Excerpt from my memoir “The Kid Who Got Away“
I discovered after leaving Australia in the early 70s was an enchanting Shangrila
, without any of the trappings that come with a western presence. There was one hotel, the Bali Beach Hotel and one restaurant, La Taverna Bali Village. The tiny airport had a landing strip in Denpasar so short that airplanes had to practically land vertically. It was truly a paradise lost with sweet people, a few travelers who’d discovered it and the ever-present traditions of art and dance that never ceased. Magic was a piece of the fabric of the Bali I found when I stepped off that plane.
My reunion with Prophecy was joyful. They were still the same crazies I’d met at the Hotel Indonesia in Djakarta but had met with some turmoil since my departure. Jumpin’ Jet, the financier, went nuts. He’d emptied the Prophecy communal abode and sent everyone scurrying with threats of violence and mayhem. The dream still lived in their hearts but had relocated to Bali.
They had secured a gig at La Taverna Bali Village, a gourmet Italian restaurant (actually, the only restaurant) in the Sanur area. The owner, whom they called the Viscount (he was an actual British Viscount), paid them fifty rupias and a meal. In exchange, they brought their rag-tag music into his first class, four-star gourmet restaurant. I sat in and we played as if I’d never left. I was home.
I took up residence in Sanur
. I had a small hut at the end of a coconut grove, on the sand, behind a stone sea wall about two feet high. I paid no rent. I didn’t even know if there was anyone to pay rent to. There was an unobstructed view of the ocean and a smoking Gunung Agung
volcano off in the distance as I stood in my doorway.
In the mornings, the coral reef would keep the tide at bay. I could lie on my back in the cool waters as if in a bathtub. My nearest neighbors on either side were no less than a quarter of a mile from me. At the other end of the coconut grove was a Wayong Kulit
shadow puppet-theater. On an early evening, you could hear the children laugh and thrill to the puppets reenacting the ancient Hindu classics, the Ramayana
. I never wore shoes and I never wanted for anything.
In the evenings, those few western travelers present on the island would gather at Kuta Beach, where huge waves crashed thunderously day and night into forever. A bonfire was built and guitars produced as the sky painted sunsets using colors from a palette I’d never seen before. It was truly a joyful aerial musical show, with a soundtrack produced by wanderers carving a traveler’s mandala around the world. We sang the night away.
San Miguel de Allende lies atop a series of hot spring that are healing and calming. My friend Sophie is determined to show me all of them. La Gruta, Escondido Place and Taboada Hot Springs are all on beautifully well-kept grounds. One has an olympic sized lap pool. All have little restaurants, lockers, grounds keepers and attendants. For a small entrance fee, you can soak in the waters and use all the facilities. I understand that the springs are much busier on the weekends. During the week, we were practically alone. I have walked away from each of my visits refreshed and at peace with the world.
I did it. I broke my silence.
A buddy of mine by the name of David Garza has a band that secured a gig at “Paprika,” in the San Antonio section of SMA. With a little prodding from him and Sophie, I did a couple of standards like “Satisfaction” and “Hoochie Coochie Man.”
It was the first time I’d sung a song in front of anybody in about two years. The pipes were rusty but still held water. The dance floor was full. I had a great time. Stay tuned…
On one of our trips to Escondido Hot Springs, Sophie drove by a house a couple of blocks from my apartment. I noticed it was for rent. She said she was familiar with the house, having taught astrology there years ago. I asked her to stop. I asked her to write down the phone number and call. She did. The owner, a sweet Mexican woman who had raised her children in that house, arrived fifteen minutes later. We went inside. It is huge but costs less than the much smaller apartment I’m currently in. We went to the hot springs. I thought about it, though I had already made up my mind. I looked for the holes but couldn’t find any. SMA was opening its heart to me again. I accepted the invitation. I move in Dec. 20.
As we sealed the deal in the traditional Mexican manner, with great big warm hugs all around, my new landlady and her husband (an amazing artist) taught me the proper way to perform a Mexican hug. She taught me that you must place the head over the other persons left shoulder, positioning each huger’s heart in closer proximity to each other. She said, “Corazón a corazón,” meaning “Heart to heart.”
I’m off for some warm Caribbean waters next Thursday for a week-long vacation from my everyday vacation. I’ve burnt out yet another camera but quickly got a replacement for this trip. No more point and clickers for me. I’m going DSLR all the way, baby! Gotta show you some great shots of Xpu-Ha Beach and the giant turtles in Akumal on the Yucatan Peninsula. In the meantime:
Be excellent to each other and remember: Think twice before hitting “Send.”