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Teiki Mathieu Baillan surfing a self-made Alaia surfboard in Lances Left, Mentawaï, Indonesia. Photo by C. Naslain, 2009.
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- Cummon fellas (the Mentawai operators), start bonding and sort ya shit out. Ok, some surf camp owners don't surf, but I think others do but have had such a mamoth task to set up their camps that they have had little time to enjoy the fruits of what is on their door step. Boats on the otherhand have it great, what a life...! But there must be a way for all to find common ground and work in unity. Please find a way so we can visit and enjoy an unspoilt paridise. Share the waves, god forbid, and don't exploit them just for earnings, make a resolution that fits in and suits everybody involved, so surfers can visit, either a resort or a boat, and share in something amazing you have all made happen together. Certainly a hard call, but humans have done this for hundreds of years, I only hope on this occasion it can be done again without self destructing first. Good luck, and hope to visit again in the future. I had an awsome trip, the Ment's are the most amazing surf destination on the planet - period. They deserve our respect, the people, the waves, and the operators who slave year in and year out, but please start working together positively....
By Christie Carter
About earthquakes - Hi,
I've been getting lots of emails from people concerned about WavePark.
Thought I would give a description of what has happened and how things stand
as of now, Friday midday, on Mainuk Island, playgrounds. I'm writing this from the
island, so some of the exact details that I will relate are still not
confirmed, such as exact magnitudes. Most of the specific details are
related to me by the WavePark crew that now have TV in their crew
accommodation, so they've been keeping up on the news.
Wednesday night we got back from a surf to the island to the guests who had
stayed behind, wide eyed, having just experienced the earthquake (magnitude
8.4) based in Bengkulu. We had crew on the beach with flashlights for a
couple hours, and the ocean did drop and then rise again about 1 meter,
within a hour of the earthquake. That night there were a few aftershocks.
I was up and on the computer at 6:30 in the morning, checking and writing
emails when the "big one" struck. It was by far the biggest earthquake I
have ever experienced. I probably would have fallen to the ground had I not
been a surfer and concentrating on staying on my feet. Fridges, TV's and
computer monitor fell over. Plants and books off shelves, mirrors broken in
the bathroom. The sound of the coconut trees and ground shaking in unison
is something I will never forget...
We immediately turned off the generator and evacuated the island having a
small bag each already packed from the night before. We anchored on the
north side of the sand island, close enough to keep an eye on the water
movement, but also close enough to deep water if we had to run. We spent
about 2 hours anchored, listening to the shortwave radio. Our crew manager
got a lift from a passing speedboat back to Siberut to check on his family.
The center of that earthquake was in a town called Sungai Penuh (full river)
which is the town closest to Padang in the neighboring province of Jambi on
mainland Sumatra. This meant the earthquake was a volcanic category and not
undersea, so we headed back to the island. There was also a significant
change in ocean level while we were anchored. The sand island was clearly
exposed, and then covered, and then exposed again in a space of 20 minutes.
There were 2 significant earthquakes originating from the Mentawai islands
while we were anchored, and not only could we feel them through the hull of
the boats, but the water all around the boat changed color as sediment was
shook off the bottom.
We returned to survey the damage: The old crew quarters slid off its
foundation and crumpled, but that was going to happen in the next big squall
anyway. The main accommodation handled the shake wonderfully, with only a
few cross braces under the house "popped", especially the ones that were
nailed, rather than screwed together. The bar, games room and crew's
quarters are all fine, some cracks in the small amount of concrete that we
used, but overall the shake was a great test for the construction methods
that we've used, mostly utilizing stainless bolts and screws that will shear
off but not pull out. We've heard unfortunate stories of people's houses
and offices in Siberut and Sipora that are destroyed completely, but no
stories so far of casualities in the villages closest to us. Luckily people
were already on edge from the night before, and it happened during daylight
Throughout yesterday, we experienced an average of 1 significant aftershock
every hour, including 1 that was from a different direction (based in
southern mentawai), and one that made the ground "jump" briefly before it
started shaking, which was a new experience for everybody. We had a very
surreal game of frisbee golf, wandering around the coconut plantation
throwing frisbees at trees that were moving, while drinking beer of course!
We had a full alert tsunami watch all night last night, with rotating crews
on standby in the speedboats, all bags packed and on the boat. The GPS was
loaded with a route to deep water, and extra batteries for just about
everything were ready.
We remain on high alert, as there are still earthquakes of over 6.6
registering off the coast of Bengkulu, triggering further tsunami warnings,
but up until now we feel lucky to have only had to pick up a few pieces of
broken glass and mirror.
I hope this email reaches you in good health and with best regards,
Manager WavePark Mentawai
Earthquakes! - Im interested in how the earthquakes have effected sumatra (the latest ones) mainland, ments, telos and anywhere else.
Are the locals ok?
Will the surf spots be effected?
Have your say about the Mentawais future. - There is a forum on the MMMTA web site mmta-mentawai.org please have your say on this issue, I am worried that my friends local people cannot open a losmen now because of this in there own country.
the taipan - big shout out to the taipan, hes clearly the hardest working captain out there, slaving his guts out non stop to get us to the best waves. hahahaha. keep up the "tough life" mate. be back next year to get the bush. son of ron.
The license holders don't surf - The real fight isn't between surf camps and boats. Wavepark is run by a guy who truly cares about surfing and the local people. Mentawai adventure isn't run by a surfer, but is set up to help the local people find the motivation to protect their land from logging and overdevelopment.
Charter boats having less overhead than camps? Doubt it.
Most boat owners have no problem paying the indonesian government a tax that no surf camp could ever afford, but they didn't ask. And when they did, so many people were accustomed to the corruption in the goverment here they refused to pay thinking it was just money for the top official's pockets. At the same time, there are more than a couple license holders who admittedly didn't pay the tax in the past. The question is not so much greed, yet who is being honest? the boat owners want to operate boats in the area to get waves and support their lives doing it, while ALL of the license holders want to monopolize the area and "help" the locals by developing the area. They just want to make sure no one else can easily develop it, this way they get all the money. If this law is really about helping surfing and the local people, why are all the boats pushed to sign a contract which involves paying 5% of their gross. Why isn't the MMTA helping enforce already written laws which regard tourism? Why do they need 5% of each boat's gross? 6 boats per license, is around $30k a year. Which is $180k a year to each license holder. Why do hawaiins, australians, and indonesians (not from the mentawais!!) need this money? what are they doing with it? Perhaps they're going to hand it out individually to each mentawai person who lives nearby...
Anyway, to the guy at home reading this, don't even think twice, you're going to get way better waves and be 100 times safer on a boat. The license holders are out for money and don't care about waves. Boycott camps at Kanduis, Ebay, Rags left, Scarecrows, and HT's. Most of the owners don't even surf, they're just cashing in on surfing. You make the choice which decides the future here. Be responsible.
I agree...most of whats said is true. - But this is a few points to clear up.1. Rumour has it most of the surf camps pay there staff about 1 Juta (about US $100) a month this may seem not much but it is a average to good wage in Indonesia outside Jakarta.2.By law a tourism licence is needed anywhere in Indonesia to run a surf charter operation or surf camp.3.There are good western people doing good things in Indonesia through volunter work including in the ments.4.There is also a new surf camp opening soon in the mentawais that will be 100% run and owned by Indonesian people, who are not rich, charging fair prices and giving quality service and at the same time helping the local community.
By GO, BUT DO A LITTLE RESEARCH FIRST
Greedy Camps - Greedier Charter Boats - For those who wish to avoid the Mentawai Tourism Laws and paying taxes, then (as quoted by the last guy) 'the Mentawai laws and licenses are all crap - and helping the Mentawai people, well that's all crap too'.... It seems we need to help all 13000 Mentawains at once to make any difference? Otherwise, perhaps it would be better to ignore them as usual and pay them to go away. Why even bother trying to contimplate that they too would like a peace of the action, and some income to secure their families future, or at least their survival?When referring to greedy surf camps.... are we referring to greed for money or greed for waves? From what I've heard the only people making piles of money in the Mentawais is the charter boats, which clearly have way lower overheads, pay no taxes what so ever, have dodged paying the $3 tarrif for years, and have remained illusive successfully keeping the Mentawains and their government at arms length.The laws may have been written by a greedy Australian, but he isn't the person who has built any of these land camps, is he? Sure the camps only employ around 20 - 30 Mentawai people, which means if there are now 5 camps thats 150 families that are better off. And I think very unlikely for wages to be at $30.00 per month (is that what they are paying on the boats now?), more like $150 - $250 per month which is very good for Indonesian standards (around 1.3 - 2.3 million rupiah). As far as I know there are less than 10 Mentawai people working on all of the 40 charter boats, instead staff are all employed from Padang or Nias (or they are foreigners), which has truly alienated the Mentawai people. As for the Mentawai people who don't live in front of a wave, perhaps they will have to take up knitting, or kite surfing if they had the cash (any donations from charter boats?).'Every body's out to get theres, whether it be waves, money, or waves and money - MAY THE BEST MAN WIN' Well this challenging quote is sure proof some people truly don't care about anything BUT waves and money, and is a prime example of the greed that has infected the Mentawais (be it for waves or money).But isn't it only the camps that are the greedy ones?? I don't think so....
By Don't even go!!
Surf Camp Greed - WHOA WHOA WHOA.The bottom line is, what you've read about the license bullshit and helping the mentawai people is all crap. Both sides have their points, both have merit...But the real story is, the power of money and politics has invaded the furthest reaches of the earth. You talk about getting your license scrutinized? By the government? So what, you have to pay them more if they don't like what they see? Did anyone mention that the LAWS WERE WRITTEN BY A NON-SURFING AUSTRALIAN??? What planet are we living on? Helping the mentawai people? Are you SERIOUS??? they employ maybe 20 at each camp...(for probably $30 a month max) there are over 13,000 people in the mentawais...so what about the people who don't live in front of a wave? Let's not fool ourselves...everyone's out to get theirs, whether it's waves or money or waves AND money...MAY THE BEST MAN WIN.And that's the real story.So if you're booking the boat or camp, how about asking for a photo of the guy who's going to be guiding you around and surfing with you. If they send you one of them getting a sick barrel (within the past year!) you know you're in good hands and you're doing the right thing. If you go to any surf camp (besides the longest established one in playgrounds) you are fueling western greed and corruption in the local government. The locals are only seeing a fraction of the 5% of the gross of the boat's income that the western license holders are receiving. Come out and meet some of these guys and see if they really care about the locals....they don't. It's all about money, just like EVERYTHING ELSE.
Mentawais Now - The things about mentawai laws is a hoax and no longer relevent fueled by past corruption and the surf industry, who wanted it all for themselves that no longer holds true.Although some are still trying to make it appear that way.Thank god the new current goverment in office is not driven by corruption and is actually said to be against corruption.The truth is the mentawais is free for all.Why would the goverment limit the licences???what have they to gain?For them the more the better...more camps,resorts,losmens equals more tourist and surfers and the more money and tax that goes back into the area.They dont care about crowds and why should they??????The boats sadly only need to be Licenced from the port they leave from and return too...that mostly being Padang, and well by present Indonesian law that cant be stopped.FOR NOW END OF STORY.
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