For the last part of Laura's visit, we went to the beach at Pelabuhan Ratu with a group of friends. Pelabuhan Ratu is known for its rough surf, but we could tell as soon as we set eyes on the ocean that something unusual was going on.
The waves were huge. That first night, they tore out our rental cottage's bamboo fence, busted up the front of a stone staircase and tossed it around, and grabbed most of the tires that buffered our little beachside gazebo.
We were banned from the gazebo anyway, because a lot of other houses had lost theirs.
The ocean was hypnotically powerful. We couldn't help staring at it.
We didn't swim much; you could see the rip tides racing across the beach. But we played board games and frisbee, and read, and bought the makings of a great dinner from the fish market. I'm not very beachy anyway, so I had a great time.
It was sobering to see damage to people's houses and fields, though. Later we read there'd been big waves all up and down the coast, from Aceh in the north down to Bali in the south. It was nothing on the order of the 2004 tsunami, of course, but it sparked unpleasant memories for some and served as a reminder of what the ocean can do.