Arriving at the small fishing village in Bali where I'm volunteering has led to endless observations and revelations. The amount of new stimuli in my life these days is astounding. Already I’m adjusting to chickens walking at my feet as I eat dinner, cats coming through the windows as I sleep, and geckos scaling the walls wherever I go. These things aren’t unusual; rather they are just a way of life here in the village, which I’m quickly adjusting to.
The village is instantly hectic, calming, loving, and hot. The other volunteers provide a warm welcome and I quickly learn that this place has a great sense of community that I’ve been searching for. People seem more connected, especially since we live on far less here. Together we do laundry in buckets outside, share and relish packaged cookies after a long outdoor waterfall trek, and ride together in our van into the nearest town once a week for dinner and drinks at the usual restaurant.
Last week before lunch, our group of about ten volunteers headed to the beach (only a 5 minute walk from our residence). The beach is peaceful and we have it mostly to ourselves since many of the locals don’t swim. Although, every now and then a few kids we teach come running and jumping into to the water to play with us with big smiles on their faces. Most don’t know how to swim, so they feel comfortable coming in only when we’re there.
The fishermen’s boats line the rocky shores, and the black sand creates a new contrast with the blue waters that I haven’t seen before. I find myself swimming freely in the secluded waters with a beaming smile on my face. It feels like a little piece of paradise here in the village. There are still many problems in the area that are in the process of being changed, but the people here are so rich in community and spirit which is what pervades far more than anything else.
I’ve been here for only a week and already I feel I’ve seen so many new things. I wonder if I’ll get tired of marvelling at the new, whether it be a group of the Balinese Hindu women lighting incense on the beach as an offering to a god, or swimming in the most beautiful waterfall I’ve ever seen. Whether or not I tire of it, it remains clear that variety makes life more fascinating, even in the smallest ways.
Back home when I was working the 9-5 it felt like the days would drag on, but ultimately the months and years started to fly by without my consent. The monotony and repetitiveness seems to only be ‘boring’ in the moment, but the risk is a life not lived and a future laundry list of regrets. I’ve been here in Bali for just one week, yet it feels it’s been so much longer given the amount of experiences
I’ve just returned from a walk through the village on the way to the beach, and I heard my name called by little ones in the distance. I smiled back and couldn’t help but think how much my life has changed in less than a month. Maybe one day I’ll feel like slowing down and embracing a static way of living, but for now, this is a way of life that truly makes me feel alive.
What new environment has challenged your senses and comfort?