Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Detachment on Nusa Lembongan

As of my last post, I had decided to postpone my departure to Nusa Lembongan and stay a few more days in Ubud to meet up with Afi from Big Tree Farms and Simon, a sharp Israeli businessman, to show them how I make chocolate and to talk business... It was 50% a huge success, 50% total failure from one potential perspective, but from my perspective, a 100% success!  I originally say 50/50 because we made chocolate, but never got to business... The reason being that my chocolate, which included superherbs like astragalus, chaga, reishi, and shilajit, got everyone so high that nobody could stop laughing and joking around and licking chocolate off their fingers!  We were having the best time ever, no question about it!  I think this goes to the ancient business wisdom that the most important meetings are those that have nothing to do with the business at all.  We were all totally in the moment enjoying a high unknown to 99% of the world and we're planning to all meet up again before I leave later this month.

The next morning I left early to catch a boat to Nusa Lembongan, a small island 12 miles off the southeast coast of Bali.  Before leaving, I bid farewell to Dani and Elan, my friends who I had been staying with in Ubud. I was now back to traveling alone, which I think is really important.  Traveling with other people is great fun and almost all of my travels in recent years, with the exception of about a week during my Bali adventures, have been with friends.  (I don't count Australia as a solo adventure, as I made so many close friends there almost instantly.)  I haven't always traveled in a  pack, however, in fact most of my travels when I was younger and exploring Costa Rica were solo adventures.  Its great to share adventures with friends, but there's a different dynamic to traveling with a group.  With a group, your well being- mental, spiritual, and physical become strongly pulled to the direction of the collective well being of the group. (I say physical too because when other people start complaining about mosquito bites, mine, which weren't itching a moment before, suddenly start to itch!)  Being alone allows you to really be present with yourself and assess where your well being really lies.  Most importantly, this solo time allows me to make sure that I am 100% happy with myself and complete on all levels and that my social interactions with others don't come from a place of any attachment or need.  I want my interactions with others to come from a place of simply wanting to enhance everyone's experience of this enchanted reality.  I think I'm relatively close to this already, but this week alone allows me to really examine whether I'm 100% there and to do the necessary internal work where the need for it arises.  I think when we can interact with others with no attachment to them, essentially not requiring that person's energy or love to supplement our own lacking of spiritual/universal energy or self-love, all of our interactions, from the most mundane day to day exchanges to moments of deep love, become more powerful, beautiful, and enlightened.  Good things happen when we're not attached to them happening.  Great high energy interactions happen when we have so much energy of our own that we don't require the other person's energy, but can celebrate in the experience of universal energy together.  Great love happens when we have so much love of our own that we don't require the other person's love, but can celebrate in the experience of universal love together! :)

Oh yeah... my first few days here had fantastic waves too!
Right now I'm in the middle of a great book, The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire- Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence by Deepak Chopra- highly highly recommended!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Back in the Water!

Before my chocolate making plans for tomorrow were created, I was originally planning to leave Ubud today for Nusa Lembongan to chase some perfect waves.  Now that I'm staying here until Saturday morning, I really felt I was missing out on surf- so I took a 40 minute taxi down south to Kerama's this morning.  I've heard of this spot and how rippable it is, but also that it can be extremely crowded.  You can imagine how blown away I was when we pulled up and saw a perfect seven footer roll through the lineup and as it died out, I could see that there were only three people in the water!  I ran as fast as I could down the beach and was right out there!  Some of the bigger sets were up to ten foot, with most in the six to eight foot range and powerful!  It felt so great to be back in the water.  With so few people in the water, I got heaps of excellent waves and also my fair share of beatings, sometimes getting caught inside by a big set, sometimes take off too late and ending up cartwheeling down the face of the wave and rag dolled under water.  The wave looks playful, but packs a serious punch!  I've got a sore neck, knee, and hip, but also a big smile on my face, which makes all the pain go away!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Good things come with chocolate!

I love life! Its totally incredible!  Two days ago I took a group of friends and friends of friends out to the Gunung Kawi temple and waterfalls where I had an incredible experience last year.  It was really sweet to share it with all of these people and see their eyes open so wide when they came up to the waterfall.

That was pretty cool, but yesterday was totally epic!  I was finally going to see the Big Tree Farms (big raw Balinese chocolate company) production facility.  It was only twenty minutes outside of Ubud, but my driver had absolutely no idea where he was going and it took us a full three hours to get there! Quite an adventure of its own!  I just stayed mellow the whole time and let the driver handle it.  As you'll see later in the story, this delay was perfect to set up what is about to happen.  I walked into the all-bamboo building and they informed me that the owner Ben Ripple was in the middle of a meeting, but that I was welcome to sit in.  As it turns out, he was making a major presentation to representatives of the Indonesian Trade Ministry on the worldwide trade of cacao, past, present, and future.  Two veteran European businessman, Serge and Simon were also there just checking out the production facility and sitting in on the presentation. It was really fascinating to learn about this side of the chocolate world that I really didn't have that much knowledge of previously.  Then as the presentation wrapped up, one of the sales ladies, Afi took Serge, Simon, and I on a tour of the whole facility.  It was really cool to see all the machines used in the processing- everything from peeling beans, to crushing them to nibs, stone grinding them into cacao paste over 15-20 hours, and then either packaging it from there or pressing it into powder and butter.  Along the way, I started sharing some of my cacao knowledge with the group and they were pretty stoked with me to say the least.  Pretty soon Serge and Simon were adamantly trying to convince Afi that Big Tree absolutely needed to hire me right away :)  I planted a few seeds of some business ideas I had in the chocolate and tonic bar world with Serge and Simon and they were quite enthralled... 
I was planning on leaving tomorrow to go chase waves on Nusa Lembongan, but the Big Tree crew and Serge and Simon invited me to come make my chocolate for them on Friday and talk business... So I'm going with the flow and hanging in Ubud until Saturday morning... who knows what will happen, but it will be great!  Then I went to a fantastic kirtan last night... it was dark in the room and the man next to me wasn't wearing his usual hat... I realized only at the end that I was sitting next to Dave Stringer the whole night!  So funny!
The adventure continues!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bhakti inside me!

Thursday, after another trip back up to the spring water temple to fill up my bottles, I met up with some old friends for dinner who I had first met in Bali last year.  It made me so happy to finally see them again- we have all traveled to far corners of the world since our last meeting, bringing so many stories to our reunion.  They are the kind of people who are right on my level, we understand each other perfectly without even having to say anything.  Their positivity and love is contagious!

            Then we went to kirtan with the legendary Dave Stringer at Bali Spirit Festival.  The venue was an incredible traditional Balinese structure in the middle of the jungle filled with hundreds of people.  The best way I can summarize what happened is to simply say that this took my life experience to the next level!  I’ve taken supreme joy in devotional chanting since before I was even born (Thanks mom!) and to this day, I live for it!  And last night, with the combination of the Bali energy, the great crowd, and everything else, I had such a deep and profound experience, taking me to a level of bliss and ecstasy higher than I had ever experienced.  I could physically feel the energy pulsing through my head and heart filling and flowing throughout my entire being.  I love life! This is the best life ever!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sumbawa and being present!

On Saturday, (which feels like three weeks ago, though it was only yesterday at the time I’m writing this portion of the post) Ben and I made the hour long taxi ride from Uluwatu back to the Denpasar airport.  From there we caught our small plane to fly two islands over east to Sumbawa.  Ben and I tried to get to Sumbawa last July, but never made it, so this trip was eight months in the making for us!

 Then we caught a taxi from the Bima airport, stopping off along the way to pick up food in a wild and hectic local market and finally arrived at our destination, Lakey Peak.  The lush beauty of Sumbawa is amazing, its very lightly populated, especially this part of the island and the jungle is so abundant, raw, and powerful.  Bali is totally awesome, but it can be hard at times to get away from all the people, buildings, and vehicles.
            The first afternoon at Lakey’s, we got really fun waves right out in front of where we were staying, even though it was a bit windy.  About two hours into the session, I made a quick miscalculation on a sizeable wave and the next thing I knew, I was being bounced across the reef.  I gave up some blood and skin from my hand, leg, and chest (how’s that for heart opening! Ha!) but fortunately none of it was too serious.  My hand looks like its been run over by a cheese grater, but it’s a sacrificial part of getting to know this new island and well worth it!
            This morning we got an early started and scootered ten minutes south along the coast to a wave that Ben knew from being here two years ago called Nangadoros.  It was perfect! 5-7 foot lefts and rights, no wind, crystal clear water and even the occasional barrel to slide into!  And there was nobody else there for the next three hours!  We rarely sat for more than 30 seconds between waves, they just kept coming.  The only problem with this (a very high-quality problem as we say) is that three hours of constant wave riding results in lots and lots of paddling and my arms had turned into noodles by the end.  We came back to our place, superfed ourselves, and then headed back out for a few more hours.  The wind had picked up, but we were still the only ones in the water and had a great time.
            There are so many kids in this area and they are all so stoked!  When we ride by on scooters, no matter how fast we’re going, they’ll run out into the road to high five us as we ride by.  After surfing this afternoon, we went in search of a hot spring we had heard of.  We didn’t find it, but crossing a river coming back we saw two ultra happy kids who had covered themselves from head to toe in mud- I couldn’t help cracking up laughing!
            On the morning of my last full day on Sumbawa, Ben and I headed out for an early surf, only to discover that the scooter had a flat tire half way there.  Too excited to stop, we rode the rest of the way there on the flat and scored great waves all to ourselves yet again.  On the way back we stopped in the first village and the local mechanic pulled the back tire apart, used an improvised torch to melt the puncture back together, pumped it back up and we were on the road again!
            Later in the afternoon, as Ben and I were sitting outside our rooms polishing off a juicy watermelon, a pack of five young locals came up to us asking for “donations.” We played around with them a bit and offered them food, but politely declined their monetary requests.  But these kids were persistent!  They just kept on trying to negotiate!  I could never imagine being such a negotiator at six or seven years old!  Then I had an idea, which really wasn’t a serious one, but I decided to throw it out there and see what happened.  Right next to our rooms was a 40 foot tall coconut tree with perfect young green coconuts sitting at the top, which was significantly higher than Ben or I dared climb.  Ben and I had been craving coconuts for days and hadn’t been able to get any on the island.  I said to the kids, half jokingly as I didn’t think they’d be able to get the coconuts either, “I’ll give you 60,000 rupiah (8500 rupiah=1 US Dollar) if you can get us six coconuts from that tree!”  I expected them to either not understand me or to laugh at the ridiculous offer, but what followed was quite the opposite- one of the kids faces lit up as he said “Me! Me! I do!”  Within seconds, he was climbing right up the palm with a style that was a blend of a Cirque du Soleil performer and a Sumbawan monkey.  Within ten seconds he was at the top of the tree, standing among the top fronds, knocking coconuts down to us.  I was feeling a mix of elation at getting coconuts but also concerned, thinking, “You better not fall out of there!”  But all was good and he scampered right back down the tree.  All the kids were totally stoked on their payday and really thankful.  It was nice to be able to give them an opportunity to earn the money.

             We found a machete and cracked open our first coconuts since Ubud, feeling the hydration pouring into every cell in our bodies.  Mid way through our second coconut each, Ben brought up something very profound and important for me that only he could have ever brought up.    Best friends are great at supporting you, but can also be great at calling you out on where you are falling short of your ultimate potential.  Ben, with his profound knowledge of what I can best describe only as “the ways of the universe” and great spiritual attunement,  brought up something that he had noticed that morning in the water and often over his time knowing me- that I was often not as present as he knew I was capable of being.  This I knew to be true, though I had not ever really addressed it.  So often my mind wanders out of my present reality, either to the future, past or present in another location.  Often I find myself thinking of what needs to be done to develop my future career and what I want that to be, my relationships with others, the lives of people back at home and various other topics.  All of this mental wandering and concern with what I’m going to be doing in the future has hindered my ability to have the ultimate present moment experience.  Even on Sumbawa, the idyllic dream surf island that I had grown up reading about and ogling pictures of in surf magazines, I was still mentally elsewhere a great part of the time.  I had an incredible experience on the island, but it was not the peak fulfillment of the experience it could have been had I fully been there the whole time.  Ben offered me great wisdom in this area.  I can think all day long about what I want to be doing or where I want to be, but only by living in the moment will I actually end up where I need to be doing what I need to be doing for the greatest good of myself and all others.  This is a big one for me that I know I need to put major focus on.  We’ll see how my approach to it evolves over coming days, weeks, and months, but for the moment, every time my mind wanders out of the moment, I remind myself that “It doesn’t matter.”  I’ll get to the future at just the right time.  Magic doesn’t happen in the future, past, or somewhere other than where I am right now- it happens in the present moment.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Happy New Year! 1934!

Yesterday Ben and I headed south to Uluwatu and scored some fun little waves in the afternoon all to ourselves at a little right hand reef break, whose name remains unknown.  Today is Nyepi, the Balinese New Year, a day on which the Balinese all remain in their homes and silently fast- it is a day of introspection for them.  We thought this only applied to Balinese and that we could go surf today, but when we tried to leave our place, they informed us that this would not be happening.  So we're in the room all day!  Good thing we've got books, movies, and super foods to carry us through!  Tomorrow morning we fly to Sumbawa!

Oh yeah- on the Balinese calendar, today is the first day of 1934... never thought I would get to experience the 30's, but Bali is full of surprises!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Back in Bali

First stop from the airport- the nearest durian stand!
It was great meeting up with my friends Ben and Sayuri and we had a delicious dinner at one of our favorite Ubud raw food spots- Clear Cafe.  This morning we're going up to the spring temple to fill up on water, then heading down south find waves.  After being relatively settled in LA for five months, the gypsy lifestyle is taking a little re-getting used to, but I'm diving right into it!  More adventures to come!

Oh the signs you see in Bali...