It all started out when I was peer pressured into going night swimming, IN THE OCEAN! After a scorching hot day, we were all stinky, sticky, and sweaty from a long day of teaching. I wasn’t planning on going, it was DARK out! But after a little persuasion I gave in and said I would go for the moral support of my fellow volunteer friends, and because I am a lifeguard.
As the waxing crescent moon light up the sky, the waves were crashing like thunder, and the wind was howling like wolves I felt a chill run through me. There was NO WAY I was getting into that dark scary ocean! But as you all know how much I love an adrenaline rush, SO I did. I threw off my favorite Chaco’s (greatest pair of adventure sandals), put down my headlamp, and grasped onto Mikes hand for support as we followed the others into the dark waters.
The Ocean Gods must have been dueling that night, because the Ocean was angry, fierce, and greedy! Getting over the break of the waves was by far the toughest part. Many times I had to hold my breath and dive under a crashing wave, so the force of it wouldn’t spit me back onto the beach. But once we made it far enough out so that we could ride the waves, it was a rollercoaster of fun. HUGE waves were forming and as they formed we were in the mist of it getting heaved up and down. I felt like I was on piscidines trampoline.
As the waves were getting stronger as the tide was coming in, we let our bodies get thrown onto the beach. As we stumbled in the dark trying to find our belongings, I came to the SAD realization that ONE of my CHACOS was MISSING! It couldn’t be true, not my trusty favorite, most comfortable Chaco’s that I’ve worn EVERY day on this trip! All 6 of us went on full code GREEN alert. (My Chaco’s are green). But we came out empty handed. The oceans tongue of white foam just kept rolling out onto the beach slurping up anything and all that it could touch! Mike being as great as he ALWAYS is, wouldn’t give up searching even when we had all put it to rest. But by then the ocean had gobbled it up.
Up to this point in the story, you might be asking yourself, so who or what is Skynard? Well that was just the pretext to Skynard. The next morning Mike and I drove back to the beach to see if by chance the Gods wanted to give me back my sandal. It is disturbing how much trash you find on the beach throughout Asia. It makes you wonder if it’s just the locals being careless about their environment, or if the ocean really is full of our human waste?! Nevertheless, we searched and found every other color and kind of flip flop except my green Chaco.
However, on that day, we found something even more precious than my favorite shoe. Under a palm tree, flopping around in the sand was the tiniest, furriest, cutest baby black bird! It was so little it could barely stand. Mamma Birdie was nowhere to be found and we couldn’t find the nest that it must have fallen out of. What were we to do with this little bird?! If we left it, it would surly get eaten up by a predator, or die from the sun. Thinking quickly Mike saw a dragonfly, swatted it down, crushed it in his hands, and actually fed it to our little birdie. At least he wouldn’t be hungry for a while.
We had no choice, but to bring it back to the center with us, hoping they would know what to do.
Everyone loved our little Skynard. But none of the locals had any suggestions. They smiled at our sincerity, but I’m sure they would have just thrown him into the river. So we looked up Bird Sanctuary’s in Bali, and to our luck there was one 20 minutes away in Gianyar! After a failed attempt at calling them, we decided to jump on our moped and drive over there ourselves. All the while as Mike was driving I had my hands cupped together trying to keep curious Skynard from poking his head all around.
When we arrived at the Bali’s Bird Sanctuary we went up to the ticket desk, showed them our fur ball, and they instantly made a call. Up until this point we had no idea if they would take Skynard, or what kind of bird he was. After waiting about 15 minutes the Bird Veterinarian came down and said he was a Swam hen, a local water bird. They said they would take him too! Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let us come with them to see where he would live, but I know he is now in good hands.
Living in Bali these last few weeks has taught me a lot. It’s not every day that you trade a Chaco for a Swam hen. Everything has a purpose, as the Gods see fit. Materialism is something I think we all struggle with, and when you are stripped from that you have life and love. Bali is a magical and mysterious place. May Skynard and I be a forever FREE BIRD.