When we pulled up to the beach my first impression was how different it was from any other beach I’d ever been to. There was trash EVERYWHERE. We were here to surf, not to drown in litter.
I then learned how all of the trash accumulated on the beach. Don’t blame it all on the Balinese–they only cause a sliver of the trash. The biggest portion washes up from December to March; strong currents and winds send trash from the ocean onto Bali’s shores, especially Kuta and Seminyak. Locals sometimes even refer to this time as “trash season.” Unfortunately, if you’re a beginner surfer and you want nice, beginner waves, then Seminyak is the place to be.
So here we were on the trash covered beach of Seminyak, Bali.
Our instructor Gede (pronounced like the Aussies say G’day) taught us the basics–like how and where to stand on the board, and how to avoid getting hit in the face with your board by an oncoming wave. After what seemed like forever, it was finally time to turn the lessons into actions.
My family and I have surfed once before, in San Diego’s freezing water, but that was five years ago. At the time, I got up easily and was able to perform many stunts including the ‘dead cockroach’ and the YMCA. My parents go on and on about how I was the best of us four, and I hoped I wouldn’t embarrass myself.
The water was nice and warm, unlike San Diego’s, but plastic wraps kept catching around my legs. In the shallow water I saw different product packagings and so much plastic.
I dragged the board through the water, not making much progress as I kept getting slammed backwards by the waves. With the help of Gede and his fellow instructor, Made, I finally made it to the sweet spot. The water was nice and shallow–up to my ears–in just the right place to catch a wave.
Before I knew it, Made pushed my board into a wave and I tried to stand up. I fell. The next time was the same result–standing up on the board, then falling straight down. On my third try, I was determined. Delaney got up on her third try, and I knew I had to also.
And I did.
I rode the wave all the way in to the point where the fins on my board were stuck in the shallow sand.
Every single one of my rides was exhilarating. I made tiny turns in the water, and occasionally rode with my hand dragging in the water next to me, like a pro. Every ride was a repeat, riding all the way in.
When Delaney’s surfboard-burned knees starting bleeding, she stopped surfing. Then, Mom got out to take pictures. Dad managed to get some good rides; Delaney and Mom did too, in the short time they surfed.
When we finished surfing I realized something:
I didn’t like surfing.
I loved it.
Maybe, just maybe, I can get a board to surf at the litter-free beaches back home.
If you decide to try surfing in Bali, be sure to check out Santai Surf School.