After we were done with our Mt. Rinjani hike, our little group scattered to other parts of Lombok. Part of our trek package was a transfer at the end of the trek from Senaru back to the airport or to any village, home-stay or hotel in Lombok. The Canadian headed to Tetebatu, just south of Senaru, while the Uruguayans and I headed to Kuta, 3 hours’ drive from Senaru, on the south coast of Lombok. We arrived there just after mahgrib, at about 6:30 pm.
The first thing I did when I checked into my hotel was discard my clothes and head for the bathroom. I hadn’t showered for 3 days and I needed to be clean again. Over the next 30 minutes, I brushed my teeth twice, showered twice and stuck my head under the water – I really wanted to wash my hair but I had no strength left to do the mandatory grooming that Black hair requires after a washing, so I just let the water beat on my head. I couldn’t stand the thought of my smelly clothes from the last 3 days having to wait until I got back to Jakarta to be washed – this was Tuesday night and the shirts I had worn on Sunday and Monday were still soaked with sweat – so I rinsed everything out in the shower and hung them to dry on the bathing suit rack provided for my room. By 9 pm, after talking to my anam cara, I called it a night and went to bed.
The next morning, I awoke early and headed straight for the shower, where I brushed my teeth again, showered again and finally washed my hair properly. By the time I was done twisting it, it was breakfast time so I headed to the hotel restaurant and practically inhaled my fruit plate, poached eggs with toast, and tea. I was famished because I hadn’t eaten dinner the night before, but also because walking for 3 days straight had jumped started my metabolism that had slowed down because of my sedentary Jakarta lifestyle.
My original plan was to spend the morning lounging around and in the pool, but it was rainy all morning so I sat on the porch of my room and read instead, disturbed every now and then by some obnoxiously loud Australian young people who felt like it was their right to speak at the top of their lungs and curse like there was a time limit on it. I ignored them and read on (if I can sleep through retching, I can read through obnoxiousness).
By the time early afternoon rolled around, I struck out for a stroll around Kuta, heading in the direction of the beach, about a 10 minute walk from my hotel at a regular pace. But I literally sauntered down there so it took me 20 minutes. A would have done it in 5.
I passed the afternoon wandering around the village, enjoying a leisurely lunch at a warung (not the Rasta one in the picture above), and catching up on personal emails and a little bit of news.
I felt a sense of peace all of that day. I was happy that (other than the loud, obnoxious young Australians back at my hotel), the entire village was quiet and peaceful and calm. After the previous 3 days, I needed that and I reveled in it.
On the way to the airport late that afternoon, I felt the happiness that I had been expecting on the mountain. I liked Lombok. The entire island felt like one huge village. Even the biggest town, Mataram, has a large village feel to it. On the drive from the mountains and farms of Senaru in the north to the beach of Kuta in the south the previous afternoon, I had seen a large stretch of the island and I liked the simple feel of it.
Now, driving to the airport in the back of my airport transfer minivan with the window down, the cool evening breeze blowing in my face, watching the lovely greenery whiz by, and seeing the mountains far off in the distance, I finally felt the joy and awe that I had been waiting for. I had had a good day. And 2 days before that, I had heard a real live volcano rumbling then seen it belching smoke. No matter how bad the experience had felt at the time, I was glad that I had gone and I finally felt glad that I did it. I had learned some things, I had seen some things, I had met some really nice people.
As my airplane back to Jakarta taxied down the runway at the Lombok airport that night (leaving 15 minutes early…shock and awe!), a huge grin came over my face as I remembered how much I love the way that travel opens me up to new experiences. This was precisely the reason I had gone to Lombok and the volcano in the first place. I was overcome by a wave of pure joy.
The plane landed at the tail end of a rain storm in Jakarta and my joy blossomed even more, because what’s more beautiful than a rain storm? My grin grew even wider as my cabbie bore me through the stormy night on the city’s highways, back to the centre.
Despite my 3 days of misery, what a lovely way for my days off to end.