With the season wrapping up towards the end of October in G-land, it was time to head west to the group of islets located off the western coast of Sumatra. Well-known in surfing folklore for some of the most perfect waves in the world, the Mentawai Islands were calling a few lucky Surfing Doctors crew to the crown jewels of surfing. The goal – to donate a cheque towards the ‘Silabu Village Sewerage Project’, a recently established venture by Macaroni’s Resort. This project is dedicated towards enhancing the sanitation and health outcomes of the approximately 400 indigenous inhabitants of a local village, located around one hour jungle trek from the infamous Macaroni’s left-hander. Oh, and did I mention that chasing some turquoise barrels was also part of the mission? I guess that goes without saying!
With the massive influx of surfers to the Ments in recent years, the need to give something back to the locals seems only fair. Running with this thought, earlier in the year Macaroni’s Resort were in touch with the Surfing Doctors expressing their vision of the sanitation project and the associated health concerns associated with this necessity. So, we set up a fundraising campaign to help the cause. It all started over the Easter weekend during the Margaret River Pro in South West W.A. at the inaugural Foamlust Surf Expo held by John Dutton and Billy Gibson. Along with checking out some of the classic boards on display, everything from retro single fins to 10’ rhino chasers, the SurfDocs set up a stall and got the ball rolling. With prizes including a free trip to Maca’s, Nathan Rose surfboard, and a stint at the G-Land Surf Camp, it was a win-win situation.
After the 13-hour ferry ride from Padang harbour in Sumatra to the town of Sikakap in the southern Mentawai’s, followed by a quick fast boat run, we had arrived at our destination. Greeted by a moderate new pulse of swell, it didn’t take long to screw in the fins and wax up before getting out there and amongst it. With one of the most rippable waves imaginable, everyone was getting stuck in and scoring their piece of the pie. The days that ensued were filled with tubes and reminisced over a few cold green bottles each night. Being late in the season added to the froth with lots of uncrowded gold both at Maca’s and some lesser-known breaks nearby.
Unfortunately I had to bail out early due to a medical issue, becoming septic from a dental abscess gone bad. This highlighted the remoteness of this region, along with the logistical nightmare of medical backup and evacuation throughout some areas of Indo. In an economically thriving environment, this is a fundamental issue and something I believe the surfing industry should pay more attention towards. There have been several well-publicised events over the previous few seasons that highlight this issue. Although this problem will not be solved overnight, it is something the Surfing Doctors are trying to become involved with where possible, hopefully with some collaboration from some of the bigwigs.
On a better note, a few of the guys that stayed on headed out to the local village of Silabu to run some medical clinics. Nigel, the camp managers father and Aussie GP, had been out to run clinics on several occasions previously. As expected, there was a wide range of medical cases varying from basic wound infections to rare neurological conditions. Although challenging, we hope that this medical assistance is something that continues into the future.
For now, it’s time to leave this magical part of the world to seek the next adventure. Wherever you may be, I hope the Gods are rewarding you with your own little slice of paradise.