Mentawai Diaries Part 2: Behind the Lens with Brooklyn Hawaii


Mentawai Islands

My travel mantra remained tried and true as I traveled 72 hours from Hawai’i to the Mentawai Islands of West Sumatra, Indonesia.

Take it all in …

Don’t miss a thing …

Be present …

Brooklyn Hawaii in the Mentawais
Brooklyn waxing her surfboard and holding Mentawai treasures.

It repeated in my head over and over — through airports and during excruciatingly long layovers in unfamiliar countries. As I laid on rock-hard terminal benches under dimmed lights in the middle of the night not knowing what time zone I was in anymore, I couldn’t help but fantasize about what this trip had in store for me visually. My brain often thinks in photographs and compositions so I let my mind wander and dream as I made my way halfway across the globe; at this point, anxiously awaiting my arrival to Alaia Mentawai which would become my home for the next ten days with Anna (who I have not yet met in real life) and Victoria (who I’d only surfed and shot with a couple of times before this).

Mentawai sunset

This Reef Ambassador trip was unique for me this time given that I would be both surfing and shooting photos for the entire trip. With that in mind, I knew that the content would be undeniably surf-centric but I also wanted to capture just how functional our Reef Escape sandals were over the course of our travels … except you don’t wear footwear when you’re surfing … “Hmm, this will be a challenge,” I thought to myself …

Victoria Vergara

But as seamlessly as my relationships with the other girls progressed and as quickly as we adapted to the Mentawai life, so did our chemistry as a team who was there with a common goal of documenting our surf trip in a style that was unique to each of us. We slowly unveiled our stories over the next ten days, and although I cannot speak for Victoria or Anna, my story was one of patience and deep gratitude.

Victoria Vergara
Anna Ehrgott and her Reef Voyage sandals

After tearing my foot open and possibly spraining a majority of my toes when I went “beng-beng” on the reef during my first surf of the trip, I was on a strict healing regimen that included: compulsive Neosporin application, ice packs, and sporadic elevation of my foot in between surfs. For those who know me, I don’t deal well with sitting out. To say my patience was being tested would be putting it very lightly … and maybe I let a few frustrated tears out at one point, but the owners of Alaia Mentawai (Nat and Dave) nursed me back to health with the kindest of hearts. When they made me realize that my healing process really wouldn’t start until I got back home, I was able to suck it up and try my best to surf and shoot for the remainder of my short time there with them.

Reef Escape sandals

Shooting in the Mentawai Islands was a dream; waves, repeating patterns of palm trees, blue water that seemed to bleed into the sky, deserted atolls you only see in destination postcards, funny little hermit crabs that ran across our feet…

As I watched our skin turn a shade darker and our hair bleach by the sun, I couldn’t deny that I was right where I was supposed to be. Right where I needed to be, despite not feeling well and struggling to do as little as walk from one end of the room to the other. Surrounded by women who inspire me, enjoying nature’s purest gifts, and living out our own creative lives — it humbly brought me to a space of deep gratitude that visits me often but not nearly enough. I never imagined I would one day be given the opportunities to travel and document everything beautiful that inspires and drives my creativity.

Anna Ehrgott putting on her Reef Voyage sandals
Victoria Vergara

My time in the Mentawais was deep with reflection, inspiring because of all of the incredible people I met, and reenergizing as I returned home back to Hawai’i. 

I hope that our smiles in the lineups left a little piece of the Just Passing Through lifestyle that Reef lives by.

I hope that more girls know that there are waves for them in a male dominated surf destination!

I hope that we can all remember how good and important it is to enjoy our time on Earth while we still can … "

Anna Ehrgott
Indo perfection
Victoria Vergara nose riding in the Mentawais

Read the first part of this Mentawai adventure with Reef Ambassadors Brooklyn Hawaii, Victoria Vergara, and Anna Ehrgott.