November 2016

The third part of my trip to Bali is finally here! Are you ready? This is where it gets real! The part where I get completely out of my comfort zone. Where I change my flight ticket and decide to stay in Bali for another week with not hotel or plan whatsoever. Where I trust the universe fully and get surprised with magic in return.

After changing my flight tickets to give myself another week in Bali (only a $200 fee for flights from Bali to Miami!! So yeah, no-brainer there!), I was on the lookout for a cheap place to stay. A friend of mine suggested renting a villa since rentals in Ubud are extremely affordable (like $15 per night!) so that’s exactly what I did. I spent my first “solo-traveler with no plans” night at the house of another solo-traveler friend I bumped into in Bali, and set out on a mission the next morning. I told myself I would find a place that same day but never in a million dreams did I imagine I would find a place the minute I stepped foot outside my friend’s villa. Long story short, I walked for about two blocks asking the local neighbors if they knew of any 1-bed places for rent. One of those locals, Inyoman, ended up being the owner of a beautiful hotel three steps from where we ran into each other. It was hilarious! While I asked him about villas for rent, he began telling me he needed someone to help him with the marketing for his newly built hotel. I giggled and told him I was a travel-blogger. He smiled and asked me to go for a walk with him. We walked around the hotel, the villas, the pool, the place where he wants to build a yoga studio, the restaurant. It was gorgeous and only a 7-minute motorbike ride to town. He asked me what a travel-blogger was, and I told him my entire life’s story. How I left the Private Banking world to become a conscious lifestyle and travel writer, and how I’ve been traveling the world for the past 2 years promoting eco-friendly hotels and exotic destinations. We both laughed, agreed we both believed in the power of the universe, he then pointed to the villa I loved the best, we shook hands, and he ended our conversation with an “I’ll see you tomorrow”. I replied with “tomorrow is my 29th bday!”. He gave me a super strong hug and said in his best English:  “I make sure your villa extra pretty for tomorrow!”.

That same afternoon I packed a dress in my bag and took a taxi to Canggu to meet two friends who wanted to celebrate my birthday with me. We had dinner near the beach and then headed to a bar right in front of the ocean to have a beer (and a Tequila shot that made my yogi mind spin faster than a rollercoaster!) , dance next to the water, and wait until midnight to scream ‘Happy Birthday!”.  And so we did! I danced on buttery sand with the ocean crashing against my feet and soaking my dress, underneath the moon, and next to dozens of suntanned blonde haired beautifully looking surfer souls.

The next morning, we devoured a delicious acai smoothie bowl at  In The Raw and headed back to Ubud to take my suitcase to my new home away from home: Bali Dream Resort.

The villa I stayed at was the cutest! I had my own private garden, a bed covered with white mosquito nets, a big bathroom, and a wood closet hand-carved by Balinese artisans. The hotel also had two pools surrounded by gardens, a restaurant, a bar, and a Balinese spa offering natural treatments. Every morning at that hotel felt blissful. From the paths to the restaurant that were surrounded by trees, flowers, and Balinese statues, to the flower offerings the staff left on top of the motorbike I rented at the hotel. I got a new offering every single morning. To say I felt blessed and protected while driving my motorbike around Ubud, would be an understatement!

That same day (my birthday) I had a healing therapy with a healer named Pac Man. I honestly did not know what to expect. For the past three years, I’ve found peace in healers, shamans, and temples rather than doctors and churches. It’s what I connect with the most and Ubud is full of that. Healers have become extremely famous after Ketut was introduced in the world known book “Eat, Pray, Love”. You have to be careful though. There are a lot of scammers too. They’ll tell you whatever you are looking to hear and will charge you whatever they think they can get out of you. Pac Man is different. He won’t tell you much about your future but will act as your psychologist. Helping you find answers for yourself and will then give you a cleansing massage. My experience was tough, real, a little scary, painful and yet so SO healing! He dug deep and did some major soul and body cleansing, but I’ll share this in more detail with you in the book I’m writing about my life.  

I spent the rest of my days in Bali getting completely (and insanely) out of my comfort zone. I drove my motorbike all the way to Tanah Lot Temple thinking it was only a 30-minute drive when it turned out to be about 2hrs each way! In my defense, a 30-minute drive is what MapQuest told me! (Advice: do not trust MapQuest in Bali!!). Tanah Lot was magnificent! In case you haven’t heard of it, it sits on a large (huge!) rock, which has been reshaped continuously over the years by the ocean tide. The temple is one of seven sea temples around the Balinese coast. Each within eyesight of the next to form a chain. This place is like nothing I’ve seen before. Specially during sunset. The pictures will leave you asking for more. At least, I hope so!

I spent more than three hours at Tanah Lot. Contemplating every corner, drinking cold beers at one of the restaurants on top of those rocks, and then dancing on the beach waiting for the sunset. My local friend, Adi, met me there just in time for sunset. We had a lovely conversation with our feet in the water, watched the sun go down and paint the skies in red and orange, took mind-blowing pictures, and then I found myself driving my motorbike back to Bali Dream Resort. Another 2-hour drive… through rice fields… at night…with no light whatsoever but the one emitted by my motorbike. Yes, I panicked! I felt alone in unknown territory with nobody around me but my free-spirited soul. And then, out of the blue, I felt the presence and warmth of someone sitting behind me, yet there was no one with me. Was it the prayer I sent to the universe? Was it my grandmother looking after me? Was it my brain finally finding strength? I will never know. All I know is that, at that moment, I felt safe again. So I kept accelerating, speeding through empty streets, with the wind crashing against my skin, until I reached Ubud’s busy streets and Bali Dream Resort.

The next days I spent building a routine in Ubud. I would drive to the local market in the mornings to buy fruits, art, home décor, and gifts. Then, I would drive to Sage (one of the best vegan restaurants in Ubud) for some Jackfruit tacos with cilantro sauce and a cappuccino with coconut milk, and would end up my day with a Balinese massage or dinner with friends. And just like that, Ubud began to feel like home.

The day before returning to the US, I had the crazy idea of going in search of the 2-meter manta rays in Nusa Penida; an island 40 minutes away from Denpasar’s harbor, Sanur. And so I did. I booked a $100 tour with Voyagin the night before, got picked up at 7am from my hotel, dropped of at Sanur’s harbor, got on a speed boat to Nusa Penida, made new friends on the boat, put on my bathing suit, jumped in those clear waters, and swam next to three 2-meter long manta rays. Magnificent and magical do not even begin to describe what I experienced in Nusa. It’s an adventure every single nature-loving soul should chase. If you do, say hi to "Bo" (tour guide) for me!

I concluded my Bali trip with a tattoo, of course! My 13th one but, probably, the most meaningful one. I had it done by the talented and sweet Lidya, whom I met through social media. Can you believe she had vegan ink, natural soap and vegan aftercare products?? It was meant to be! In case you wonder, the Balinese Sanskrit saying means 'She is strong, free, one with nature, and love is her religion." The symbol is a combination of my journey through life. 

Are you ready for a trip like this? If so, click here and join us in November for a repeat with incredible human beings!

Happy Holidays, world! I love ya!