Lost in the Flood

This excellent picture shows a truck I rented in 2009 stuck on a flooded ford on the island of São Tomé, off western Africa. Sean Buckley and Quintino Quade, who both rode with me that morning to the south end of the island, were driving home to the capital without me. Unfortunately it had started to rain. When they came to this river crossing — not a bridge but a concrete ford, which had been dry on the way down — they hesitated. At last they decided to ease the 4×4 through the shallow rushing water. “In about four seconds we knew we’d made a big mistake,” said Sean. They misjudged the ledge of the ford and dropped both wheels off the concrete and into the river. “Now they couldn’t move,” is how the story goes in the surf book. “They opened the doors, and the river flowed through the truck.”

In the end everyone was OK. It was a huge pain in the ass for Sean and Quintino, while I ate fish alone in a shack on the south side of the island. I’ve re-told the story and re-heard the story and laughed at the story; but I’ve never seen a picture. Thanks to Sean, who may not even realize I’ve reappropriated it.

ALSO: Remember that Sweetness and Blood makes a great stocking stuffer.

Michael Scott Moore is a journalist and a novelist, author of a comic novel about L.A., Too Much of Nothing, as well as a travel book about surfing, Sweetness and Blood, which was named a best book of 2010 by The Economist. He’s won Fulbright, Logan, and Pulitzer Center grants for his nonfiction, as well as a Silver Nautilus Award in Journalism and Investigative Reporting; and Yaddo, MacDowell, and DeWitt Wallace–Reader’s Digest fellowships for his fiction.

He’s been a visiting professor at the Columbia School of the Arts and UC Riverside. He worked for several years as an editor and writer at Spiegel Online in Berlin. Michael was kidnapped in early 2012 on a reporting trip to Somalia and held hostage by pirates for 32 months. The Desert and the Sea, a memoir about that ordeal, became an international bestseller.

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My review of a book about the drone war, Hellfire from Paradise Ranch, is up at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

While I was in Somalia a man called Geoff Carter wrote about a picture of Indian men surfing on stand-up boards around 1800 off Chennai, which altered the known history of surfing a bit, even though the picture was hiding in plain sight at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

My review of Ingrid Betancourt's first novel, The Blue Line, is up at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

The men from the Naham 3 are all friends of mine — a crew of 26 sailors from southeast Asia who worked on a tuna long-liner flagged in Oman but owned by a company in Taiwan, which abandoned them after Somali pirates hijacked the ship in 2012.



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