The Six-Month Itch

After the shock and awe of this week’s (apparently) epic tremor dissipated, I realized that the earth’s rumblings have been mirroring my own internal ones; sneaking up on me over the past week or two, fueled perhaps by my upcoming visa run to Singapore, and reflecting an inescapably gnawing feeling of wanting to get off this island, desperate to be anywhere but here.

My lungs have been whispering to me, asking me when I would stop subjecting them to daily servings of caked dust and pollution. Standing in yoga class the other morning, I was horrified to see a massive billowing of white smoke on the ridge in my line of sight, violently overtaking the normally clear sky. The origin of the smoke mattered little, because regardless of whether they were burning off remnants in a rice field of setting fire to a large pile of garbage, it was unsightly and further evidence of Bali gone awry. And, before the class ended, as I rose from Savasana (corpse pose) on the mat, I watched a stunning butterfly on the floor in front of me, flap its wings in a last-ditch effort to survive before succumbing to its demise… by pollution?

The sights and smells of burning plastic – and other noxious, gas-emitting materials – accost my senses every day, nearly everywhere I go. Tourist buses idle for hours, on the main road, the market, down my street, belching smoke into faces. Motorbikes spew diesel-laden fumes through crowds as they roar by. On my street, just the other day, I saw a couple of young girls chatting and playing right above a tin can containing a smoldering mess of plastic, foil and paper. A parent stood near by, ignorant perhaps of the highly toxic particles that their children were breathing in.

Then there’s the perpetual absence or snail-paceness of wi-fi, making it virtually impossible – or excruciatingly slow – to send emails or post to my blog; the distinctly unpalatable way in which I discovered that I was being ‘evicted’; the weather which has transitioned almost overnight into rainy season, bringing with it cloud cover, rain and the occasional earthquake.

My laptop is on its last legs, memory is all but faded, battery just eking out its last breaths, webcam long ago shut down, the power cord now looking like a patch-up job of wiring left over from a WWII radio signal transmitter. Ditto with my beloved Canon digital camera; the black smudge on the lens that cannot be removed, the focus that just won’t focus, the rechargeable batteries that allow me all of ten or so photos before they strike out.

My sacrum, left leg, muscles and nervous system still battle for my attention, waging – with the occasional hiatus – an ongoing and invisible war. I’m not quite sure what leaving the island for a week will accomplish as far as my healing is concerned, but maybe it just needs a rest.

A few nights ago, due to either a tainted serving of nasi goring or a few bites of vegan brownie, I spent the night with my guts wreaking havoc on my body, the rumblings akin to those that accompanied the quake. As if in a pinball machine, the nasty microbe scattered itself all over, pinging itself into this corner or that, planting contractions all along my digestive tract. Evacuations of one kind or another were an all-night affair, leading also to a full-body rash that had me scratching every inch of skin from head to toe. Not just an itch of the mind then…

And so, with regrets to everyone who makes my stay on this island a truly healing, uplifting, soulful and fascinating experience, I confess: I love Bali in so many ways, but there are moments, sometimes fleeting, other times lingering, that I quite simply, achingly, just need a break.


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