20 April, 2016 20 April, 2016

Madagascan Mystery – by Rian Greeff

Rian Greeff writes about the discovery of a new surf spot while searching Madagascar and the great dilemma of naming their newly found surfing haven, Madagascan Mystery is his entry into Write To Surf – Zag’s surf journo competition with epic prizes by Billabong up for grabs (see details below).

Madagascan Mystery

“Maggots? I can’t believe you guys actually want to call this spot maggots,” says Mark as he sips his Three Horse Beer from a glass. He laughs at the notion and then offers his own suggestion, “why don’t we call it Saltos? Like those biscuits we’ve been chowing all this time, hey? They’re quite lekker. And it’s a cool name for a surf spot – it’s got a ring to it – Saltos.”

Maverick moments ©Black Billy

“What? Like Bolo Bolos?” asks Mike who is sitting next to him. “You want to name this wave after a biscuit, also?”

“Yes, why not?” says Mark after taking another sip of beer while feeling quite chuffed with himself. After all, he scored the sickest tubes – and actually came out. Backhand barrels. No-handed. Well… maybe the odd rail grab here and there – just for balance.

“It has a nice ring to it.” he says again, “Saltos. Salt ous. It’s better than Maggots.”

“Well, what about Salted Salt Ou’s then? I mean, if Bolo’s got named twice…” says Tom, another member of their crew. “Because this wave is much better than Bolos – I think we all agree on that,” he says nodding his head and looking at the approving expressions of the people sitting around him.

Yep, they all seem to silently say, this wave is better than Bolo Bolos. Much better.

“But… What? Why don’t you like the name Maggots? – it’s like we said…” says Shaun, who is sitting across from Mark. “We should call it Maggots – after that oke who used to surf here. The oke who died…”

‘Well, what about Sablitos then?” offers Diaan, another member of our crew on board the Maverick. “Those are the best biscuits by far – better than Bolos and Saltos. Sablitos, they’re so tasty, and flippen addictive, once you start you can’t stop.”

“Sablito’s… hmmm, we haven’t had those…”

“Ja,” Diaan continues with an explanation, “they’re the best biscuits, it’s like a eat-sum-mor type thing. They’re the cheapest. And there are 15 per pack. Sablitos are the best.”
“Well sheesh,” I say with an exaggerated slur, throwing my hands in the air and nearly knocking another glass to the floor. “These are all very good biscuits to name our tasty new discovery after,” I continue while waving my arms and acting drunk, “how will we choose but one?”

I’m having to ‘act drunk’ because the truth is we’re so broke that it would be impossible for me to actually be drunk. Therefore I can only pretend to be plastered. Because after nearly a year away from home, sailing upon the sea, the three of us – Mikas, Diaan and me, have absolutely no more money. Nope. Nada. Nothing.

That’s right; we left South Africa nearly a year ago. We quit our jobs, sold our worldly possessions and said, “so long suckers!”, as we waved goodbye and sailed off into the sunset. We were supposed to go to Indo, but for reasons best not disclosed we somehow ended up in surf-less Tanzania instead!? Eish!

We spent the next 5 months there twiddling our thumbs, eating away our pension funds and irritating the kak out of each other, until the next thing we knew we had no more money. Ag nooit ek se! And so it was decided (very reluctantly) to head back home to South Africa – via Madagascar of course.

And now here we are – back in Madagascar, and poor.

We’re currently sitting and having lunch at Le Jardin, which is the best vazaha (white man) restaurant in Tulear. And surprisingly it’s quite affordable – if you have a job and are on holiday that is. If you’re an unemployed yachty floating about on the whim of the wind though, (and have been doing so for nearly a year) then the word ‘affordable’ takes on a whole new meaning. In other words, this place is friggen expensive, because we usually just eat on the side of the street.

The crew/client’s from Endless Summer are in a completely different boat – literally. They are on a 10 day yacht charter. They are on vacation, they are having a blast. They bought us a single beer to share between the three of us (God bless them). I swallowed the tiny glassful as quickly as I could and am now convincing myself that I can actually feel the small serving taking effect. It requires some effort and imagination, but so far I’m managing to convince more than just myself. Good, so it’s not just me – it is working. Ah yes… I can feel it now…

However poor we may seem to be though, we are still living like kings. Big time. Because in Madagascar the poverty is of a whole other level. There are beggars everywhere. But unlike western countries where begging is associated with delinquency, drug abuse or slothfulness – here it is entirely different – here the people are just plain poor. Wretchedly so.

They live in small shacks made of tin, sticks and plastic, (all crowded on top of each other) and having no sanitation system, defecate right on the beach. All of them. And because of their superstitious fady they don’t bury it either – which would be disrespectful of the dead ancestors who live in the ground! So when walking on the sand; watch out ek se. There are land mines everywhere! Sies!

Nooit my bru, not everything is pretty in paradise. Most of the time it is but pretty bleak at best. What with poverty, disease and natural disasters– it’s a miracle the people here survive at all.

But despite the poverty and strange traditions, Madsagascar is a magical place. It has a quality all of its own. After a while you really get used to it. The locals call it mora mora – which means slowly slowly, and pretty much describes their ideology. Malagasy people are probably some of the most chilled and friendly people you will come across anywhere.

The landscape itself is arid desert with the weirdest sights you have ever seen; from the freaky spiny forests and baobab trees, to leaping ring-tailed lemurs and small spiders that build their nests in the shrubs, using tiny shells which they lift from the ground with a million strands of spider silk.

Small Spider Lifts Snail Shell Up Tree… by WaltonKian
Small Spider Lifts Snail Shell Up Tree in Madagascar. -by WaltonKian

We’ve been bumming around Madagascar for a few months now. We catch fish to survive and mix it up with the odd crayfish, squid or prawns – depending on what the locals are selling. Occasionally we go to the market and stock up on fruit and veggies, pasta and rice. But otherwise we keep it pretty low key and far below our non-existent budget.

Back inside the restaurant, the character and atmosphere of Le Jardin contrasts so strongly with that of Tulear it’s almost unsettling at first – but only at first. The sheer force of the immediate, physical separation between wealth and poverty inevitably has an effect on the psyche. The dissimilarity between comfort and misery, the garden of the restaurant and the dry dust of the street – the juxtaposition is surreal in the least. Dada. Abstract and absurd. Powerful and moving in an unexpected way, which like all great art, offers an effective diversion.

Our new friends from the Endless Summer are a handful of married guys who are here on holiday from Cape Town and Germany. They’ve chartered Captain Pete’s boat for an exclusive two weeks private surf trip and, as fortune flows, they’ve had it really good – only to then have it really, not so good.

When they arrived the waves were small and the wind was light. But then a few days later a south-wester pulled through and pushed in some decent swell in the 3-5 meter range. With these sorts of conditions there really is only one place to go… as their captain well knows.

Flameballs is too exposed in windy weather, while Outers is out of the question.

Jelly Babies will be closing out and Puss-Puss will be blown away to bits.

Inners and TT’s are good in the 4-6 foot range – but when the swell size is read in meters – then uh-uh, oh no. There really is only one place to go.

And this is where we finally met them. The very spot my brother and I first surfed along the Madagascan shore. Last year, while still on route to Indo, we had anchored Maverick behind Nosy Ve Island waiting for a swell to surf Flameballs. But when the swell and wind didn’t quite play along, causing the sea to be much too rough for surfing, we were forced to go find other waves to ride. And this is the one we found. At the time it was breaking at about 4 foot – and fast. Solid sections freight training across shallow reef. It was classic. It was fun.

But this time it was different. This time it was about 8 foot. Solid. It was a completely different wave. Much hollower. It was a whole other game. Earlier in the morning Mikas and I had first surfed Bolo Bolo’s for a few hours. But when the tide got too low and the wind came up we realized that we weren’t quite ready to die. So we decided to go try our ‘old spot from last year’ – thinking to ourselves; oh well, beggars can’t be choosers. What with this wind and tide – there is only one place to go. The same place we surfed last year. Therefore when we arrived at the spot, we weren’t too surprised to find the Endless Summer already anchored there (seeing as it had a bit of protection from the howling south-wester.)

So without further delay we moored Maverick, suited up and dove right in, paddled up to the vacationing surfers and shouted out; “Hoezit my broe? Lekka one way! Whoop-whoop!” The waves were so good, and the vibe so lekker – what can I say? After that session we were all good friends and lead to where we are today: sitting in a restaurant trying to find a name for this wave.

Micus Greeff surfing an unknown secret spot. ©Black Billy

“So what should we call this new spot?”

The question comes up again. Like a silent fart, so sneakily stinky, and right under our noses; it needs to be accounted for. You know, to clear the air and all.

“We can’t just leave it anonymous – it needs a name. Something insane.”

“Sablito’s” says a speech.

“Maggot’s” utters another

“No, its name is Salto’s.” Says a confused voice of reason.
And then…

“Hey Mike, what do you think?”

“Uh… Vagina Oil…?” says Mike rather dreamily, staring at his smart-phone’s screen, completely unaware.

“Vagina Oil?!” I half drunkenly scream. “Heck yeah! The search is over – finally! Now that’s the name we’ve all been looking for – it found us. Like pap and wors or John and Yoko – it takes one to know one. Once ek se, only a surfer knows the feeling of naming a surf spot, and what better name than Vagina Oil. It slides so nicely off the tongue. Fast, slick and smooth – just like the wave itself – with a couple of hollow, uhm… hairy sections. Hahaha!” I howl with hilarity.

“Huh, what? Er no! No, NO! I wasn’t… I was, er, oh forget it.” Says poor innocent Mike before again looking down at his cell phone screen. He seems stressed. Poor bastard. Although he’s on holiday he still has to graft – he works as something or other at Woolworth’s and now (after a week of surf chartering) he’s just found out one of their shampoo products apparently has ‘vagina oil’ listed as an ingredient, where it was supposed to read “vanilla oil’ – so when he gets back home he’s got some explaining to do. Poor bastard.

Ah yes, and so the mystery of the ages is solved – the answer to stoke, the ocean, to stand up surfing and everything. And the answer is vagina oil, the very lubricant of life itself. Can there be any more profound and prophetically appropriate name for a surf spot than this? – I think not. This is what we live for – this is why we are alive. The origin of the whole surfing species. Fact is, if it wasn’t for Vagina Oil, and other fun rides like it, none of us would even be alive to do what we do; live, surf and procreate.

“Three cheers for Vagina Oil! Hip, hip hoorah!” I shout.

But the rest of the okes just look at me like I am sloshed or something.

“Ja nee… I don’t know…” Mikas suddenly says spoiling the fun, “I mean Vagina Oil?– sheesh – then they might as well have named that other wave Boners. Nah – I don’t think we should name it at all. Because once you name it, it will start getting crowded. And we don’t want that – I think we should just keep it a secret. We should just call it; Unknown.”

Click here to check out all the published stories from our Write To Surf competition.

Send your stories to calvin@zigzag.co.za. One submission will be selected every six weeks to appear in Zigzag magazine. The selected submission will also receive a hamper from Billabong. At the end of the year, we will select and send one aspirant journalist from the competition on an all expenses paid assignment for a major feature in Zigzag. Zigzag retains the right to use any work submitted for the Zag Surf Journo competition on zigzag.co.za as outlined in the rules and terms of the competition. Zigzag reserves the right not to award a published winner in the magazine every six weeks, depending on the quality of entries. Zigzag is not obligated to run any and all entries submitted, either online or in print. Zigzag retains the right to edit all work submitted for brevity and / or clarity. Please note: Prize hampers will only be delivered within South Africa. *Disclaimer: Views expressed in Write to Surf entries are those of the author.

The Billabong prize hamper includes: 1 x Billabong Wetsuit; 1 x Billabong Hoodie; 1 x Billabong Cap; 1 x Von Zipper Sunnies; 2 x Da Kine traction pads.


1 Comment

  1. Tabbycat
    21 April, 2016 at 12:19 pm · Reply

    What a load of rubbish.

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