Island locked in paradiseWorld Class right, Mentawai, West Sumatra-Indonesia / 29 March, 2020.

Imagine…… … be (is)land locked on a remote paradise island in the Mentawai, West Sumatra. Empty line up, very few people around and no sight of charter boats approaching. Just a handful of sun kissed and toned surfers from all over the world confined on the shore of a gorgeous island. Salt water addicts finding respite in the waves breaking in the front yard. A world class wave just for a handful of lucky surfers. A dream come true.

It all started with a deadly virus, a worldwide pandemic. A nasty flu that has no passport, no frontiers and no mercy. Thousands of people infected everywhere, even the likes of Prince Charles, Boris Johnson and Tom Hanks have not been spared…

A forced isolation in one of the most remote part of the world. A place where “jam karet” (rubber time) takes its full meaning. Here, we have nothing but time. A very simple life where the day stretches to the sound of the breaking waves. Rise with the sun, live in salt water, swim, surf, do yoga, eat sleep and repeat. For how long ? We don t know. It has been a few weeks, it could be months…

The epitome of slow life.

Our daily routine revolves around the Ocean. And around our morning chats about the latest immigration updates, airlines cancellations and now non existent ferry connections with “mainland” Sumatra. No one comes in and no one goes out.Will we ever be allowed to go back to our home countries ?

Sometimes anxiety sets in. It comes in waves. As with the Ocean, it peaks in time and in time it subsides. Patience and letting go take their full meaning here. What about food and water supplies, visas extensions, running out of cash ? What about the state of the World ? What about the fact that there is only a small understaffed “rumah sakit” (small dispensary) on the island ? When in doubt, paddle out, breathe and practice yin yoga on the lawn. 

We live like a micro society, a resourceful “salt tribe” needing to organise itself to source food. There are very few supplies available on the island. We are very lucky to have nature s offerings every day > fresh papaya, coconuts, rambutan, avocados, and fresh fish . How many “pisang” (bananas) can you really eat in one day ? I ve never thought of so many different ways to eat a banana. Creativity takes over, including in the kitchen where the wonderful Indonesian staff makes the simplest of local food. 

What else can we do ? Nothing but accept the situation. Reflect, go inwards and slow down. The world has suddenly shut down, forced to revaluate everything. Our values, our needs, desires and longings. Introspection at its best.

Few days ago, Bali celebrated Nyepi. The whole island stops for 1 day, every year. What we are experiencing now is some kind of “Planetary Nyepi”. A pause for soul searching in our hectic lives. I ve always thought the whole world could use Nyepi on a larger scale than just Bali.

It s now time to rethink our values and priorities. In the ever materialistic Western world, we need to rethink how we consume, how we eat, how we relate and connect, rethink our jobs and ambitions. This is the time NOW.

Stephanie H. is an ex-international corporate lawyer now turned surfer and yoga teacher. She occasionally contributes to Immersion Surf Magazine and other publications while surfing and travelling the world. Stephanie is a freelance online coach, luxury spa consultant and French tutor.

She is based in West Algarve, Portugal where she manages two boutique accommodations in the heart of Aljezur, 5 min away from 3 surfbreaks....

( / Instagram @surfshanticottage)

photo: Frederic Cabanne@fredc1111

photo: Emillio   @emillio_photography