The Beach Boys of Amed

Just back from my first visit to the black beaches of Amed in Eastern Bali. Stayed in the sleepy village of Lipah; broke (French) bread with (French and Swiss) women, drank  gallons’ worth of hot lemon/honey/ginger; slept under a net, showered under the stars, read while swinging gently in a hammock, while watching the cats and roosters prance about, while wondering why not a single gecko was inhabiting my room; practiced my Indonesian with Ninggah and went for a walk, in search of a driver to scoot me back to Ubud (lucked out!)

But without a doubt, the highlight of my stay – or should I say a treasure that I discovered – was a group of boys frolicking on the beach.

Covered from head to toe in speckled black and silver sand, they’d just wrapped up their latest attempt at fishing, Bali-primitive-style.

Wielding nothing more than crudely made sticks, branches and elastic bands, they’d rounded up a pail-full of itsy bitsy creatures. A few proudly showed off their daily catch. One boy (by his demeanor, clearly a leader of the pack) focused on pulling intestines out of one of the larger fish, then shoving as many smaller fish into its innards as possible. Oh. What a Sight.

A young girl showed up as if a mermaid out of the sea, timidly slinking up to the periphery of the group, edging closer, yet tentative about staking her place in the circle.

A few adults sauntered by, a woman with her baby, a man eyeing me closely.

After the fisher-boys tired of looping nooses around long-dead-fish and pulling out eyes and guts, they noticed me snapping away and hammed it up for the camera. The tiny bit of Indonesian I’m capable of piecing together – crucially, translations for words such as fish and funny!, eased the way for joking around with the boys  – while the girl slithered silently into the background, disappearing as mysteriously as she’d shown up.

I don’t know exactly how long I spent with the beach boys, but when I rose to leave, I knew they’d left a mark in my heart.

I hadn’t yet eaten yet felt content and thoroughly satiated.

I suppose a surprise encounter such as this has a way of affecting me… and etching a smile onto my face for the rest of the day.

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