Lost in Paradise
Trip Start Sep 10, 2008
63Trip End Apr 12, 2009
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Where I stayed
It should come as no surprise to me that life on the island is changing quickly. When I first discovered this place I somehow knew I had stumbled onto a rare gem; that's part of the reason I purchased a plot of land here. But now to witness whats happening first-hand – to see the harbour front obliterated by dive shops with infinity pools and organic seafood restaurants offering free WiFi, and to hear the song of the birds stamped out by the staccato bursts of hammers and the whine of saws – it makes me sad. In just 18 months since I said goodbye to my paradise and returned to life in Canada, tiny Gili Air has turned into a buzzing hotbed of commercial development
I've attained something of a celebrity-like status amongst the locals for having purchased land in such an ideal location on the island, at such a good price. The word that is often used when they are speaking to me is, `lucky`. When they call me now, they don't call me by name. Instead it is `Surga Cara` - Cara`s paradise – the name that is painted on the sign that stands sentinel in the middle of my property. My little patch of scrub grass and coconut trees has at least doubled in value since I signed on the dotted line not 2 years ago. Lucky, indeed.
I am trying to remain quiet and objective and focus the positives; yet I carry some guilt and sense of responsibility as well, for being a contributor to the very scenario that taps into my sadness. They bought; I bought. Am I really so different from any of them?
I hope so
On the upside, I am filled with joy to see all my island friends again. Nobody knew I was coming, and surprising them has been a delight. We are genuinely happy to see each other, though they are disappointed when they learn that I'm staying for `only` one month this time. The warmth of their welcome touches me.
Here on Gili Air, the roosters still crow around the clock and the call to prayer from the mosque loudspeaker still pulls me up out of my sleep in the pitch black of 4 am. The fishermen putter out in their little wooden boats at the crack of dawn, as they have done for generations, into the sea that is still impossible shades of undulating blues. The volcano Agung jags up in the middle of the horizon; will always loom there. The sun's rise and fall still blow my mind.
At the root of all of these conflicting emotions, it gives me comfort to know that while it may be undergoing a facelift, Gili Air`s DNA cannot be changed. I might be feeling a little lost, but in my heart of hearts I know that this is still my paradise, and nobody can take that away from me.