1 Underneath the Surface
I am surrounded by a deep silence. The only thing I can hear is the humming sound from the water pressure, the bubbles from my regulator, and now and then, the threatening sound of a boat passing by on the surface. I am at a depth of 26 meters, surrounded by corals and fish in all colours and shapes, turtles, and rays. I am finally diving again. One of the things I love most in life. Somehow, I find diving to be the perfect meditation. Knowing that no one can talk to you, and you can’t talk to them, while at the same time entering a new world filled with strange and wonderful things, this is what meditating without having to put any effort in to it, feels like to me.
2 When the Gods Descend
The sweet smell of incense finds its way to my noose, while I am about to slip in a tray filled with flowers and a single cookie, supposedly put there to keep the bad spirits from entering. I feel my clothes sticking to my body. It is warm and humid. Almost too warm to be walking here on the side walk in the middle of the day, surrounded by fierce dragons and meditating Buddhas, all beautifully carved in stone. But I have to get to the immigration office before the celebration of Galungan begins, and the Gods will descend, meaning that everything will be closed for days. They have already started setting up huge bamboo decorations in the streets. I better hurry…
3 Put to the Limit
Rice terraces and palm trees all around me. In the distance, the deep sounds from the kempul gongs telling me that the days of Galungan are upon us, and that there is another Hindu parade going on in the streets. I am laying on a wooden floor, waiting for the Vinyasa yoga class to start. Beside me, a book about traveling inspiring me to write about traveling, all the while, I am traveling. You could say that my life has begun to evolve around traveling. Our yoga teacher enters. He is small, but fit. For the next hour, he is pushing limits, I didn’t even know I had. Hopefully, my 5 dollars’ massage from yesterday has loosened me up a bit.
4 A Flying Invasion
The sound of a moth circling the ceiling lamp, or at least that is what I think it is. 10 seconds later, the room is filled with these flying things. It is an invasion. I find my nearest weapon: A tray, perfect for bashing flying things, and while I am jumping around to minimize my invasion, a huge spider appears on the wall. There is no time to come up with a plan B before a hungry gecko appears. After digesting the spider, the gecko moves on to my flying visitors. I feel like we are a team, me and the gecko. I guess that is what it means to be living in the tropics….
5 The Pursue of a Cure
Hundreds of temples, women dressed in sarongs and laces doing the usual morning ritual involving a lot of incense and trays, men in white skirts and turbans puffing on cigarettes, small narrow roads, and scooters all around me. I am finding myself on one of them. Last week I was taught how to drive this two-wheeled vehicle that supposedly, you can’t live without in this part of the world, and after a week, I almost know when to use the horn (which is more or less all the time), and I almost feel comfortable driving in the wrong side of the road (or at least, that is how left side driving feels to a Dane).
It is a whole hour to get to the clinic that is said to be the only place on the island with a rabies vaccine. I am still cursing the dog who attacked me a couple of days ago. I think my insurance company is doing the same, especially considering that I am supposed to get 5 vaccines during the next 4 weeks. What better way, to be urged to learn how to drive a scooter…
And what I learn about driving a scooter, is that it is a lot like how you should go about life; it is about following the flow, not resisting too much, and trying to keep your balance, knowing when to put down your foot. Then keeping it down until balance is restored.
6 The Master Healer
I am laying on a floor dressed in a blue and orange striped sarong, I was asked to wear during the ritual. The Master Healer is moving his hands around my legs, poking me with a stick. All the sudden, I am on the verge of screaming loudly. My brain is working overtime to understand, how this can even hurt? All he is really doing is poking my toe with a stick, but the pain is unbearable.
He looks at me with his brown eyes filled with an old man’s wisdom; “Scars… heart NOT broken, but mind broken”, he tells me in his pidgin English”. After, it is like a tsunami of words and wisdom hits me. He gets up from the floor. With his face pointing towards me and his eyes fixed on mine, he starts drawing wildly in the air, while whispering words I don’t understand. When done with these yantras, he once again places himself by my side grabbing my wrists moving my hands and arms. From my stomach to my chest, to my back to my head. “Done”, he says, looking deep in to my eyes. He pokes my toe with the stick again, and to my big surprise, I don’t feel a thing….
7 Force Majeure
My dream is interrupted by aggressive, sudden movements. My surroundings are vibrating and shaking. The floor, the walls, the ceiling. It only lasts for a couple of seconds, but I am wide awake now. And then it hits me: Earthquake!
The earthquake is soon over. It is the message it brings that lingers on. Deep underneath the surface of the earth, Mount Agung is gathering strength. It seems to be nothing more than a matter of time, before he will release his gases and cover his surroundings in thick layers of ashes and lava.
A couple of weeks later on an early Saturday morning, the island is awakened by the eruption of Mr Agung. The ashes scattered on the ground are forcing people to leave their home. The ashes scattered in the air are forcing people to extend their stay, since no flights are allowed to land or take off. And while all this is happening, it seems as if, the rest of the world is busy blowing the whole thing out of proportions.
The reality is that it is only a radius of about 10km that is seriously affected by the volcano, and the airport only shuts down for two days. But then again, we are all still waiting for the real eruption, and when it comes to force majeure, it can be hard to predict anything at all.
So here we are, some holding their breath, others thinking it is a media stunt and nothing serious will happen, others thinking the country’s government is hiding the real facts. Who knows? One thing is for sure, the island is quiet and deserted now that most tourists have chosen to redirect their route, staying away from the island.
So where am I? Well, I somehow ended up giving my farewell to Latin America and started a new chapter in the journey. This time, my journey brought me to Bali, Indonesia, from where I hurried on to Nusa Lembongan. A place I have been having as a note for years, and all the sudden, I am here. I am here to dive with manta rays and the crazy looking mola mola fish (also called sun fish). Sadly, I don’t get to see neither, but that doesn’t ruin the diving experience.
After 3 days and 3 dives, I am heading back to Bali to get my visa extension and embark on a new adventure that will lead me to Ubud, where I will be helping out with spiritual tourism for a couple of months in the spiritual center of Bali. It is a magical place Ubud. Filled with rice terraces, palm trees, green hills and rivers. Days off are spent adventuring the area of Ubud, doing yoga, plunging in a dreamy pool, or taking my new best friend, the scooter, for an adventure around the island. Days working are spent in front of the computer in the garden of my new friend and colleague, helping her managing her small business.