Water.

As an African American with natural hair, water and I, just don’t get along. But sometimes, while traveling you are gifted an opportunity.. an opportunity so beautiful you have no choice but to jump in. Over the last week I’ve had quite a few opportunities to “jump” ..if you will.

Tegenungan Waterfall. Big. Beautiful. Full of tourists. Granted I did go on the first weekend following about 5 days of rain. My travel partner and his business partner were the first to jump in the current. After about 5 minutes he came to grab me from the only shady place I could find and invited me into the water.. I was reluctant at first but once I got in the falls I didn’t ever want to get out.

Volcano Batur Hot Springs. Let me tell you, it was a journey to get here. My travel partner, aka the only person that can drive the scooter, was sick and kept having to stop to blow his nose. It only took about 3 wrong turns, constant directions from locals and over 2 hours to get there… but boy was it worth it. There were four pools one of which, the biggest one, was slightly cooler than the others but still warm and just as amazing for the skin. With our admission (150,ooo IDR) we got towels, lockers, welcome drinks and snacks. My sick travel partner took a nap after some snacks and I did some laps and relaxed with the locals. We met a couple from the UK who told us how they feel about Brexit and we shared how we feel about our commander in chief. Around 3:30 pm we had to call it a day so we’d make it back down the mountain/volcano long before it got dark. Rough roads and no lights don’t mix..

Finn’s Beach Club. Now this little dime was in Canggu. Our driver for the day, Andre, took us here after we renewed our visas in town. With my travel partner, his business partner and his business partner’s wife in tow, we ate drank and were merry. The venue was perfect, square lounges big enough to fit 6 people, a pool with swim up bar, and the beach started 5 ft from where the pool ends. I met some rad chicks from Australia who liked my accent or lack there of.. and had this location been in the US, I easily would have spent the equivalent of $200 USD but instead I spent $50 and trust me.. I got a lot for my money.

Each location offered a different kind of experience and I am truly grateful for them all. I can’t wait for my next adventure but for now at least I’m glad I took the plunge.. even if my hair is as thankful.

Advertisements

Somewhere.

My phone woke me from my slumber, caller ID said Poway, CA. I closed my eyes and rolled over to catch some more z’s. I knew it was my job but whatever it was could wait. A few hours later, I called the number back and got a stranger’s voicemail. So I text my boss to see what was up, turns out I didn’t get the position I applied for back in December. (May I remind you it’s February.) Well, fuck that’s a shitty way to start the day. I popped some headphones in to better my mood and started getting ready. All the while my travel partner was giving me serious attitude, didn’t he know I had just got rejected for the third time despite all my hard work? I checked the time, 8:30am. I was seriously considering climbing back in bed and calling it quits for the day.

Out the door we went through the alley to our scooter and off into traffic. We needed bread and coffee so we stopped at a french bakery on the way to what we thought was our final destination for the day. The bakery was full and the service was swift. It was here that my day started to look up. While sipping cappuccino a blue and red beetle crawled into my lap and up my arm. I let the wait staff tell me it wasn’t poisonous before naming him Phillip and letting him walk around our table. With bread and coffee in our stomachs we headed to the Monkey Forest.

Not even 10 minutes into the monkey forest, my travel partner was bitten by a monkey. Yes, bitten. Why? Because he would not give her a banana. He usually carries neosporin everywhere but this time I had my backpack and tiger balm was going to have to suffice. I whipped it out of my bag and the monkeys immediately thought it was something they could eat but after I opened the lid the pungent smell detoured them. I applied a generous amount to the bite on his back and he just about screamed from the pain. It burns on open wounds but at least he’s not going to get sick. Catastrophe avoided? At least briefly and we got to continue the rest of our time with the monkeys, different areas of the temple and carvings. I was mounted quite a few times by the younger curious monkeys as we walked. I think they liked climbing on me because I was wearing a backpack and they could just hang out there. A tiny baby monkey tried to climb me but failed and ended up just smelling the anklet I wear to repel mosquitoes, gave me a very animated look of displeasure and continued on her way. As we were exploring the last part of the forest it started to drizzle which put a little pep in our step. After a few minutes the drizzle had escalated to a gentle rain, this is when I broke out my jacket and I’m glad I did because before I could finish zipping it up the sky turned black and it was pouring rain. We accidentally ended up leaving the park to hide out under a store front overhang. One thing we’ve learned is that the weather can change in an instant so we wanted to wait for the rain to pass.

5 minutes.. 10 minutes… 15 minutes we stood there and the rain kept coming. I watched the street flood before my eyes. I pulled out my poncho because my water resistant jacket just wasn’t going to cut it in this weather. My travel partner was itching for a beer but didn’t want to get his shoes wet since he’d somehow manged to keep them dry. So off into the street we went him barefoot in shorts and a t-shirt completely soaking wet after a quick dash across the street and me in a jacket and poncho but feet completely soaking wet. “I’ll trade you.” he said as we stepped into a pizza place about a block later. There was no way I was making that deal. Instead I sat to order a beer. When our waiter arrived with the ice cold delights we barely had time to say cheers before an electrical fire (it was still pouring rain) broke out at the convenient store next door. I ran to the back of the restaurant and my travel partner grabbed his beer before headed out into the street. “Claire get out here!” I heard over the loud crackling sounds but I was too scared to move.. let alone run past the box a mere 10 ft from the door that was sending sparks in every direction to get to the street. A crowd had gathered and smartphones were plentiful capturing our torment until someone grabbed the proper fire tool to extinguish the threat to our safety. There were about 8 of us in the restaurant and boy were we glad it was over. In the chaos my travel partner had braved the sparks to join me inside, in the event the building I was in had caught from a spark. He made a promise to my mom to get me home in one piece or whatever so.. you know.

The rain had finally stopped and our pizzas were out a few moments later. A bit overwhelmed with all the excitement from the day, I was content to silently eat my pizza. I’d reached capacity with regard to my energy level but I still had to get home. My travel partner teased that I would have to drive the scooter back since he was presently lost. We negotiated and agreed that if he wanted to be home within an hour and in one piece it was better if he drove and I navigated with my mental map of the area back to the bungalow. The deal was set and we were off. As we headed back, I couldn’t help but think about how happy I was that I didn’t go back to bed after all.

Day Trippin’

On my 5th day in Ubud we decided to be tourists and take a day trip. With so many different options, the group of us settled on river rafting. Our transportation arrived at 8 am and we were off. On the way our guide picked up two other travelers, a young military couple, visiting from Hawaii. The van was full and the excitement was high. There was a quick pit stop at headquarters to suit up before climbing in the back of a pick up and heading out to the river. The sun was hot on our backs as we disembarked on the side of the road. I heard our guide Johnny say “Follow me” and I did. He took us through a rice patty, with beautiful views and into the jungle with steep drops and slippery slopes. “If only my mom can see me now,” I squealed with joy. Shortly after I realized, I’m sure if my mom saw me know she’s just about pass out. Here I was following a stranger into the jungle wearing only a two piece and life jacket. Sorry mom, I love you.

I was thankful the second I heard the water. My desk job back home was starting to show as my legs were shaking as I bound the last few steps. It took about 10 minutes to get down to the river’s edge and I was drenched in sweat. My travel partner found a stream of water flowing down the side of a rock and with a few sticks created a fountain for us to refresh ourselves with while we waited for our river safety lesson. I learned two things “boom, boom” means get down and the most important rule of the water, even more so if you fall out, is do not panic. It was finally time to get in the raft and my heart was racing. You see I’m not a strong swimmer and up until this point river rafting was a good idea. As I climbed into the raft, that idea became a reality. I took my seat, at the front of the boat, and tried to remember that most important rule of the water. I vaguely recall Johnny giving us one more safety reminder before he pushed our raft off the embankment and into the water.

We had just “boom, boomed” down a swift part of the river, rebounded off of a rock wall and I was really starting to enjoy myself. As we came around the bend we were greeted by a young girl screaming her head off as guides drove into the river, looking downstream you could see her parents had fallen out of their raft. I thought about jumping in to help, I thought about going to hug the girl but mostly I thought that there is no way I’m falling off this raft. The river tried to take me with her, especially after a short pit stop at a river side bar ran by the locals. Two beers later, we were back on board and coasting to the finish line. Hugh rocks lining the riverbed had been carved telling the Indonesian version of the Romeo and Juliet story. We came across beautiful waterfalls and spectacular views, over and over again as we settled at another embankment. Our ride was over. I suddenly remembered our hike down the mountain. The hike back up was “easier” meaning that all the stairs were paved and we didn’t have to deal with mud and rock steps. But they still took my breath away. Meanwhile locals stacked multiple deflated rafts, life jackets and helmets on their heads and speed up the stairs past me.

At the top we climbed into the back of another pickup and when back to headquarters for a buffet style lunch. I couldn’t even eat from the onset of exhaustion. As much fun as I had the activity of the day had taken it’s toll on my soft mushy body. My travel partner joined me as we climbing into our transport back to the bungalow. “Let’s do that again!” He was beaming. “We’ll see.” I said and strapped in for the long ride home.

First 48.

We arrived in Bali at 5pm local time and had a driver lined up to take us to our hotel. I was still groggy, not quite sure what day it was but we had finally made it. After about an hour ride to the hotel and a quick trip to our room to drop off our belongs. It was time to eat. Out into the streets of Bali we went, wandering but really following our new friends to the restaurant they always visit during stays here. The food was warm and the company was nice. I ended up nodding off at the table. After all the sleeping I’d done on the plane you’d think I’d be able to make it through dinner. Nope.

The next morning I woke to roosters and other animal sounds I’m not familiar with. Breakfast was brought to the patio outside my front door. I decided to take any easy day and start to get familiar with my surroundings. We walked the town and got lost a bit, visited the day market that catered to tourists like me and grabbed a beer at 10 am. While my travel partner and his friend chatted, I watched the street in front of us fill with locals, tourists and groves of scooters. Around noon we headed back to the hotel to relax by the pool. I got up the nerve to take a yoga class.. easily the best decision I made that first day. But after eating lunch and taking a shower, an old friend of mine named jet-lag took me out for the next 14 hours.

The next morning I woke up to roosters and other animal sounds I’m not yet familiar with only this time it was 5:30 am local time and my travel partner was pacing our room in the dark. Coffee. I needed it but our room didn’t have any sugar. As we walked to the corner market and back the sun joined us. Breakfast was delivered to the patio and it was delicious. It was no later than 8 am and already a scorcher. It was time to start the business part of this trip which meant hopping on the back of a scooter and driving to a different part of the island and off we went. I begged to stop to get a picture of a rice field and the group of us ended up getting a personalized tour of a carving studio that had been pasted down from one generation to the next. It was truly incredible looking at the craftsmanship and attention to detail every single piece of wood work was paid. The few times I could peel my eyes away for a moment to take a photo; it didn’t accurately depict what I saw.

I’m just a few hours into my travels and I cannot wait to see what else this journey has in store for me.

Travel.

We woke to the thickest fog I’d seen in months.. our uber driver navigated us to the airport with extreme caution. Our flight was delayed. But they put us on another one to San Francisco and from there we would make our flight to Tokyo and onward to Jakarta. The fog, however, had other plans for us. My travel partner began getting upset. Three hours into the trip and we already had this much trouble. It’s going to be a long two months.

When our flight finally got us to San Francisco we had 10 hours to kill before boarding began on our next flight to Singapore. We took the Bart to civic center and walked through China Town. I wanted to see the bridge but we simply didn’t have enough time. Try as I might and perhaps it was my utter lack of desire to visit San Fran, I was not impressed by the urine soaked streets and beautifully crafted building. I couldn’t wait to be back on the Bart and more over back on the plane headed to our final destination.

Now if you believe it our flight out of SF was also delayed, so much so that I feel asleep in my seat before the flight attendants reminded me how to get to emergency exits and before the plane took off. It was about 11pm pst and I was still in California. When I woke somewhere over the Pacific, I realized I’d slept about half the flight. Not bad. But I had another 9 hours before touchdown and the plane was completely dark. This is when my good friend boredom kicked in and still exhausted mentally from everything thus far.. Blackout.

I went on and on like this waking up, completely groggy getting some water and crashing asleep. this pattern played out like this for the rest of this flight. The leap we took from Singapore to Jakarta and even from Jakarta to Bali. I’ve had enough planes to last a lifetime but I know I’ll have to do it all over again in a few short but very long months.