Monday, December 28, 2015

When things don't look like you think they should

My week in Ungasan. . . Jockeying for sanity in Bali. My wish is to extol exotic delights and share the magic of discovery and experience to you. The reality has proven otherwise so I am forced to share my discomfort. I've been slow to acclimate to the new chaos. As my new friend Troy says everything here is "semwa balik." All is flipped. I'm south of the equator 8°. Sure, we drive on the other side of the road and toilets flush counterclockwise but it's more than that. The system of organization and law is that there is no system. At least the way we understand it in the west. Chaos is the ruling order and while we organize in linear fashion in the States, here it could be described as spherical. The deal is I got dropped into a really sweet and free place to stay but this really sweet place centered on the hill in the middle of the peninsula. Where all the roads come together... The traffic is mad. Like an angry nest of hornets and a razors edge. Not only that but it turns out the beautiful villa that I'm staying in is built under a lively tree that happens to host bad spirits. Jacob has been told by the local spiritual leader that the tree should be cut down. At the time I didn't think it was the tree but in reflecting back on my time there I do believe the influence is real.

After my first week of frontline training I decided I was finally at a place where I could take off on the motorbike by myself and head to the beach. I have a rack on the side of my bike and strapped on the board. Ready to ride. Easy enough head down to the beach and paddle out. No problem. 
Spun out and annoyed by my feeble sense of direction- I've resorted to google maps to get me places. Just pop the headphones in and I have a hands free homing device. It's amazing that every time I venture out its a completely different world that reveals itself.  If you can't see the forest for the trees there seems to be a thick variety of trees here! 
I made it to the beach- I've spent some time surfing in many different places and while the surf was blown out I thought I could at least paddle out and tune up my stroke, maybe catch a wave or two. Instead I got caught in between. Purgatory would be a euphemism. A current between two breaking wave areas that I was hoping could carry me outside where I could traverse over to catch my ride. I quickly became nothing more than a sliced carrot in a boiling stew. Paddling...Paddling...Paddling. Going nowhere. Was it my imagination or was the coast receding? I swear there were one or two other surfers out here? Where are they?  Paddling. Paddle. Paddle! The sun on the horizon. Hmmm. Nothing like the sunset surf in California that I always loved. This is feeling like a really bad idea.This tiny dancer is not happy to get swept out into the Indian Ocean at nightfall alone. Oh god. My desperation to surf is not working out so well. The panic starts to set in. Calling out for Ma, the divine mother, I quickly recognize my fear is draining my resources. Intuitively I direct my fear towards calming my mind and breath. Relaxing, I allow my view to expand. I began to harness my energy beyond the paddle stroke and actually will my energetic body towards the edge of this impasse. It felt like an absolute miracle of love when a wave gushed up and came towards me. Pointing my board and digging two deep strokes the wave rose up under me like a magic carpet. I hopped up and got a short ride before it dissolved back into the mystery from which it arose. A few more came with just enough force to begin pushing me back toward shore and away from the Bali demon jaws of which I was just held. The relief feels like waking up from a nightmare or finally cutting loose the bag of bowling balls anchored off my leash. Relief with a capital R. Clearly the surf in southern Bali during the rainy season is not for the light weight Colorado surfer that I've become. I kissed the ground when I made it back to the beach. Maybe it's time to see what else Bali has to offer. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Breaking the ice.

A week and a half. Seems like forever since I flung through time and space to the other side of the world. I have earned some saddle sores in foreign countries but always with some grasp of the language. Meaning most of my travel has been in Spanish, French or English speaking countries where I had mastered some key phrases. Now, I find myself in Indonesia years since my last adventure a bit unarmed and slightly askew. Pre-departure I was intent upon all the things it takes to make a winter away happen. Not much left in planning for the moment I stepped off the plane. This may be an idiosyncrasy of mine. I like to fly by the seat of my pants. It's my adventurous spirit. Daringly naive.
It took four days for me to feel like I had actually landed. Day five now. I can exhale. 
The last four days... Let's see. The beauty was not immediately evident. I was just trying to keep up with my local guides. Two classic surfer guys kind enough to take me under their wing. I'm fortunate to have a good friend with a house here who generously offered me a place to stay. Crazy small world that it is, the caretaker of my friend's house is Jacob Eanes, old time Ophir local that I grew up with. So lucky me with a place to stay and an old friend to pick me up and show me around.
Even then. 
It's really the motor bikes. I guess they are mopeds. Haha. You laugh. Now, intersperse hoardes of speeding bikes and full sized vehicles on two small lanes with endless rows of shops tightly hugging the highway. Helmet please. Body armour I wish. Angels and prayers, yes.
The best part is the round about and major intersection where four big roads converge just down the street. It's more like a triangle than a round about because there is only one lane for both right and left. This means that as you pull in to make a right turn coming from the left lane (let me mention that we are also driving on the left side of the street) you cross traffic and then turn right into the same lane as oncoming cars. Yep. And everyone kind of takes turns but no one really stops and the entire intersection is only as big as the center of the round about in Telluride. So that's been exciting. 
Of course the second day on the bike I started to lean and my hand got stuck on the throttle as I was trying to hold onto the bike. It spilled and wasn't stopping. My primitive skills led to a minor peeling back of some precious skin on my shin. Neosporin and tea tree oil. I'll be fine. Truly, I drive Iike a grandma on this thing and try to stick to the country roads. It's just taking a bit to find them. I thought too that I could get away without travel insurance. I've done it before. After four days in the Bukit Peninsula I got myself online last night and signed up with world nomads travel insurance. Smartest thing I did all day
Now the money. $100,000 rupiah is $7. So all the currency has a large number of zeros trailing behind it. And small change comes in bills. There has been no end to my confusion in the moment of payment interactions. Add the stickiness of the heat, humidity and dust and I've had moments of mental acuity comparable to wet concrete. Fortunately, the Balinese people are incredibly warm and beautiful. Smiles as radiant as the sun itself. Eyes like a warm bath. I figure as long as I can keep a healthy sense of humor I'm winning as they say.
As things smooth out, I have to say my favorite discovery thus yet has been the nasi campur. This is their classic mixed dish plate consisting of rice and/or noodles and your choice of a variety of amazing vegetables, tofu, tempeh, egg or meat options. Much of it is fried but can be avoided. Then a side of chili sauce or peanut sauce. A full plate costs all of a dollar. And it is good. Really good. Fresh and tasty. My kind of eating really. 
While the entry hasn't been the easiest I can already sense the magic and I am excited to be here in this mystical land. I hope to continue to share my experience of the un-jaded traveler with you! Enjoy the snow, I'll be thinking of you as I am surfing the turquoise wave. Love, Kristin