Last Saturday I got back from my visa hop to Kuala Lumpur (more on those crazy 48 hours soon) and let out a big exhale as I stepped off the boat onto my little island home. I hugged my friends at the dive shop, sorted out two days of assisting with an instructor and then found out I didn’t have to move house from my perfect little homestay. Oh, and my husband-to-be was on his way for a visit.
Life was good.
And then? Then it all went to shit. In one way pretty much literally.
My two days of assisting didn’t go well for various reasons, parts of which were my fault and parts of which weren’t. I was left with my previous confidence totally shattered and self belief in utter rags. At some point I’ll go in to the details; lets just say that it suddenly didn’t feel totally natural for me to be doing this course, a course I’ve dreamed of doing for nigh on a decade. I began to call my own ability in to question, and that’s pretty damn scary.
But it was okay. You learn from every experience. I had epic couple times to enjoy, and greeting Mikey’s little furry face on the Gili Air jetty was close to the happiest I felt on the island (second only to discovering they sold cheap gin, natch). We had 3.5 days to enjoy, and our first 24 hour hours were magic. Lazy walks, sunsets and cocktails along with catching up on the last 30 days properly.
And then? Then I got totally floored by a stomach bug.
The next few days faded in to one big ball of awful. Crying in bed because of the pain. Crying on the toilet because I was on the toilet, again. Crying over Mikey because he was going to have to leave.
Oh yes, he’s a lucky guy.
You know the sort of exhaustion one can only experience after 72 hours of your insides being ripped out? It did not make the goodbye any easier. As someone who is basically an adult toddler, I usually get a bit weepy when I’m overtired.
Plus it wasn’t like I was waving goodbye after a perfect few days either. Guys, my bungalow is small and the bathroom door is NOT soundproof. Add this to the fact that I wasn’t actually feeling too excited by the thought of getting back to my Divemaster – hello self doubt – and it really was hard to find that nugget of positivity to cling on to.
I said goodbye, walked back to my room and then cried and cried and cried until my throat felt as sore as my insides. Pity party for one right here, ladies and gentlemen! And that scared me, because I’m never the person who can’t pick themselves up or talk themselves around. My glass is always half full; I’ll pretend it is even if it’s closer to empty. Yet here I was: weeping about the fact that I was fulfilling one of my dreams and it wasn’t turning out quite the way I’d planned.
Three days of Bali Belly will do that to a girl.
A few hours (and several episodes of HIMYM) later the sounds of some VERY loud traditional music came pounding from the lane beside my house. There was a local wedding happening and a huge Sasak band was parading down the street.
All at once my woes were forgotten. I had a camera in my hand and I wound myself through the locals, all smiling at my puffy eyes as I went. As I positioned myself to try and get a good shot in the low light I was struck by a thought: what if I’m being an incredible western pig by assuming I can document this?
Wavering slightly, camera dropping to my chin, I felt a wrinkled matriarch tapping me on the arm. Instantly I descended in to Hugh Grant mode, apologising profusely, before realising she was trying to lead me to a better spot. “No, no! You sit here for good picture!”
And I felt the corners of my mouth start to turn back up.