Miss Q has returned. The Big Adventure has been neglected & deserves an update. 2013 was a year with high highs and even lower lows. Moving to a tropical paradise was exhilarating. It took every penny I could scrounge together with not much leftover for a cushion and when I arrived smack dab in the middle of low season there were no tourists & no money. Low season also means rain. Lots & lots of rain. So here I was, really wet with no money. And a broken pool pump. Not as fun as it sounds.
I’ve gone through 6 staff. Most westerners, unless they are VERY privileged, don’t have household staff and it takes some getting used to. I have had staff go on break and not come back, I have had staff who didn’t think they had to do what I asked because of my gender (and those of you who know me can just imagine how well that went over) and I’ve fired a few lazy buggers. I now have 4 great young men: Hamzen, Heru, Adit & Bobby. They do their best, which sometimes isn’t very good, but they try & are loyal to a fault. The environment on Gili is taking a beating so we have started a compost bin & are working on taking re usable shopping bags to the market. It’s a journey. A long, long journey. With very small steps. In the beginning I was determined to do my own laundry (which seems like crazy talk now) and other various chores. I have gotten used to having staff quite nicely. I have coffee brought to me every morning as soon as I open my blinds, signaling I am awake (which occurs when I damn well feel like it, and not a minute sooner). I no longer chop anything. Everything just appears all chopped and in bowls just like on the Tee Vee. Oh, happy days.
It’s during my morning bicycle rides when I like to reflect & think about my life here. Mostly I am just so grateful that I get to live THIS life. My life. A life that I chose, on this tiny island in the middle of the Java sea. It’s difficult to keep from smiling as I dodge chickens, cows and the ubiquitous cidomos (horse carts) as I ride through dusty (or swampy, depending on the time of year) paths into town. I have a friend who said her family told her that while they loved hearing from her, they wished she would write something negative so they could feel better about their dreary life in the UK. She said she thought about it, and came up with, “when I lay in my hammock, the porch railing prevents an unencumbered view of the ocean”. Yes, we here are a smug bunch.
On my bike rides into town, I usually stop at Toko Ida to buy things like laundry soap, salt, coffee, LPG canisters and the various sundries required for running a small hotel. Ida delivers so I can simply pay & continue on my merry way. Next stop coffee and breakfast. Sometimes I meet a friend, sometimes I read. Sometimes I get wifi. Most days I stop off at Charlies, a produce shop owned by a 60 ish Hungarian with a pot belly, bad teeth and a 20 something girlfriend. Charlie tells me he was a truck driver in Arizona during the eighties. He doesn’t miss it, he says. His small shop imports fresh produce from Bali and Lombok. Things like leaf lettuce, fresh mint, coriander and green beans are difficult to find here, so I tell Charlie I am a little in love with him. He doesn’t seem to hear me and just keeps perseverating about his application for more electricity & whether or not it has been approved so he can get a couple more fridges and AC. I wish him luck with the corrupt PLN (electric company) & pedal off with one bunch of fresh basil, romaine lettuce & some yams in my bicycle basket.
It’s a simple existence, many would find it too simple, boring even, however, I find comfort in the languid rhythm of island life. I never thought I’d say it, but I love being uninformed. You see I was a news junkie. I had NPR on non stop. My alarm was set to NPR, as was my bathroom radio & car. It was doom & gloom 24/7. If something BIG happens someone will tell me, I figure. As far as the tea party and its ilk, Fox news and Obama-care, I could not care less. America survived The Great Depression & the Cold War so it stands to reason it can survive the detritus left by Gee Dubya Junior.
The other thing I love about my life is that I pretty much do what I want when I want. No meetings, no alarm clocks, no Sunday night blues. There is not much need for multi tasking. There is time to do everything and devote the proper amount of time to each task. Those of us that have chosen to live here are like minded folks and we have a community not dissimilar to a small country village. Although we are from around the globe and speak different languages, we all wear flip-flops and are never in a hurry, we look out for one another and we know just how lucky we are.
My little paradise was disrupted by what I now call “The Big Kaboom”. In short, I was on a boat that exploded and was badly burned. I had third degree burns on both legs & one hand. I spent 3 weeks in the hospital, another 4 in a villa in Bali being looked after by my truly amazing friends and family. (You know who you are; you are rock stars and my heroes) It is taking much longer to recover than I have the patience for. I am still in a compression stocking, which is SUPER comfortable in the heat & humidity, but I am pretty much back to my baseline. I am diving, traveling, bike riding and cooking. At some point I may write about my experience of being in an Indonesian hospital but right now I am so completely sick & tired of telling that same story over & over & over again that you shall not get it here. (but I will say no one else was hospitalized and I was the most injured and it didn’t even make the Jakarta Post….. see? Boring)
I have some upcoming travel plans to Vietnam & will be starting construction on a new bungalow when I return from Vietnam. One or both of those things may deserve a write up. Construction projects are fun, exciting & stress free in the western world so I can only imagine how fun it will be here, with a language barrier & no motorized transport or heavy equipment and unskilled labor. Yep. Sure Sounds like Fun.
Year of the horse, bring it.