Joel’s got the place dialed now. Lining up with The Tree. Memorizing the reef. Counting the sets. Pushing himself deeper and deeper. Further into the peak. The caverns echo with no one to hear his cries of joy. No one but the cameras on the beach. His boards are working. Proving themselves under his feet. The joys of being single. And flying. As he makes the jump from pro surfer to struggling shaper, this is vital. Seeing these singlefins flying beneath his feet now…there’s no sales pitch required. You want one. And it’s a healthy reminder that the best shapers are always great surfers. Now the clips are swelling up. So are Joao’s. What does that mean? Some strange viral infections from the tropics. Jungle foot. Two days ago they were just tiny bumps. Now both feet are too tender to walk on. He’s going to die. Propped up in The Tree, foaming from the mouth and filming every wave while the monkey mass of gromitude swings from the branches around him. Cheering, laughing
and waiting for ice cream. The doctors will tell him later that he has worms in his feet. Jungle worm foot. But for now, he can only imagine what viral terrors are wiggling inside swollen feet. Is it worth it, for some surf footage? Too early to tell, perhaps. Too late to ask, anyway. It will all be over soon. These waves. This trip. The fading memories of another adventure gone. Someday these kids will be selling Viagra and warm Bintang to the visiting surfers, all-inclusive in some nearby surf camp. And when the swell maps turn purple and surfers rattle through the list of known waves to visit…this place, whatever it may end up being called, will be listed among them. Someday. But not today. The sun sets once more. It always does. The footage is logged. The boards are packed. The swell is dying. The damage is done. And now we leave. The road home is always smoother. Even with worms in your feet.
Bali Belly is an independent youth culture magazine based in Bali, Indonesia.