Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Day in the Life of an Extreme Beach Bum

Amidst all this beach bumming and joy not much happens. To be a professional beach bum, you must be committed to living a life that requires very little of you. And when you live in a world where so very little happens, there will inevitably be bursts of utter insanity because, you know, balance.

The last thing you want to hear after handing over your passport to the Indonesian immigration office in order to extend your visa is: I'm sorry, but there appears to be a problem with your passport. What kind of problem? According to our system, you have overstayed your visa by 45 days. Obviously I didn't. I've only been here 3 weeks, I told the lady. It must be a glitch, she said. Bring me proof you're leaving the country, and I'll see what I can do about it. This is not comforting information coming from an official office of a country that does things by less than official standards.

She gave me directions to an internet cafe where I could print out my flight itinerary. I did not find the internet cafe. Instead, I found myself down a sketchy looking alleyway full of hole-in-the-wall businesses that make you guess at what exactly their business might be. I eventually found a computer shop with a printer (a rarity in this Mataram neighborhood), and stood by watching a guy tinker with two different laptops, attempting to make the printer work with one of them. It did, eventually.

After handing over my proof of leaving, the lady smiled at me in a warm-hearted way and said, Call next week to see if the glitch has cleared. Then tossed my passport into a drawer.

Sometimes the Universe thinks I need to have certain experiences and sets about to make sure these experiences happen because I'm typically not one to seek out danger and crazy at my own will. In this case, the Universe decided to prove to me that I indeed would not survive an underwater life and death situation or the apocalypse. 

I learned this by way of a crash course in scuba diving that was set up for me by a very kind angel I had met two days before. The crash course took place in a swimming pool where you learn underwater communication (I'm okay! I need to surface now! There's a big shark heading right toward us!) as well as how to handle emergencies such as losing your oxygen supply and/or having your mask completely fill with water--perhaps by being kicked in the face by a fellow diver. Apparently these things happen.

I failed miserably at this. I failed so miserably at this I'm shocked they let me go on the actual dive--which, by the way, went well enough even though I couldn't properly hear out of my right ear for a week afterwards. Once we surfaced and were back on the boat, the instructor gave me a high-five. For what, I'm not sure. Surviving? For someone who panics so easily you hardly used any oxygen at all, he told me. Thanks...? I'll take it as a compliment. Jedi skills.

Turns out the phone number to the immigration office is perpetually busy. After two days of trying to get through, I took my chances and headed back to Lombok hoping to push things along in person. I was leaving Gili Air in less than a week. I needed my passport back.

It was a very long day--waiting for the glitch to clear, visa fees, finger prints, and finally getting my passport back about fifteen minutes before the office closed. A friend back in Santa Cruz once told me I had the patience of a monk. Perhaps. My driver on the other hand, turns out, did not have the patience of a monk--though he kind of looked like one. 

Perhaps he was concerned about me catching a boat back to my island--the last public boat headed to the gilis left at 5pm. Perhaps he was in a mad dash to get back home for personal reasons. Whatever his reason, he drove like a madman in ways I have not experienced in my 8 months of travel. He ran a motorbike off the road.

It didn't take long before we were surrounded by several cars and motorbikes forcing us to pull over. These other drivers were yelling at my driver frantically, and he was yelling back. I expected the stone throwing to commence any moment. The shouting match continued until my driver turned the car around and went back to the motorbike he sideswiped, apologized, and handed over a wad of cash. Because this is how accidents are handled in Indonesia. 

This incident did not slow down his game. It only made him chain smoke. You guys, I was seriously scared for my life. We finally made it back to the harbor alive, and I paid him the amount we agreed on at the start of the day. This agitated him. Turns out, he wanted me to pay for the accident--reimburse him for the cash he gave the motorbike driver! I kindly reminded him that I was not the one driving. He cursed me as I got out of the car. You! He shouted. No good! Right.

It was late. I ended up hitching a ride on a supply boat back to Gili Air--our bright yellow star crossing over the edge of the blue horizon as we crossed the sea over to safety--back to my tiny island, back to my hammock and my books and my manuscript, back to my beach bumming ways--where the world is worlds away.

This post does not lend itself to philosophical musings. This post likes its status as a rip in the space-time continuum of extreme beach bumming. Discuss.

I cannot believe my time is up here on Gili Air! I've been here for 5 (mostly) blissful weeks. Tomorrow morning I will hop on a boat for the tiny fishing village of Amed on the east coast of Bali for my last 3 weeks in Indonesia. Let's hope all the bliss and joy crosses over as well. 


Annica Nord said...

Oh my goodness! What a stressful adventure! Good thing you are very patient and exude a calm presence.

luis_v_silva said...

wow, that's quite a story. Enjoy Amed, it is quite nice and sleepy. Check out the yoga classes in the Apneista. Much Love

Sarah Seymour said...

Haha, thank you! Yeah, I don't think I could have survived those last couple weeks if I wasn't a calm person :)

Sarah Seymour said...

Thank you! I will :) Yes, definitely quiet and sleepy. I'm staying in the far southern part so I'm really isolated from everything too! I'll look up Apneista and check it out! Thank you letting me know about it :)