What happens when you indulge in some space cake on your way to Ponta Do Ouro for a surf trip? Ross Solomon tells us his experience as an entry into the Write To Surf Contest presented by Billabong. Read his story below:
We’re on our way to Ponta and have stopped at the big petrol station on the highway, right before you turn off onto the smaller back roads that take you to the border. Rambo pricks our collective curiosity with the pop of a Tupperware lid and the words: “Look what I’ve got.”
I’ve stopped smoking weed for many years now, and the space cake laid before my eyes is simply processed in my mind as ‘Oh well, when in Rome…’ and we proceed to neatly polish off way too much cake. Like, the whole thing.
Things start going awry pretty soon after partaking in this particularly well-laced cake. For those of you who don’t know the drive, there is a well signposted turn off very neatly situated just 1km from where we were at the petrol station. It’s all very handy as everyone needs only to remember to turn down that road right after filling up, having had a lekker Steers burger and some drinks from the rather fabulous coffee shop.
The caffeine apparently didn’t help our spaced out lot, and we ended up forgetting to take the turn off – that was right there – and subsequently took the much longer, scenic Jozini route to the border – also known as getting completely lost.
When we finally arrive, the little holiday town at the ‘Point of Gold’ is packed with amped, dialled-in surfers. But in typical Ponta fashion, the waves hadn’t checked the Windguru report. Next morning we all awake to fat one-foot burgers off the point. A side note here: a common occurrence with space cakes is you often wake up the next day feeling lost somewhere between yesterday’s hazy recollections and la la land. Walking slowly, but somehow still managing to meander wildly up the point, I skop my toe stukkend on sandstone rocks. It’s moer sore and bleeding. Thankfully one of the locals, Spiggles, had long ago assured me that the numerous Tiger and Zambezi sharks actually, for some reason, don’t hang out on the point, but rather prefer a particular reef further out. I choose to believe this information unquestioningly and jump off the point.
After a couple of waves I climb a knee high foamy to get back out onto the open face when my foot slips and my board canes me square in the face. Stars. I’m floundering around the shallows on my way back to the beach, my overgrown beard, hands, rash vest, baggies all full of copious amounts of blood. I’m going to stop here to explain something, which, at the time, I did not know. I had no way of knowing how bad my injury was. I obviously could not see it. The only thing I could go by was the reactions of those around me.
I’d find out later that technically my nose was broken, though not boxer-squashed-flat-to-my-face type broken. Broken just enough to supply all the ludicrous amounts of blood pouring out my nose. The cut which I had briefly located with my fingers was, unbeknown to me at the time, actually quite small, not even requiring stitches.
But the look of horror, pointing and calling to friends by all the holidaymakers on the passing dive boat, which I had frantically waved down, was rather disconcerting.
The skipper told me to get to the beach. Like, right away. On the beach the surf photographer’s eyes were very large as he swore repeatedly and told me to sit down. I did, and promptly passed out.
Did I mention this was a Mozambican public holiday? The beach was packed. Not the usual Josie exodus, but more a Maputo one. Nice people them. Now passing out for me is old hat. I’ve always done it – I don’t like blood. Lie down, close eyes reboot, get up and carry on. Most people can’t understand this. The crowd peering down at me as I was trying to figure out where the bloody hell I was most certainly didn’t. They were freaked out. You’d be amazed at the vivid full-length feature film dreams that you manage to squeeze into a momentary passing out. Trying to come back from them can be pretty weird.
Anyway. In amongst the obligatory step-back, give-him-air instructions that are usually issued amongst a crowd who doesn’t really know what to do, a gorgeous, Portuguese, Mozambican hottie appears in a teeny bikini. As if things weren’t quite surreal enough.
Maybe she was a nurse. Maybe she took a half hour first aid class years ago at school. Either way, she was there and decided this was her moment. Here on a beautiful day on the beach in Ponta Do Ouro, she was going to shine. I was her patient, and I would survive! Who was I to deny her of her moment in the sun?
She really did shine as my personal gorgeous nurse, there on the beach, amongst her big group of bikini clad friends and family, under her umbrella which was only big enough for the two of us. The same umbrella that her boyfriend/fiance/husband had to vacate. Strangely, he did not appear to be as sympathetic to my cause as she was.
She meticulously cleaned all the blood off my face, hair and beard, and then dressed the cut which she advised I needed to get stitched up. I’m still not sure why neither of her friends, family or husband noticed that the cut was maybe not quite as bad as she might have feared? Staring at the little gash in the mirror when I got back to my digs, I wondered if it had all been a bizarre dream.
The swell did arrive next day, and I had a front row seat on the shoulder watching Chris Leppan give class on how to get barrelled off your tits over barely covered reef. You may have seen the feature in the Zag. Me? I couldn’t surf for shirt. I just bobbed around, due to the constant dark grey cloud that hung for three days over my head. To this day I don’t know if it was the cake or the concussion, but I do know one thing: rather stick to the burgers and coffee if you’re ever find yourself stopped at the big petrol station, just before the turn off to Ponta do Ouro.
*ALL IMAGES BY GREG EWING