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When the waves at Padma aren’t rideable, the surfers who congregate at Tio’s brainstorm other spots that might be working.
With a few hours left in the incoming tide, a few of us decided to head to Sri Lanka, a break in Nusa Dua, a town further to the east. The break is in front of a lavish resort that probably uses more electricity and water than an area four times its size in other parts of the island, where conservation is encouraged. “Fake Bali,” my friend calls it.
We loaded our boards on our scooters and embarked on the 20-minute ride, across the Mandara Toll Road, a high-speed but scenic route over the Gulf of Benoa, which allows us to avoid the most congested areas on the west side of the island. My helmet strap whipped my neck and I tried to keep my eyes on the road, tempted to glance down at the gorgeous outrigger fishing boats passing by beneath me. The rippling water dotted with fishermen and parasailers provides a nice image in the midday sun.
We had a mellow surf at Sri Lanka that day, the waves small and slow, and were pulling out of the parking lot to leave when I felt the back wheel of my scooter catch sand and start fishtailing. I desperately tried to keep it upright, but it was too late. It was falling on top of me. I noticed a sharp pain in my foot that got worse as the bike dug into me. I switched the ignition off and was trying to get out from under it when a local who works at the nearby resort came running to my rescue and pulled it off of me.
“You ok? You ok?”
“Baik, baik” I said (fine). “Just my foot.” I pointed down to it.
I looked down and my foot was gushing blood from a small hole that was centimeters deep. My kickstand, or another part of the bike, must have gouged the hole straight through the skin. I got woozy looking at it, and seeing the wound made it hurt much more. I sat down for a while. I had a bottle of water with me, and someone else had a piece of duct tape, so we rinsed it off and taped it up, putting a piece of paper on it to cover the wound. Still shaken, I got on my bike and rode home, stopping for a Snickers bar and some orange juice on the way back to keep my blood sugar up.
My friend Rex, who is often at Padma, is a former Navy Seal, so I stopped by later to ask him for some medical advice. He showed me how to look for signs of infection, and ordered me to keep off of my foot as much as possible.
“It really hurts,” I said.
“Pain is just weakness leaving the body. That means it’s healing. You’re getting stronger.”
Staying immobile is hard enough for me, but it was logistically impossible in this case, as I had to move the next day. My new place was less than two kilometers away, so I planned to do the entire move on my scooter. My severe limp greatly slowed this process. Climbing down one flight of stairs at my old apartment and up another at my new one took a great deal of energy out of me, especially when I was carrying even the lightest of bags. My body was still fighting infection, and I felt feverish and weak the entire day. I did several trips with a backpack, to make my giant suitcase as light as possible for when I had to shuttle it to my new dwelling.
The ride was easy, as I could get there most of the way by taking a dirt path along a river that is not heavily trafficked. The river is quite dirty, but there are always a handful of hopeful locals sitting alongside it with their fishing lines as pickup trucks rumble by and taxi drivers loiter outside riverfront warungs. I passed a group of locals having a smoke on the side of the road, and they cheered as I drove by, the suitcase taking up so much room on the seat that I was perched on a few inches at the front, my bike very low and my feet held up off the ground to avoid losing my balance in case I hit a piece of gravel and started to topple.
I finished with the move only to learn that the electricity was down at my new place. It was blazing hot, so I found a spot in the shade and waited for exhaustion to pass. The next morning, I awoke in my new apartment ready for a quieter day filled with rest and rehabilitation. I was anxious to get back in the surf, but Rex vetoed that idea.
“It’s up to you. It’s your decision. You can, if you want Staph.”
“I don’t want Staph.”
“Then don’t surf. The water’s dirty. Why are you even at the beach? Go home and rest. You are just making it worse.”
“Stop for food on your way home so you don’t have to go out again.”
So I headed to get food. As I was riding down a two-lane, one-way street where traffic moves quite quickly, I heard honking and looked in my rearview mirror. I saw a scooter passing a van behind me, and, assured that it wasn’t directed at me returned my eyes to the road. A few seconds later, I felt a sudden slam hit me on my right side. The impact didn’t give me any time to react; instead it sent me flying through the air and onto the concrete, where I landed in front of oncoming traffic. I looked up and saw the van screeching to a stop inches from me. The driver of the scooter, who had passed the car and merged right into me, made sure I was alive and went on his way.
A friendly hotel owner came rushing over, apparently having witnessed the whole scene from his open-air front desk beside the road. He gave me a bottle of water and let me sit down on the steps of the hotel until I felt ready to drive again.
I scooted home, a bit rattled, and vowed not to do any more long trips on the bike that day. These things usually come in threes.