One month today!
Hard to believe we have been away a month...even harder to believe we have three more months to go.
As I write this, we are flopped out in our bungalow. It is 9:30 in the morning, and already muggy. Abbey is drawing a "blossom tree" in her Scooby Doo drawing book and Mike is doing crosswords.
We are on an island called Gili Trawangan. It is truly breathtaking here. We left Ubud nearly a week ago, stopping for two nights in a small port village called Padang Bai. Although very sweet, PB wasn't quite as inspiring as we had anticipated...so we decided to take a fast boat to the Gili Islands. Now a slow boat to the Gilis takes about 4 hrs. A fast boat takes about an hour and a half. In a speed boat. In open water. Yes. I wouldn't say I feared for my life, but I did fear for my stomach. The huge saving grace was how amazingly Abbey dealt with it. She lay down on our laps, closed her eyes, and shut it out. The boat bounced and slammed in the water, and Abbey slept...thereby receiving much admiration from the 20 other rather green passengers when we finally landed. And man what a sight when we pulled in! Azure blue waters, white sand beaches, beachside cafes. Turtles amongst the coral just off the beach. Are you serious? Gili Trawangan is the largest and most populated of three small islands just off the northwest coast of Lombok (the bigger island to the right of Bali). It has no cars, or dogs, or even police (but plenty of cats and millipedes) and is a tourist paradise for wealthy types and backpackers alike. It seems we are older than the general population of the tourists here. Couples or groups, surfers, divers from all over the world...lying on the beach, snorkeling, lounging in cafes, taking their PADI certification. They may also be partaking in the numerous Magic Mushroom cafes (no police) that promise "A Trip To the Moon!" or "Become a nicer guy". There are local tourists too - from Lombok or Java. There are also probably a few more older tourists hiding in the fancier hotels. It took us less than a day to decide we were going to have to stay here at least a week (in part simply to avoid the boat trip back to Bali!) We have settled in Lumbung Cottages - a small cheaper 'resort' off the beach, within the local village. We have rented bikes with a bike seat for Abbey, which has given us amazing freedom. Yesterday we biked to the northern part of the island and parked ourselves on a remote stretch of beach. We played in the water and made coral sculptures with the tons of bleached coral washed up on the beach. I fought my way past the shallow reefs to snorkel in the deeper water....which was actually a little nervewracking - having waves slam me into the reefs. Much better to snorkel off the more populated beach in town. Even there you can see fifty different kinds of fish, and the odd turtle drifting calmly past. From the beachside cafes you can also see schools of silvery fish jumping in unison out of the water. C'mon. In the evening, once we have argued over which restaurant to try, we then battle with not blowing our budget on cocktails. (We are trying to keep each meal to $10 total, but lately we've been failing miserably.) Living in the village is a healthy reminder of the everyday lives of locals. And as the Gilis - like Lombok and the rest of Indonesia -are Muslim, you can hear the call to prayer throughout the day. And, even though the local network mostly exists to support tourism, signs are posted throughout the island asking tourists to respect the local culture by refraining from wearing bikinis in the village. Which is mostly observed. No wonder the Muslim women running the little shops look so severe.
So...as it is our one month anniversary today, we are going to celebrate by having ice-creams *before* lunch, drawing special pictures in Abbey's journal, and going to a restaurant for dinner that has little booths where you can eat and watch a movie. Tomorrow perhaps we will go out in a glass -bottom boat. All really terrible stuff, I'm sorry to have to report. But if you're sick of all this paradise business, I'll throw in how KEEN we are getting for Abbey-aged playmates and babysitters. Without a doubt, all activity revolves around Abbey and what she'd like or can handle. We take turns having time on our own, but the battles around minutiae continue. Meanwhile, nubile bodies all around us lounge for hours in one cafe. Not that I'm complaining. I'm not complaining. Not at all. Nope. Not. Me.