The conditions in Kosrae were so monumentally good on the last trip I made an 11 th hour plea to our incoming guests, who included first-time Best Odyssey guest and wave superstar Ben Wilson; returning pros and wave slashers Josh Mulcoy and Mauricio Abreu; as well as owner Scott Wisenbaker and returning friend Chris Smith to re-route from Pohnpei, where we originally planned to hold the trip. It was a bold call and meant my ass was wholly on the line. Pohnpei has one of the best right hand waves in the world, a wave Josh and Mauricio have dreamed of hitting for years (Ben has been there numerous times and knew what we’d be missing). Changing the tickets would be expensive. No one knew anything about Kosrae, and I haven’t been to Pohnpei so I couldn’t compare. But I’d heard the waves there could be crowded- they are very much on the Surfer’s map. Whereas the waves in Kosrae we have all to ourselves. There isn’t a soul around, we are the first to kitesurf here. If the swell and wind gods would just pay us a visit I thought the yearning for Pohnpei would be replaced with awe with what we’d found just 300 miles away.
The day the last trip ended (“Departure from Reality“) the rain began. For four days we got pummeled. No wind, just rain. And no swell. Everyone had re-routed, the decision was made. My mood mirrored the sky- gray and ominous. The towering green walls and misty, saturated views that had captured our hearts in the weeks previous were now viewed with contempt. No sun to dry the laundry, no sun to kill the mold, no sun to help us smile.
By the time everyone arrived I felt I was almost at war with Kosrae. Swell, wind and sun had come together just a week previously to create conditions for our sport that can’t even be imagined. I’d sent photos of these conditions and talked this place up so much that in retrospect I set us all up for disappointment.
The most current 7 day forecast showed little in the way of swell on its way, but we each hoped for the best. For the time being, even though the rain hadn’t eased in the slightest, one of the breaks had a great head-high wave working perfectly and the boys all wanted to warm-up.
Ben lives in a land of lefts in Australia and found going on his forehand quite a treat, as did Josh. Chris, who took up surfing just a few months back with us in French Polynesia was now catching waves almost at will. Mauricio would be happy hanging out in a garbage dump- the guy never quits and soon enough even I found my mood greatly improved by his endless comedy and passion for life.
For the next three days we spent hour after hour after hour either surfing or kiting on a wave that according to the pros beats anything they have at home bar-none. Words like “world class” got thrown around and the fact that once again we have it all to ourselves dials down my anxiety enough to make me realize I should never have worried in the first place. Even if we don’t get the swell and wind we had on the previous trip we’re still in the Land of the Lost, a magical place of ferns and frogs and yes it’s a very wet land, but the result is striking. Sun breaks, though too rare light up pockets of green that literally radiate with texture. The photographers (John Bilderback and Jody MacDonald) capture shots with these sensual colors in the background that look entirely surreal. We’ve got amazing company, we’re riding with the best in the world. And in the evenings we have Mauricio, aka Morris to keep us entertained. The mad Brazilian puts the best story tellers’ in the world to shame and keeps us gasping for air.
In the evenings we also discuss the economy and what’s happening in the outside world. Ben, Josh and Morris have all just signed sponsorship contracts to keep them going and they are each thankful for the opportunity to practice their craft. Many of their friends and competition have not been so lucky. Bilderback shares the woes of the modern-day action sports photographer in the digital age where anyone with a few grand can buy the best there is and snap off shots with little earned skill. John has spent thousands of hours swimming in waves, many of them more than capable of punishing a mistake with death; capturing some of the most sought-after photos in surf for nearly 30 years. It makes me realize there is a lot more riding on these trips than just waves and wind.
But unfortunately the wind and waves both take a nap and leave us to other explorations. Scott, Ben and Chris head out fishing each morning before dawn but come home empty handed, taking much heat in the process from Mulcoy and Morris- the taunts only drive their resolve more but for some reason the fish are either vanished or uninterested in the orgy of lures housed in our multiple Dakine lure bags.
Chris and Morris try out our most recent SUP addition compliments of Surftech on a small wave near the harbor and pronounce it a great hit. A small river mouth is found that winds like a snake more than a mile through a jungle of mangroves and cascading flora that make for perfect, shaded paddle trips on the Stand Ups.
We rent a car to explore the island and search for more unknown breaks as the wind returns, but the swell remains elusive. I keep thinking the mood is going to plummet in the absense of waves but everyone stays upbeat. I realize, as I’ve done many times before that I’ve become jaded and need a clean sweep of my mind. Our string of luck has my expectations too high and I’ve forgotten that just being here is precious, to be coddled and enjoyed like the finest wine or a treasured friend. Whether we’re kiting giants or eating sashimi; listening to Morris rapse poetic on some kiteboard related rant or just sitting watching the world go by we are living a life that warrants devoted thanks and appreciation. For now we are living in The Land of the Lost. It is enough. It is more than we need. It is more than any of us deserve.