This summer I was fortunate to go on a two week writing retreat/tour in Bali under the guidance by writing/writing coach Laura Davis, Judy Slattum and Made Surya of Danu Tours, with healer and movement teacher Evelyn Hall.
I have dreamed of going to Bali for years. This tour was a wonderful way to experience such a special place. The following comes from one of the daily writing sessions on the trip:
While in Bali I saw women lighting incense in their daily
offerings, showing their deep connection to the spirit. I saw many smiling
faces, people who seemed truly happy with life if even for only that moment. While
in Bali I saw banana leaves swaying in the wind, bright hanging flowers. I saw
hens herding their chicks across roads. I saw motorbikes loaded with families
and people carrying great bundles of goods. While I was
in Bali I saw dancers of strange beauty and grace dance their steps with tight
While in Bali I heard the roosters crow every morning
whether in town or country. I heard greetings: “Selamat pagi” and “hallo” from
everyone I met. I heard “Terima kasih” and “same sama" for each small kindness.
While in Bali I heard the rustle of palm leaves and the sharp pounding of rain
on the roof. I heard the cooing of brown doves and the sharp cries of birds I had never met before. I heard the chak, chak of the kecak monkey chorus and
tickling gamelan music. I heard priests chant at dawn each morning.
While in Bali I smelled the sweet scent of flowers at night: plumeria blooms, jasmine and bougainvillea.
I smelled the pungent odor of decaying offerings and onions frying in the
kitchen at noon. I smelled the mildew of fabric that won’t dry in the humid
air. While in Bali I smelled chili and lemongrass and ginger in broth. I
smelled coffee brewing and chocolate being made. While hiking through the
Balinese countryside. I smelled manure and cows and pigs. I smelled wet moss on
cold stone steps.
While in Bali I tasted the stickiness of palm sugar, the
taste of fresh unsweetened coconut. I tasted peanut sauce and ginger and
garlic, the ever present nutty tempe. While snorkeling in Bali I tasted the
salt of ocean water on lips. I tasted shrimp crackers and nasi goreng and nasi campur
and mei goreng. I tasted cacao seeds
and clove flowers picked from trees.
While in Bali I felt the trickle of sweat down my back and cool mountain breezes. I felt a
deep wonder at the richness of this small island. While in Bali I felt a deep stillness in my heart. I felt rain pour over
me and waded through puddles up to my ankles. While in Bali I felt the earth
under my bare feet. I felt the rhythm of dance.
While I in Bali I met Balinese writers and dancers and
artists of all kinds. I met children who played music for us, and women who took care
of us. I met drivers who steered us to where we needed to go. I met the stars
in the dark sky at night. I met geckos and large brown butterflies and wasps
the size of birds. I met huge snails that ate hibiscus flowers from my outdoor
While in Bali I was reminded that how I live is not the only
way. I was reminded to dance and sing, to live in my whole body instead of just
in my head. I was reminded of the importance of meeting new people and opening
myself to those around me. I was reminded to go out into nature and shake off
the dust of cities. I was reminded of how good it feels to go barefoot and to stop
worrying about dirty feet. While I was in Bali I was reminded of how important
traditions and art can be, how it feels to live in a community that cares for
While in Bali, I learned how importance of the cycle of life
and death. I learned what it means for people to live surrounded by symbols of
their spirit. While in Bali I learned I might be persuaded to believe in
reincarnation if I could stay here long enough. I learned to love this place of
great beauty as well as great trouble, of hordes of tourists and quiet rice
fields, of brightly colored flowers and great piles of trash. I learned to go
down a river on a raft, tie a sarong and listen to prayers without
understanding a word. I learned to trust the politeness of those around me. While I in Bali I learned to sit still and let my senses open wide.