Once we arrived on the ground and were taken to our beautiful guest house, our retreat organizer told us that our plans had changed. Amed, a beach area I was really looking forward to visiting, had evacuated thousands of villagers. Hotels were shutting down, people were moving into refugee camps, and no one was traveling to that side of the island. My initial reaction of shock and frustration—“I came all this way and now the trip is ruined”—quickly faded into sadness for the devastation wrought on the island. After all, our group safe and had plenty of clothes, food, and water.
What we discovered in the midst of fear and sadness was so much beauty. We woke the next morning to the loveliest sounds of birds and frogs chirping and views of the sunrise. All of my disappointment disappeared. As we walked to our first yoga class, we passed rice fields and beautiful greenery. We explored the island as much as we were able to.
We also experienced the love and gratitude the people of Bali have for one another. We saw parades down the narrow streets to collect money and prayers for refugees. When we walked into restaurants, stores, or markets everyone was welcoming and gracious toward us. “Thank you for staying and enjoying our wonderful home,” they would say.
Whenever I was the first sale of the day at the market, the cashier would rub money on the merchandise and say, “for good luck.” It was meant for us both. Every morning we were greeted and blessed with an offering at the front door of our guest house and the yoga studio where I led classes for our 12 retreat participants. It was humbling to see people appreciate and honor our presence.
The love and gratitude these people gave all of us were contagious. It was a wonderful experience to be blessed by holy water, to walk through ancient temples, to visit sacred places and to be welcomed with open arms. The value of human connection is universal.
I learned so much on this trip to bring home. When I visited the markets, I searched for new ingredients and methods of preparation to incorporate in our MEALS THAT TRANSFORM plans. I had the experience of bartering for my ingredients and then cooking a meal in an outdoor kitchen. It was paradise for me.