Madness. Is that we all we have left today, madness, I ask you? It doesn’t take longer than five minutes of plugging-in to realize that. Online it’s an endless, spinning array, of timeless carousels. „So who to turn to, or what news should I believe?” The only response shatters into a million more fragments, voice notes, pictures or calls.
I am not unlike you. I usually don’t mind political upheaval. Whatever part of life it upsets, it only seems to leave more time for the waves. It was only around mid-March that Corona madness started to hit Cape Town. It was a fortuitous time, because Ollie Coleman (Ig: @Ojc_photo) was here and I could hear the first whispers of winter swells arriving to meet the hard-pressed summer banks. Sadly, this was also around the time I found out my folks had contracted corona, after returning to their home in Canada from a ski-trip in Aspen.
Equinox is the most sought after season for any surfer around the globe. The tilt of the earth creates even day and night hours, but that’s aside the allure. Predominant winds either cease to exist, or switch on a more regular basis. Swells arrive from unusual directions, and coastlines from Lisbon to Cape Town ignite. And so Ollie and I took to the ocean on every occasion we had. These are golden days in Cape Town; the beach-breaks can barrel so long and wide they’d match any sub-tropical reef pass.
This time the political agenda would not leave our arena unscathed. Surfing was already being banned at beaches in Portugal, France and Peru- we were bound to follow. The day Ollie left for the UK news arrived – overnight beaches closed and a surfing ban was imposed.
Nate and I were already on our way up the coast – a big swell was looming on the horizon for the day before the official lock-down. Boom. One last surf trip, away from the already closed beaches of Cape Town. Nate and I have been surfing more-or-less together for over 20 years, not counting the drop-ins. The trip we were taking is an epic pilgrimage- one that’s full of good times and memories that never seem to be surpass the next.
It seemed even the mega-swell’s arrival was cancelled due to Corona. The waves never ended us as good as we hoped. Oh well, we set up a boy-scout camp, and made the most of the fun, but inconsistent waves. It was clear that even this tiny town would likely be policed – and the classic point-beak surf would go unridden for weeks.
We arrived home on the eve of lockdown. Apparently that day a whole crew of surfers had transgressed the no-beach-law in Cape Town. The authorities waived the fines for one last one day, they were outnumbered. Not without leaving a heavy-threat for official lockdown laws. Surfing would from now equal jail time, hefty fines and board confiscations.
The perfectly stacked lines and windless, sunny days fell one behind another, like stacked dominos. These are the patterns that we wait for. I am sure every surfer was going easily, as mad as me. I heard some guys sneaked a surf at Noordhoek… Really, should we go for a surf today? I don’t know how many times Spic and I held the same conversation. Like two lockdown lunatics with the memory of a goldfish.
My mom put up a kind-of funny video, meme about star-signs on the family group. I answered: „Oh gosh – everyone knows star-signs are a way of preying on slightly mentally-ill people looking to get guidance about their future from deluded, if not deranged, savants. Kind-of like the way people look towards governments for leadership in the time of corona. It was check-mate 3 moves ago for humanity. Start to make-up your own minds on what to do next.”
Fortunately my folks are doing well, and in the clear for corona-virus which they suffered with mild but definitely not unconcerning symptoms. I suppose we can relax, it seems like I’ve already faced my worst fear in this pandemic already. It’s day 12 of lockdown – mom is asking whether I have left my sense of humour at the beach. I’ve never heard so many people grappling for answers. No matter what position they hold in society.
It seems like the only thing left on this Earth is madness. And everyday is just battle, between grabbing onto someone else’s or dishing out your own.
Tadek Sączek / Cape Town, RPA
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