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Lonely Holiday/part 1 A Post Tsunami Account of Surfing in the Mentawais. - Running Time 01:44

INTRO: recounts of the 2010' disaster's/sorrow/ and bliss in Indonesia
By: Trent Knox

This is Trent "The traveling Feral's"intro and first accounts of his adventures and destruction created by the huge earthquakes striking the Mentawais over the past couple years...

Finally,after three hours squeezed into a dugout canoe and forty-five rain soaked minutes on the back of a motorbike we make it to the Police Headquarters in ,Tua Pejat, the capital of the Mentawais.Soaking wet and tired all we would like is to file a stolen property report and get to a hotel as soon as possible.As luck would have it is 8:30 p.m. and that means that Indonesian Idol is on the T.V. and interrupting the entertainment would not be a good way to begin. We wait until a commercial break to be acknowledged and then politely explain our situation.As luck would have it the one officer on duty tonight capable to write the report is not there and we would have to wait for him to return.In the Mentawais this could take days,literally.Idol is back on and all interest in us and our situation is lost, I pull up a chair, light a cigarette,and act vaguely amused in contestant #3.Little did I know now that this little mission to Tua Pejat to handle some unfortunate business would turn out to be more of a blessing than a burden, Mother Nature had a few curve balls up her sleeve and she was about to send them our way right in the middle of my surfing holiday...

Sometimes I wonder if mother nature has a chip on her shoulder for Indonesia. Earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, you name the disaster she seems to get more then her fair share of abuse. Maybe that is why I took the 7.3 earth quake that occurred 28 miles west of Pagai Utara on October 28, 2010 with such nonchalance. From my vantage point at the time, the police headquarters in Tua Pejat, it seemed to be just another tremor from the belly the infamous Mentawai Trench, but what I did not realize was this quake had spawned an 8 ft-10ft tsunami that made landfall on the beaches and villages Pagai Sippora and Utara no less than 10 minutes later ultimately changing many peoples lives forever.

The following morning we left Tua pejat early to get back to Katiet anxious to see if there was any damage from the quake. Whether it was ignorance or optimism I am not sure but I really expected things were going to be unharmed and that last nights quake would go down as just another little quake that happens all the time. Unfortunately this was not case. From a distance everything seemed normal, but as we got closer I could tell something was not right and as we pulled the boat on to the beach the locales came down to tell us the news. I knew straight away that something terrible had happened. Our driver is greeted by his wife and kids as they all hug and kiss and breath a collective sigh relief. Then he turned to my friend Ben and I and let us know that the family we stay with , who's home and loseman is directly in front of the channel at HT's , were not quite so lucky."Ben" they say, "your loseman is gone,it's finished!". "Is everyone all right?" we ask."In katiet yes, but on the the other side many people are dead the villages are gone!!". My heart sank and panic crept in. We grabbed our backpacks and ran to check on the condition of our friends. Speed walking turned to running then into sprinting. The closer we got to the southern end of the village the more damage we saw. Sand and debris on the path turned into huge tree logs and splintered canoes that had been dragged at least 50 yards. Then coming off the path out of the jungle on to the beach , I see the roof of Ben's loseman on the the ground. About 20 yards from where it once was, completely ruined. My hut was spun nearly 360 degrees and half knocked off it's foundation. Although all my gear is wet and sandy I was really lucky. Pak and Ibu Esar come over to greet us, we hug and shake hands realizing we are all o.k. We stand around and talk about all that had happened there the night before and soon realize how extremely lucky everyone there is still alive and virtually unscathed. Everyone in Katiet is alive, but unfortunately the word is not so good for many of the villages on the west side of the island. We spend the rest of the day salvaging what gear we had left and re-locating to the last standing loseman the Esar's had.Tried to absorb what had happened and prepare for what we might see the next day on the other side in the villages of Gobik, Masakut, and Bosua.

All that day and into the night we had been hearing word that the other side of the island was devastated. Wanting to see it for ourselves, the next day a couple local kids plus Ben and myself headed off to make the hour long hike over the hill to see the damage firsthand. Once again I tried to remain as optimistic as possible, but as soon as we got down the hill on the other side I knew things were going to be really bad. Acres of palm trees uprooted and dragged hundreds of yards inland. Where once the jungle was so thick you could hardly even see the beach, now I could see the whole bay as clear as day. Locales were picking up fish of the ground 100 yards deep in the jungle, and 6 foot chunks of concrete path undermined and uprooted dragged onto the beach with the receding water. The first village you come upon would have been Gobik, but now Gobik is gone. Literally gone.Nothing left but the foundations of the remaining homes their contents slammed into the jungle. it looks like a massive pile of Lincoln logs. How any one survived is amazing. We move on anxious to get to Bosua after hearing rumors it was hit even harder.

Bosua is much the same, nothing remains but the foundations. Some people gather under tarps and in the shade of what remaining palm trees are left, while a group of men search for the dead or missing. A shout /whistle and everyone comes running to lift and move debris. They found no body this time. It turns out to be a false alarm.Eleven dead a friend informs me, all children and elderly, still people are missing. We are approached by a man who lost both of his daughters. Although he is not angry or crying, you can clearly see his pain. All I can do is listen to his story and give him a hug.I was using every ounce of strength I had not to cry.He is not crying. So I made myself think," why should I?"It is very difficult, you want to help these people, but there really is not much I can do. I am not a doctor, I can't give money. Empathy is the only gift I have. So you Listen and console, comfort people.You have to be strong because they are very strong."Help is on the way." I tell them not knowing what else to say, and I cross my fingers and hope that it is.

Thankfully it was.Allthough slow at first for the people in Northern Sippora, aid and medical assistance began arriving. Rightfully so, on the north west side of Pagai Utara(where they were more exposed the tsunami) the devastation was much more severe and the need for aid that much more necessary. Soon locales organized with aid organizations and began to make supply runs to Sikakap returning with temporary shelters,lanterns, rice,drinking water and the like. Charter boat operators also coordinated with aid groups and were able to deliver large amounts of supplies directly to the villages in need of it the most.(Although I am not a big fan of charter boats to begin with) some boats and there captains really went out of there way to help and deserve a pat on the back for sure. With there intimate knowledge of the area, and ability to go and do what other larger aid organizations simply couldn't ,they were a valuable asset to the people. "Some", not all of these guys really care. Some boats did zero,just went about with business as usual and that is sad to see, especially when these guys are making good money running charter boat operations in these peoples back yards. That first week in Katiet after the tsunami was tense to say the least. Families were coping with the loss of loved ones in neighboring villages. They all had ruined and damaged homes , plus the fear of another tsunami. The locals,terrified to be anywhere near the ocean at night began setting up shelters inland at higher ground to feel safe. Literally leaving behind comfortable water tight homes and sleeping in the wet rainy jungle. Nobody was fishing or going to be there to farm/ to get fruit and coconuts. Life in Katiet was far from normal. They were in 100% survival mode,and coping very well. Overall the psyche of the village is damaged, and to what extent I was still yet to find out.

Now,during the first week after the tsunami an entire other situation was brewing that I would be lying to say I wasn't paying at least a bit of attention to.The fact that my friend and a few other straggling late season feral's were deciding it might be a good time to hang in Bali. Combined with the fact that there is a possibility charter boats are delayed or canceled. meaning the opportunity to get perfect HT's all to myself. It was difficult to contain my excitement even at this sensitive time after the tragedy.But this is something I have always dreamed of!"Empty HT's,"All mine.One week,two weeks, three, I wonder to myself how long it could last. Or how long I could last alone on the beach by myself with nothing but small amounts of supplies and using candles for the most part.

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