27 Dec Landing in Bali

So, you´ve awoken to it one day, the sudden realization that this busy life might not be for you anymore. A premonitory dream, a message from “the other side”, confirming that that which you thought impossible might actually be happening. Perhaps the inner meanderings of your soul were not as secret as you thought. Maybe, just maybe, you’ve been assigned an invisible international spiritual council, who having reached a verdict on your case, prompts you to jump out of bed and pull the strings, dissolve stale attachments, and tie loose ends.

And so, trusting it is time, you’ve bought your ticket, got a new passport, and stamped that visa on. Having reduced your life into a box, you’ve given away your most precious belongings to friends and family, in the (somewhat contradicting) hope of seeing them again. You´ve packed your essentials, a tooth-brush, deodorant (I hope you haven´t forgotten this one, too many do here!), a few tops, a few bottoms, flip-flops, and realized you owned way too many clothes. And you´ve managed to do all of this in record time, calculating every step, being VERY careful not to sway mindlessly off the thinning tightrope of your dwindling western life, into that ever-speeding vortex.

Surroundings blurred into that last cab ride, your “stuff” exposed under the airport x-ray, through the gate, and into your seat. The sudden rumble of turbines brings everything to a shake, and your eyes shut into a prayer. The ground is swept from below, followed by weightlesness, and the somewhat squizofrenic thought of two hundred-plus human beings shooting accross the globe inside a cylinder fuelled by fossilized dinosaurs. Once and again. Layovers, time zones, space and matter, flesh and bones, into jelly. Yes, jelly… A very, VERY, long and wobbly Om.

Congratulations, you made it! You managed to survive expatriation safely inside of your imaginary emotional armour. Welcome to Bali! Yoga retreats, wellness and spa! Be sure, it´ll crack.

Hope you buckled-up, your poor, lucky, jet-lagged soul.

Stepping out of that mortuary transatlantic meat freezer, after too many hours to count, the thick humid air hits your system. An hour later (which feels like three) already through immigration, baggage claim, yet one last x-ray, and a long wait for your appointed taxi driver to finish dinner and show up, you finally reach “the outside”. You get into the car, and onto scooter wildlife.

Entire families, kids and babies precariously swing from their parents´ arms, balancing their fleeting hopes, pets, and home appliances, over two small wheels, bodies and heads exposed (no helmets!), grabbing single-handedly onto the throttle, while pressing their cell phones onto their ears AND DRIVING AT THE LEFT SIDE AT THE SAME TIME !!! …  skillfully playing out the delicate balance between life and death, at arms´ reach, to be missed by an inch.

And then it hits you, “health insurance” (hopefully before something else does). Yes, that will be you riding like a madman, freed from your robotic mindset, almost breaking your leg against a taxi cutting the curve short onto your side of the street. “Your side”?… Please reconsider, everything! Property, risk, pricing, time, authority, and even simple concepts like “yes” and “no”, are rather ambiguos notions in Paradise.

Ask anyone trying to settle in, find a place, start a bussiness, getting their working visa, or trying to get to the other side of town without that police officer jumping in front of your bike, absorbing the shock full body on, turning your engine off, pulling the key out and away into his pocket, to then go through his bribery price list, and hopefully, if you´re lucky and worked out a good deal, throw your key into your backpack without you noticing, thus skillfully erasing any incriminating traces. Hell, just try shopping around for anything outside the local population´s general material needs:

“Oh yes, sorry we don´t have it”

“Well, do you or do you not?”

“Yes, sorry, we don´t”

And so it goes, after two or three weeks you´ve hopefully recovered your eight hours of rest. You wake up, to the strange imagery of last night´s dreams. You crawl your way out of your room, under the sound of gunfire and and heavy smoke from your neighboring rice paddy, over your guesthouse´s staff morning offerings, by a frog, a snake, a giant spider. Breakfast can be a serious thing here! Multi-colored nutritious food that preps you for yet another day of over-the-sidewalk scooter craze.

Volcanoes erupt, a haze burns onto neighboring countries. Flights get cancelled, plans delayed. Foreign spirits sneak into emotional baggages, fool your internal intelligence agency and form strategic relations with the local mafia.

And so you find yourself, stranded, closely watched, surrounded.

Yet fear not, the Balinese like to smile, and sincerely believe in karma. So even if drastic when pushed around, these spirits are of a benevolent kind. The island is one giant spiritual x-ray, so there´s nothing to hide.

Be respectful, enjoy, smile, HAVE A MANTRA, and TRUST THE SOURCE. It should all be a part of the budget, and it certainly is a part of the “standard Bali landing experience”.