Yesterday I rode for two hours in the pouring rain on a motorbike through the winding roads of North Bali to reach waterfalls I had only seen pictures of. My new local friend and I, thoroughly soaked upon arrival, hiked down long and steep flights of stairs, crossed through small rivers, climbed over rocks, and marveled at the sights before us.
Standing barefoot at the top of rock with the water pelting down on me from the sky and from the waterfalls surrounding me, I thought, "I'm WAY out of my usual element here. But this- THIS is my TRUE element." Nature. Water. The wilderness.
This past year I've tried many new things and stepped outside of my comfort zone in my work, my art, and in my relationships. But Bali has challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone in a different way. A few weeks ago after getting physically assaulted by a random stranger while riding BART, my defenses were WAY up. I became distrustful of people and was on-guard at all times, not wanted to engage or make eye contact with anyone for fear of what they might do to me.
Last Friday, a local driver picked me up at my guesthouse. It was 1:45am. It was a 1.5 hour drive to the base of Mount Batur. I slept in the car while a stranger drove me in the dark to a location I was unsure of, to meet a local guide who I'd never met. We arrived, I was greeted, handed a walking stick and a flashlight, and we started up the mountain in the dark. The path began to get very steep and slippery, so my guide held my hand 80% of the time during the uphill trek so I wouldn't fall backwards. I placed complete faith in a stranger who was true to his word and kept me safe. This was blind trust at its finest.
At the top, I was escorted to a warm tent, where water was boiling and I was served hot Balinese coffee, banana sandwiches, and fruit. Someone was playing "When You Say Nothing At All" on the guitar, and we sang and harmonized together and watched the sunrise. It was because of the kindness of these locals that I had even safely made it up here and able to experience this magical moment.
Being here in Bali has opened me up again to trust people. The locals here are friendly, generous, and smile first. Not knowing my way around town or where to go, I had to depend on the help and kindness of strangers to keep me safe, take me on adventures I'll remember for the rest of my life, and open me up again to the world, and to myself.