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In the first chapter of the ‘Indonesian Motorcycle Diaries’ in Issue 593, Tom de Souza encounters G-Land sages, locals with ghost stories and an undercover cop escaping the demons of a past life. Eventually he lands at Desert Point and falls under the spell of wave’s coiling perfection. Below is an excerpt from the feature of his pilgrim at Desert Point, which saw him cross paths with Oz slab-hunter Kipp Caddy.
Desert Point Delirium
Compared to the mysticism and luxury of G-Land, Desert Point is a surfing ghetto. Digs are in raised huts, the roofs and walls thatched crudely with alang-alang. Some leak when it rains; 200k rupiah a night here buys you a bed on a concrete pad, a toilet you have to flush with bucket and scoop, and a trickling little one-inch PVC pipe shower. There is no fan and only one naked, hard-bright lightbulb; everything runs off the diesel generator chugging away beside the cow paddock down back.
It’s a small price to pay when you see the quality of the wave. Glistening six-to-eight-foot tubes reeling the entire 300m length of the reef, hypnotising everyone in the beach-front warungs. A Mexican wave of grunts and hollers follow each set wave down the point, ending in riotous cheering at the mostly Brazilian occupied warung in front of The Grower end-section.
As the first proper swell of the season fills in, The Grower builds to eight-to-10-foot plus. A handful of crew are paddling it, including Australian slab-hunter Kipp Caddy, who’s come here with eyes specifically on this section.
“It’s really heavy,” he says.
“It’s kinda deep down there and there’s so much water in the wave that you don’t have to worry too much about hitting the reef. It’s more drowning material. Kinda like Puerto, where it seems to kind of keep you in the impact zone. It’s a psycho wave. Good training for Pipe.”
Kipp rides a handful of closeouts and one long, deep tube on his backhand, before turning his attention back up the point.
Up there, the vibe in the lineup is intense, the crowd on par with Pipeline and Snapper Rocks; 100 surfers jostling for position in the small take-off area, sometimes seven or eight people taking off on the one wave. To snag a set wave requires you to adopt an animalistic sort of approach. Rules of the jungle. Every other surfer is an enemy.
Sometimes, the politics of the lineup spill onto land. I watch a near collision between a Hawaiian and a Brazilian surfer. After an apology from the Hawaiian, all seems to be resolved, but later, the Brazilian and a group of four friends arrive at the Hawaiians camp and confront him at his table. There is a tense stand-off. A local intervenes, defusing the Brazilian group.
Each day passes in a blur of tubes and me-goreng and extra-joss and Sampoerna cigarettes and coconuts. Time seems to take on a different dimension in Indonesia. Sebentar lagi, one more moment, can mean months. Kemarin, yesterday, years in the past, besok, tomorrow, years ahead. Here, at Desert Point, time transcends that dimension again. Twenty-second tubes that distort the reality of time and space, everything slowing to a standstill, minutes, hours, years, lifetimes slipping by…