So you know about Thulusdhoo, it`s surfspots and you saw a few pictures from the epic big swell days! Now bear with me on a adventure of surfing barrels, making friends, rediscovering fun and breaking boards. let me take you on a tour of island “Livin a Vida Loca”. Welcome back to a surfers life!
GET IN THE WATER AND BREAK A BOARD
Day 2. I woke up. I had slept for a good 12 hours in my cozy double bed. I left the AC running. The humidity in these parts of the world would take a few more days to get used to. Still I felt exhausted. It was almost 9.00 am already and the tide was going towards its high point. Looking back I had no idea how low tide here would be.
I moved my aching body to the shower and then had breakfast. At Batuta the breakfast is great. You sit under the palm trees and watch directly towards the islands break. Cokes. The barrel machine that is one world class righthander, attached to a little islet that I would get to know better in the next to two weeks as a perfect photo shooting position.
An omelet, toast, fruits, cheese a banana pancake… it felt good to be back in the Indo-pacific. As it turns out the hostel is owned by a young entrepreneurial local and the supporting staff was from Bangladesh. The boys really know how to cook. Loved the Nasi Goreng for dinner here hehe. Then a question came “Coffee?”. Not being a coffee person but feeling low energy I decided a booster would definitely help getting me out to the lineup. Soon it became a staple of morning routine. A new routine. A more down to earth one, that did not suck the life out of me anymore.
After breakfast I went on a little stroll past bikini beach to check the situation with boat transport. You see, on Thulusdhoo there are a few boat guys, who run little businesses bringing the surfers to the spots and back. Usually if you go to chickens or cokes, both of which are a good 5 minutes in by boat they come by every hour to see if you wanna go back.
If you want to heading to the spots a bit further away, like Ninjas or Sultans, you fill up a boat and they take you there and wait until you finish your session. Usually you plan a session for 2 hours. Price depends on the size of the group. Cokes and Chickens are 10 bucks. The others are 20. I talked to one of the local guys and already had a discount a.k.a. free ride if I find “friends” to fill the boat. It`s easy to arrange stuff in these parts. No paperwork necessary. Word of mouth is enough.
Now it was time to move my ass. I decided that I would take the first day easy. I had not been in a proper lineup for almost two years. I figured that you could pass a river onto the islet, and paddle out to the Cokes break from there.
I unpacked my board, the freshly mended Matterhorn, waxed it up, did a few stretches on the Yoga roof and was on my way. Since I was warned of the sharp reef and have a bad preposition for skin rashes I armed myself with reef booties and a 1 mm neoprene lycra.
Passing to the islet trough the little river the current was strong. By now we were at high tides peak. From here on out the water would be dropping. I did not bother to much to check how much lower. In the end I did not that the median here is not that big, a good 30 cm.
When I came to the islands I noticed one thing. The stone here is not actually stone. It is calcified reef. That means its sharp as a knife even outside the water. I watched the big barrels come in.
The swell forecast was pretty big for the first week. I had no correlation thou what that meant here. Overhead? Double overhead? More? I watched two surfer dudes get out and it was immediately clear that the current would be quite strong. Also you had to time it well, not to be cramped in shallow reef while paddling out. Even on high tide, some of the dead reef was right about a few cm under the surface. Nasty. At this point my mind and all its worries were off. I waited for a window and…
I jumped in, followed two surfers out to the left with the help of the current and arced around the breaking corner. I picked good timing, a dude behind me was not so lucky. As I was sitting on the lineup a good 10 min. later I saw him still battling the white-water. My thought was… puff getting back on shore would be a pain in the ass later…
Then I focused my attention to the wave. Water was shallow, it broke steep and fast, every single time into a nice hollow barrel. The day was big so it was not closing up in sections much and a few guys managed to take all three sections in one fine swoop.
I was tired already. I Gathered my energy and proceeded to take my first wave. I paddled up, wanted to take off. I was slow of course and already saw another dude dropping in more on the inside. I let it go. I did not know how “friendly” this lineup would be.
Crowd size here can be a problem. At least if you are intermediate. A lot of really good surfers come hear to barrel until you can barrel no more, but at most its around 20-30 people in the water. This year everyone said it had never been so crowded. Compared thou to euroland, with 150 trying to catch a single shifty peak… this was empty. But do not underestimate. Cokes and Chickens (as well as Sultans) are very competitive, and over dinner you will hear some bitching about some guy who was a royal D for the whole session.
Still after a few tries I got my first wave. I would not say I rode it… it rode me. I was to slow on the takeoff and was already down the lip before I got up. I did not bring the necessary speed and bam was in the shallow whitewater. Remarkedly I did not hit any reef. But to my surprise I made it back up to the lineup pretty easily. That boosted my confidence.
And like that went two more waves before I got a really good one. I was to scared to let it barrel and stayed on the outside. It was not a long one as the sections began closing up. It was mid tide already. I was happy and in one piece. It was time to get some food.
I watched how some of the surfers got out and decided to try to bodyboard my way out to where I came in on the little islet. I got on a wave and kept hard to the left. It all went great until I noticed that the side current was so strong, that I would miss my trajectory. Like a spaceship flying past its designated planet I spat past my exit point. Here, instead of just sticking with it I got off and tried to fight the current on foot. I must have hit a coral spike with my foot while getting out. Felt a little pain, but did not think much.
When I steeped out of the water I noticed that the corral had gotten into my boot. I took it off and low and behold. Coral dust in little punctures and a fatty part of coral sticking out of my foots sole. Yay. Have not dealt with coral infections in ages. Now it all came back to me. Of course I packed everything except what one would need to treat that. Hydrogen peroxide.
Also I was a bit annoyed because it was day two and these corals are quite a gamble. Some are bad micro organisms and some are not. Some inflame, some poison. Well yay. I met a few guys on the way back to the hotel who were complementing me how smart it was to take the booties but I just replied that it did not help that much.
Before dinner I took a good hour to clean it with disinfectant, wash it out with soap and plaster it down with my favorite fake skin repair… called Leukotape. Its a water resistant tape I use for climbing and any other annoying little injury that should not be subjected to water and opens the skin.
After that I was just exhausted. I had forgotten how physically demanding it was to be in the water for 3-4 hours at a time. It showed that my training preparations were not all that and I knew that my surfing would most likely be limited by my physical inability to do this without a break for weeks on end. But still I was on holiday and I was not here to prove a point. Quite the opposite. The point was to relax and take some time to do what I love doing and barely get a chance to do… while I am still able.
Dinner yielded an unexpected surprise. I med Rodrigo the Brazilian, from the boat again. We started talking and from here on out would hang out a lot. Plan for the next day was to check out Chickens spot. I was getting settled in nicely.
CELEBRATIONS, EXUISITE CUISINE AND BROKEN BOARDS
In the days that followed I quickly settled in to island surf life. I made a lot of cool new friends like Clara, Marco, Fabio; Anna and Max, Camilla, Rodrigo, Izy, Adriana, Steve and Mirco. The island is small and there was a certain energy there exactly at that time that made us all spend such a good time together. It was the good life. I had set out for my solitude away from all the real life troubles and there for two weeks a different life waited for me, just like that. It made me remember all the good times with my friends and why, as opposed to what most people regard as an extension of the term family, mine spread out all over the world. We are all family in some form.
Then on the fifth day of surfing something unexpected happened. Rodrigo and I were eyeing chickens for an afternoon session. As usual I was late and when I got into the water he was all but done for the morning session. It was pounding nice and the crowd was rather big. It annoyed me a little and so like the days before, I got into the shitty habit of lining up on the inside of the lip break, close to where the developers of the super resort, that almost destroyed the wave, had to build a seawall. Thanks to the Maldives surf association the wave was preserved for us in the end.
Another reason why I stuck around there was that most people stayed one the left. I was not in crowd control mood and just wanted a simple session. I was focusing on my takeoffs and chickens was the better choice for practice as cokes always got so fast. And to be honest I am not fast…
I lined up and got a nice wave. Wind was beating a nice offshore so the waves were breaking pretty much on the spot. As I did a few turns I liked it to much and stayed on the wave. I was lazy. And that would cost me. As the lip on my right closed it threw me off into the white water reef.
I somehow managed to get back out of it but then… as per usual in these situations, mother nature said… “Oh no you do not!”… I looked out and saw a freak set come in. I started paddling like all hell broke lose, fleeing to the right, but knew that it would be enough. Since I was out of the shallows I hoped that a somewhat fast uncoordinated duck dive might save me from getting blasted into the white water and the shallow reef.
I took a deep breath and dove. As my ears became immersed in water and the crashing wave sound became deluded I felt a strong bang on my back followed by pa weird pop sound. Suddenly my board felt lighter. My mind already knew. It broke.
As I came out on the other side of the wave and opened my eyes I saw it. The front half was missing. The force of the impact seemed to have been to much. I turned around to see if I could see the missing piece anywhere. It was gone for good.
I paddled out to my boat. The captain helped me up and said.. “Brother you are bleeding!”. I turned and saw that the stringer had cut my right arm when it had broken away. That would leave a scar. Oh my scars hehe. If they could talk :P. Still I had been lucky. I knew thou now that I had a new problem. Where to get a replacement board on this island. After all this was not Bali, where I could just drive up to Struders shop and get a replacement. But that would be a problem for another day.
As Rodrigo found me looking over my wreck, any thought of frustration quickly wen away. Things happen. That is the spice of life. The Matterhorn had served me well for five years.
ISLAND PARTY LIFE, GREAT FOOD AND EPIC COMPANY
Rodrigo and I had been talking about our longing for a beer for a few days now. Since the Maldives are a Muslim country. Alcohol and any kind of narcotics are forbidden. But luckily for us there was a workaround. Welcome to the bar boat. A good km northeast of the island, a magic boat lies anchored. It has space for at least 30 guests and in its old days used to be a private yacht charter. Now when not chartered, it makes its owners rich buy selling booze to the local tourists. It was the party place to be.. almost any day of the week.
Getting to it was simple enough. You pay the boys form the boats 10 bucks to bring you there. If you spend more then 30 on the boat you ride for free. Prices where ok too. Beer is 5 bucks. And it is a San Muigel. Trust me when I tell you that no San Muigel in Europe will never taste the same on land as it does on bar boat while watching the sun set or the moon rise. Cocktails from 10-15 bucks are also NOT watered down. So for 30 bucks 6 beers… not bad for the Maldives :P.
Bar boat will remain a fond memory. Drinking a good Yin Tonic, talking to likeminded folks, dancing, skinny dipping in moonlight while jumping naked of the railing, super crazy going away parties like the one for Max… ah good times. I will be back I said hehe…
The second place you definitely have to visit is the excelent little sandbar caffe with live music just off to the side of Canopus. It is run by a few locals who moved to Male but run the little non alchoholic bar when they are home. Also excellent live music !
Another thing that surprised me here on Thulusdhoo was the amount of quality cuisine. Now to be fair the best food I had the pleasure of eating was at Camillas OceanBreeze. Like first class on a Qatari flight only better food. Good I miss the lasagna and the pasta and the company. Id vote Camila for Island council tourism board president :). Also if you want a beautiful place to stay she rents out rooms too. And you can get cold coconut :).
Then if you want big portions you eat where I stayed at Batuta Surfview. The dudes make awesome nasi goreng, and chicken with fries. and if you are up for pasta in the tropics spaghettis are on the menu too. Now if you are Italian of like Italian cuisine then the place for you is Canopus Retreats. Run by a lovely Italian couple it has the best oven pizza in town. Pasta is Italian and the deserts are epic too. If you want you can also stay here. Being one of the nicest loggings on the island it is a bit more expensive but for Maldives terms think Bled lake in Slovenia on a weekend. Similar is the new Reef Edge just around the corner form the surf repair. Epic tuna stake 😛
Last but not least of course you need your local midnight after party food place. This is the time of night you head over to Biyyoni in the northern central part of town. They have epic curry and they make a local specialty snack things called Samosa that you hate and like at the same time :). Also its a great budget option as well but generally prices on the island are ok.
Another thing the island has in abundance is cats. So here have a look at cat cuteness overload!
Still my board was broken and I would have to find a replacement. But as the world spins so do unexpected opportunities. You see while on Bali, I did a few dives around the northern shipwreck without scuba. I had wanted to do a certification for a while, but was sticking to my friend Frankas advice to do it at a qualified good diving shop.
I was in luck as Izzy and her gang did a four day PADI open water diver certification a week before and they got me into contact with Hallem and Ash of Sea star diving. So while I was figuring out how to fix my board issue I would spend the time to actually learn a new skill… a skill that would open up a whole new realm for me… like they said in the introductions to the old sci fi TV show SeaQuest… under the ocean lies the future… more on this in the next post! Stay tuned…