I have been in Bali for 30 Days! It is incredibly hard to believe that I have been wandering around this beautiful place for 30 DAYS! It feels a bit like a recovery program from life.
It has taken every single day for me to take a deep breath, LET GO and relax.
Thoughts of boarding the plane in Dallas (peering back at my amazing friends who drove me to the airport and gave me a proper send off) seem like they occurred months ago. My thoughts dancing between – what the hell are you thinking, did I really leave my hair dryer at home and a final thought of run like hell for the plane and do not even think of looking back.
In the days before my departure, I was talking with one of my dearest friends (Lynnie). We were heading somewhere in the car and I looked at her and with absolute calmness and certainty, I said, this is what I am suppose to be doing (selling every damn thing I own to finance a trip to Bali for two months). I have never felt more confident with a decision in my life. Lynn was in full agreement. I was doing the right thing. A few hours later, I walked into the house with a deer in the headlight stare and said – What the hell am I doing? To which she kindly replied, there it is (she anticipated this moment of panic – yet, she assured me that it would be o.k.). This is also a moment where I must give thanks to this wonderful friend of mine, Lynn. Lynn has been one of my closest friends for the last ten years. She has and continues to be one of my biggest fans. She always believes in me (which I find comforting).
I arrived in Bali without the faintest idea of how to convert the U.S. dollar to an Indonesian Rupiah (you learn this very quickly). The thing you have to be cautious of is the fact that the Bali Rupiah is like monopoly money. It spends easily and quickly. I have learned how to find/negotiate for a delightful home stay within many areas of Bali (the term – its all relative comes to mind in Indonesia – In Indonesia you can get a nice/clean/pool/breakfast included home stay for roughly 12.50 U.S. dollars per night – yet, I find myself negotiating even this amount and looking for a better deal – REALLY, Brandi!).
I have learned to enjoy a cold shower (haven’t had a hot shower in weeks). I have tried every Indonesian dish (thankfully I gave up my commitment to being a vegetarian a year before launching for this trip) that I have encountered. My favorite place to visit is the Warung. At the Warung, you get a plate filled with rice and then it is buffet style with selections of: vegetables, fish, chicken, and pork. This is all smothered in some delicious curry sauce and served with the most delicious hot red chili. The cost: approximately $2.30 (U.S.).
I have experienced some of the most heartfelt conversations with complete and total strangers. I took a taxi from Chandidasa last week. The driver was a young man who had a terrible accident one year before. He was cooking his fresh fish of the day when the grill exploded and severely burned his entire body. He shared with me the entire experience of losing his physical appearance and losing the use of movement in his arms. I wanted to have the perfect answer for his longing to overcome the mental torture that this incident has and continues to cause him. I wanted to cry with him, for him, and to take it all away from him. I knew I didn’t have the answer (having never experienced anything like this in my life). I simply encouraged him to not give up. Yesterday, I took a taxi from Kuta to UlaWatu with a middle-aged Balinesian man who immediately launched into a conversation on religion. We talked about his native religion (Hindu) and the importance of Karma. He wanted to know everything about my religious beliefs (which I could only say – I think all religion is intended to lead us to a better place). At one point, he said: “Brandi, I think of religion the way I think of food. We all need it and it is good for the spirit. And, If you don’t like the food that I like, I am o.k. with that because I know you will find the exact food that will nourish your body. Can we just enjoy food together.”) — I loved it and I equally loved him for being a seeker of truth and finding the common ground between each of us.
I have learned the “sweetness of doing nothing” (a reference I have read MANY times in my FAVORITE book: Eat, Pray, Love) during my time in Bali. I can tell you that never in my life have I known how to enjoy the sweetness of doing nothing (as one of my dearest friends recently mentioned to me: “How I would love to experience Brandi on Bali time as opposed to Brandi on “you wear me out watching you time”. – I think anyone who knows me would agree with this sentiment – always one step ahead of life). My one recommendation for learning how to enjoy the sweetness of doing nothing – Travel to Bali and meet a group of French who are also on vacation from life. At times, we take a break from being on a break in the afternoon. For the most part, my new French friends simply know how to enjoy an afternoon at the beach, chase after a beautiful sunset, enjoy a few bintangs, enjoy a beautiful meal together. They are eager and hungry for life and experience – yet, they know how to embrace and experience it as they go. This is such a foreign concept to me – I am often planning for my next adventure while I am presently participating in my current adventure (always this churning cycle of thoughts – what next?) A novel idea – How about you wait for life to unfold instead of trying to be one step ahead of it.
I have fallen in love with the French language. At times, it is like my friends are singing a nice little tune (upon translation – it is something as simple as – let’s go for more coffee!). I am learning a bit of French and Indonesian (they are great teachers to me and have so much patience). I have throughly enjoying learning conversational French and Indonesian (you know – how to say Thank You in both languages and a few other random words). I have taught them one english word – Jack Ass.
My experiences here have been LIFE CHANGING (in ways, that I can tell you even I don’t fully respect or appreciate the depths!). The very notion of knowing how to relax by the ocean for a day (which has also solidified with certainty that I will live by the ocean not only while in Bali but wherever the journey takes me). The idea of laying in bed and reading a good book until 11:00 — all the while thinking about my next outing to find some local dish to try, if I will walk along the ocean or find a temple to visit. The excitement and thrill of meeting a new traveler is always at the forefront of my mind. I simply love sitting and talking for hours (damn – my father was right – I would talk to a tree if I couldn’t find a human)
Again, my mind begins to think about how to hold onto this feeling when I embark upon the next journey of life (whatever that will look like). As for today, I am selecting my next book, writing in my journal, going to experience the sand between my toes, find a new dish and who knows – maybe a temple..
In Gratitude, Brandi J.