A killer, a dinosaur and a magic land

20181029_185437I knew he could kill me in a blink of an eye! But, I stayed there staring at him from behind a tree, I could see him moving slowly and I could also hear the noise coming out of his nose or mouth, I wasn’t sure…then I realized there were another 2 even closer to me. So dangerous!

The guide explained to us that the Komodo dragon can weigh up to 150 pounds and eat up to 80% of their own body weight in one sitting. Well, I guess this didn’t make me feel very safe, especially as our protection walking around the reserve was only one long stick with a Y shape.

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Some people believe they are “dragons” and some that they descend from dinosaurs but in fact they are biiiiig lizards “varanus komodoensis”. There was a theory saying that these islands had some effects in the bodies of animals and humans as this lizard is extremely big and they also found in Flores what they called the “hobbit cave” where bones, smaller than usual, from primitive humans were waiting to be revealed.

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Indonesia is a very interesting country with more than 17 000 Islands, and I booked a trip for 2 days and 1 night in a wooden boat that brought me to see the dragons in Rinca and Komodo Island. I need to say that it’s quite pricey, about 1 million rupees for the boat plus another 500k to enter the islands and snorkel that national park with no luxe except … Bingo! You have the luxury of feeling the wind on your face and see the tide and the funny shapes created by the current, you sleep under the stars floating in the middle of the ocean and the moon caress your skin, and yes next morning you see the sunrise from the boat while you navigate to reach Padar Island.

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What a dream, this country has it all! I also swam with mantas and I saw their dance under the water like giving us a private show, then we headed to the pink beach, which is not that pink but with some filters hit tons of likes on Instagram.

 

One of the good presents of this trip was to meet Lusia (yes, with S), a bubblish lady from Surabaya. She was doing her 1st solo trip at 34years old and as we had the same age and both studied the same plus she was very funny, we immediately clicked. She helped me to relax after being upset for the lack of punctuality of the company we were using for the trip. And she was trying to not be obvious taking me videos and photos in the boat as many Indonesians do to foreigners to post them on social media and get likes from other Indonesians…weird thing yes, but I got used to it after 2 years of living here. So when I saw her taking me a video, I posed for it and she laughed and said: how do you know? I laugh as well and replied: well, the camera is right in front of me!. She ended up telling me the story of her life with a couple of tears that made me feel like she was not that happy about her job and having some pressure to fit into the Indonesian society but she has quite a free soul which I loved.

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I’ll keep as well in my memory the moment when I was walking behind the komodo dragon (2m away) to pose for a picture – encouraged by the ranger – and the animal didn’t stop watching me for a second, also I will not forget how after “posing” for all my pictures he just slept and the next tourist that arrived after me couldn’t take any, perhaps he liked me (as a potential snack). Their skin looks like a snake one and the movement of their tongue as well, I cannot define the noise they do and I definitely don’t want to see them running towards me ever! (20km per hour)

What an adventure, Thank you life, Thank you Indonesia!

 

Bali: forbiddance that will bring you to heaven

The government closed the airport, vanished the TV and ask to stop the WIFI, what, The WIFI? No please, take my life but no the wifi (joke). We were not allowed to go on the streets or anywhere actually, if you were staying at a resort you couldn’t go out, or even to the beach, forget about music and also light!

29339526_10155516659235888_2785035375171600384_nThe darkness was covering everything, and we were not allowed to turn on the lights. Few years before one of the employers was catch by the police fixing a light at the gate and was deported. I was excited and little bit concerned as well. “Nyepi” The day of silence had come and I was in Bali.

It was 19:30hrs when I came out of my room and BANG I couldn´t see anything, there was not a single light in the resort, quite unsure if I was allowed or not I used my cellphone to be able to see little bit and went downstairs and suddenly when I looked up, the whole universe was contemplating me, I was absolutely astonished by the quantity of stars I could see, it was an overwhelming feeling and the silence allowed me to hear the music of the nature.

Nyepi is an Hindu celebration based on the Saka calendar, a very special “New Year” and it is a day reserved for self reflection, preceded by the Ogoh-Ogoh ceremony where the communities chase the demons and build big figures to represent them and bring out on the streets while the young people play some music, and everybody makes a lot of noise to scare them.

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A day of silence, while us westerns would be preparing the party blowers, a playlist with all the current hits, etc. The Balinese new year is the opposite: God, humans and earth come to a balance, the whole island stops. I decided to stay awake with my friend and we took one big bed from the swimming pool and carried it to a very open area to see the sky. Hours passed while we were in silence just looking at the universe and tons of stars that might not even exist now but that sent their light thousands of kilometers away to reach my eyes. The night was chilly and I could feel the humidity and also hear the waves crashing on the sand, we took some towels to cover our bodies and we decided to sleep there enjoying this magical experience.

It was hard to believe that without a telescope the sky looked this way, it’s also hard to believe that this is the way it would look everyday above our heads if we were not surrounded by lights everywhere. There were so many shooting stars that I told mi friend: after 1 hour here, I will be slim, rich, etc, as I can ask so many wishes. We laugh in the darkness, and I started my special ritual that I do in moments when I feel so blessed and I say in my mind; Thank you God, thank you life, destiny, family, myself, my job, mother nature…at the end it is all related and things need to fit like gears in a machine to let us be there in the right moment with the right people.

Gili T; NO mushrooms, YES sunset and maybe love

IMG_20170724_030739_759Mushroomsss, do you want mushrooms? It was the last day of my Holidays and I was in Gili T, this tiny Island known by its beauty and party atmosphere, in Indonesia. I was quite surprised to see this big announcements everywhere and people offering this on the streets, bars, etc. First of all, aren’t you having Ramadan festivities now? Isn’t this illegal? Isn’t quite weird to have big boards with colorful chucks saying “buy here your trip to the moon”?

IMG_20170703_160229_229I was walking around the Island and I found some amazing spots for my artistic/amateur, cellphone pictures haha, as it was low tide and the sun was going down the reflection of some trees, branches, dead coral and clouds was simply beautiful and I could not resist to take tons of shots.

On the background I could listen some techno music and people enjoying those beach clubs having some drinks and getting ready for the sunset. My feet kept walking until they found a quite bar with only another 4 customers, some puffs and shade to sit, I got a beer and food to enjoy the scene. I am a big sunset lover  (I might also love sunrise but I don´t wake up that early), It is just magical how this happen, the sun disappearing first slowly and then fast, in a question of seconds its gone but the color party remains for another half an hour covering everything, changing the contrast in your pictures and putting smiles on people’s face and kisses on others.

IMG_20170731_180733_126I was the last customer but nobody was coming to bring any bill so I went to the little bar counter in the back where a smiley Indonesian guy with curly messy hair  gave me the cutest smile and somehow I ended up sitting there talking with him.

Soon, I was hypnotized by this 23 years old boy playing the guitar (he was not Carlos Santana but very charming ) or maybe it was just the moment. He was singing sometimes in English and sometimes in Bahasa as his other friends were coming one by one, I was feeling as always so lucky as I never imagine in my life to live in this country. I truly give value to these type of opportunities where you embrace the culture in a very local way, the other 3 friends were only able to sing in Bahasa (1 girls and 2 boys) and I was taking videos every time, what a night!!20180304_211606

Next morning I woke up with the birds singing  and the waves dancing, the rest of the bonfire was there and the crickets were whispering the night gossips .The volcano right in front was floating between the clouds, waiting to welcome the sun like my eyes were doing. Little by little the sun rose in front of me and the melody of life was getting loud with all the birds and insects surrounding us… Did I say us? Yes I did!! I said goodbye and walk following my google maps back to my hotel to pack and try to get a speed boat to go back to Bali (my house for the past year) and end up the wonderful journey that took me around Java, Lombok and Gili T.

Lucky girl, I saw a stunning sunset and sunrise to close one of those memories that you can tell later on to your grandchildren… in case I have one.

Waiting, weekly photo challenge

Waiting

Time is 1 of the most interesting cultural dimension… Can be synchronic or can be sequential. 

On this trip to Lombok Island I climbed a hill and found this man that stop his work to rest or to pose and the animals did the same thing. Were they waiting for me to take the picture, were they looking to me wondering why my camera was interested on them or wondering what I was doing on top of that hill? I DON’T KNOW but they all wait for me to take several pictures before continuing their journey and it seems that we both enjoyed it.

Surakarta; Sola in Solo

I took advantage of this poor old men!! That’s what I was thinking when he hardly was cycling me in his little Indonesian tuk tuk to my hostel in Solo city. Actually the price was fair 30k for about 20 min. ride and I read on internet you paid for a taxi about that, except that this was a bicycle and I didn’t know it until I jumped in.

The trip by train from Yogyakarta to Solo was short and nice, the train is proper and there were 2 girls on my side very excited to talk to me while their kids were running all along the wagon.


Your room is right there in the corner, but first you need to take a selfie with me!
…it sounded more like an imposition than a request actually but I agreed after the “manager” of the homestay showed me little bit around and stopped right in front of the swimming pool, to ask me this. I don’t mind to take pictures with people but most of the time I know them for more than 15 minutes LOL.

WOW, that was definitely the smallest shower I ever seen (besides when you are a baby and your mom can put you in a bucket haha); I was trying to figure out how to get into as no more than my knees will fit in there. Ahhh I got it!!…that cube was supposed to be filled up with water and I needed to take the shower standing on the side…the guy said it was traditional Indonesian style. This place was so interesting full of traditional furniture and with a tower you can go up to sit, have a drink and contemplate the city, also there was a room with plenty of traditional musical instruments that some people come and play twice per week and a little stage in front of the swimming pool but they don’t do it during Ramadan so I was not lucky to see that.

Ferdian (the manager) suggest me to go to see the Wayan Orang (masked dance-drama) at the Sriwedari Theatre which I also saw on internet as a highlight for turists, but I told him that I didn’t feel very safe to be walking back alone as it might end up around 11pm and some of the streets that I need to walk through disnt look very safe, he kindly offer me a ride and I bought my VIP ticket that cost me the enormous quantity of 10k (USD$0.75). It was quite full and already had started, I could see on scene very colorful costumes and make up with a live orchestra and the dialogues were only in Bahasa as well as what the screen was displaying, anyway it seemed quite interesting and funny. I wished I could understand and laugh with the rest of the crowd.

Ferdian was waiting for me outside of the theatre and gave me a quick tour around the city to enjoy the avenues and lights of what was the sister’s city of Yogyakarta and eternal rival. I do need to say that I was expecting more like a village as I wanted to be relax,in quite places, in contact with the nature, etc. Obviously I didn’t do my homework and I end up in a medium city, but I always enjoy my life and what it brings me day by day, specially as I was kind of deciding many things last minute… part of the adventure.

Solo is an interesting name for the city as in Spanish means “alone” and I was actually traveling this way, by myself. For feminine the word used is Sola… so I was sola in Solo, but I liked it.

Borobudur; My magical homestay

It just caught my attention. That simple phrase: Enjoy the little things’. I was sitting on this wooden chair on the side of the little cliff above the river waiting for my dinner, and the lady cooking wrote me the Wi-Fi password on a small notebook where this phrase was printed on.

Well, that’s what I was looking for. It must be a sign from the universe, I told to myself. So I started enjoying my simple Javanese dinner lightened by a little candle and sweetened by the loud sound of the Elo & Progo rivers that come together here.

Then suddenly, somebody started talking to me. It was Soni, the owner of the homestay I visited.

“… If you would reincarnated in three animals. What kind of animals would you choose?”

He was doing this fun story game after my 1st dinner there and before I visit the famous temple of the area. I choose a black panther, then an eagle and finally an ant (even a dolphin was very present in my mind), Then he told me to imagine myself in a certain situation and asked me what I was feeling. I answered that I would feel lucky!.  Soni gave me the description of the 3 animals chosen regarding my personality which was very accurate and the definition of how I feel in life being lucky and thankful of what I have (that I believe is so true). Then I explained him that after looking for tons of places around for my holidays I end up choosing his place… He gave me a condescend smile and said that It might be his place which choose me!!

 At 4.30 am I woke up as something was disturbing my sleep. I can listen quite close the prays of at least 2 mosque announcing the time to have the meal before Subuh, yes, it was Ramadan and I was in Indonesia. It was already challenging to sleep in a narrow bed inside this kind of rustic bungalow which had not  a very trustable way to locked it, a gap between the window and the wall (made by trunks from where all the mosquitoes can pass through) and a wasp nest, yes that’s right a WASP NEST I said.

I know, I know! You might be thinking why the hell did I pick this place of all places? But it had that amazing vibe. To me, it felt kind of magical.

Let’s start saying that I work in this high end well known resort where it’s always filled with noise or music. It is a very cool place but for my work I am always surrounded by people and I have to mingle and socialize with others. Every day. Don’t get me wrong. That is something I love about my job, but in my free time I sometimes need that peace and quiet.

This place was offering me incredible view and beautiful green nature environments close to Borobudur temple without needing to be surrounded by many people, in fact I was their only customer. The Borobudur was a place that I was really wishing to visit since I saw this picture on an Instagram account.

 I was trying to go back to sleep as the night before I was feeling tired after my journey of travelling to get there. Then Soni asked me whether I was going to sleep early. Why?, I asked. He wanted to make this nice bonfire. Bonfire? I didn’t quite understand what he really wanted but it sounded nice and cool. So I told him I was wanted to join his ‘bonfire’.

He called the kids and basically ask a guy to put fire on by gathering some branches from the yard and we just watched them burning.

I must say, my western idea of a bonfire was quite different, but it was so nice. So simple. And that was it exactly that made that night so special.

 “Enjoying the little things, that’s what life is made off!!”