March 24

Dan Malloy, Joe Curren, and two local Balinese

Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia

The four-day-old war in Iraq was not just major news in the Western world, it captured headlines around the planet. Well before the siege began, U.S. travel advisories warned of widespread danger in Indonesia, which is predominately Muslim. So what were American surfers Dan Malloy and Joe Curren doing in the high-risk zone? “To prove that, once again, the American media is full of lies,” Dan declares. The two were surfing and hanging out with Rizal Tanjung and the local crew and feeling right at home.

“I wasn't concerned at all about my safety,” Joe recalls. “We felt pretty far removed from the whole thing. The local people just focus on work and trying to put food in their stomachs. They know what's going on, but the only reactions we'd get when people found out we were Americans were, 'Ohhhhh,' and then they'd make gun gestures with their hands and point them at us like they were saying, 'Hey, you guys are really into fighting, right?'”

Photographer Dustin Humphrey resides full time in Bali and is well versed in its realities. “This photo represents how misled people can be about things,” he says. “Here is pure peace between Indonesians and Americans at a time when there was a lot of fear being spread by the American media toward Indonesia. Basically it shows four people in the same boat just trying to figure out what was going on in the world.”

It's not so easy to criticize a country that affords so much freedom to its citizens, but neither Dan nor Joe could fully enjoy the morning sun on their faces with such somber daily headlines. “I feel that Bush is someone I can't really relate to at all,” Joe says. “When you're reading papers in a country like Indo you get the other side of the story, like maybe everything Bush says isn't exactly true, maybe he's just using certain truths to benefit himself and the rich. I'm sure it's all about oil … but then on the other hand, Saddam really was an ass.”

Dan considered his own identity and role a bit more closely. “Quite honestly, I was feeling guilty for being an upper-class Caucasian who doesn't work and still has lots of food and shade. Another American consuming 80 percent of the Earth's natural resources,” he admits. “That day I read about a whole new batch of dead people, and I had this sinking feeling because it didn't feel like progress.”-Scooter Leonard