A few days ago, a long awaited Independence Day dawned on Bali. Prior to July 2, it seemed the tortures of the Pandemic lockdown were made doubly horrific by a string of perfect swells that bombarded the island during one of the best seasons in a decade.
Surfers were dry docked of course, forced to only watch swell after swell march ashore unridden, groomed by our seasonal offshore trade winds. Beautiful, yes, but also agonising. It drove a lot of surfers underground.
Live cam: Padang Padang
Forming small cadre’s of in-the-know locals and trapped expats that would cruise the island, looking for any opportunity to nab a furtive go-out before the authorities would make their presence known. These busts were generally benign.
The surfers complied and no one was fined or had their boards confiscated. It was a cat and mouse game for the lucky few that were able to surf line-ups that had not been so empty since the early 70’s. And surprisingly, their were no protests or even any signs of rage other than general frustration.
Spot guide: Bali and Lombok
With many surfers appreciating the fact that the ocean was being a given a break. An empty line-up, after all, is every surfers dream. But that’s only the half of it. Not being able to paddle out was the rub.
Which is why when the July 2nd swell rolled around and the authorities here decreed the beaches open to “physical activities with the observance of social distancing”, it felt like our own Independence day had arrived. Especially since Padang Padang, the Queen of the Bukit, was set to fire on eight cylinders.
With perfect tides under a cloudless equatorial sky, with the offshore trades smoothing her line-up golf ball smooth, she opened he arms to an all star crew.
With most surfers wave starved, what followed was our own display of fireworks from some of the most die-hard Padang Padang masters on the island. A new day in the global Pandemic had arrived for us. No longer looking in the rear view mirror for the memories of great waves, we could finally look out the windshield toward a future of new ones.