On August 5th I was fortunate. The big earthquake on Lombok was only 100 km away. Those 100 km saved lives on Bali – while over 500 lives were lost on Lombok. Most houses in the North are now in shambles, and over 400,000 people were left homeless.
I already wrote about how our salvation is in our short memory and quick ignorance of danger that passed. But our salvation can also be in reaction speed. I was up on the second floor balcony when our house started shaking. To my surprise I quickly realized it was an earthquake, even if I had never felt one before. For one second I was confused about whether I should put my flip-flops on or not, and in the end I decided on not, grabbed them and my phone, yelled to my neighbor, and ran downstairs. The people of the homestay were ushering everybody into the street, and the ground was shaking for quite a while. Twitter quickly told us the epicenter was close and the magnitude was 6.9 thus it was quite a shake, bigger than what had been felt on Bali in decades.
An hour later all of Canggu was out on the street again, scared and nervous because of an aftershock. Our guesthouse is new and built according to local standards, which do not perhaps mean too much. I decided to stay awake for a minimum of 6 hours after the main quake. Thankfully wifi was good and Designated Survivor was my company that night. I tried to not look at the cracks in the white walls, tried not to guess whether they were new or old.
Out on the street the party commenced at 11 pm, just two hours after the main aftershock. The bars pounded their music on as usual. People drank and danced. There were many aftershocks that night, but ignorance is a good friend. So is music and alcohol and company. We are fortunate here in Canggu. My neighbor from Hungary was worried but sleep got the best of her. My neighbor from Australia just gave a little hoot, shook her head, and went to bed. The people in Ubud and on the East coast were awake the entire night, rattled by each aftershock. The people in Lombok must have been helplessly exhausted each time the ground shook.
After a sleepless night, my morning yoga practice turned into a walk on the beach. Surf school was on, like any other morning, earthquake or not. Dodging the boards, I looked down – and for the first time properly noticed the volcanic sand and rock, traces of fire and brimstone, all Bali beaches are made of.
Even here on the Ring of Fire it is easy to forget that our lives are played out on the cooled crust of a hot clump of metal and magma. Until the Earth shakes its feathers a little.
(Canggu, Bali, Indonesia; August 2018)