So my friend was right, this place was just as beautiful (if not more) than the last, I was simply trading one paradise for another. Once I got settled, I went for a walk to see what was in store for the next few days. Within 10 minutes about 8 people came up and asked me my name and introduced themselves. I felt like the president of America. I met Mamman and Momo, two young boys who worked at the cafe next to the harbor, Baron who lived in an open-aired bamboo hut on the beach and serves beer at his family-owned “warung”. There was Unil, a surfer boy who owned his own boat and gave snorkeling tours; Ludra who worked at one of the bungalows and a crap load of children who came up and hugged me. I met two women, Uni and Woosh who sold fruit on the beach out of baskets that they carried on their heads and I promised I would buy from them the following day (and they were waiting). This place was like one big happy family, everyone knew everyone, LITERALLY!
The beach is lined with indonesian-styled gazebos where you can just lay and order food and drinks while gazing at the shimmering turquoise waters. As I lounged in the gazebo drinking a fresh cold juice, taking it all in, I could sense that it was a tad different from Bali but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. The people were still just as nice but none were named Wayan or Katut. I didn’t smell any incense, and come to think of it, I didn’t see any flower offerings for the gods scattered in the streets or any temples. And then around 3:30pm I heard the call to prayer. That’s it, I was in the Muslim part of Indonesia! Asian Muslims, imagine that! I totally forgot that Indonesia is a Muslim country except for the island of Bali that is Hindu. Thats what makes this country so interesting.
That day , whenever I told someone that I am from America, their eyes would light up and they were so happy that I was visiting their region of Indonesia. Many have said that there are very few Americans nowadays because they are nervous to come. There are tons of Europeans and Australians but no Americans. “We are peaceful”, they said, “yes we are Muslim but we just pray and mind our own business” and we are honored that you are here. I asked when was last time they saw an American and they couldn’t remember. Later on in the conversation they said, we heard that candy is cheap in America. “What do you mean” I said. They replied, we heard that it’s only 50 cents for a big candy bar. I started laughing, wow it has been a long time since you’ve seen an American because they cost about $1.25 now. They looked shocked!