Travel Thoughts

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese

I was afraid of many things prior to setting out for this grand adventure. Looking back, I can say with absolute certainty that my fears have been laid to rest. I am enjoying each day, learning to be flexible, living in the moment, and forced to go with the flow of life (hearing the ocean waves each day is a magical way to stay in the flow of life).

The things I feared leaving were the things that I wanted to run from as fast as I could. I was exhausted with the routine of day to day life. I was searching for an escape from the routine of coffee each morning, lunch each day, afternoon runs, and then diving into bed to wake up and do the same thing the next day. I kept searching for ways to shake things up in my life “on the grid”. Alas, each day, I found myself searching for something more.

I will start with some of the more mundane things that I was afraid of leaving. I am an absolute creature of habit. I love to be in total control of things. I need to know what is going to happen each day. Routine has kept me safe and protected me from venturing out and exploring new things. This worked for many years of my life. Sadly, I must report that routine and habit for me had become a dreaded way to make it through the twenty four hours we are given each day.

The beauty of traveling is that it forces you away from all things that are comfortable and familiar.

I mentioned in my earlier postings of my packing adventure for my two month travel to Indonesia. This process was two-fold for me because I have no desire to return to my former life in Dallas. I am a native Texan. I have lived in this beautiful state for 37+ years. Alas, I am ready for a new city, new country, new life. So, I was actually packing for the next chapter of my life and packing for my travel to Indonesia in parallel. I was able to pare down my clothes quickly. While my clothes occupied two full closets, there is truly only a small subset of clothes that I wear each day. I had no problem with the clothes (admittedly, I brought to many!). I have been working for the last year to pare back my daily required accoutrements (i.e. jewelry, hand bags, make up etc.). I had this vision of things being simplified in this area of my life. Now, this is where I have to admit that my struggles came into the play during the morning of packing – my blow dryer and my hair straightener. I could not imagine parting with these two items. A comfort of my former life. I am happy to report that I have not missed those two items. I am using a public bath house at Ida’s (my current home). There is no power outlet. And, I think my blow dryer could perhaps bring down the entire place with the voltage requirements. The time I used to spend sitting in front of a mirror drying and straightening has now been reallocated to reading, walking on the beach or venturing out to try something new. I am happy to report that I am surviving!

The place where I am staying at present has no hot water for showering. I have actually enjoyed the cold shower each day. A little jolt back to life in the shower each morning (perhaps it will help me reduce my intake of caffeine).

I had this beautiful little path in Coppell where I used to run each day. It was along the lakes. It was scenic and beautiful. I arrived in Indonesia with this idea that I might not be able to run. The things that I feared were getting lost and safety. Again, you learn how to step out of your comfort zone and navigate the terrains. I have always wanted to try trail running. I am happy to report that running along the roads of Bali can be a parallel to trail running and a game of frogger. You don’t take your eyes off the sidewalk for the potholes are large. The terrain is uneven and at times you jump off the walk into the street where you dodge motorbikes that come at the speed of lightening. Or, you can take off down an entirely new path and run through the rice fields or a tiny village. The locals come out and look at me in a strange way as I dash by. Then, they return to their work and I continue on.

All that being said, I am happy to report that many of my comforts have been stripped away. Alas, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have met friends along the way in Bali. I spent the last six days with a darling couple from France. I met BB and Kelly in Amed almost a week ago. They invited me to watch the sunset during my first evening, took me on a snorkeling adventure, showed me to the water gardens, and helped me escape a bad home stay. They assisted me in navigating my way to Chandidasa and finding the most delightful little place on the water. We have had a wonderful time. BB has traveled to Indonesia for 20+ years. She speaks the language, knows the best/most inexpensive home stays, knows the best local dishes to eat, and more importantly she has a beautiful heart. Kelly and BB are planning to open a restaurant in Bali. We met one week ago, and today, I consider them my traveling family. They have traveled all over Asia (we are already planning for Thailand in 2013). They know this traveling business and have been incredibly kind in helping me navigate my way around. Kelly mentioned a few nights ago that I seemed much calmer than the first days of our encounter. The first few weeks here I found myself walking around wide eyed, excited to be here, and a bit afraid of my surroundings. I am learning to get comfortable in the uncomfortableness of traveling. They left today for another part of Bali. I will miss them dearly. We will meet up again in a few weeks in Ubud for a hitchike across Bali event.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with Katut and her family in a small village outside of Chandidasa. Katut works in the kitchen at Ida’s. She is a beautiful woman who has lived in this small village her entire life. She drove me by moped to her village. We weaved in/out of cars and other mopeds (again, imagine a game of frogger and you have the perfect idea of riding a moped in Bali). I met her husband, her daughter, her son and her mother-in-law. We shared a wonderful cup of Bali coffee and some local breads. The dialogue between us was sparse. I am forever grateful that smiles are universal. We smiled and laughed a great deal.

Honestly, I have not felt the least bit deprived by leaving the comforts of my old life. I have found ample things to do to occupy my time without the comforts of routine. I have read three books in my short time in Bali. An afternoon spent by the beach with a good book has come to be one of my most favorite past times. I have found that waking up in the morning and not launching out of bed like a rocket feels appropriate and good in Bali. The tightness in my shoulders and jaw has released since my arrival. A massage on the beach for $5.00 is definitely a part of this great relaxation experience.

I am dreaming more, worrying less, eating good local food, enjoying conversation with many new people with new ideas, and simply enjoying this period of my life. I have vowed not to think or worry about the next chapter until I absolutely have to.

My only worry at the time of this writing – Ida’s (my current home stay in Chandidasa) employees a rather large pregnant cow to do the landscaping. They bring her out each day and tie her to a tree and she eats the grass in that location until she is moved to another section. She has charged at me three times this morning. I think I can outrun her. Alas, I am damn thankful she is tied to a tree.

Thank you for following this soulful wandering adventure! Stay Tuned! I’ll make it exciting!

In Gratitude, Brandi J.

2 thoughts on “Travel Thoughts

  1. Can we say ‘I told you so’ about the hair dryer & straightener? I’m so glad you are spending your newly found time reading instead.

  2. While you are learning not to miss many “luxuries” in Bali, when you return here, you might be overwhelmed by the opulence of the mundane. By that I mean a trip to Target for soy milk and oranges will seem like winning the lottery. You’ll have renewed appreciation for little conveniences and material things… something that you lost while grinding away these last two years.
    (I can’t imagine that when I return to work after my convalescence, I’ll have new appreciate for my workaday routine. But I guess anything is possible.)
    Then again, it might be that life state-side will seem ludicrously excessive. Like burning money. (Not a reference to the famous local furniture franchise.) The point is, travel brings huge doses of perspective. It’s a shame more people don’t travel more broadly than spring break in Cancun. International travel dampens one’s irrational fears of different cultures. I hate the fear-driven climate of the current Presidential campaign. You can be glad you’re missing that.

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