This blue marble

– and yet it spins

About safety on Bali, at sunset

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canggusunset-2Enjoying the sunset with two lovers. They do not even know I exist. It does not matter. We all look at the ocean, where surfers float on their boards in the last light of day like a colony of seals. It is a beautiful night, and yet I drift into thoughts less beautiful.

I missed my first yoga class this morning. It is shameful, but as I would only have got 3 hours of sleep I decided sleep was more valuable. The diagnosis is jet-lag. I lay in bed listening to the creaking little geckos outside, but mainly I was struck by the loudness of the traffic down the street. It is as if the later it became, the faster people sped on their scooter. The amount of traffic here in Canggu between 10 pm and midnight is astounding.

It seems that going to Bali, renting a scooter, and partying until dawn is some kind of growing-up rite for Australians. Unfortunately (Google told me), a handful die every year here on Bali. Most often the cause of death is a scooter accident. Drunk fights and drugs are a second common cause of death. Gede, whose family I am staying with, told me that 70% of scooter accidents late at night are fatal. “If you crash you die” he said. And the worst is that a drunk driver can cause the death of a (sober) bystander. Last year one Australian woman was killed here in Canggu. Thieves also seem to snatch bags from people sitting on their scooters, causing them to lose balance and crash.

There are no ambulances here. If you end up in an accident, someone kind will have to take you to the hospital – and move your possibly broken spine. Nobody calls the police, either, as the police is not trusted the same way as in Europe. Rumor is that clinics may refuse to treat you if they are not sure you have insurance. And if you are unconscious, how can you speak up and say you do?

Tough words about this beautiful place. And yet, the little personal experience I have of the Balinese is that they are honest, kind, and helpful. I feel safe obtaining a ride from anybody selling their scooter taxi services at night, knowing that I will be taken where I want to go and at a price we agreed up-front. Perhaps it is an uncomfortable truth that a foreign young woman receives kinder treatment than a foreign young man?

The sun has nearly set. My drink is some kind of mysterious essence of forest. Even the color is a mossy green. There are no scooters and nobody is in trouble, so here and now have priority. And yoga will have priority tomorrow morning. canggusunset-1(Canggu, Bali, Indonesia: August 2018)

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