Asia, Indonesia

Cheers to Gili Trawangan

Asia Indonesia

Today I was walking back to my hotel at 11 AM when I passed a local sitting on the street. All the locals on Gili Trawangan, Indonesia are friendly and most speak English well. This one was no exception. Greeting me with a warm hello and a big smile, he invited me to sit down on a stool next to him. I hesitated because I was on my way to freshen up, eager to brush my knotted hair and cool down in the shower that offered no hot water anyway. However, I ended up accepting the offer, my curiosity to know the locals won over my eagerness to wash up. Needless to say when you let your curiosity get the best of you, the adventures truly begin. He insisted on buying me a beer at what I considered an early hour but, I accepted.

One beer turned into two and then we were off to hang out with his friends at a hostel called Happy House, which I agree is aptly named. The locals here are wonderful. They are always smiling, always chill and genuinely fun to be around, even if they chat away in their language and you have no idea what’s going on. I could tell from their body language and laughter, everyone was sharing lighthearted stories, telling jokes and making fun of each other the way friends do. The locals are no strangers to tourists and enjoy getting to know us too. They asked me my name and where I was from. They think it’s lucky to live in Canada. I think it’s lucky to live in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia. The grass is always greener I guess, except in Canada, the grass is frozen over and covered in snow for a large part of the year and in Gili Trawangan, the grass is mostly replaced by long stretches of white sand and clear water. I am envious of their permanent tans and curious about the scars that adorn their bodies from what I’m guessing is not always an easy time out in the open water; although I never did get up the courage to ask.

One local tells me he’s never been to school and that he was born in the jungle and raised in the ocean. I am immediately in love with that description. I repeat it in my head several times throughout the day in between drinks, smokes and chats. I try to imagine what his world must be like. I think about all that he has learned from life without the structure of school. I wonder who knows more; me or him. I wonder if he ever longed for school the way I long to be born in the jungle and raised in the ocean. I think probably not. He seems so happy, so carefree as he reads from what I think is a prayer-book. Obviously, the lack of school hasn’t impacted any literacy or language skills. We talk briefly about religion. He is Muslim. I am Jewish. One god, two brothers. All I see are people trying to make the best of life, people with great stories fueled by great struggles, whether you’re from the western world or not. We all search for happiness, peace, love and fun. The more I travel, the more I relish in the similarities and love the differences that make exploring a new country worthwhile.

Although I am jealous of their laid back lifestyles, their weather and beaches, I know I am so lucky to be able to travel and have these kind of unexpected days. The type of days where each moment is a memory, and slowly these moments imprint on my soul and fulfill the need for growth and change that fueled my desire to move to the other side of the world, alone. So I tip back the shot glass full of vodka and 7up at 3 PM in the afternoon and cheers to life, to humans, to the kindness that outweighs the cruelty, to the moments that matter and to living life to the fullest; whether you were born in the west and raised in a suburban family or born in the jungle and raised in the ocean. Cheers to us.

Contributed by Jessica Zeitz