One thing about moving is you discover things you didn’t know you had. Just came across an SD card with some more photos from the Salalah trip.
Archive for the ‘on the radar’ Category
June 18th marks the celebration of the implementation of a multiparty democratic system in the African island nation of the Seychelles. It’s a raging public holiday and also happened to coincide with some long-period Indian Ocean southwest.
It was my third time hunting waves down there and the trip just reconfirmed how amazing the place is if you can time it right. Surfed the familiar spots from few years back as well as a couple new ones.
Sa-la-lah. Just rolls off the tongue. Located way down south on the Arabian Peninsula it’s in the Dhofar region of Oman and a grenade’s throw away from the Yemen border to the west. The country’s second largest city has got some east African flavor thanks to the centuries of trade with (and partial colonization of) the east coast of neighboring Dark Continent.
It’s also hugely exposed to swell and the seasonal winds that send the monsoons to India. I’ve been meaning to get down there for a while but it’s a hell of a drive from Dubai (1,200 km). With my time in Arabia coming to a close, we decided to check it out last weekend despite less-than-ideal ocean conditions*
Had a pretty good look at the coastline to the east and west. Some set ups with potential
*no, we didnt drive it, we flew from muscat
Made a strike mission down to one of my favorite African islands last week. Usually the place is battered by trade winds on one side of the island but strangely there was a drop in the wind forecast and a decent little swell. Absolutely nothing to complain about…
It’s no secret that there’re waves in the Med. It’s a big body of water and gets tons of wind. Remember Slater’s sessions in Rome in Drive Through Europe? Well, the charts looked right so I took a gamble on a short strike mission to smack dab in the middle of the Med: Malta. North of Tunisia, south of Sicily. A country of 3 main islands covering about 122 square miles. For 2,000 years it was the most strategic location in the Med- the key to controlling naval traffic between east and west. The place has been taken over by almost every major empire and more recently it’s been host to the filming of Gladiator and Troy. I got in touch with local ripper Jay who managed to source me a wetsuit and a board after mine got left in Dubai (not what you want to hear from the airline people when you’re on a strategic mission and short for time). We checked out the North coast and he showed me some of the cool little reefs they have at their disposal. The swell wasn’t what I hoped for but was great to get some waves and scope the lay of the land (with intentions of returning for a proper swell)
And how’s this factoid: the largest great white on record was caught off the Maltese coast in the late 80s: 23 foot! Whities in the Med?! What the ??
If you’re headed to Malta or are interested in Maltese surfing, hit up Jay- he’s the man over there. http://www.wavesexpress.com/about-surf-malta/
One of my 2011 resolutions was to go through and sort all the backlog of footage I have from the past years of travel. These clips were from a summer mission to an Indian Ocean island. It made me remember that you don’t always have to watch footage of perfect indo boat trips to get psyched to go surf…
Bear in mind this was almost all shot midday when the wind had switched onshore. Early morning offshore was a whole different story, but no chance I was wasting any time behind the camera!
The friendly airport staff helped lighten the mood as I searched for my board bag in the sweaty mob of hustling Africans. She pointed out: “It’s not every day they slaughter seven hundred thousand sheep.” It was the day of Tobaski, the West African Muslims’ holy sacrifice party (sans alcohol). Thankfully Allah provided some swell for the festivities and Senegal delivered some oceanic treats. Our home base was on the island featured in the original Endless Summer (and yes, coffee still cost a dollar 50 years later) and is actually owned by rap super star Akon. No power, no water but tasty waves and wild culture. Viva West Africa
Dakar: the capital city regarded as “The Paris of West Africa”, site of the first foreign surf scene in the original Endless Summer and home of none other than international hip hop sensation Akon. Off on a mission to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid (not really but days off work). As the westernmost city on the African mainland with a 260 degree swell window on the peninsula (?!!!) hopefully the Atlantic winter storms cooperate.
I immediately had mustache envy. Of the 140 people ahead of us in the passport control lines, 95% being Indian male, I seriously counted only 4 guys who did not have some sort of moustache. Having cut mine off recently, I was just imagining how much more street cred I could have.
The department of tourism is just like the rest of the Indian experience: upfront and in your face. Right there in bold letters at the top of the immigration card they boast: “Incredible !ndia” (no typo there). Bold, but lacking humor of Australia a few years back (“So where the bloody hell are you?”) or Panama (“It will never leave you”). But the Indians don’t like to beat around the bush— it was quite incredible…
To keep it short and sweet, the artificial reef was far from perfect although it was a mixed up swell and there was a solid ledge on the right sets. This is supposedly the most well known beach in India and there was not one person in the lineup aside from the grommets we were pushing in the shore-break (see below). Hopped on a moped and checked out the coast down south; some cool little villages and plenty of potential- river mouths, headlands, etc. There’s gonna have to be a follow up trip for sure…
1.1 billion people, four thousand miles of coastline and the home of your phone banking customer service agent. With difficult transport and limited time, India as a surf destination had always been daunting to me. However, back in March I learned of this new artificial reef an easy flight away and it was instantly on my radar. A simple visa application and I was ready to go. Or so I thought… India and Pakistan have a heated history and the multiple Pakistan visas in my US passport made the usually-simple process not so simple. After phone calls, wasted time and finally an interview with the Consul General of India here in Dubai, they concluded I was not a CIA agent and just a regular tourist interested in visiting their country (and finding waves). I spent most of last Thursday night stuck in the airport trying to get over there. Unfortunately the airline gods were not kind enough to relieve me of my “stand-by” status so I went home defeated (that was the fourth attempt to get there- you win a few you lose a few). To be continued…