For many there is a juncture in life where celebrating birthdays doesn't feel great. There is a realisation that more years have been than are going to be. You're past the tipping point, somehow you have become middle aged. I sit firmly in this school of thought.
Surfing does not help in this realm. It is portrayed as youth culture. Thank gawd there is all the baby boomers grasping desperately to their former glories. Don't worry you old bastards, I'm hard on your heals!
A screwed up back, two knee surgeries, a phantom left adductor tear, tinnitus and a host of little niggles. It is a hobble past the naughty forties and into the f@cked up fifties. Writing the word fifty spins me out; I don't feel that age even with the aches and pains.
I'm immature, I run away from birthdays. I hide. This year I hid in Samoa and went surfing.
There is a strong connection to the Pacific Islands. Growing up in Ponsonby in that '70's and 80's my best friends were Samoan, Tongan and Rarotongan. Sure Ponsonby was a poor, blue collar inner city suburb, but it was rich in culture. We grew up learning the Haka and the Sasa, eating Umu and Hangi as absolute treats. We were taught that Aotearoa was a part of the Polynesian Triangle, instilled with pride that Auckland was the world's largest Poly city.
Samoan Churches big and small are amazing
Revisiting Samoa is nostalgic even if I am a Palangi. The first terrible [but very funny] surf trip in 1994 with Big Wave Dave, the XT'Sea crew, my dear friends Luffy and Chard. Near drownings at Boulders and Savai'i trying to take my first rolls of water photos. Being assumed by the locals that I was the group's Fa'afafine because of the long mane. Vowing never to return and then returning twice more for epic magazine photoshoots.
For all of these reasons Samoa is high on the travel list. It didn't disappoint, it has only got easier to be there. A week before the trip Magic Seaweed forecasted the swell and wind accurately. Accommodation and boat trips were pre-booked via Facebook and Paypal. The gorgeous Ange and I knew pretty much exactly what we were walking into. There was surf everyday, 4 days were really good, one of those perfect. I surfed 8 out of a possible 10. Up at 5.30 am, at the boat at 6 am, in the line-up by 6.30 am, back for breakfast at 11 am. Nana nap then afternoon adventures. Bed by 8 pm- repeat. Awesome.
Samoan buses are reason enough to visit the island nation
My last wave in Samoa was fitting. A perfect little three foot taper with a quick zippy take off, I paddle hard and sure, I go to stand up, my back and adductor say ‘no, no, no old boy, you’ve had your fun this week, it’s over’ I’m forced to belly it over to the channel and the boat with the crew waiting. As I paddle through the channel the internal dialog is ‘Go doctor or physio back in Enzed? And are there any ibuprofen left in the Fale?'
From The Galleries
And meanwhile back home there have been moments like this [although this one was last winter] You can check it out larger, LIKE it [pleeeease] and of course buy it by clicking through on the image to it's web page.