Dispatch from Bali amidst Covid-19
In a year where time seemed to have stood still, where we were asked to shelter in place, when we had to navigate the disruption of every single industry as we knew it, somehow time flew by and I remained #stuckinbali. At this point, the island feels like a tiny town where everywhere you go, you run into the people you know. As the business owners mention, there are more and more people leaving Bali but noone new is coming in...that is until now. We are still with closed borders to tourism yet in a place where cash is king, you can buy the right to exit and to enter, that is if you are healthy enough of course.
The word on the street is there may be an influx of about 10 new Americans coming in on social visas through friends of mine who have been setting up businesses known as PMA. At this point, we are all well versed in the lingo of business and social visas, longterm stay, investor, single entry, or ways to legally and illegally work...but at the very least we all have a system in place or a keeper of our passports to whom we pay monthly or semi-annually to allow us to carry on here until the borders open.
Somehow the days pass with relative normality, many of the Balinese business owners too have pivoted to agricultural efforts that have displaced them or reunited them with their families. My coconut man used to be a tour guide and driver but now he sells moringa juice and curry, local honey, tempeh manis, and fresh coconuts. Gede adapted and he remains my favorite as he treks down the cliff with heavy bottles always with a smile on his face and an excitement to be in business. Gratitude for what we have no matter how simple or slow moving is the only way ahead. I know I for one will forever be grateful for the freedoms we have had especially living here on the cliff in Uluwatu. What a special place to hide out.
Adapted to the times have I. Building out new online programs and platforms for clients to receive my services from afar. I've managed to move to a little oceanside house that I've turned into my art studio and some days the only person I may speak to are my neighbors who come out to surf or swim at the break just out my door. I often walk the beach barefoot at lowtide to commute to Bingin and swim most days for exercise. The adventurer and nomadic spirit is very much alive in me still yet I see this as an opportunity to soak up the safety of the nature, the serenity of her predictable rise and fall of the tide, and to support the island that has continued to bring me vibrancy for the greater part of the past 5 years. Having a new location and lifestyle on this island this year has felt like quite a change enough from how I used to be here in Bali, which was primarily working and teaching based in Ubud.
What's the next move for me? To be honest, while much of the world is either reopening or going back into lockdown, I trust that to be here now is the best thing for me. I've been doing some serious overhauling of health and wellness habits, personal and business development, and also avoiding the chaos of my home country despite my desire to visit my family sooner than later. Most days us expats feel like the chosen few who trusted in the sacred safety of this land and we can run free across her corners with no traffic and low overhead. I believe it will be quite some time before Bali is ever back the tourism as we knew it before...a version of Bali many of us had come to dislike or at least be fed up with...so this recalibration time truly is an opportunity for us all to go inward and to find what can sustain us in full vibrancy.
I sincerely do look forward to welcoming you here again to Bali with me. We are all hoping to fill out our studios, retreat centers, and vacation rentals. We are all hoping to bring business back to those who have none. How long we will carry on like this is a mystery...but somewhere in the not knowing and in the surrendering, I have come to a place of peace and deep contentment with the simplicity of my present way of being.