I think there is a lesson that I need to be learning on this trip. The art of slowing down. It seems that every bit of stress has been caused when I rush, when I go against the flow of the pace of time that is here. Always rushing to catch a plane, find a ATM, a boat. That’s not the pace of these islands. That is especially not the pace of Gili Trawangan or Gili Air. Yesterday, I ate lunch at the most relaxing place. They were playing chill out music and I felt my body totally surrender as I sank into the brightly colored purple and green cushions and completely tasted the beautiful sweet, sour, spicy flavors that are the flavors of Bali. But, when I went to pay, something happened. I felt embarrassed because I couldn’t find my wallet and immediately my heartbeat rose. I started digging frantically through my purse. The waitress smiled as she said in her gentle voice, “Slow down. Don’t rush.” Yes, I thought to myself. That is what I am here to learn. Why am I rushing? She’s not in a hurry.
Today I decided to go explore Gili Air. The friend I am traveling with stayed behind so I was glad to have some time to just reflect, contemplate and enjoy a day to myself. I arrived on this sleepy little island with its cows, empty beaches, and balmy breezes and immediately felt time stop. After snorkeling among some of the most brightly colored fish I’ve ever seen and a nice lunch by the water, I decided to walk around the island. I first asked how long it would take, since I had to be back on the only boat over at 3 pm. I was told it would take an hour. It was only 1:30, so I was glad to know that I would have plenty of time. I didn’ t realize that an hour is the standard reply on all the islands. I set off on my adventure and was astounded by the beautiful views and heartbroken that it wasn’t Gili Air that I had chosen to stay on instead of loud and touristy Trawangan. I was, however, grateful that I had the chance to see this untouched beauty, the rawness of an island that was so untouched and realized that I was in a very special place. Gili Air touched me to my very soul.
There was a problem however when I realized that it was 2:30, and I was only halfway around the island. I don’t know if it’s the adventurer in me who wants to suck the marrow out of every bone and get the very most out of every moment, but I frantically wondered how I was always rushing to barely make a plane, a boat, to get somewhere on time. Should I cut through, the island, I wondered as I looked at untouched jungle and coconut palms looming before me. I decided that, no, the best possible route would be just to walk as fast as I could. Mind you, it’s earth shatteringly hot here. Sticky sweat ran down my body and into my eyes as I sipped what remaining water I had. It wasn’t very easy to walk fast.
I finally came across a man and asked him the fastest way to get to the boat. He told me there was a road that cut through a bit farther on. Relieved, I entered the road and saw no one except two of the most adorable children who asked me to take their picture. The girl even flashed the peace sign, and I had to laugh as I realized that even she got it. Well, even if I missed the boat, I wasn’t about to disappoint them and went through the game the kids love here of taking their picture and showing it to them afterward. Next time, I so must bring a Polaroid camera! I walked on and on and on, but the road didn’t go straight. There was a choice to make a left or a right. I chose left, but when I got back out to the beach realized I had chosen wrong and it was now seven minutes before 3. Panic set in as I realized I would not make the boat. I knew my friend would be worried. I also had brought very little money with me, so I knew there would be no way to get a room, and that I would probably be spending the night on the beach of Gili Air.
Just then, as an answer to my prayers, a horse and his driver were headed full speed at me. I waved at them wildly, and told him I needed to get to the boat. We had three minutes to get there. I asked him how much. He said $5 which was robbery, but I had no time to argue. I hit my head jumping into the cart and now have a huge bump, but off we sped, my heart beating wildly, my body almost flying out of the cart with each bump we hit, we were galloping so fast. I rushed onto the boat, the last person on, and was glad to sit next to a local woman. Just her gentle way of speaking to me slowed my heart rate down and made me realize I should just start trusting that everything is always working exactly as it should. There is no need to worry about getting somewhere. If we are supposed to get somewhere we will…eventually. And meanwhile, horses will drop out of the sky to save us.