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Nemberella, Rote

Written on: Saturday July 26th, 2008

A journal entry from: Around The World Without A Plane

I wasn't sure about coming here, especially as my visa was so close to elapsing, but as it was only a two hour ferry journey from Kupang and then an hour and a half bus ride down to Nemberella where I was to stay, enabling me to escape the bustle of West Timor's capital I decided it would be the best place to sort my head out and make a decision on where my journey would take me next. I almost resent telling people about this place, just in case word spreads and in years to come hordes of people arrive here and turn it in to a Kuta or Ko Phangan carnivalesque resort. It simply is utter paradise in its purest form. No beach vendors, no rubbish littering the streets and beaches, no tourists in sight. A place for contemplation, a place for relaxing and if it's your cup of tea a truly mighty place to surf. I'd never seen waves before like those that graced the beach of Nemberella. In the early morning you can walk out across the sea, meander around the fishing nets and sit on the reef watching some of the more able surfers rise on their boards, as a twenty foot cliff-face races towards them sending them shooting from left to right out in to a flurry of violent whitewash, not all that dissimilar to the charging horses in the legendary Guinness advert. Early one morning I'd been persuaded by an Australian guy who was staying at the same homestay as me to take a board out there and have a go. I figured I might never have the chance to come out here ever again so what the hell, so I borrowed a board from Mr Thomas, an Indonesian whose home I was staying in and at 6:30am headed out to the beach where all the waves were my own to play with. Not a single other person was there, such a contrast to the surfing at Kuta beach in Bali. What at first was an incredible experience soon became quite frightening when I came to the sudden realisation after I had paddled on my six and a half foot board about 500 metres out in to the ocean that I really was all alone out here, a small dot on an extremely big blue page. Sudden dramatic movements in my nether regions alerted me to the fact that not only am I not a very good surfer, but not much of a swimmer either. It was too late, I'd paddled around the back of where the waves were breaking out on the reef and turning saw that the current had carried me right in to its path. I angled my board in the same direction as the way the wave was heading and flung my arms in the water in a particularly ungraceful manner in order to try and get up enough speed so that my board would continue carrying me instead of picking me up and pummelling me in the ocean floor of hard coral over and over again. Much to my surprise, as the wave reached me and began to break I wasn't being cut to shreds as I feared, but was travelling at what seemed like the speed of a jumbo jet back towards the coastline. I attempted to stand but upon popping up and getting a taste for how fast I was really travelling the immediate comprehension of what would become of my body if I wiped out here overcame me and I pinned my chest back to the front of the board once more, and enjoyed the ride. I swum back out to try and catch some more after enjoying the adrenalin rush of the last, but because of their unpredictability was unable to get myself in to a position like the one where I had been lucky enough to catch that first wave. At one point I found myself about to turn to catch a break coming from one direction, only to turn in to another towering wave that had broken right on top of me from another direction. With not a soul around, and fearing that the Grim Reaper was still on my tail I decided that was enough for me for one early morning and began the long paddle back to terra-firma. The majority of tourists that were here were Australian, returnee visitors who either come here every year for the exquisite surf or returning because of the islands wonderful laid-back and peaceful appeal. There was just the right amount of tourists there for the town to have a really good community feel to it. There were the hardcore surfers who were the majority of the visitors, who would awake at daybreak to take advantage of the swells, sleep during the early afternoon then surf again for a few more hours as the sun sunk below the horizon. Then you had a mixture of young middle-aged returnees who had felt a strong bond with this place since the first time they had visited and were now back to help with a particular scheme on the island or in the village, One group I'd met were currently travelling around the local schools educating the teachers and children on sex education as the threat of AIDS is quite quickly on the increase here in Indonesia. The final group were the locals themselves who rather than attempt to extract all the money they could from you like most of the people you run in to in Indonesia do, they were happy to live side-by-side, continuing their day-to-day routines of going to church, collecting food and taking care of their families as well as making you feel extremely welcome to be there. Rote will have a long-lasting effect on me and is a paradise that I would have loved to have stayed longer in, would love to have shared with someone else and will definitely endeavour to visit again in the future, hopefully when I can surf a lot better.