I walked along the path, now dark under the dense foliage, towards the light that opened up onto the beach. White sand stretched both ways, the waves lapping gently, radiating a soft orange glow. Farther out, larger waves broke on the reef, their stories echoing back, being held safely on shore. From a nearby mosque, the lyrical voice of prayer ebbed in and around the palms, finding the beach and following the ocean to the volcanoes rising out of the dark clouds across the bay. The bright red ball of sun settled into the awaiting dusk, sharing the last of its glow. The scene was mesmerizing.
Sumbawa is a sprawling island of twisted peninsulas, with a coast fringed by abrupt hills, and a mountain line of weathered volcanic stumps stretching along its length. Sumbawa is very scenic, however it is also very poor, with its health and education being only in the developmental stages. Not many Westerners come here, mainly wave-seekers for those pristine, uncrowded waves. Blonde hair is still very much a novelty in many parts of the island with little to no travelers, and in every case, the serious, wide-eyed faces of the locals break into the most beautiful smiles with a simple wave. In the village closest to our property in Western Sumbawa, children ran beside the car, cheering and waving, following us as we wove through the narrow streets lined with colorfully painted stilt houses.
Along every beach and street I walk, around every corner we drive, is a lesson in humility and appreciation. Invited into homes, we sit on a bare wood floor, spaces in the planks allowing air to cool the thatched home from below. The main room has a bed and a tv, serving as the living room during the day, and a bedroom at night. On the walls are posters of Indonesian celebrities, and the one or two photos ever taken of their family, now discolored from exposure. Hanging by the bed is a couple pairs of jeans and a few t-shirts, all very clean and organized. The small kids dash in and out of the room, shy, and yet curious of the foreigners. Between the family is a closeness not seen in our Western world. There is so much respect and affection, a sentiment and a happiness. Everywhere we go, children laugh and dance, sing and hold hands. We make the mistake of comparing our world and what they are lacking, when really, it’s the other way around.
Cody on a sunrise barrel.
Our property in Western Sumbawa. Paradise.