Blood, Sweat and Gears in Pererenan

Arriving in a new place can have an unsettling feeling. For me, it usually dissolves within 24 hours as I become accustomed to the new surroundings. On the drive to Pererenan from Medewi, I organised scooter hire via the contact of a Spanish couple I met in Medewi. $50 for the week. I’ll take it!

The air-conditioned room and desk were a welcome relief from the humid outdoor conditions I faced in Medewi. Work was much more pleasant this week. After a quick room configuration change, I was set. However, the room was designed poorly with the air conditioning unit facing into the outside bathroom. The bathroom only had a small gap from roof to wall where hot air could escape. So walking between the room and the bathroom was akin to hot/cold therapy. I would get the sweats up just going to the toilet. 

Saturday I got my bearings and rested to watch Essendon defeat the Giants. On Sunday, I spotted St. Ali, which is a Melbourne coffee roaster. So I treated myself to breakfast. For Bali, it was very expensive and probably not worth it. I was still battling some ill effects of gastro and the tapioca pudding wasn’t sitting too nice. As you can’t flush toilet paper down the toilet in Bali, each toilet is set up with a hose (bidet) to clean your bum. While at St. Ali, I went about my business and was finishing up when I mistakenly pressed the trigger and a gush of water rushed out onto my clothes. A situation I’ve found myself in back in Australia a long time ago. Just had to laugh and walk out looking like I couldn’t control my bladder.  A trip to the chemist yielded some charcoal tablets. I took five three times per day and within 24hrs I was just about back to normal.

I went surfing on Sunday morning and it was fun. The tide was low and the rocks a little exposed but the crowds were not there and we had good crew in the water. I surfed most mornings at dawn at the river mouth. Oftentimes the first in the water while still dark to get 2-3 waves before the crowds descended. Wednesday was easily the best morning. Solid size, crowd and clean winds.

Friday was the worst day surfing. The tide was higher so it attracted the crowds and there was no order in the lineup. I was wave-starved, meaning I hadn’t caught one, and a little irritated. It was the type of surf session where I could never find myself in the right spot. I would be waiting deep and get larger waves on the head, which is to say the waves break just before the spot where you’re waiting and you need to duck dive under the white water. So I paddled further out and waited an eternity as the larger waves never arrived. Then finally one would come and someone might just be a little deeper so I have to give way. For me personally, surfing with so many people in the water is one of the hardest variables to deal with in surfing. The balancing act of maintaining etiquette to ensure safety while accessing the stoke of surfing. I was too passive in this lineup.

So in the afternoon, I decided to surf it one last time before I left in onshore wind conditions. It looked okay, with the crowd on the lower side. I caught one solid wave and “thought how good is this?” Then I paddled for another wave and just as I was about to pop up (get to my feet), a surfer was paddling up the wave face directly towards me head-on, which you just don’t do. We were headed for a collision and my board would have knocked him straight in the head. So I aborted the takeoff, while he duck-dived. Boards flew everywhere. Upon surfacing, we checked in with each other and all seemed okay. A little disoriented, I was out of position and scrambling to duck dive under the next wave. I must have been slightly rotated to my right as I went under the wave, the power of it picked up my board and I felt an almighty whack in the side of my face. I could feel the inside of my mouth had a cut. I touched the outside of my face and it too had a cut. Initially, I wasn’t so annoyed but once the dominos fell to end up with this result, I became pretty annoyed, if not angry. That was the end of my surf session. I found myself frustrated with this cut that shouldn’t have happened but that thinking doesn’t serve anybody well. Just needed to compose myself and head to the medical clinic. 

The starting price for a visit was $70. By the end, I was $400 out of pocket though insurance should give back around $200. The doctor injected local anaesthesia into the outside of the cut. He asked if I felt pain. I said no but I could taste the liquid on my tongue. It had filtered through from the outside to the inside of my mouth. Quite a deep wound. That would require four stitches for the inside of my mouth and three for the outside. Luckily, I don’t plan to surf over the next week as I’m not allowed to go in water. Unfortunately, that means I won’t be able to snorkel the Gili islands. As I write, I’m only two days with stitches. I need to visit the medical clinic two more times in Gili Air to redress the wound and then get the stitches taken out. Work is allowing me to work Sunday so I can take the Friday off to go snorkelling here. My employers at Seventh Beam are the best!

For food, I found my two local warungs where I would alternate between nasi goreng and mei goreng. Lunch and dinner would often cost a combined total of $7. While I’m still working, it’s so nice to take a break from cooking and the household chores. Drop your washing off for $2. Have your room cleaned each day. No food planning. I am grateful to take a break from these daily chores of being human. 

One aspect of this new lifestyle became apparent during this week in Pererenan: The cost of moving around to new locations each week is social isolation. I lucked out in week one where I had some connections for the week. Pererenan and Canggu have a bigger city feel to them and I found myself stuck between the local scene and the tourist scene. Because I’m working, the tourist scene isn’t so accessible. And because I’m itinerant, the locals don’t want to catch up. 

To counter this to some degree, I went to some Latin dancing nights. Kadek, pictured above, is a dance instructor who Jimmy and I met last year. This lifted some post-work spirits but the connections are transient. Throughout the week, I also went to some yoga and Pilates. Moving forward, I just need to remind myself that the intention of the trip is to surf and work. I will look for a couple of things to do after work each week and it’s essentially to meet people where you are staying. This last residence, I probably wasn’t the most open as I was craving the cooler environment and some space from the previous week. So good learnings to take on the rest of the trip. 

Now I’m sitting in the back of a van on my way to Gili Air. It’s a two-hour drive to the port and then a couple-hour boat ride to the small island. I have a dressing on my face and I can’t snorkel, which was the plan for this week. So we must remain flexible and adapt to reality.

I’m glad I went back to Pererenan and surfed the river mouth. It was a good week of surfing overall. I was productive with work. Danced a few nights and retraced some familiar locations I went to with Jimmy almost a year ago (Warung Sika pictured above). But now, this area of Bali feels complete and will probably avoid it in the future.

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