My head hit the pillow last night, and I was out before I could even get under the blankets. I had positioned myself quite comfortably across both sides of the bed, and my body wasn’t missing any opportunity to recover from 34 hours of consciousness. We had taken a car, a taxi, and three planes to get ourselves from Cape Town, South Africa to our guesthouse in Bali, Indonesia; the first leg of an indefinite trip through Asia. Apparently Amy tried hard to move my limp body before resigning herself to the corner of the bed that I had left for her (Oops).
Our first day in Bali was amazing. When we touched down in Denpasar Airport, neither of us felt great. We have found that sleep deprivation and airplane food has a profound impact on one’s mood. A quick drive through the city, however, was more than enough to give us a second wind. The moment we reached the guesthouse, we dropped our things and headed for the beach.
Kuta Beach is a 2-minute walk from our doorstep, and it didn’t disappoint. We were met by 5km of white sand, warm water, and a thick line of coconut trees separating us from the rest of civilisation. There was even a full-blown volcano chilling (hopefully) in the background!
We hadn’t eaten in quite a while, and we didn’t have any local currency yet, but the shoreline was just too tempting. There were hundreds of vendors along the beach renting surfboards, giving massages, selling authentic island-style clothing, and so on. We set off on what would become a 3-hour exploration of the area.
As a South African, I’m used to hundreds of people trying to sell me things as I walk down the street. I really had to suppress my default setting, namely: charging along with my head down throwing out the occasional “no thanks” and “not today”. Instead, we chatted with the locals, found out what they were selling, and then simply asked them if they accepted credit cards. Don’t judge – we honestly didn’t have cash, remember?
After a while of walking, Amy was drawn to a giant turtle statue where we saw a small sign: “Adopt a baby turtle”. There are few things that one can say that will bring forth more joy in Amy or more fear in me. As Amy leapt with glee, I had a vision of the two of us taking our turtle for a walk at 120 years old. Fortunately, this sign led to an experience that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
We had stumbled upon a program that was working to restore the turtle population in the area. “Adopting” a baby turtle simply meant making a donation to the organisation. It just so happened that they were releasing 60 of them into the wild. On that very day. In 10 minutes time. And the first 60 people in the line got to take one to the beach! I don’t know what the chances are of us running into this on our first stroll down the beach, but I wasn’t asking any questions.
We went to the building and saw the little guys swimming around in a large bucket. In case you are wondering, baby turtles are the cutest creatures that have ever graced our planet! When I saw them splashing around I had the most amazing vision: Amy and I taking our gorgeous turtle for a walk at 120 years old. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to adopt one =(
We stood in the line, collected our baby turtle in a small plastic container, and then headed to the shoreline with everyone else. We lined up along the beach and, on the count of three, released them onto the sand. The little guys raced towards the water, about as slowly as you would imagine, and we watched them swim through the shallows of the ocean for the first time.
It was a privilege to see these rare and beautiful animals begin released into the wild, and we both feel blessed to have witnessed the start of their journey. We couldn’t have asked for a better start to our trip.