Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Resort Sitter

So you want to know about Panamá. It was an interesting journey worthy of a few separate posts. But first you have to endure this story… Last summer Pablo and I traveled to Central America. We explored parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. We’d really hoped to make it to Panamá, but it would have made for an extremely long drive home. We’ve had Panamá on the brain since we didn’t get there last year.

Backing up further, after I lost Jim I took creative writing classes. I’d discovered that the only creativity I managed during his ordeal was writing. One online writing assignment was to make a list of ten things I would like to do with my life if there were no obstacles, a soul searching assignment. On that list of impossible things I considered quitting my job, selling my house, moving to a foreign country, and, get this, becoming a RESORT SITTER. As I worked with these ideas, I came to believe they were possibilities.

For my adventurous wanderlust the most interesting tropical resorts and lodges are owned and operated by individuaIs. After years of work in the vacation industry, I know that owners can never get away from their paradise businesses once the doors are opened. Although these places often have a self-managing staff, the customers feel more secure if there is an English speaking person around. I’ve managed small resorts and dive operations in remote areas, and felt that with the help of the internet maybe I could make my idea happen. It seemed somewhat obscure, I admit, but it was something that I was uniquely qualified to do….temporarily manage small resorts so that owners could take an elusive getaway.

I found this Eco Tropical Resort Website and corresponded with the owner. With my ad she opened the classified section of her website. The same day Lise posted my ad I received an email from an eco-lodge in the mountains of Bali. Linda and Norm own a three bungalow resort on Mt. Batukaru. They ‘d not been away from Indonesia for over five years and wanted to spend Christmas with family in New Zealand. Linda said she couldn’t pay me a wage, but she would offer me food and lodging for nearly a month before their trip if I oversaw things in her absence.

I couldn’t have asked for a better place to reenter the universe. With the help of my friend Jude, who donated air miles to my cause, I made it to Bali for my first two month resort sitting job. As usual, I didn't properly plan financially for the return to Kona. But I flew off to Bali in my typical no looking back, forge ahead style.

Linda, the owner/manager, and I hit it off great and spent hours chatting. She took me down to the beach and showed me where to shop, and up country into Ubud town to introduce me around. By the time the family left for vacation, I knew Bali pretty well. I felt like I could entertain the guests as well as be informative. And I really I enjoyed the guests. It was a magical place and only magical people find their way there.

I lived and wrote in this bungalow for a month....shear heaven.

The pathway to the lodge from the road is a beautiful though long walk through cocoa and coffee trees, beautiful flowers, a vanilla patch, and interesting birds and reptiles.

This is a shot of the Balinese style table in the main community building. Sometimes we played a game there, or we ate there on pillows crosslegged. Mini-Meow (or Meowie, not sure) poses for a tranquil photo.

Katja and Reto, from Switzerland, were guests I still keep in touch with. We had some excellent dinners, hilarious conversations, and fantastic bug and flower photo sessions.

Ok, maybe I returned to Kona flat broke, sick with a flu I picked up in the Seoul airport or after a week of partying a little in Kuta Beach like an idiot….ya gotta do what ya gotta do sometimes. But for me it was a success. I realized my dream. And that made me think I could realize the rest of them. I found a job, my friend Lynne came from Alaska to stay with me as well as help with expenses, and then I dreamt one night about returning to Mexico.
At a Balinese funeral I couldn't help but share some betel nut with the adorable woman below. Every time she saw me after this occasion, she shared some of her "chew" with me. It was not the tastiest of South Pacific treats, but definitely one of the more unique flavors.


katja said...

haha.. like the photo :-) I don't actually look that sick, do I?
I know I felt desperate back then, unfortunately.. but the lodge was the nicest place ever to recover :-)

Linda Dorton said...

No you don't look sick at all. You look fantastic. You both do. We really had fun, didn't we? Do you remember the night of the termite invasion? I am glad Ian was there to fix you up with the acupuncture. He sure did help me.