The sweet smell of incense and jasmine fill the air, seeping into everything they touch. Surfers line the pockets of the crashing waves, one after another. The water is chilly but the suns heat keeps us warm. Little mangy stray dogs mix in with local collared dogs, sharing barks and barrel rolls in the wet sand. People of all around place their towels and sarongs down to sit and sun bathe. I’m off collecting sea shells as the tides creep closer and closer to dry sand. The shell game is a bit weak, everything already tumbled into tiny bits blending in with the sand. I find little black rocks and pieces of colorful shells, small enough that they might just snap if I take the Dremel to them. I wanted a piece of Bali, so I take them anyway.
I look up to see my shiny mandala notebook held up overhead in my friend’s hand. Her expression wide mouthed staring down at her feet. I start shuffling over toward our marked spot on the shore to see it completely submerged by ocean, my beige sarong blending in with the sandy bottom. I pick it up and the wet sand comes too. At least my notebook is saved. As sandy and damp as the outside got, I’m thankful the writing didn’t melt into a colorful blob. There’s lots in there. Tales of the week. The thoughts and feels that surfaced during retreat. So much inner work written down on paper, ready to be revisited when I hit US soil. I washed the sand off of my sarong with a little help from the ocean’s waves. We stuck our wet sarongs and towels and clothes on a big piece of drift wood to dry, making sure it was far enough away from the oceans game of tag.
Bags in hand, we headed down the beach row of shops and restaurants, definitely appropriate for bathing suit attire. We stopped at the first shop to find out that there was no electricity on this strip…so my dreams of french fries were sizzled.
Cash was hard to keep in Bali. The markets were overflowing with handmade goods so cheap compared to American prices. It was hard to resist. Lucky for us, card was accepted at the tale end of the strip, landing us at a veggie restaurant called Sand Dune followed by the words “feed your soul”. Alas, french fries. One day I’ll start FryGirl, a blog dedicated to rating French Fry tastings around the world.
I ask in English first, and then to drive my point home, I hold up my phones notepad with an Indonesian translation of “Does this have nuts in it? I’m allergic. If I eat them, I’ll die.” As I point to a vegan sandwich and fries, she says “no nuts”.
My stomach still coils at the thought of a second reaction on this trip. Sometimes they cook in peanut oil, which won’t actually kill me but nevertheless upsets my stomach. Against my wishes, I’ve found that you have to be overly dramatic if you’re going to get people to take you seriously about a food allergy. Cashews may actually be the death of me so I have to be “that person” asking 20 times if they’re absolutely sure it’s nut free.
Safe. Fries and all. Thank the lords of Bali, Indonesia. I’m still learning to trust my intuition when it comes to my allergy. It starts with an itch on the roof of my mouth that drops down to my tongue. I convince myself that it’s in my head and not actually happening. The stomach pain that follows is almost that of an anxiety attack but one that won’t stop with deep breathing and zen mind tricks. Hell, it won’t stop for anything until it’s processed the poison.
I rekindled my love for watermelon juice in Bali. So fresh and pink, it sits well in my tummy. After lunch and an ice cold beer, we walked back to our spot by the driftwood. My sarong was a bit crunchy from the sun dried sand that still clung to the fabric. We asked Made for an extra hour on the beach because of our misfortune, and for an extra 100k rph, it was worth it. Every male in Bali is named Made (“mah-day”) by the way, even though they claim that Wayan is the number one name.
I sat and I journaled, soaking in the last rays of warm the sun. So many people to watch and thoughts to follow. It’s fun to think of stories as you sit back and observe, but sometimes I find that the most powerful writing is created through experience.
We hopped in Made’s van at 3:30pm. An hour ride through the villages and we’re back in Ubud. I’m always thankful for the ocean. What a day at Canggu beach. 🙂
I decided to read a story on my way to Bali, fully giving myself permission to dive into something “less than studious”. When I read, it’s always purposeful, usually yoga related, sometimes spiritual. Against my ego’s reminders of what I should do, I decided that I didn’t want to think or be “productive” during this travel. I wanted to be led by someone else’s imagination. Little did I know, it would reconnect me to a part of mine that has sat dormant since adulthood. My work is creative but it’s structured and purposeful. I rarely let myself walk off that focused path in fear that I’ll lose my way. I’m so glad I did, because now my eyes are wide again and my inner child lit with excitement of new chapters. Thank you TW Neal. Welcome back imagination.🌈💜