Somewhere on the north coast of Bali, some friends – adults, children and a newborn baby – met up to eat, swim and build a bonfire.
A small flock of ducks paraded at water’s edge, clucking and pecking away at morsels of refuse. Perhaps edible, perhaps not. Birds soared above, flying from the eastern part of the island towards the distant but visible shores of Java; while below them, fishing boats quietly glided across the horizon line, heading to market with freshly caught treasures.
Mid-morning yoga and stretching kneaded the last vestiges of sleep from the gathered quartet – while the baby napped nearby. A quintet of young kids played hide and seek, drummed, hung from a baby-hammock-cum-yoga-swing, and threaded colored beads into bracelets and charms.
Crying happened. Whining and a few screeches happened too.
There was enough food to feed an army. Organic produce, heaps of red rice, eggs, grain bread, cashews, rice paper rolls, snacks. A bevy of Middle-Eastern favourites: Majadra. Humus.Wine.
Naturally, this being Bali, there was an abundance of fruit: bananas, papaya, pineapple, lychee, tangerines. Papaya jam. And the almighty durian. Durian-banana smoothies brought the durian-loving camp to the fore.. and sent the dislikers running for the pool. But even there, durian could be spotted and smelled. Is there no escape from this prickly, foul-smelling fruit?
A mandala of abandoned shoes, sneakers, flip-flops took shape until it featured a rainbow of once-colorful but faded footwear; surrounded (embraced perhaps) by a periphery of leaves, branches – and sorrow. A sad comment on the abundance of plastic refuse that washes up each morning on these shores.
Some dared to wade into the ocean, while others contented themselves with dunking into the kidney-shaped pool. Flips, belly flops, underwater antics and wave-making galore.
The local kids peered in, curious to observe the antics of a motley and loosely associated group of people. And Adi, the young Balinese neighbour who’d befriended the host family’s son, gazed upon us with curiosity, surely wondering what foreign tongue – certainly not English – was being spoken by all.
Music wafted throughout the compound and on the beach-side terrace; from day into night, familiar tunes sharing airtime with others less known.
The evening bonfire was as magnificent as any I’ve seen before. Perhaps because it was planned and executed by a professional carpenter. Market-bought, herb-sprinkled, foil-wrapped fish was buried underground while the black sand heated it up to perfection.
Sunsets held us in awe. Striking clouds hovering above. Buoys bobbing gently, swaying with the breeze.
It was a precious but highly improbable moment in time, made up of an unlikely crowd, individuals who share so much of their essence in common, having drifted and traveled around the world, each one with a curious story – and acceptable passport – of their own, finding themselves on these shores of Indonesia. So very far from home.
Amit, experiences like this stick in one’s heart forever. It’s funny how family and true friends know how to relax and take advantage of the place as well connect with each other, while doing it all almost mindlessly. It looks like a lovely affair, and BTW, I love the shoe mandala. ~James
Thanks James. Yes, full of warmth, home-cooked food and good conversation (and laughs of course)!
How are you feeling these days? Back in travel mode?
What a beautiful evening and the shoe mandala is genius. It makes me sad, the amount of plastic and trash that gets washed up on these beaches 😦
I’m sure it does.. and you’ve seen it up close too. Would you believe the shoe mandala was the brainchild of a 5-year old 😉
Aww, that makes it even more special 🙂