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Published: February 14th 2018
February 13th: An Amazing Day of Diverse Experiences in Three Parts
Every year for the past six years, since we first discovered this island paradise off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia, we make a point of returning. In our extensive travels throughout Asia since 2006, we have visited many beautiful countries and places, but some take a piece of our heart and keep it in safe keeping until we return. Gilli Trawangan is one of those. It was the first island we visited in Indonesia in 2013, and the first time we encountered pony driven carts - the primary mode of transport for everything -as there are no motorized vehicles on the island. It is where we first swam with turtles, then a year later took our Open Water Diving course, and met our very dear friend and now adopted son, Phari. It is where we have connected with our friends Gaby and Gerhardt, and have become friends with their island family. All of our immediate family - myself, Stan, and Tanner - have had the opportunity to celebrate our birthdays here over the years. So Gili T holds a piece of our hearts, and every year offers something special
for us. This year was no exception. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say this year was exceptional. Part One: Alang Alang Montessori School Visit, Sesala, Lombok, Indonesia
For the past two years I have heard from Gaby of a Montessori school in Lombok which she and her husband Gerhardt have been very involved with. In fact, the school‘s creation and continuation are very much the result of the hard work, devotion, and energy provided by Gaby and Gerhardt, who live on Gili T and have for years involved themselves in projects to facilitate the education of the underprivileged children on the island, and on nearby mainland Lombok. This year, Gaby arranged for my sister-in-law Anna, who is traveling with Stan and I at this time, and me, to visit the school. We took a 15 minute boat ride, then a two hour taxi, arriving mid morning. We had enough time to spend over an hour with the 44 children aged 3 - 6, and their two teachers. It was also enough time to fall in love with them all.
After a swarm of affectionate greetings and embraces from the children for Gaby, we all
sat on a rug where we were presented with Lombok coffee and a homemade pastry, reserved only for the guests. And then the fun began. I had come prepared to share with them Louis Armstrong’s “When You’re Smiling”- a favorite of mine that I have translated to Indonesian and sing in both languages. But when I asked the teacher - in my less than perfect Bahasa Indonesian - if I could share a song, she thought I was asking for the children to sing. We were immediately treated to a ten minute anthology of delightfully choreographed choral and solo songs by the children. Eventually, I did get around to sharing “When You’re Smiling”, but when I did it was no solo act. From the very first phrase, the teachers took it upon themselves to have the children sing it with me, line by line. We did this for the entire song, first in Indonesian, then in English. I was smiling so hard I thought my face might just crack. Of course there were photo sessions before the morning was over, during which the peace sign was generously offered by the children for the photo ops. It was beautiful beyond words
- the kind of beautiful that touches so deeply you are moved to tears. That kind. So that was the “February 13th Morning Session”: Part One of this stellar three part day. Part Two: Suradani Temple Visitation, Lombok, Indonesia
Once again thanks to Gaby’s initiative, we were invited to visit a sacred temple whose visitors submerse themselves in holy water to be purified and cleansed in the Hindu tradition. The visit was made all the more special as we were accompanied by a 79 year old, very special “Holy Man”, who recited a sacred chant for us prior to the bathing, and by his wife who guided us throughout the bathing rituals. For those who believe that certain places have profound energy, this five hundred plus year old grotto is definitely one of them. I will hopefully be able to retain the deep sense of calm and peace I felt upon completion of the 20 minute bathing ritual for a long time. Initially I would have found this very difficult to believe, as the water was so cold I felt like I was entering my lake in my home province of Saskatchewan Canada in early June.
I remember taking my first three steps in the water, which brought me up to my hips, asking myself how I am going to get through this, as it was so cold. But I kept walking, one step at a time, incorporating “mind over matter“, and soon was too engrossed in the moment to think. Instead I began to just meditate on the sacredness of it all, and allowed myself to the feel the energy. And carry through with the ritual, which involved fully submersing myself twenty six times, each time with a special intention I created. And when it was over, rather than rush out of the cold water - that concern now long forgotten - all I wanted to do was stay in that moment of deep calm. As I said earlier, I shall try hold onto that moment for as long as possible. That was Part Two of this stellar February 13th 2018 on the planet. Part Three: 3rd Annual Concert @ Genius Beach Bar and Restaurant, Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
I had the opportunity one year ago to “share the stage” with some of the Indonesian staff at Genius, two of whom were
very shy at that time. This year, it was my pleasure and delight to share a number of songs together, and witness them being more comfortable and free to express themselves, and in the process got intoduced to another Indonesian artist whom I will now check out. It was helpful that I had learned three very popular Indonesian rock songs to jam with, along with some western music. Over the course of the evening, two honeymoon couples were in attendance, one of whom commented on how memorable and special their evening was after being serenaded with a few songs. A while later an Irish man in the venue commented that I sounded like Stevie Nicks. “Perfect!” I said. “I”ll take that!” and proceeded to sing a couple of Stevie Nicks songs for him. Another very special part of the evening came much later, when I left the informal stage set and simply played a collection of songs at our table for my friends Gaby and Gabe, where we all joined in and shared the moments together until the wee hours of the morning. That was Part Two of February 13th, 2018, and another day in paradise.
Gili T has once again taken a piece of our hearts. Hold it gently. We shall be back again next year. But soon, we move again, taking boats, cars, and a couple of planes to Flores, Indonesia, our next island and diving destination. We prepared for the upcoming diving adventure spending a day taking a refresher course and completing a dive while on Gili T. In two days, we hope to once more swim with the giant manta rays and experience the underwater abundant diversity, astounding coral reefs, and pure bliss of Komodo Marine Park.
Thank you for your interest in our travels.
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