Article

EARTH'S GREATEST SOLVENT: Surf Journalism Expedition Gets Fluid

| posted on July 22, 2010

Biologically speaking, water is earth’s greatest solvent. It breaks nearly everything it contacts into its most basic, humble components. Including me.

Our first encounter with water’s great powers came well before leaving port in Padang, Sumatra. The last of our crew – one day behind the rest – staggered in exhausted from travel, and dripping with the thick, sweet liquid that these jungle towns call their evening rain.

They had made it in time for a quick departure, their eyes lit with adrenaline. Eight frothing, hooting surfers were ready to leave, but the rain decided that a humbling reminder was in order. The river in which we were docked began to flow, emptying the mountains up-river of a chocolate bath of runoff. The hours moved past, but the rain didn’t. Short of evading the harbormaster, there was no leaving the river, and the boat would remain docked for the night. In the hammering rain, it was Mother Nature that had taken the upper hand.

After a solid few hours of sleep and a lucky break in the rain, our engine roared to life. All of the students were on deck as we sailed out of Padang to the enchanting five o’clock call of the faithful from the mosques. The crossing was by no means smoothe, and motion sickness garbled several of us, but we pulled up to an uncrowded left with ninety minutes until sunset. I hit the water with ravenous energy, digging towards the mellow left I had mind-surfed a thousand times during the crossing.

What followed was my daily lesson in biology. Just as it had at the port in Padang, the water proceeded to tear me apart. And with time permitting one last wave, I was left with nothing but an innate understanding of where I stood under the weight of the rising moon.

A set wave approached, and my friends were hooting wildly. I achieved on that wave what I travel and live for. Biologically speaking, to find my own peace with water, the most powerful force on earth.