Lacy: Nusa Penida was everything we needed and then some. When planning for this year’s travels we decided on riding two-up through the North Indian Himalayas as the snow melts and the roads open in May/June. This will not be easy. It will test our limits of physical and mental strength while traveling in India on a motorbike on difficult roads with snowmelt and snow. Add to that the fact that we don’t have the same comfort level there as we do here in Indonesia where we are familiar with the culture, language, cost of items and day to day life. We are basically jumping into the deep end head first and hoping we can swim. This is exactly why we wanted some relaxing time on the beach to start the summer. As soon as the idea of returning to Indonesia surface we both said it felt right and things began to fall into place. Indonesia is easily one of our favorite places in the world. Whether you are in Bali, Sumbawa, Flores or any of the other beautiful islands the people here are what make this country so attractive. As you ride your motorcycle down the road strangers will smile and wave at you, kids hold up their palms for a high five and locals always try to lend a helping hand if you need it. Kindness overflows. Sometimes, as an American, it can seem a little much as people you met just five minutes earlier want to invite you to drink coffee in their home. Hospitality abounds. When you forge a connection, these are friendships you can keep for a lifetime. Rob and I remain friends with Moharba, someone we met while staying in North Bali last year.
There are moments when you lay on the beach and think you must be dreaming. The water is so clear that you can see the fish swimming below, Bali Starlings fly overhead and the smell of sate grilling over red hot coals wafts through the air. Bali Starlings are an endangered bird and are absolutely stunning with a white body and bright blue “eyeshadow.” Nusa Penida is actually a conservation island for this bird and several others that are near extinction. They fly freely around the island and you will not see them like this on Bali. It’s really special. We also joke that this bird is Gizmo’s girlfriend. As Rob and I took a scooter cruise through the hills of this island one evening he remarked that it would be a great area for us to buy a plot of land. I know he daydreams of moving here just as much as I do. Not because it’s easy to live here, but because it’s simple. Simplicity is what we have geared our lives toward over the last three years. We went from lucrative corporate jobs, a fancy downtown high rise condo in Dallas, luxury cars, expensive dinners, vacations and clothes to living out of backpacks, alternating between the same two outfits and spending a couple bucks on food all day while enjoying the best street food around. Selling everything and stripping ourselves down of possessions was true freedom. Freedom to make any possibility a reality because we have less commitments to “things.” Less to get in order when we want to move to the next place: travel insurance, plane ticket, find a place to park our car for an indeterminate amount of time (thanks dad!) and go!
We played “National Geographic photographer” on the bike one day. I adjusted my shutter speed to high on my nice camera and clicked away on the back of the Scoopy as we took in the sights. As we would speed up or go around a bend I squeezed my knees tighter around Rob’s waist to hold on. I’m no professional, but we had fun and I got a good shot or two. This one included.
I have been admittedly soaking up the completely relaxed feeling I have on this island before heading to India. The snorkel trip was possibly the most stress I experienced since we wound up “hunting” for manta rays. By hunting I mean the boat would whip around to a spot where mantas were active and we would all jump off to catch a glimpse, then jump back on, go to another spot and repeat hoping to see them again. I caught a ten second glimpse of one huge manta ray. This was stressful! Ha! The remaining three spots were far more relaxed as we took the Go Pro out for its maiden voyage and captured photos of fish and even a massive octopus! Snorkeling in front of our bungalows I saw bright blue starfish like I had seen on Kenawa.
Rob and I enjoyed Nusa Penida sunsets while having “family meetings.” These moments, usually short, are when we carve out a specific time to make decisions. A few travel decisions later we were at Penida Colada (by far the best beach bar we found on the island) sipping on amazing cocktails with local flavor. Dragonfruit, pandan, lemongrass, rosella (dried hibiscus flowers – I bought some to bring home) were all locally sourced to put a smile on this man’s face….
I left this island feeling incredibly grateful to be back here, in Indonesia, and wanting to experience more of this country. I hope when we return to Nusa Penida next Rob’s leg will be fully healed and we can climb to a few beaches that we skipped this time around. Hopefully, the island will retain the simple tropical vibe it has now and won’t be swarming with tourists and minivans. I have a dream of coming back to Indonesia with friends and family so that I can share why we love this place so much 💙
From Indonesia with love 💗