/India whilst continuing working on the main marketing site. Whew.

The expectation is that on an extended trip like this we leave all cares and worries behind, and that through the absence of a job all problems cease. Not the case I’m afraid. I know I won’t be attracting much in the way of sympathy from those working 50 hour weeks back home but what I’ve learned is that our usual character traits come with us. We find new ways to be busy, stressed and anxious or at least I do. Personal projects, travel arrangements, budget concerns and existential angst fill the shoes of the mundane home-life triggers which continue to swirl around the maelstrom-mind. It’s the character traits we need to work on, not their location, detail or circumstances.

But enough guff, it’s our time in Lombok that I wish to recount. I was enthralled by this wild, rugged, beautiful land. Yes, it’s well known as a destination, easy to get to and sprinkled with resorts but in most parts it’s raw charms prevail and unlike it’s westernised tarnished neighbour it feels like Indonesia proper. The roads are horrific, trees sprout from the centre of the cracked tarmac south coast road, yet traffic is almost non-existent. Villages of traditional thatched bamboo huts fleck the rolling hills which meet the ocean in dramatic crescent shaped bays and people smile and wave as you approach with genuine warmth rather than as a ploy to extract your tourist buck. Visiting, as we did, at the end of the rainy season, showed the oft arid south coast off at it’s verdant best, the grass was green, the rivers full and the roaming livestock fat and contented. And the surf… The south coast is indented and scalloped by bay after bay creating breaks of numerous variety…. Except beach-break. The easiest wave in the area at inside-Grupuk attracted 90% of the travelling surfers, despite the boat-ride access, leaving empty line-ups elsewhere for the more adventurous. Inside-Grupuk also attracted groups of Japanese surfers who pay locals to snake, block and drop-in in order to clear the wave for themselves. Is this the future of colonial-style surf travel in increasingly busy global line-ups? I hope not.

Yet despite my natural affinity with Lombok it’s lack of beach-break beginners waves left Sofie as a frustrated observer for much of the time so with an egalitarian spirit we headed back to Bali.