Eddie was a broad-chested, leathered, 60-year-old Hawaiian man with a strong chin and wispy silver goatee. He sat in a large two-story, straw-thatched hut looking out at the famous wave ‘Supersucks’, as his Indonesian wife served cold Coke’s to the few guests staying in the building. “It’s not haunted.”, he said, as if reading our thoughts. “Bali is fucking haunted, but not here.”. It was definitely haunted. Watching the waves get closer and closer to shore, he grilled us on where we were from and why we were sitting at his bar. “You here to surf the suck? ‘Cos if you ain’t, you can’t stay here.” Eddie only allows surfers to stay at his place if they surf Supersucks, not to use it as a base to go elsewhere. He gives paddle-boarders a hard time too, the only reason he let the last two stay at his place was that they were ranked 2 and 3 in the world. “I hate the French”, he said, clearly in earshot of his only guests, who were French. “Do you like the French?”
A rainstorm started one afternoon and didn’t stop until the next. Water and mud ran from the hillside into gullies and out to sea. Rubbish and plant debris filled the beach. A local albino boy, about 12 years old, wearing a big brimmed hat, and an even larger squint, spent the day filling bags with plastic bottles as dogs picked at a dog carcass that washed up on the beach. Indonesia has a terrible problem with rubbish. Plastics are burnt on the sides of the road and bagfuls of rubbish are dumped into rivers. Some people are now trying to take advantage of all the waste, by turning it into bricks. Plastic bottles are stuffed full of rubbish and cemented into place, seriously cutting down on construction costs. The tide swept any remainder of the storm out to sea, but at least the albino boy got some work, and somebody got some cheap, sustainable building materials.
5.30am and I’m packing my bike to head back to Lombok. My time in Sumbawa is over for now. The porter opens the gates and waves me off, alone, onto the road. The road is empty and quiet. I meander along my way and reach Maluk at first light, just as people are waking up. Shop owners are sweeping their doorstep and the men in high-vis jackets and making their way to the mine. The dew rises with the sun and covers the earthy green land in a haze. Sunshine poked its head through the forest waking up the monkeys and birds. Soon the skies were screeching and screaming. I arrived in Taliwang just in time for the school run. No oversized SUVs for this school run though, the parent drove the scooter, largest child behind them, the smaller child in front, sometimes even an infant in front of that. The younger boys with their bright red uniforms looked like salesmen in some awful furniture shop in a retail park. The girls wore white outfits and many, but not all, wore hijabs. After a very short ferry ride across the Alas Strait, I arrived on Lombok, where the kids were just finishing school.