My first morning in Bali, as I was awakening, the first thing I heard was the call to prayer at the local mosque. The sound in person is so different than the pale imitation I’ve heard on TV. The sound was riveting, haunting, compelling. It reached right inside me and touched a place that a normal voice could never reach. It comes from such a visceral place, and then after five minutes, all was silent again.
I slipped on a pair of calf-length leggings, a tank top, and grabbed my flip-flops. I grabbed my phone (for the flashlight and camera) and the tiny notebook and pen I carry with me everywhere. As quietly as I could, I slid open the door and slipped outside into the warm, dark morning air. There was no resistance when my skin met the air; I felt welcomed, enveloped in the warm dark blanket of still-dark sky. I sank into the dark morning air.
There were some very small lights on the grounds, but mostly I made my way in the dark. I love walking in the dark; there is something so elemental and real about it, the way you have to keep all your senses turned on. I trusted my gut. I felt safe. It felt okay to do this, and so I followed the sound of the waves at the beach and found a pathway out to the water. I slipped off my flip-flops and carried them in my hand. The water was warm and delicious on my feet, lapping up around my ankles, and I began to slowly walk the curving shoreline of sand in the dark.
There was a large boat of some kind—a tourist ship probably—anchored out off shore. I used that as my reference point so I could find my way back. If I couldn’t, I knew it would be light in an hour and I would have eyes to guide me as well.
At one point, someone shone a flashlight at me; a security guard I imagine, but I’m sure I appeared harmless and I continued to walk. The morning felt too still and quiet to break it with a morning greeting, Selamat Pagi!
I saw signs on the beach about reef protection and diving, lit with gentle 24 hours lights. I could tell that I had left the premises of the Amerta Bali hotel and had passed over to the resort next door or maybe the one beyond that. I couldn’t see enough to tell.
As I walked through the water, I was completely alone. My senses were vibrant. As I took my morning walk, I thought of my father, Abe Davis, dead almost 14 years now. When I was young and we traveled, wherever we went, Abe would go out and buy the local paper to read and tune into the local radio station. He’d look for the local events that we could take part in: a county fair, an all you can eat pancake breakfast.
He’d slip out early in the morning for a cheap plate of eggs and hash browns and toast, coffee black and hot, at the local greasy spoon. And he’d talk to the locals. And invariably he was back from his early morning adventure before we even woke up. It was his way.
And now, I was channeling him at this predawn hour; I could feel his loving presence around me.
Allison, who likes to sleep nine hours every night was deep in the arms of Morpheus while I drank in the start of the Bali day.
When dogs started barking to my left on the shore, I decided it was time to turn back, but again, I reached into my core and took the pulse of things. Safe. I was okay.
I turned around and waded through the surf back the way I had come, not sure if I could find our rooms. I knew if I couldn’t, that would be okay. I would just sit and wait for the sunrise, which is lightening the sky right now as I write this.
But I did find my way back and discovered an outdoor day bed overlooking our private swimming pool, and that is where I am sitting now, writing this to you as the morning sky grows light and an increasing complexity of roosters and bird song joins the chorus.
Unfortunately, as the sky grows blue, the morning mosquitoes (or as Allison and the Aussies call them, “moshies”) are making themselves felt up and down my arms. My memory from last year was an hour or less of mosquitoes at dawn and dusk. I am going inside now for some bug spray and my wallet, flush with colorful Balinese bills, and will head into town to see what I find.
Just as I was getting ready to leave again, Allison woke up hungry and we decided breakfast was a better idea. But before I take you to breakfast, I wanted to show you what Villa #5 at Amerta Bali looks like:
We’re in the northwest corner of Bali in the town of Pemuteran. It was a long way from the airport, but well worth the trip. Don’t you agree?
After breakfast, we packed up some simple gear and walked fifteen minutes down the beach to our dive shop, the Sea Rovers DiveCentre. We did two simple boat dives about 5-10 minutes off shore so Allison could get her diving legs back—it’s been seven years since she’s been diving. She was all smiles after the first dive and positively grinning after the second. They were both slow, drifty dives with lots of fish and coral to see.
I love diving because of the physical sensation of floating effortlessly in the water. I do love all the beautiful things you can see underwater, but more than anything I love the way diving feels. We were taken out in the boat, just the two of us, with our own Balinese divemaster, Wayan. I’ve never had that happen before in my life as a diver. Usually there are at least six or eight people on the boat, but this time it was just us. This was very personalized service. They even washed all our gear for us and schlepped our tanks, our BCDs, even our flippers back from the boat.
Right now I have that post-dive physical bliss I love so much. My whole body feels like it’s floating still. I feel dreamy and contented and slightly stoned. And in a little more than an hour, we’re each getting hour and a half massages at the spa right on the property. I am getting a “Body Scrub by Dewi Sri.” This is described as “a traditional body treatment that begins with a full body massage followed by body exfoliation of lulur, a yogurt cleansing to leave your skin feeling healthy, smooth and glowing.” I’m not quite sure what all of that means, but I did say I wanted a deep massage and I promise to surrender to the experience—whatever it is.
My 90 minute treatment is going to cost 200,000 rupiah or $20.00.
After that? A glass of wine and then dinner…we may go back to the lovely warang we found out on the road where we had the most delicious tofu/tempeh dish either of us had ever eaten, for lunch:
We’ve hired two scooters (and their drivers) to take us out tonight at 7:30 to cruise down the road back to the local market and the fair with the Ferris wheel we saw on our drive up here last night. It’s a locals’ event and we both thought it would be fun to see it. Who knows what else we’ll see along the way?
Just as an aside, this is where scooter drivers get their gas: right by the side of the road.
The Balinese are always showing gratitude through the offerings they leave literally everywhere. Here’s one that was in front of the dive center today.
And here’s one from the day spa:
And I couldn’t agree more. There’s so much to be grateful for!
P.S. No Bali belly. I’m feeling just fine.