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iss a bottom turn here-to t sloppy, to slip or stum­ ble, to make any of a kazil­ lion mistakes, and the land- ing pad is a misanthropic toxic expanse of some of the sha rpest edges on earth . The Australians do all the things good surfers do. They paddle with nonchalant strokes that belie their power. on ern tip Now would be a good time to explain that I knew none of these things when I first pad­ out there. But I should tell you about the dream. It begins years ago when a Midwestern kid heads to ia and buys a surfboard and winds up wearing too-tight neoprene and keeping strange company­ r the ocean is always strange company. Then he sees this seventies surf classic, Free Ride, where a man known as Rabbit Bartholomew rides a whale of a tube, rides right inside the jaws of death, to that final edge, and it's amazing. Nobody: e . rid, you, too, have discovered that there are a lot of other people out there roaming with you, and that in most places a portion of these people would rather be anyplace besides where they are-or where they e from. Many would rather be in Mecca, whether or not they real ize Mecca is a city caught in a sand­ ; a city surrounded by desert surrounded by war. Nearly half of Jamaica wants to be in Eth iopia and never mind that it's not really a country in Africa they want but a mystical place somewhere between Marcus arvey and the gates of heaven. But Bali is a place where people run away to and then they stay forever. It's dream-state, and some of its dreamers never awaken. I'd been there for th ree weeks before paddling out at Nusa Dua. I su rfed the beach ak at Kuta and Legian, possibly the two finest novice waves in the world. I paddled out at Cangua, where rise over a black lava reef pn one of the most beautiful beaches imaginable. Later, I hitched a ride and nt west up the coast to Medewi, famous for being the longest left peeler in all of Indonesia, a slow, fat perfect for longboards and an afternoon snooze. . I knew enough not to try and paddle out at Uluwatu. I knew that Uluwatu is for xperts only, a place to confront mortal ity, where the waves are fast and'big and the coral sharp, and the earest hospital is a plane ride away in Singapore or Jakarta. I knew that to screw up there was to be ry, fi nal ly, fucked. But I knew nothing about Nusa Dua-not until I met up with the Austral ians. In the middle of the night, I was awakened at 3:00 a.m. to find the doo'r to my bungalow de open and a stranger with a flashlight in the middle of my room. I leapt up, screaming and stark naked, and to\lk off after him. I gave chase through the series of bungalows, scrambled over a six-foot brick wall that surrounded them and then found myself out in the middle of a crowded street. A group of drunk­ en Austra lians managed to talk the police out of arresting me. The next day, fully clothed, I bumped into the same Australians again. They bought me a few too many beers and in the process convinced me to surf Nusa Dua. Sometimes that is how things work: sometimes coincidence becomes fate. Nusa Dua, on the southern tip of the island, is as exclusive as Bali gets. Home to th ree-hundred-dollar-a-night hotel rooms and sheiks and heiresses, it's a different kind of paradise. Nusa Dua prefers sul­ tans to surfers, but the beaches are still public and there's little they can do about it. Standing on the shore at Nusa Dua, the waves are far away, medium-sized curlers with long tubes that look so good you forget yourself. You just stand there for a soft moment with the ends of your mouth tugging upward into a look of serious silliness. Then you find your boat and climb onboard, and it's only then, after you shove off, that you put two and two together and realize that the Australian guys you're with have been in national competitions. It's then that you realize maybe you're in over your head, and that dreamboat wave is starting to grow in s(ze, to grow considerably, and maybe this isn't part of your dream. Nusa Dua is a big-wave reef break. The lip jacks up and the wave sucks ven today, can believe he rr:ade it through alive. And all of this takes place in Bali. Ba l l IS a place of magic. If you've spent any time roaming the edges of the They catch waves liKe most people catch buses. They stand and smile and drop down into the abyss and leave me watching them cut it up and down the line as if they were doing something I didn't understand, something I haven't put years of my life into, something alien and mysterious, like golf. How long do I wait for a wave? How many times do I back out at the last moment? How carefu lly do I scan the horizon for the smallest of offerings? None of this matters. What matters is that I do catch a few, and I do all right. Then suddenly I become adrenaline-drunk, cavalier, and I pad­ dle into a wave without careful study. I feel it start to rise under me, and I feel myself caught in it, and then it keeps rising, some terrible elevator driven by a form of lunar magic and a deep desire to punish. When the lip jacks, I am not quite at my feet, I am too awed by the gulf below me, and that is my second small error. In the early sixties or so, science fiction magazine had a contest. contest's object was to write the worl shortest science fiction short story. It won by a man named Frederick Brown, and the story is as follows: "The I man on earth hears a knock at the d�or." That is almost what I felt for long midair moments when I saw the world open up below me and felt surfboard dropping away and caught a glimpse of the terrible thun burning towards me-almost-but worse. They say that Ratu Nyai Loro Kidul has a thing for boys in shorts. All of her lovers wore-and the past tense is very important green shorts. For the rest of my life, if you ask me I will tell you, doubt, that the only reason I am al ive is that my shorts were black and green. I will also tell you that the world of surfing is a world of magic, that there are strange, jagged edges to all magic. There are secrets sorcerers and holy spots where the mesh of the world is woven differentl and no earthly magician, no matter how powerful, could ever pull Nusa out of a top hat. I will tell you all these things, but no more, because in dreams there are still some things that cannot be spoken. STEVEN KOTLER IS A FREELANCE WRI,TER BASED IN' SAN FRANCISCO.

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