dry the rain

8 August 2010 17:36:00 AEST

West Timor, 1995 -

“You say how much”

I looked down at the old ’38 special she was selling, serial number filed flat under the base of the grip. The piece had been wrapped in a muslin cloth soaked in whale fat for god knows how long. The smell reminded me of my Nan’s old sowing machine. I peeled of a $50 USD note and everyone laughed. I made with the ‘walkaway’ routine, a few seconds later she shoved the piece in my pocket with a handful of corroded bullets and disappeared with the fifty. The cool metal pressed against my thigh on the long walk down to the boat. Kupang, West Timor -1995.

The island of Timor, forgotten remnant of Dutch and Portuguese Empires- endstate of lost surfers raised on white rice and wanderlust. I had seven days in the capital Kupang but one night was enough. Weird nightclubs funded on corrupt oil money where Javanese businessmen sip thick black bubble tea through straws like insects. Tired Surabayan prostitutes in pancake makeup made up to look like Balinese girls stalk the streets at night; while the ash covered faces of converts to an ancient blend of Christianity and Timorese animalism practice lost catholic rituals that event the Dutch and Portuguese had forgotten.

Our ship had been assigned an Indonesian Naval Officer as our liaison in port. He came onboard speaking perfect Djakarta English, he was about my age but had a rack of medals on his chest like an admiral. As he sat down and spoke I watched his rows of medals in the fluorescent light and wondered how many East Timorese heads he had kicked to get them. There was no doubt about it – this boy was going places.

Three of us onboard were surfers and so he set up a boat to take us across to Nemberala. We arrived just after dark in the village and crashed in the nearest losmen. I woke up with a weird metallic taste in my mouth in the pre dawn haze as a polite softly spoken fisherman was walking around prodding each of us gently.

“T-Land now…surfing T-Land now please”.

I have since had the pleasure of staying in many hotels around the world yet none have ever come close to the wake up call I received that morning. Less than 30 minutes later we were motoring into an empty lineup throwing down riceballs and sweet buffalo milk. Five foot lefts were ratcheting in slow time. No nasty ‘speedies’ section like G-Land to catch you out on day 1, this was T-Land. I put my fingers together to imitate a photo frame – perfect.

We stoped for lunch and motored back into the village. Sitting around before the second session someone mentioned a spot called ‘Boa’. I could have surfed T-Land for the next 20 years but went with the flow anyway. Two hours later we pulled up at a way too fast right hander that was throwing a square barrel onto about 50 metres of reef. Not my idea of fun but everyone else enjoyed it. I got hung up in the lip on my first wave. An impressive ride only in the fact that I somehow managed to go over the falls twice.

I sat the rest of that session out in the boat and saved what I had left in my shoulders for a third session back at T-Land. As the driver helped me out of the water I caught sight of a necklace he was wearing, a large silver disc drilled clean through the middle and hung on a leather cord. He saw me looking at it and took it off to show me. It was a coin, a Dutch guilder stamped 1674, remnant of an extinct empire on the edge of the world. Once he saw how fascinated I was with it he begged me to keep it but I couldn’t, I placed it back over his head onto his shoulders and he closed his eyes as I did it.

The first second I had to myself I went back to my bag, pulled out the gun and bullets I had bought in Kupang and threw them all over the side. I had no need of them here. The gun sank quickly but the brass of the bullets sparkled through dull green verdigris as they drifted to the bottom, like marble chips falling through glycerine.

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A354f83e87c49bc4ce6005a7baab4b7c Apone
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over 13 years ago
Was This in Tracks?
I know i have read this before somewhere. Was tis in Tracks?

A446bd69a6fa6daa9227d792158fc186 Administration
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over 13 years ago
Yes mate, a new feature we have pushed out. You just need to have a basic subscription to do it, I dont realyl feel like sifting through ten pages of anonymous dunny wall scrawls of blow ins calling each other fags or kooks :)

4d29e32a07a3d67313102da8a85a2e9d Pegasus
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over 13 years ago
Article Comments
Great feature, nice add on guys. Will all articles on site have the ability ot add commnents against them?

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