Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bali - Day 9

Sadness. My last full day in Bali. And my last surf day. I can’t believe how quickly the time passed and how fantastic the trip was. It met and exceeded all my expectations, and those were pretty high to begin with.

I packed a lot in to the last day: Yoga, surfing, lunch by the pool with the ladies, shopping for the first time in Seminayak (shocking) to get some gifts for the munchkins at home, and then our big farewell Goddess dinner. The time flew by.

Usually when I travel I have a ton of funny stories and embarrassing moments, but I really didn’t have many to share this trip. When I thought about that, and keeping you people entertained, I almost went out and created some, but then I though…nah. Enjoy the first time in your life that you went a whole week without shaming yourself in some unpredictable way. At least that I’m aware of.

The farewell dinner was delicious and touching. I think that we were all really surprised at how quickly we all connected as a group, how much we all had in common, how much fun we had together, and how much we learned from each other. Our grand pooh-bah surf Goddess, Chelsea told us that our group really surprised her by how much we all stuck together, especially since we were her biggest group ever. That she didn’t expect all 15 to troop around everywhere in a herd.

Some of the “goddesses” put together a small awards ceremony where they essentially christened each goddess with a title. Mine was “inspirational goddess.” I’m sure NO ONE is surprised by that. I thought that was really nice, since I was inspired by so many of them, and am not sure what I said or did that was too inspirational. It’s maybe the first time that my title wasn’t “most fun” or “laughs a lot”—I guess that’s what happens when you a.) don’t embarrass yourself all week and b.) You are sober and surrounded by some ladies (one 4’11” Aussie goddess in particular) who’s a crazy fire-cracker that can drink a 300 lb man under the table.

And a hilarious UK goddess,
who in these pictures hadn’t even had a drop of alcohol and….well…you get the picture.

They said come to Bali and find your bliss. I found mine.

Bali - Day 8

(This is a LONG one. Consider yourself warned.)

Back to surfing—and I couldn’t wait to get back on the board. I’m addicted. The way I feel about surfing, is the way I imagine dad feels about golf. Or felt before he quit for 3 years. The desire to get out and do it every day for hours, and to constantly improve. It’s a sport that you can do brilliantly one day and fail miserably the next. There’s no constant or continual progression—each day is a new challenge. I love the rush of adrenaline and the feeling of popping up on your surfboard and riding the wave in. I’ll hold back all the mushy, spiritual, woman and nature kind of stuff—not sure I’m there yet, but needless to say, I could do this for many, many more days.

I have also figured out why all our male surf coaches became surf coaches. Jumping up on surfboards and popping out of waves causes a lot of swim shorts and bikini tops and bottoms to pop off with surprising (or not) regularity.

After surfing today, I got to make my elephant dream come true. One of the things I really wanted to do in Bali was ride an elephant. After being there a couple of days it didn’t seem like anyone shared my dream, so I was debating whether to go off myself and do it for a half day or just save that dream for another day. I was talking about it yesterday in the pool with Mandanna and she surprised me by saying she would LOVE to go and was super excited about the “elephant dream” too. She also wanted to hug and kiss them and stuff, which I wasn’t sure if you could I do but I made sure to feed that hope. ☺

We hired a driver for a ½ day to take us up to the elephant sanctuary. It was about an hour to 90 minute drive, and we got him for forty dollars. Amazing. When we arrived at the magical elephant spot, we asked our driver to stop so we could take pictures with this sign - which we were probably disproportionally excited about:

After we took every possible angle, we decided it might be even more exciting to actually see the real elephants.

Right as we arrived a torrential downpour occurred, canceling the elephant shows and possibly putting our ride in jeopardy. We figured we’d go in to the reserve and eat some lunch and hopefully watch the storm pass. It was really cool to see this from our table as we ate:

We decided that even if we didn’t get to see the elephant show and had to ride them in the rain, that we were still thrilled we took the journey, because the landscape we passed in the car on the way up showed us what the “real Bali” was like, and took us out of the whole tourist trap areas much more than our trip to Ubud.

We passed rice fields with little huts that are built every so many yards for the workers to lay down and take naps when they are tired (great idea!), and we saw the men and women working in their rice paddies with traditional clothing and pointy cone hats. We saw women and men walking down impossibly narrow roads, risking their lives in what should have been one-way traffic, and wasn’t, with ridiculously large bundles of sticks, or baskets, or clothing, or whole houses on their heads. We saw tiny little shack homes, and people building wood and ceramic sculptures, and gorgeous landscape for miles and miles. It was one of my favorite moments of the trip.

Followed shortly thereafter with another of my favorites. Getting on board a real, live elephant. The rain finally went down to a misty trickle, so we donned our raincoats, grabbed the proffered umbrellas and each boarded an elephant for a walk through the jungle.


I felt like a Queen or a Sheik or whatever royalty might ride and elephant and Mandanna and I had huge smiles plastered from ear to ear as we snapped pictures of each other and found out important facts about elephants, like the fact that Victoria Beckham (aka Posh Spice) had ridden Mandanna’s elephant in 2002.

We tromped through the jungle and saw where the people in that town lived (in the jungle), and other elephants ranging around. It stopped raining and for the grand finale, the Park Ranger (?) took our cameras and took pictures of us frolicking in the water on our elephants and sitting on the elephants knee and doing tricks with the elephants. BTW: we were pretty much the only people in the park at this point—seems it scared away all the other tourists.

We wandered around some more and saw the two new baby elephants (the only ones born in captivity in Bali ever.) and bumped in to the owner of the park who is an Australian transplant who bought ten elephants and built this elephant park and runs the place. He was very interesting, and I bought the documentary about him and the elephants he rescued from death in Sumatra to bring to Bali.

Mandanna and I were on cloud 9 after a “Brilliant Day” (as she says with her awesome Brittish/Australian accent) and I honestly think it was one of the most perfect days I have had in a long, long time. Surfing, Country tour, Riding elephants. Does it get any better?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

My surfing Debut

OK-- a break in posting the Surf Goddess Diary for a post I swore I would never make. My debut video. Basically the camera is way too up close and personal to me in really tight nasty rash guard and probably the nappiest hair you've ever seen (watch out Bob Marley), but hey, I'm a surfer. I can't worry about silly things like appearance when the world is waiting to see what a prodigy I was.

And hey, I was never one to shy away from letting people laugh at or with me. So...enjoy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bali - Day 7

Chelsea planned for us to have a break mid-week from surfing. Apparently it helps you to get some rest, and most people end up having their best day of surfing on Thursday. The plan today was to go up to Ubud to see a different side of the island, do some shopping at the market, and visit Wayan from the book Eat, Pray, Love.

We started out at the Sacred Monkey Forrest. Our yoga goddess, Susan, was our guide today and she terrified most of the ladies up front by telling them to keep moving at all times or a monkey might jump on them. There was a lot of frantic and constant movement after that comment.

I for one, wanted a monkey to jump on me (who doesn’t want a monkey pet to wrap it’s cuddly little legs and arms around you?) which freaked everyone out, although a couple of the women asked me to do it because they “just wanted to see.” I have to say, they are a little scary though when they start screeching at each other and going crazy.

At one point on our tour, the opportunity presented itself. Mondanna and I were standing still listening to a story when a little monkey ran right up next to us on a ledge. Mondanna freaked out and ran away, but I held perfectly still and made eye contact, as if to say, “I dare you to jump on me Mr. big talk. Scurrying along scaring people like you’re really going to jump. Ha. Try it.” Yup, my eyes said all that to the little fiend.

Then, Bam. He made the jump and next thing you know, I got me a monkey on my back. Which was all fine and good, until he clambered up to my shoulder and I turned to look at him and his face was just inches from mine. His eyes were all squinty and mean and his mouth was wide open showing sharp little teeth, and it screeched in my face.

Didn’t like that so much. But then I felt a pinch in my shoulder and it was monkey’s ahoy! Off the varmint. Not so cuddly after all.

After the monkey forest, we went to the market, where you find all your usual silly knick knacks you’ll never use once you get home, but I loaded up on presents for the nieces and nephews, and even found a painting I really liked. After I bought the painting, the artists mom and dad let me take some pics of them. Love ‘em.

They were so cute when I showed them the pics on the digital camera and they wanted a copy, but I tried to explain they didn’t come out of the camera. I said if they gave me an address I would mail them, but not sure either of us understood anything the other was saying. The best part was their son trying to get them to smile for the picture and to sit near each other. You can see how close they got and what their “smiles” look like from picture one to picture two.

Next stop was Wayan. We didn’t get to spend much time with her because she had other appointments, but it was fun to meet her, and see that she talks and acts just as she is portrayed in the book. Lots of talk about “man banana.” And how she can help. Eat, Pray, Love has done this lady a world of business.

I had to include these pictures of Gina, because I got her to pose for a picture and she started shaking her money maker

without realizing that there were men sitting behind her enjoying the show. Once I pointed it out, we got this shot:

Lunch was delicious—one of the best things here are all the fresh fruit shakes and smoothies, and of course I never turn down an opportunity.

After lunch we did more shopping and stumbled on some rice paddies out the back window of one of the stores. It was so interesting to see one up close and juxtaposed against the commerce of the market street.

I love it here. It’s a beautiful place filled with beautiful, constantly smiling people.

Bali - Day 6

Organic food goodness. Surfing awesomeness. Yoga. Check, check, check. Another day in paradise.

The highlight today was getting picked up after our surf lesson to go to another beach where the “real” surfers surfed. My intention was of course to try to pick up some new techniques, but the others were in it for hot surfer bods. If only they were as committed to the sport as I am. C’mon, hot surfers? Please.

Let me just make a quick mention that it is blisteringly hot and humid here. I pretty much drench all my clothes every day, and not by swimming.

The beach was pretty, and it was cool to see the surfers. They basically hike down these narrow steps that wind all over the place until you end up in this cave at the bottom. Once there the surfers paddle out of the cave on their boards and hit the surf to the beach.

A bunch of us (Sonia- Perth, Elizabeth, Gina, Nicola- UK, Maureen – UK, 3 sisters from Sydney, Chicago and LA, and Rebecca- UK) hot-footed it up to a restaurant to watch the surfers from the relative shade and with French fries and beers clasped in our greedy little fingers. (No worries mum, I had French fries clasped in both hands.)

It was a nice relaxing afternoon followed by a trip to a seafood restaurant where they move the tables right out on the sand of the beach. For those who like seafood, it’s apparently wriggling and fresh right from sea to table. We watched the sun set and enjoyed a lovely evening of food, folks, and fun.

As a sidenote, this beach was where the terrorists dropped a bomb a few years ago. Pretty sad that they could mar such beauty with hatred.


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