You wake up at 4:45 a.m. because they told you the car would be there by five. It’s Indo time though, so they won’t actually be there until six. You head out and wait on the porch anyway.
That hour finally passes and they pick you up. The sun rises during your drive and then you hop in a boat for a two-hour trip across bumpy water. Massive swells rock the boat, but the captain knows what he’s doing. Finally, you arrive at G-Land, where you’re welcomed to the sight of huge tubular waves ripping down the point. These are the biggest and heaviest you’ve ever seen. But even fighting seasickness from all the chop, you can’t contain your smile. You watch somebody tuck into a barrel bigger than a school bus and you stop to ask yourself, “What in the fuck am I doing here?”
You get in a smaller zodiac with your over-stuffed backpack. You get shuttled to shore where your boards are lying on the beach. They were picked up the night before and you haven’t seen them since. You’re happy to know they have arrived.
Hopping in the back of a pickup truck, you’re reminded of the time you shoved your fire crew on the back of a similar one to egress from a fire that almost burned you over. Finally, you’ve arrived at the surf camp. You see the skull and crossbones logo, underneath it reads: “Surf Camp,” but upon closer inspection, you see it really reads “Surf Combat.” You think to yourself, “What in the fuck am I doing here?”
The staff is polite as they all greet you but can’t seem to get your name right. It’s fine, nobody seems to get “Trevor” right around here anyway. They serve a decent breakfast but it’s a far cry from the fine food of Bali. You’re shown to your room. It’s a shack with open windows, a thatched roof, bloodstained mosquito nets with holes, a towel for a blanket, a moldy pillow, grimy sheets, a single light bulb, a fan hanging from the ceiling, and a power outlet. It’s full of spiders, ants, and much larger and more menacing creatures. All for $140 a night.
You meet up with some charger from California. He takes you down a jungle road to where he says it’ll be best to paddle out. A large monkey blocks your path.
“Let’s head over to the beach, I hate walking past those things,” the Californian tells you.
“Why?” you ask.
“Last year some guy got his calf bitten off by one.”
You get to the beach and it’s far too big to paddle out. You wish the Californian good luck and head back the other direction so you can take a calmer route through the channel. Some kooky guy with a helmet and a full-body wetsuit shows you the way.
You are terrified when you arrive in the lineup. You see your friend from Chile who came in a few days earlier.
“Get any good ones?” you ask.
“Two beat downs and one broken board,” he tells you with a thick accent.
You watch people getting spit out of barrels the size of houses. You watch people get wrecked bad enough to get sent to the hospital. You’re happy you have travel insurance.
A small insider comes and you turn it and burn it. It dredges on the shallow reef. You outrun the barrel and throw two decent turns. Your confidence soars.
Off in the distance, you see a blonde dude deep in the barrel the size of a two-story building. The blond dude looks like Mick Fanning. The blond dude is Mick Fanning. You tell him how sick his wave was. He nods at you. You see someone grab rail and pull in deep on a completely irrational and unmakeable drop. It looks like Mason Ho. It is Mason Ho. You think to yourself, “What the fuck am I doing here?”
You see the kooky guy with the helmet. He takes off on a deep one and glides through the barrel with the speed of a projectile round. The barrel is bigger than your apartment.
Another wave comes to you and it’s bigger than the last. You paddle into it with every fiber of your being. It dredges on the reef and you race down the line, dodging the people caught inside before getting spat out triumphantly into the channel.
You see the Californian charger from before. He makes three successive waves that are better than both Mick Fanning and Mason Ho’s.
“Yeah it’s pretty fun out here,” he says to you as he paddles by.
A large set looms now and an Australian who kept paddling around you at Uluwatu yesterday is going for it. You have priority. You think you’re too deep but you go anyway.
It turns out you are too deep.
The bottom gives out and you try to knife the drop. You feel your board detach from the surface of the wave and you know you’re going down.
You fall into oblivion.
Inexplicable power, force, and pain ensue. You are rag-dolled mercilessly — one knee dashed against the reef, one outstretched hand protecting your face dashed against the reef.
You try to remain calm.
You reach the surface and see the next set looming larger than before. You’re in the impact zone. This set has no mercy.
You are rag-dolled worse than before. You feel pain in your shoulder, you feel pain in your abdomen. You almost make it up for air but you don’t quite make it to the surface. Water fills your lungs. The third set descends. Two-wave hold down. You feel yourself getting rag-dolled worse than the first two times but you remain calm, trying to keep from gagging underwater. When you reach the surface you see that you’ve been dragged inside. You let out a hoot of joy and paddle back to the channel feeling like you’re going to puke. That was the worst beatdown of your life.
You remind yourself this exactly when you’re supposed to get back on the horse but the urge to vomit is too strong. You head into the shore and get washed half a mile down the beach to where the boat dropped you off this morning. You crawl on the sand and sit with your head between your legs, retching.
Welcome to G-Land.
Editor’s Note: Have a memorable surf session? Write it down (max 700 words) and send it to Alex@theinertia.com with the subject line “My Most Memorable Surf.” We’ll publish the best and throw a gift bag full of swag in the mail (sorry, only available for those in the U.S.).