Joe: the Ski Seasonnaire with the Surname ‘Sloper’
Canggu, Bali, Indonesia/London.
I met Joe through one of the first people I met in Bali, Lewis. He took me into his bunk to introduce me to Joe, who – to this day – I am still in touch with and we still speak virtually every day. He was in the far right bunk of the room, groaning in his bed from a severe hangover – a typical symptom of spending any time in Canggu, or as we later dubbed the little party town, ‘The ‘Gu’.
“Hello, lovely to meet you. I will introduce myself properly later, I am just absolutely DYING from a stinking hangover.” The voice came from between the curtains and I laughed. I knew we were going to get along just fine. After interviewing him for this blog, I realised he puts our first encounter much better than myself:
“I think I was actually mid hungover napping and welcomed you to join me, but that isn’t such a charming anecdote.”
I beg to differ!
Joe came and joined me at the bar later and we had a couple of beers and got chatting. Joe had a great smile and those piercing eyes that looked straight through you. You felt like you’d known him for years.
Around the fire pit we were huddled around later, Joe told the story: “I’m a ski seasonnaire, and my name is Sloper!” I laughed, not thinking he was serious. It was too good. Couldn’t have been true. He confirmed that in fact, it was true.
“THAT IS EPIC!” I squawked back in my tipsiness, just absolutely loving that sheer beauty in the coincidence.
That night it was BBQ night at the hostel, after we went the local market to get our bits of food, Joe got the fire going. It was a warm balmy night and he was head chef for the evening. He even went out of his way to cook my corn separately to the meat. We munched on our food in our low deck chairs, clinking our Bintangs, sharing stories (or perhaps shall I add, all equally oversharing stories as one does when one makes travel friendships.) Mine of the hour was having been bitten by a monkey and forking out an extortionate amount of money the next day for an anti-rabies jab.
A mewing kitten came along and joined us. I distinctly remember Joe dropping mayo on its poor head and it was the most hysterical thing in the world. It was his baptism after we decided to name him Papito, I suppose. Life was perfect in that moment, all of us in the circle – now joined by Finn, Lewis’s German road trip companion – with the bright moon providing the light out there for the evening.
The next night was even more special as it was Joe’s last evening with us. At this point, our group had grown a little. Natalie, another friendly ‘Sydneian’ who was staying in my room, and Justin, the American of the boys, joined us all on the roof, playing cards and beginning the night’s festivities.
“I think my favourite memory of our time together was sitting on the rooftop drinking Bintangs and gin watching the thunderstorm in the distance.”
We all stood in a row, musing, thinking, being fully present, quiet and still. It was pretty special.
After, we all climbed down the wrought iron fire escape later and then made our own fire of sorts by the pool. Kilch, the guy from Sydney (who you can read about here) was playing some Floating Points and we were all vibrating on our own lovely little frequency. Joe described it perfectly:
“My final night in Bali consisted of us chilling around the pool listening to Kilch’s wavy music, followed by Old Man’s. I tried my very best to stay out, but was in the grasp of “Bali belly” and went home after a spiced margarita and some ridiculous dancing.”
A keen traveller, one of the highlights for Joe was learning to dive in Amed. I remember him telling me the lowkey traumatic story…
“I’ve lived a pretty “extreme” life having always been into rock climbing/skiing. I takes a lot to get me out of my comfort zone and the water certainly achieved that. Waking up after the first day, (I thought) I was fully prepared to learn the practical aspects of diving. As soon as we started the first descent I experienced terror like I’ve never felt before and had to return to the surface, which was fortunately 10cm away.
“Having overcome the initial reaction to diving would have been special enough as a personal victory, but what followed was sensational. Amed has a wrecked warship from WW2, which was hit and moved to shore, where resources could be salvaged. During an earthquake, the ship was rocked back to the sea and is now a marvellously beautiful dive site.”
I also learned about his countless ski seasons in the mountains and followed his adventures in Riksgränsen, Sweden after the Bali days were over.
“During my solo travels, I met a woman from Sweden, Josie and an Australian, Asha. We clicked instantly and travelled for the remainder of my trip. I would have stayed in Asia if it wasn’t for Josie who introduced me to Riksgränsen, which boasts Sweden’s best off-piste skiing and the most northern ski resort in the world. Josie had already worked there and secured herself a job, Asha and I applied and one magical evening got the confirmation we’d be moving to Sweden for three months.”
I actually had planned to go out and stay with Joe as part of my European leg, but sadly things didn’t work out. But if it’s one of the last things I’ll do, it’s ski with a man – and this man specifically – named SLOPER!
Though he’d indeed been struck with the infamous Bali Belly on his final night, we coaxed Joe out in the end. We went to one of Canggu’s main haunts, which faced out onto the sea. I remember hugging him tightly on the dance floor and saying goodbye when he’d finally had enough (credit to him for even coming out). I knew that wouldn’t be the last time I saw him – and it wasn’t.
Joe happened to be in London in October 2019 and I managed to steal him for an afternoon. We went for a delicious lunch at Mildred’s in Soho and had the most bangin’ vegan meals between us. We found a pub round the corner and drank pint after pint (and I believe I had a packet of crisps, crucial detail), just getting lost in reminiscing in memories. He even brought me a birthday present! It was actually one of the most special presents I’ve ever been given – a book, called How to be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci – and is a book I haven’t been able to shut up about since. GO READ IT.
As I’ve asked every traveller when interviewing for this blog, Joe’s 3 takeaways from travelling are the following beautiful things everyone should remember:
- “Listen to your body.”
- “Live simply.“
- “Know that happiness comes from within.“
And all jokes aside, Joe has actually been such a wonderful friend despite only having met him on two or three occasions. Full of advice, compassion and laughs, there isn’t anyone I could describe as a ball of sunshine who deserves all the joy in the world more than Mr. Sloper.
Thank you Joe for your ever-enduring optimism and introducing me to the main boi himself: Marcus Aurelius!
Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.