Tracks - - Intro -

I caught him in my pe­riph­eral vi­sion, the neon-vested park­ing Nazi punch­ing in the de­tails of my num­ber plate as I slugged on a morn­ing cof­fee at the regular wa­ter­ing hole. In­stantly it was like one of those dra­matic, slow-mo scenes from a movie. "Noooooooooo!" I screamed as I charged to­wards him and my dou­ble-parked car, al­ready do­ing the maths in my head. "$250 bucks. That's a week of good living in Sri Lanka, where I've got a surf trip booked later in the year." It was too late, the coun­cil Gestapo had al­ready made up his mind that he was go­ing to put a dent in my Cey­lonese sav­ings. Words to the ef­fect of "F#$&ing Scum­bag!" might have been used as I watched a hired driver, plates of suc­cu­lent fish curry and empty waves dis­ap­pear in an in­stant. I couldn't help but think, had I been in Indo a quick 50,000 ru­piah would have re­solved the whole in­ci­dent. Cor­rup­tion be damned.

The painful mo­ment did how­ever pro­vide an in­sight into the surfer's con­cept of eco­nomics or the surfer's brain if you like. Once most of us have ex­pe­ri­enced the won­ders of for­eign surf travel we begin to con­sider the op­por­tu­nity cost of al­most ev­ery other life-pur­chase, big and small, eg. out to din­ner in Oz = a day's food in Indo. New sec­ond-hand car for around six thou­sand = two weeks at a luxury land camp. A brand new car = a cheap van and six months travel in Europe. A new unit = my own luxury villa in Indo with no ex­pense spared.

As surfers we are for­ever doomed to per­form th­ese si­mul­ta­ne­ous equa­tions. The main rea­son we feel so guilt-rid­den in re­gards to our do­mes­tic pur­chases is that we know how good trav­el­ling over­seas to surf is. Hunt­ing per­fect waves on for­eign shores has in­fi­nite ap­peal. Surfers have a very de­fined sense of pur­pose on their jour­neys while si­mul­ta­ne­ously ex­plor­ing the in­tri­ca­cies of other cul­tures. We are more like wave pil­grims in­fused with a re­li­gious-like fer­vour to ex­pe­ri­ence sa­cred wave sites – much more evolved than your av­er­age rub­ber­neck­ing tourist.

But I'm get­ting off topic; this is a con­ver­sa­tion about surf­ing eco­nomics.

This month we've com­piled a range of surf travel sto­ries from dif­fer­ent fi­nan­cial strato­spheres. From the clas­sic Europe on a shoe-string trip, to the op­u­lence of Cabo San Lu­cas, Mex­ico, where your girl­friend can sip Mar­gar­i­tas from the cliff-top in­fin­ity pool while watch­ing you punt in the shorey for a mere US$600 a night. Else­where in the mag Pat O'Shea dodges di­a­mond mine se­cu­rity in Namibia and Jed Smith makes a hi­lar­i­ous de­scent into the seedy depths of the North Shore and finds him­self bunk­ing down along­side chronic mas­tur­ba­tors, pre­scrip­tion junkies and grog-poach­ing staff.

Yes, the mag is full of both mis­ad­ven­ture and those spe­cial travel mo­ments when ev­ery­thing serendip­i­tously comes to­gether.

For those of you with an aver­sion to sway­ing boats we've also com­piled an ex­ten­sive list of land camps in vary­ing price ranges on page 106. I was just robbed of a night's stay at one of th­ese fine es­tab­lish­ments by a kook wan­der­ing the streets. Hope­fully you are much more care­ful with your own pre­cious travel dol­lars.

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