Pablo: You don't wanna interview me, man. I'm pretty boring.
I heard this year there's been more robberies at Deserts.
really the first guy who really was on it, who was consistently surfing here all the time.
Bali Belly: I don't believe you. I know you got some good stories.What about the time you got stabbed out here?
Yeah, kinda the same scenario, except this year they had guns. I wasn't here because I don't sleep on the beach anymore, I sleep back at my place over the hill. But it just happened to be flat and onshore when they came. It was that stint in May where it wasn't very good here. I guess 30 guys came over here on a boat and docked in at night, basically pirates. They hit the hotels around the bay the same way. But they really freaked out the local people who live here (at the beach). They roughed em up. Slapped em around. Drank all their beers. They were eating all their food, breaking shit. Full pirates. I heard there was like two or three tourists here. I guess the French guy got in a tussle with one of the robbers and they roughed him up pretty good. I heard he got like 25 stitches. And that was this year! If there had been many surfers here, it would have been ugly. I can't imagine. One of the guys had a gun and shot it at one of the local kids who got scared and ran. So the guys weren't scared to use their guns. It would have been a complete nightmare if there had been even 15 or 20 tourists here. It would have been really ugly.
Does he ever surf here anymore?
Nobody wants to read about that. What happened? Like, what do I do if a bunch of Lombok pirates come out here tonight with machetes and shit and try and rob us while we're sleeping? In general, here, if you give them your money you're good. That's the difference between here and somewhere like Mexico. Yeah, Mexico is kinda gnarly. That's the key to the whole getting robbed thing, just give em your stuff. Like when I got stabbed here, I had a hut right down on the beach and I was sleeping, and I wake up and there's a guy going out of my hut. So I get up out of bed and I look out, and it's pretty bright from the moon, and I can see the one guy's sitting there with some of my stuff. It was just one guy and I thought, shit, I can handle one guy. So I take off after him – like a dumb-ass. Never do that. You get robbed, you give em your shit. Whatever you have, whatever it is – laptop, camera, whatever, it ain't worth getting killed over. But I was young – well, at least I was younger than I am now – so I run after the guy and reach out and grab the back of his shirt and something just slams my shoulder. And I look down and there's all these flashlights in my face and I'm covered in blood. I look up and there's ten guys there. And I'm like, oh shit! So I run back and wake up my buddy Nick who was staying in the hut next to me, and he lays me down and we get a look at this big puncture wound in my shoulder from the guy's knife. Then the dudes come back – ten guys all with knives – and they're screaming, money! Money! So Nick's freaking out trying to dig up our money – because we used to bury all our money and passports in the sand. They're going through all our shit. And I'm lying there bleeding. Shit. In the end, they were actually kinda cool. They started joking around and then they asked Nick, how's your buddy? And then one guy came over and looked at my cut and he's all, I help you, I help you. He got some kinda tobacco leaves or something and he starts doing this chant thing on me. And he puts the leaves on my wound and then he spits on it like three times. He's spitting on me, and I'm like, oh, thanks (laughing). In the end, they left all stoked and happy cause they got some shit and everything was all good.
Think they'll come back? I mean, who knows. They came once, so there's no reason why they couldn't do it again. They've been blocking the road too on the midnight run. Because a lot of crew do the midnight run from Bali to get here for a swell early the next morning. Actually a good friend of mine was coming on his bike one night from Bali, and you know that first big hill when you come from the ferry, he said it was like two in the morning and everything felt kinda eerie and two guys popped up and started screaming, stop, stop! Police, police! He said he passed em and then this huge spotlight just came straight in his face and all these guys were screaming, police, police! And he said, fuck that, and he just gunned it. He knew the road did this dogleg turn and he just gunned it around the turn, but they jumped out and tried to grab him. And they've been putting shit in the road to stop people, huge logs and stuff. I heard a Brazilian crew got robbed that way. So, yeah, Lombok is still kinda like the wild west. When did you first come out here? Ummm, that was... shit... (thinking) I came here on a boat with some friends in like '87 or '88. Cause back then overland was really hard. So we got together on some shitty little boat and came over here. And then once I figured out where it was, I came back like two years after that by land.
And you all took a group photo together.
It took you two years to come back to the best wave in the world when there was no one here?
Yeah (laughing). We got robbed a few times out here in the early days. One time a friend of ours got hacked up really bad by these guys with machetes who were trying to rob us. It was the middle of the night and he was bleeding really bad. We had to put him on this little bamboo table and swim him around the point at high tide during a big swell in the dark. He almost lost his arm. It was hanging by a thread. He could have died really easily. But he made it.
Well, when I came on the boat that first time it was kinda shitty. If it had been going off, yeah, that would have been it right there. But a good friend of mine used to surf it by boat, this guy Bill Hike from Northern Cal. He's probably like the first guy who really surfed here. He used to have an old Indo fishing boat and go to G-Land and come over here. He had it dialed, he was really the pioneer here. There might have been guys before him that surfed it, but he was
Man, he came a few years ago. He's got a kid that surfs. But it's kinda sad, you know. He gets here and it's crowded and everybody's dropping in on him and don't give a shit, you know. Back when you first found out about this place, was it like a tightly guarded secret? Like you meet some guy in a bar and he's a little drunk and has loose lips and he draws you a map on a bar napkin. Back then there was actually some... you know, back then everybody wasn't like, dude, look at my video, look where I've been! Back then everybody was a bit more like, oh, I got a place, I'm not telling. Someone would ask you, how was it? And you'd say, nah, it was shitty, it was no good. That doesn't exist anymore. Now it's like, (rabid frother voice) Duuude, it was going off! Look at my video! So back then it was all kinda hush hush and nobody was really advertising. So how do you find out about a wave like this back then? You'd tell your friends and shit, but it's not like it is today where you're telling the whole world. You know, you'd hear whispers here and there. I think I actually first heard about this place from a guy I used to travel with down in Mex. So I came and checked it out. And back then it was a good call because there was no one here. I said, man, I'm gonna hang here and milk it till it's done. And it's about done (laughing)! That's what I always think about, if only I could have been around during that era in surfing. Like, I was born in 1984, three years after you first came to Indonesia (Pablo is laughing).Why couldn't I have been born 20 years earlier! Yeah, that was a good era. But then again, it wasn't easy, man. I'll tell you what, if everybody had to do what we did back then to get here, there wouldn't be two thirds of the people surfing out here now. I'm telling you what, 95 percent of the people wouldn't do that these days! It took hours to hike out here. It took forever just to get from the ferry down to where you hiked out. The road was just a mess of potholes. And then you had to carry your boards, your backpack, your tent, your food, your water, I mean it was hard work. There were times where I would have to bury all my shit in the sand! Bury your shit? Yeah, because I wanted to leave but I wasn't gonna carry all my shit out. Like if I needed to leave for a visa run and there was no one here to leave my shit with. Because we'd look after each other's stuff – there were these two Kiwi guys, Nick and Chris, they were some of the original guys who were around here forever – but sometimes there was no one around to watch your stuff. There wasn't any Indos living here at the time, and fishermen would come in and out occasionally, so I actually buried my boards and my food in a big 'ol hole in the sand so I wouldn't have to lug it all out.