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Kandui Chronicles: Dispatches From The Mentawais

The Final Day of the Billabong Surf With A Pro trip to Kandui: Balls Out At Bankvaults

Just got home after a quick jaunt from Kandui to Padang, Padang to Jakarta, Jakarta to Singapore, Singapore to Tokyo, then Tokyo to LA. A long haul but worth every minute of it. Below are the final day photos and the story of how I ended up naked on a beach with a small man holding a machete…

Kandui surf guide Bryce Saeman kicks off our last day at the resort with long barrel Bankvaults—one of the heaviest waves in the Mentawais. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Kandui surf guide Bryce Saeman kicks off our last day at the resort with a long barrel at Bankvaults—one of the heaviest waves in the Mentawais. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
I beg you to show me a better bottom turn than Rasta's at Bankvaults... Photo: Bielmann/SPL
I beg you to show me a better bottom turn than Rasta's at Bankvaults...he broke his fin out on this one! Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Bankvaults bites back...it's been a few days since this wipeout and my ribs are still sore. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Bankvaults bites back...it's been a few days since this wipeout and my ribs are still sore. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Above: Messin’ around at 4 Bobs in front of Kandui Resort with the GoPro HD video camera

Inspired by Rasta, Billabong Surf With A Pro camper Aaron gets the wave of his trip at Bankvaults. That's me in the foreground claiming it for him. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Inspired by Rasta, Billabong Surf With A Pro camper Aaron gets the wave of his trip at Bankvaults. That's me in the foreground claiming it for him. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Hands down the MVP surfer of the trip, Dave Rastovich inspired, coached, and entertained us every time he set foot in the water. He's truly a remarkable surfer. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Hands down the MVP surfer of the trip, Dave Rastovich inspired, coached, and entertained us every time he set foot in the water. He's truly a remarkable surfer. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Along with his brother Bryce, Kandui surf guide TJ Saeman led by example when the waves came up at Bankvaults. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Along with his brother Bryce, Kandui surf guide TJ Saeman led by example when the waves came up at Bankvaults. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
I cringed the first time I heard we had a gnarly Stand Up Paddler guy on the trip, but Kevin Horgan from Kauai turned out to be really good guy and was really courteous when it came to his wave count. He actually helped us get waves by calling out sets and telling us which way they were headed. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
I cringed the first time I heard we had a gnarly Stand Up Paddler guy on the trip, but Kevin Horgan from Kauai turned out to be really good guy and was really courteous when it came to his wave count. He actually helped us get waves by calling out sets and telling us which way they were headed. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Rasta at Nokandui where the crew had a quick session before dark on the last day of our trip...it should be called "Kandui" when he's out there. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Rasta at Nokandui where the crew had a quick session before dark on the last day of our trip...it should be called "Kandui" when he's out there. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Rasta's super hack...on a twin fin. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Rasta's super hack...on a twin fin. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Donavon Frankenreiter signs off at Bankvaults on the last session of the Billabong Surf With A Pro trip to Kandui Resort in the Mentawais. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Donavon Frankenreiter signs off at Bankvaults on the last session of the Billabong Surf With A Pro trip to Kandui Resort in the Mentawais. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Day 8 Of The Billabong Surf With A Pro Trip To Kandui Resort: Balls Out At Bankvaults

Our final day and we scored! All day long, the crew scored perfect waves (of varying levels of difficulty) all around the "Playgrounds" region of the Mentawais of the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.

We charged out to Bankvaults early and scored super clean, 4-6 foot tubes with just a few of us out before a few different crews sniffed out that Bankvaults was pumping. I got pitched on the inside bowl, Rasta did his usual Zen Master trip, and Donavon banged out a few sweet barrels to top off his trip to Kandui Resort.

I learned about the Mentawaiian tax system today as well. After one of the campers broke his leash and his board with a brand new Go Pro camera attached to the nose went onto the reef-strewn beach. I got onto the beach and a couple of natives had it and wanted my trunks in exchange for it. I tried to tell the bigger one (who was holding a machete, not in a threatening manner but a machete nonetheless) that I didn't have anything on under my boardies but he was persistent and kept gesturing for my trunks. After negotiating a trade for his stained soccer shorts, I thought to myself "screw it" and began untying my new ‘Bongs. He did the same—with the luxury of a tee shirt to cover his nether regions. I was not so lucky and stood for an awkward and completely naked moment on the beach. The young boy watching the deal go down laughed and yelled out "Bagus!" which is Indonesian for "Good" and I swelled with pride—I don't compliments on my naked torso often. Paddling back out, I told Troy (who’s board I paddled in for and works at Billabong) that he owed me a pair of trunks—I'm wearing them now so it's all bagus.

Speaking of "Bagus" this trip was amazing. The swell was a bit on the small side at first, but gradually grew until yesterday maxed out at a solid eight-foot Hawaiian style. New friendships were formed, waves were ripped, skin was burnt, the reef ripped a few of us to shreds, and the Billabong Surf With A Pro campers got to surf, hang out, eat, and get to know two of the coolest, most ripping dudes out there—Donavon Frankenreiter and Dave "Rasta" Rastovich. Thanks to Jim Kempton, Josh Harper and the crew from Billabong for a wonderful trip! Take it from this camper, if you want to get inspired to surf better, meet some really cool people, and make some new bros, Billabong Surf With A Pro trips are for you.—Justin Coté

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Day 7 of the Billabong Surf With A Pro trip to Kandui: Big Bankvaults And Kegged At Kandui

Bryce Saeman on a Bankvaults bomb. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Bryce Saeman on a Bankvaults bomb. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
The token Kiwi on the trip, Tom Denton, at Bankvaults today. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
The token Kiwi on the trip, Tom Denton, at Bankvaults today. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Dave Rastovich a Bankvaults today. Even the Zen Master himself Rasta broke a board out there! Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Dave Rastovich a Bankvaults today. Even the Zen Master himself Rasta broke a board out there! Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Since Bankvaults was out of her league, we took one of the boats down to Beng Beng where little Frankie Harrer belted a few lips. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Since Bankvaults was out of her league, we took one of the boats down to Beng Beng where little Frankie Harrer belted a few lips. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Donavon souls arches right up into the awaiting boat. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Donavon souls arches right up into the awaiting boat. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Super SUP'er Kevin Horgan from Kauai put in at least 10 hours today at Bankvaults and snapper four (borrowed) leashes. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Super SUP'er Kevin Horgan from Kauai put in at least 10 hours today at Bankvaults and snapper four (borrowed) leashes. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Kandui partner Jordan Heuer hasn't left the Mentawais in nine years an his experience showed today at Bankvaults. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Kandui partner Jordan Heuer hasn't left the Mentawais in nine years an his experience showed today at Bankvaults. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
On every trip to Kandui, a group of shaman from a nearby islnad come to the resort and do a performance for the guests. It's a crazy show that makes you feel like the culture out here hasn't been corrupted by anything. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
On every trip to Kandui, a group of shaman from a nearby islnad come to the resort and do a performance for the guests. It's a crazy show that makes you feel like the culture out here hasn't been corrupted by anything...except for the Casio watch. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
My new amigo, Neal Norman from Kauai via Miami, at Beng Beng. Neal got a nice shack at Kandui tonight, bounced off the reef, and tore his new Billabong trunks to shreds. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
My new amigo, Neal Norman from Kauai via Miami, at Beng Beng. Neal got a nice shack at Kandui tonight, bounced off the reef, and tore his new Billabong trunks to shreds. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Big Bankvaults And Kegged At Kandui!
After a week of fun, head high surf, the Indian Ocean kicked into gear today in the form of solid 6-8 foot Hawaiian scale Bankvaults. With only a day left, the crew was charging! Broken boards, bloody scrapes, snapped leashes, and lost surfboards littered the lineup at one of the Mentawais heaviest waves. I only got three waves, but one of them was a pretty good stand up barrel—backside is pretty challenging out there! Rasta was owning the joint, getting pitted wave after wave and mixing in giant roundhouse cutbacks on his twin fin in between shacks. Yet even the Zen Master himself broke a board after attempting an impossibly late drop on a solid eight footer.

Most of the crew surfed Bankvaults all day long with the 30-foot Kandui catamaran providing a respite from the sun and stocked with burritos, water, and beers. I put in half a day out there, then went back to the resort for a bit of downtime. After chillin' for a bit, myself, surf guide TJ Saeman, and my new buddy Neal Norman from Kauai via Miami were headed back to Bankvaults when we spotted a four-wave set at Nokandui. With nobody out and the wind suddenly dead, we were on it. It was just the three of us out there, and although the tide was a little low, I got the two best waves of my trip—two draining barrels over the ultra shallow reef. Neal got one good one, but hit the reef after not making a section (a common occurrence out there) and shredded his his new Billabong trunks. We're now posted up in the Kandui Cantina, and I'm pretty sure the barrels are getting longer and the drops later… With one day left, we're all ready to go big and then go home!

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Day 6 of the Billabong Surf With A Pro trip to Kandui: Small Rifles And Birthday Barrels

Donavon screamed like a girl after nearly stepping on this little boa constrictor we found on the path to the restaurant. All he wanted was a Bintang Donny... Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Donavon screamed like a girl after nearly stepping on this little boa constrictor we found on the path to the restaurant. All he wanted was a Bintang Donny... Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Billabong Surf With A Pro Kandui camper Stan Abe cranks it off the bottom at 4 Bobs. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Billabong Surf With A Pro Kandui camper Stan Abe cranks it off the bottom at 4 Bobs. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
After ripping Nokandui the other day, Billabong's Jim Kempton had a nice brush with the reef at 4 Bobs. Gotta pay to play Jimmy! Photo: Bielmann/SPL
After ripping Nokandui the other day, Billabong's Jim Kempton had a nice brush with the reef at 4 Bobs. Gotta pay to play Jimmy! Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Evenings at Kandui are spent at the "Kandui Cantina" drinking Bintang beer, eating peanuts, and telling tall tales of the day's shredding. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Evenings at Kandui are spent at the "Kandui Cantina" drinking Bintang beer, eating peanuts, and telling tall tales of the day's shredding. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
"All Day" Ray is one Kandui Resort owners and the nicest guy you could ever meet. Thanks for everything amigo! Photo: Kaliang aka Black Johnson aka Black Pearl
"All Day" Ray is one Kandui Resort owners and the nicest guy you could ever meet. Thanks for everything amigo! Photo: Kaliang aka Black Johnson aka Black Pearl
Billabong Surf With A Pro camper Jesse Blythe at 4 Bobs, the fun and always breaking right directly in front of Kandui Resort. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Billabong Surf With A Pro camper Jesse Blythe at 4 Bobs, the fun and always breaking right directly in front of Kandui Resort. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Me and Adek pose with the tasy grub chef Pat whipped up last night. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Me and Adek pose with the tasy grub chef Pat whipped up last night. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
After getting some barrels at Bankvaults earlier in the day, Camper Aaron celebrates his birthday in style. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
After getting some barrels at Bankvaults earlier in the day, Camper Aaron celebrates his birthday in style. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Rasta at Rifles this morning. One of the fastest, hollowest, and longest waves in the world, I'd give my left nut to get this place at 6-foot! Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Rasta at Rifles this morning. One of the fastest, hollowest, and longest waves in the world, I'd give my left nut to get this place at 6-foot! Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Donavon at Rifles this morning...a couple more feet and we're in business! Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Donavon at Rifles this morning...a couple more feet and we're in business! Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Day 6 and more of the same, or as they say in Indonesia, “Sama Sama.” After surfing Rifles this morning, I did a cool interview with Donavon that will be featured in an upcoming issue of TransWorld SURF. It was neat to hear him talk about teaching his two boys how to surf and his thoughts on music and surfing. The best part was at the end of the interview I asked him if he had to pick one or the other, surfing or music, which one would he choose. Without skipping a beat, he picked surfing. It’s opened so many doors for him and basically given him everything he has today, so it was a pretty easy choice for him. Donny and Rasta are now officially my favorite two pro surfers, both are kind, courteous, smart, and super talented in many aspects.

While it was fun, Rifles has been teasing us with an overhead set every twenty minutes. And with the gray sky, sets would just pop out of nowhere so you had to really pay attention to where you were on the reef to be in the right spot. The wave itself is simply amazing—200 yards of barreling perfection. Get a big south swell with a touch of west in it, the right wind, and you will be surfing the best in the world at that exact time. With only two more days left, our time’s a ticking…

On a sad note, the surfing world lost one of the tribe yesterday at Puerto Escondido. Noel Robinson will be greatly missed by all who had the opportunity to have met him. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his friends and family, you will be missed amigo.

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Day 5 of the Billabong Surf With A Pro trip to Kandui: Working On Vacation?

Frankie and Donavon with their little hermit crab buddy. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Frankie and Donavon with their little hermit crab buddy. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
The Uma 8 crew from left Hilton Dawe (one of my favorite humans), me, and Rasta. The midday heat is radical out here, the only way to beat it is to post up in the shade and chillax. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
The Uma 8 crew from left Hilton Dawe (one of my favorite humans), me, and Rasta. The midday heat is radical out here, the only way to beat it is to post up in the shade and chillax. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Rasta breaks out his eclectic quiver from the Kandio board shed for a TransWorld SURF "Quiver" article. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Rasta breaks out his eclectic quiver from the Kandui board shed for a TransWorld SURF "Quiver" article. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Donavon in front of his "uma" as they're called here on Kandui. Constructed by local timber and labor, the umas are a treat to stay in—especially with the AC cranked up while stalking chicks on Facebook. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Donavon in front of his "uma" as they're called here on Kandui. Constructed by local timber and labor, the umas are a treat to stay in—especially with the AC cranked up while stalking chicks on Facebook. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Just so ya know, I've been working my ass off...yeah right. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
I love doing "Quiver" articles with dudes who have interesting boards and the know the dynamics behind them. Stay tuned for the video from this shoot—assuming I pressed "record" and had the mic plugged in it should turn out pretty cool. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
'lil Frankie with one of the resort's custom carved alaia's. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
'lil Frankie with one of the resort's locally carved alaia's. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Watching Rasta surf Rifles is pure poetry in motion. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Watching Rasta surf Rifles is pure poetry in motion. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Day 5 began with an ultra violent thunder and lightning storm, but quickly transformed into (literally) another day in paradise. There wasn’t too much surf on offer today so we did a photo shoot with Rasta, a video tour of Kandui Resort with Donavon, a marathon SUP session, a few midday beers, some ping pong (for the record I finally beat Margi the bartender), and a dive off the reef at Rifles (me and Bryce got skunked), and a sunset surf at small Rifles. Geez, looking back, we packed a lot into one day! I’m going to pray to the Bintang Gods for surf now…off to the Kandui Cantina.

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Catch of the day at Kandui! Photo: Hilton Dawe
Catch of the day at Kandui! Photo: Hilton Dawe

Day 4 of the Billabong Surf With A Pro trip to Kandui: Lay Day In Paradise

After a really fun surf last night at Rifles, the swell has dropped off here today at Kandui. If this was a contest, we'd call it a "lay day." Everyone's lounging around watching movies, taking naps, reading books, and generally settling into a wonderfully slow pace of life. There was zero wind today and seeing as how we're only one degree off the equator, it's hotter than hell—the perfect tonic for someone coming from "May Gray" syndrome in SoCal.

A few of the crew went out in search of surf, but came back dry—the only spot worth a surf was Burgerworld and after seeing few charter boats headed that way, they came "home" to surf old faithful, aka, Four Bobs, on alaias, SUPs, and longboards. Donavon rallied the troops with a, "Let's go, Alaia only session!" battle cry, and off they were for some sliding. Not too many Rasta sightings today, I think the lad was a bit hungover after closing down the Kandui bar with yours truly. He may surf 1,000 times better than myself, but he’s no match for me at the bar.

I went for a dive off the reef at Rifles and shot a nice little "Sweet Lips" fish in about 25-feet of ultra clear water. There were all kinds of fish out there, thanks to Kandui surf guide TJ Saeman for showing me the spot! There's been some good, long period swell spotted on the charts, and if our luck holds up, we'll be putting in marathon tube fest sessions the last couple days of our trip. Is it too early for a Bintang? Of course not!

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Day 3 of the Billabong Surf With A Pro trip to Kandui Resort in the Mentawais

Billabong's Jim Kempton carves off the bottom at Nokandui. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Billabong's Jim Kempton carves off the bottom at Nokandui. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
This trip has really reminded me how amazing of a surfer Dave Rastovich is. It's just incredible the things he can do on any type of craft, especially the impossible-to-ride alaia. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
This trip has really reminded me how amazing of a surfer Dave Rastovich is. It's just incredible the things he can do on any type of craft, especially the impossible-to-ride alaia. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Francesca
Francesca "Frankie" Harrer at Nokandui. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Five Questions With Frankie

12-year old Malibu, California ripper Francesca "Frankie" Harrer is the youngest of the group out here at the Billabong Surf With A Pro trip to Kandui Resort and has quickly become my favorite camper (even after waking me up at an un-Godly hour this morning; typical frothing grom). An up coming goofyfoot, Frankie has a few surf trips under her belt already, but this one takes the cake…

How did you end up here on the Surf With A Pro trip?

I know Donavon from going on trips to Kauai with my family, and like a week before the trip we saw him at the beach and he told us we had to come, so here we are.

Donny and Frankie. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Donny and Frankie...BFFs! Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Who are some of your favorite surfers?

Parko and Stephanie Gilmore because they have good style.

What's it like to go on a surf trip with your mom?

It's fun, but moms get annoying sometimes [for the record we don't find Mrs. Harrer annoying].

The only two girls on the trip, Frankie and Simone Harrer, taking a quick break from Nokandui. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
The only two girls on the trip, Frankie and Simone Harrer, taking a quick break from Nokandui. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Where's your favorite spot so far out here in the Mentawais?

Probably Beng Beng; Nokandui was kinda small when we surfed it today.

What do you think about Kandui Resort?

I love it! The waves are really good, the water is warm, the people are nice, and the food is great.

Francesca
Francesca "Frankie" Harrer at Nokandui in the Mentawais. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Frankie at 4 Bobs, the fun little right directly in front of Kandui Resort. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Frankie at 4 Bobs, the fun little right directly in front of Kandui Resort. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
12-year old shredder Frankie Harrer loving life on the Billabong Surf With A Pro trip. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
12-year old shredder Frankie Harrer loving life on the Billabong Surf With A Pro trip. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

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Day 2 of the Billabong Surf With A Pro trip to Kandui Resort in the Mentawais

Pananggalat Island just off Kandui Island...this place is chalk full of poisonous yet non-aggressive sea snakes. It's fun to drink a bunch of beer and pick 'em up for photo opportunities. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Pananggalat Island just off Kandui Island...this place is chalk full of poisonous yet non-aggressive sea snakes. It's fun to drink a bunch of beer and pick 'em up for photo opportunities. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Billabong's "Surf With A Pro" camp counselor Donavon Frankenreiter. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Billabong's "Surf With A Pro" camp counselor Donavon Frankenreiter. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Couple of crazy bangchung's at 4 Bob's today. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Couple of crazy bangchung's at 4 Bob's today. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Dave "Rasta" Rastovich shows off his rig—one of the most sought after in the world. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Dave "Rasta" Rastovich shows off his rig—one of the most sought after in the world. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Kandui surf guide Bryce Saeman ejects at Rifles. Photo: Bilemann/SPL
Kandui surf guide Bryce Saeman ejects at Rifles. Photo: Bilemann/SPL

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Day 1 of the Billabong Surf With A Pro trip to Kandui Resort in the Mentawais

I'm sorry we had to kill a few of you, but damn you were tasty. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
I'm sorry we had to kill a few of you, but damn you were tasty. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

We finally made it! You really gotta earn it when it comes to making the trek to Kandui Resort off the coast of Sumtara, Indonesia. We left Los Angeles Thursday afternoon, landed in Japan Friday evening after crossing the international date line, headed south down to Singapore (another seven hour flight), went to the chaotic Jakarta airport to catch a flight to Padang, Sumatra (the same city that got leveled by an earthquake last September), then got on speedboats to make the 66-mile crossing to the Kandui Resort in the Mentawais. Bad weather derailed the speedboat plan and we spent the night on some random little island resort an hour from Padang. Finally, the next morning the seas had clamed and we blasted off to Kandui. Like I said, it's a mission—but worth every minute of it once you're here.

On day one there was no rest—we were straight into it. The crew of surfers are from Billabong's 'Surf With A Pro" program and are a really cool bunch of people from all walks of life; we've got a few stock traders, a lawyer, a ripping mother daughter combo, and a bunch of other cool dudes who are all super stoked to be on a surf trip with Billabong riders Donovan Frankenreiter and Dave Rastovich.

Some of the crew surfed Burgerworld (a fun yet aptly named right 30-minutes from here by boat) yesterday, but I was over another boat ride and went spearfishing with one of the camp guides, TJ Saeman. TJ slayed it, nailing two 25-lb "Sweet Lips" grouper kind of fish and a nice snapper. I shot a kala that we used to chum but that was the extent of my luck. After that a few of us tried our luck at 4 Bobs on a few alaias Rasta shaped here last year; it was a total shit show. Before you knock anyone for riding one of those have a go yourself first, it's nearly impossible!

The evening was spent playing name that tune with Donovan (of course Bielmann won) and drinking cold Bintangs while getting to know the others on the trip.

With some solid swell on the charts, the group is psyching, and with Donovan and Rasta leading the charge, our fingers are crossed for an epic trip!