The day we scootered, surfed, and found the Balinese sunset.
Today was the day, the day Ariel woke up and said she would take on the waves; today was also the day I did not one but two things that scared me for personal growth, a humbling effect, and challenging experiences that should last a life time.
The more immediate concern was how to get to the ocean side. Two miles to travel in the extreme humid heat, peddle bikes were newly out of the question, and taxi’s are an utter nuisance (mostly because one of my pet peeves is paying unreasonable prices for transportation and never being able to count on being able to find transportation back).
Let’s rent a moped.
Reception let us know the last moped was out, but should probably be back within the hour. Well, it wasn’t. We waited for almost two before I approached the desk again. The young man told us the moped was not back but he would lend us his. Because he has two and wouldn’t need the second one within the next 24 hours. I hesitantly thanked him for his amazingly generous offer and then in all of my honesty I felt the obligation to inform him of my inexperience with the vehicle, “that is super nice of you and definitely appreciated, but I really feel the need to let you know that I’ve never driven a moped before and I wouldn’t want to put your personal bike at risk. Are you still okay with me renting it?”
The hesitation was now reciprocated on his face and a multitude of excuses came flooding out to cover every reason or excuse I may come up with. The bike is a really big one. You have to have a license for a moped. You can get into a lot of trouble with the police if you don’t have a license for the moped…
Just when I was about to give up and order a cab, Ariel steps in with a slightly agitated and slightly more forceful string of comments, “do you expect me to believe that every foreigner here is licensed in mopeds? I find that very hard to believe. We haven’t seen a police officer since we’ve been here. How do people get to the beach around here? Those bikes are awful, it is hot, I am pregnant, and I want to surf, today.”
Dani jumped right up, “I will learn you the moped. Come. I will learn you.”
“Are you sure, I don’t want to get you in trouble or cause any issues,” very like me to try to change someone’s mind once they’ve already given me the answer that I want to hear. Also, I started to notice the accidental good cop/bad cop scenario we were playing on the nice balinese man at the reception desk and felt doubly guilty.
But he insisted saying because she was pregnant this would be the easiest and safest way to get us to the beach (and I kind of felt like he was a little scared of that pregnant lady he was trying to protect). He jumped on his black and white moped and patted the seat in front of him, “come, I will learn you the scooter.” So I hopped on and for an entire 1 minute and 30 second demonstration and hands on learning experience I learned the bare minimum basics of the motor bike.
Putting that 90 second lesson into real time action was terrifying. We started off on the wrong side of the road. Turns are really hard to make. Other vehicles honked at me, a lot. I hit a top speed of 7mph ( I think ). Parking is really difficult. People were laughing at me the entire time, I must wear my fear on my face. And it took us about 20 minutes to go two miles to the beach. Each time I got off of that machine that day I was relieved 1. we didn’t crash 2. I didn’t hurt anyone and 3. the police didn’t get involved. And each time getting back on it I thought we were testing fate and pushing buttons, like we had already made it once, why risk another ride?
But, we made it to the waves. We found boards and immediately headed into the water. Ariel made it safely over the breaking waves at the shore… I not so much. I got hit once, twice, and almost a third time before a local surfer took pity on me, coached me on when to leave the sand, and gave me a little push. I was already exhausted. A string of turtle rolls under a few handfuls of breaking waves and paddling out any further became impossible. A failed attempt at a wave and I headed in… not after getting plummeted by a set of crashing waves right at the sand as the undertow pulled me out each time for me to surface under another crest.
I managed to stand on solid, sinking, saturated ground, hoping my bathing suit was still in tact but too afraid to look and instead scanned the beach occupants only to find pity and worry in the eyes of everyone on the shore watching me and giving me the impression that had not been a pretty sight as I drug my 9 foot, foam, disaster of a board out of the water, stomping my feet, cursing under my breath.
Only thirty minutes of having the board and I walked up to the board stand sand-bathed, fin scratched, exhausted, and highly irritated,”Is everything okay,” they asked me as I walked up – legitimate concern in their eyes, on their face, and in their voice. “No, everything is not alright. This board doesn’t surf.” I dropped off the board and walked away with as much pride as I could muster.
But the beauty that saved the afternoon was Ariel was successful.
So we surfed and then we found a bench seat in the shade at the beach bar, soaked in the experience, and I simultaneously found the bravery needed to get back on to the scooter to make it back to The Chillhouse.
I breathed a sigh of relief as we pulled up and parked, everyone at reception clapped and smiled in response to my victory of making it back unscathed.
We took the rest of the afternoon to clean up, rest, and cool off. Knowing we had the scooter until the next morning prompted a spontaneous trip back to the beach to watch the sunset.
I remember when I was young my parents took a trip to see one of their friends, they visited the beach and wrote, “Hi Sam” in the sand and took a picture of it to give to me when they came back home. I don’t remember what inspired the photo or the details of the trip – but it is one of my favorites from my childhood. And. Well. Recreating photos is all the rage right now.
The second trip on the scooter was a little easier and a little more enjoyable. The sunset was fantastic. We made it back and ended another night around a community dinner table with France, Germany, Holland, Sweden, England, and Australia recounting our day and being just the way the day made us.
It’s a pattern – a chatty entry and a then picturey entry. So that means you know what is next… Come back for a recount of a definite day of highlights with a ten hour trip to Ubud that includes monkeys… lots of them.