The first three days in Nusa Lembongan were not exactly exciting.
I had escaped here from the island of Bali in order to do more of nothing, so what did I expect? The tour on the back of the motorcycle with 21 year old Bodhi was fun but after two hours we had seen it all! Other than that there was rain. What did I expect— the rainy season! (In case you think I’m whining, I actually thought this would be the dry season since the wet season in Nepal was in the summer. Yep, less than perfect research.)
The Lonely Planet guidebook suggested Mushroom Bay as the place to snorkel off the beach. Not! Since the book was written the boats have destroyed all the coral. What to do? What everyone else does, of course, go on a snorkeling tour!
The first day my clerk couldn’t reach her friend who had a boat. The next day we had it arranged but it rained. This morning it rained too and I put him off until noon. It cleared! A hut neighbor walked by with his go-pro camera and I invited him in order to split the cost and make me feel just a little safer. After all, the waves were high, the native catamaran fishing boat seemed to be held together by rope, and the fisherman didn’t speak English!
All I really cared about was seeing manta rays.
I’ve seen coral and tropical fish galore in other places, but manta? They seem other worldly. Give me one manta and I’d go home happy! “Maybe you will be lucky,” hoped the clerk.
Yep, the waves were high, the water looked murky, but overboard I went, avoiding a bop on the head with the catamaran. Nothing. Cloudy view. Then the fisherman started yelling in Indonesian. When he couldn’t get Alain’s attention he angrily jumped up and down! Then pointed. We swam in the direction of his shaking fingers and there… gliding… was manta. He had been the look out for us. Then another manta. Then another…
What were they like? Other worldly. Flying under water. Graceful. Dangerous looking projection off the back. Unconcerned with us. A little scary when coming right at me with that bizarre looking mouth.
The fisherman was pleased with his guiding skills and led us to two amazing snorkeling sights. And throwing bread crusts into the water he created a swirl of technicolored fish, circling around me.
Here is my favorite blue coral.
And after aimlessly wandering the sights of coral, waving tentacles and darting fish, I realized that down there, in that other world that really could care less about plane flights, politics, money, accomplishments or relationships, I could forget them too. So nice to forget about my stuff. My plans. My, me, myself and I. Nothing down there related to this thing I call I. No thoughts really. A meditation of sorts in which there is no suffering because there is no fear, no grasping, no planning. Just being, underwater..
And on the way home, me trying to pose, undignified, before sliding down to the bottom of the slippery boat.
Yes, we were lucky! Thank you Alain!
Our lucky day!
Then, as he and an Australian sat with me over dinner (quick and very temporary friendships while traveling), we three agreed we were so lucky. It was the only night out of four when it hadn’t rained or the ash obscured the view.
Local children playing below, using a coconut as a ball.
Swallows darting. Agung puffing away at a safe distance, its output turned to flame by the sunset.
We had to wait over 50 years to see that!
And overhead, ahhh… an airplane! The airport was opened! And might just stay that way if the winds pushed the ash clouds away from Denpasar.
Interesting how one lucky day can erase the other disappointments. Yes!! We toasted.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!