Bernhard didn’t want to leave.
He was born to mine.
‘I spent a stint in Mongolia.’
I know, it was a gold mine, and the local insurgents fired bullets into your camp.
We got down the mountain in about twenty minutes, taking the gentle slope side.
Beni took me aside.
‘The herbs are just placebos,’ he said, ‘ given, the sulphur might add some calcium needed, but what you have achieved in the past few days has been all from your own mind.’
‘I knew that,’ said Bernhard, who winked at Beni, ‘ and by the looks of things, you have overcome any disadvantages you had going on in your head.’
I had been hoodwinked.
‘Not necessarily,’ said Beni, who lit up a clove cigarette. We were sitting around a table in his warehouse, which was just a shack with piles of sulphur rock in white bags. ‘Sometimes we need a little mental crutch to help us with aging. It’s something to be celebrated. Never be shy of restricted movement, it’s just a step closer to crawling back in our womb. But with the right mindframe, it’s still possible to move mountains.’
‘Or remove rock from a mountain.’ Bernhard lit up another Dunhill. ‘I’ve had stents put in my heart, was working a few days after the operation. Toughen up princess, you aren’t a cripple just yet.’
So those trips from the herbs were nothing but self projected highs?
‘Something like that,’ said Beni, who told us to give him a call when we woke up.
It was nice to be back at the hotel.
I put on the cable TV and passed out.
This was real traveling, I said to Bernhard after I woke up in the afternoon and met him downstairs for a coffee in the restaurant.
‘It’s what you make of it,’ he said.
We were making good so far.
‘Not many people can boast about putting a shift in the hell pits,’ I said as I finished up my coffee and butted out my cigarette.
‘I’m not sure if they would want to, ‘ he said thoughtfully, ‘but as you noticed, it’s really not that hard work. The western media like to romanticise the fuck out of it, but what you found was that it was light work. The stone doesn’t weigh much. And most of the heavy lifting is by the mules.’
Another coffee later, my head was clearing up.
‘Jump in the car bitch,’ said Bernhard, ‘we are going exploring.’
Weren’t we suppose to call Beni when we woke up?
We were heading due south, following the coast road.
‘Suppose to be the biggest swells in the word,’ said Bernie, who lit up a cigarette and handed me a cold Red Bull he pulled out of a cool bag from the back seat. ‘And I’m told a storm has been brewing from Christmas Island, and should arrive in an hour or so.’
He tapped something at the back. I had a look.
‘Yep, two fucking boogie boards, it’s time for us to have some fun, just us against nature.’
Us against nature. I hadn’t been in the water for donkey’s years.
‘It’s just like climbing up Mt. Ijien, but so much easier. All you have to do is float and let the waves do the work for you.’
Bernhard was born an optimist. He didn’t see dentists, he pulled his teeth out himself. ‘If I can’t wiggle a dead tooth out I’ll use a pair of pliers. And if that won’t work, I’ll cut the gums with a knife so I can get at the roots and then yank them out with the pliers.’
That’s the kind of guy Bernhard was. He had the ‘can do’ attitude.
‘And you are going to get into the water, even if I have to drag you in.’
Riding ten foot waves did seem like a fun thing to do.
‘More like twenty, but no reefs on this break, so the water and sand might break your fall.’
The waves were smashing onto the sand. Where the water smashed onto the sand, it was steep, and as the water from the wave went out, we hitched a ride.
The riptide did the rest. And then a massive wave came and we rode it in. It was barrelling and Bernie was on the same wave as me and was carving it up while I just hung onto the board and road the wave as best as I could before it ceremoniously dumped me on the shore line.
A lady from a warung, just a little shack on the beach, came running down and offered me a towel and said come up to the warung for a cup of Indonesian coffee. Things were looking up.