Bali Boy Braves the Waves!

Superstitions run deep. Bodies of water harbor entities, not all benign, and on this island elaborate rituals are enacted to keep those restless spirits in their place. So swimming is not an altogether comfortable idea for many Balinese people. But today we went to the beach. It’s the supposedly hidden one, off the beaten track, hard to access. The trail appears to drop off into nothingness.


Counter to intuition that told us to continue following the path forward, there’s a door in the side of the wall. I missed it the first time. The trail grew narrower, and narrower, steeper and steeper, until without mountain climbing gear, I wasn’t going another step.

P1100225Feeling a bit like Alice in Wonderland jumping down the rabbit hole, we retraced our steps, found the opening and passed through. It was still a steep descent to the beach, but once there we found the place almost deserted.

P1100193With the exception of a pair of sleeping beauties.

P1100198Today was to be special. Our friend, Nancy, was going to teach Wayan how to swim. But as we settled in at the local warung and ordered our favorite drinks, it was clear that the waves were unusually high and rolling in with astonishing speed. So we sat. And we watched. And we sat some more. We sat and watched while people arrived and congregated on the sand in front of us. The sarong vendor hawked her wares. The beach masseuses found willing victims.


And still we sat. We ordered coffee, then  lunch, then more lunch, then more coffee. The waves crashed on.


By late afternoon, Ketut was looking significantly bored with the whole affair and I was making going home noises when all of a sudden, Wayan jumped up, stripped off his jeans, and headed to the water. There was no swimming lesson, Nancy had gotten over that idea real quick. But Wayan cavorted, splashed, sputtered and played, and emerged at last with a very large, very happy grin. And the rest of us…well, we did what we do best…we watched.

Paradise Found

I’m not one for crowds. I like my people in controlled portions, ceremonies and festivals excepted. In those situations crowd energy is essential. So when Ketut and I sit down with the map to find a new coastline to explore, he knows I don’t have Kuta or Canggu in mind. I want something pristine, deserted, remote. There’s a little dot on the map called Soka. It isn’t connected by road to the crazy tourist beaches. Something about it speaks to me.

This morning at 8:30 with thunderheads warm and dark in the west, we straddle the motorbike and head…west. “Maybe big rain,” Ketut astutely observes. “Maybe,” I agree hoping he’s right. A big rain when you’re on a motorbike is a great excuse to stop for a cup of Balinese coffee at a roadside warung to let it pass. There is nothing negative about that possibility for me.

Rice fields with mountains in the distance

After about an hour and three raindrops on my nose, the clouds are behind us. Soka is an eyeblink with a restaurant overlooking the distant ocean. Pretty, quiet, and no surfboard rental shops in sight. Good sign. We continue on. The ocean disappears. It has to be there but we can’t see it. A few more miles and Ketut pulls off the road. After a brief conversation with a local, he translates for me, “Small road,” he says, and we turn around and head back toward Soka.

Small road to the beach

When he turns off on said ‘small road’ I am feeling really happy. There are no guards demanding an entrance fee. There are no motorbikes parked alongside. There are no hoards of people. “Is it private?” I ask, thinking we may be trespassing on some exclusive beachfront property. “No very,” his tone reassures me even if his words leave me a bit muddled as to the exact meaning. We round the corner and, oh bliss! There it is! My beach! The one I have envisioned, longed for, believed in, and needed to find.

Ethereal mist softens the outcroppings of black lava

Breakers just keep rolling in

There are holes in the lava where tepid pools of water are trapped when the waves overflow. Nature’s hot tubs!

Ketut points out that the design on the edge of one pool looks like a snake is coiled there.

I am pretty proud of myself climbing up, but have to enlist help to get back down!

And this is what someone may have seen landing on this same beach centuries ago

There’s a downside to all magical moments. Leaving. At some point, knowing it’s going to take just as long to get home as it did to get here, the decision to leave must be made. We slowly pick our way back to the motorbike noting that the only tracks on the beach belong to us and a cow. Hmmm. A cow?

Back on the highway mid-afternoon hunger sets in. Rounding a curve, there it is, a tidy little warung. Water, soft drinks, bottled fruit juice and assorted Balinese snacks in pink bins line the counter.

Roadside warung

Hidden behind the display in her baseball cap and gorgeous smile, ibu chops the chilis for the mei goreng she is preparing for us. We wait, happily sipping steaming cups of delicious black sludge.

Chopping the chilis

Hunger satisfied, I resume my position behind Ketut when down the road in front of us comes…


And why not? This is Bali after all. Motorbikes, trucks, tourist buses, and a cow. It all seems perfectly normal after a few months here.

Immeasurable Wealth

Every day…riches!

Whether it’s the wisdom of 2000 years of ancient tradition or the breathtaking landscape, there is an endless supply.

A trip to the beach, a waterfall, and an animal sanctuary is almost an overload of abundance for one day!

Black sand and crashing breakers

and nobody here but me.

It’s only 171 steps down to this waterfall. The killer is that it’s 171 steps back up again!

Some places just drip with green deliciousness!

Then superimpose brilliant colors…

and interesting patterns (nice kitties!)

and a bathing beauty…or two…and it adds up to immeasurable wealth.

Again today I feel the gratitude and the privilege of this journey.

I have been allowed to touch something that is unreachable in places where the din of progress drowns out the softer voice of soul.

%d bloggers like this: