and Loathing in Lovina
don't know what was more disturbing, the fact that my mom didn't
recognize the name of a national restaurant chain with over 25,000
locations coast to coast, or that despite meeting everybody I ever
hung out with, she still didn't know that I had no friends named
I'm a big boy now -- kind of -- and even though the thought of traveling
alone in Bali scares me, spending eight more days in Australian
purgatory, and wasting a trip half way around the globe scares me
Selina I need to go off on my own. She's bummed, but she understands.
next day, the girls and I check out of the hotel. They head north,
I head west.
that afternoon, I walk along a road in Ubud. I'm totally lost. "Great
idea -- Traveling alone in a strange place. Real smart. Have fun
getting stuff shoved in your ass!" I walk past a disheveled
man sitting on the curb and I'm startled when he stops me and asks
where I'm going. I tell him the name of the hotel I'm looking for.
He says, "Yes, okay. But road very busy. Not so pretty. Come
with me, I take you on trek by the river." Okay, in L.A. if
a strange dude on the street asked me to go on a hike down by the
river, I'd have two thoughts: "Holy shit I'm gonna die,"
and "Holy shit, we have a river?" But this isn't some
strange dude. This is Nyoman, and despite all the fear my mother
tried to instill in me, I decide to trust him instantly. Forty-five
minutes later, I'm in a deep gorge, surrounded by lush, unending,
green-ness. The Ayung River gushes over my neck and shoulders as
I lounge on a rock throne that I'm convinced nature has carved solely
in anticipation of my visit.
stop smiling for the rest of the day.
It's just one experience, but it opens up the door. And then I spend
the rest of the week kicking that door off its hinges. My fears
of traveling alone fade and then completely disappear. I see Bali
for the amazing place that it is -- not just because the scenery
is beautiful, but because the people are too. I've never met anyone
like them. They're
nice. All the time. Like Scientologists,
but without that bowl you talk into and tell all your secrets. Not
a day goes by where I don't get invited to someone's house for dinner.
Or out with their friends for drinks. I climb a volcano with Bagong.
I ride on a moped with Made. Nyoman shows me his village. Kadek
teaches me how to say "pussy" in Balinese. Bu-tu.
the person I become in Bali. I smile constantly. I'm carefree. I
wave out car windows to pedestrians, and they always smile and wave
back. I tried waving to people when I got back to L.A. A Hasidic
kid on Fairfax gave me the finger.
that's at home, and I'm not there yet. I'm on that beach in Lovina,
with Giday -- remember him? Air guitar? Chili Feppers? Anyway, we're
chilling, when suddenly he jumps up. "Hey Eric. Do you want
to go pishing?" Do I wanna go pishing? Puck yeah!
hour later we're in a dugout canoe in the middle of the Indian Ocean
catching Snapper with rods made of bamboo. Two hours after that,
I'm at a table on the beach, two freshly caught snapper sizzling
on my plate. Around me sit Giday and four Balinese dudes. They're
my new crew. I don't know exactly how my fishing trip turned into
a party. All I know is I'm in no rush to get back to L.A.
a few beers, Giday pulls out a guitar and starts to sing "Under
I feel like I don't have a fartner
TO MYSELF) Don't laugh. Don't laugh. Don't laugh. Don't laugh.
rest of the guys join in loudly, and without a flicker of self-consciousness.
They know every single word, although I doubt they know what most
of them mean. We sing, and we laugh, and it's the happiest I've
been in a long time. I can't believe that a week ago I was afraid
of traveling alone. And now, here I am, surrounded by fartners.
for the first time in a while, I think about the Australian girls,
and what they're doing at that very moment. I picture them at some
giant Foam party at an outdoor club, dick-teasing a bunch of guys
and arguing over who got browner that day.
then I look at the incredible people around me, and I smile, knowing
that besides the five of them, not a single soul in the world knows
where I am right now.
about calling my mom to let her know I'm at Giday's. But she'd probably
just want to know if his parents were home.
version for easy reading
material is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission|