Parts of the reef are dead, as they are most places, but the fish provide a vibrant contrast.

First impressions are influenced by preconceived notions of how a person or place should be.  Unless you are a truly enlightened human, who can completely open your mind, we go into an experience with expectations.  Unfortunately, expectations are the killer of joy.

I have now been in Barbados for a week.  My expectations for Bali were based on my experience of Barbados.  I love Barbados enough to make it my home.  Multiple people told me that if I liked Barbados, I would love Bali.  They were right.  I didn’t fully know why until I got here.  The weather for one is amazing.  It is hot and humid, the place where my heart soars.  Bali is going into their dry season, and I would liken the weather to December in Barbados – hot days and warm, pleasant evenings.

Bali didn’t hit my radar until I started surfing.  So far, I have surfed in Changgu and Sanur and they are unlike Barbados.  I could never have anticipated the expanse of the beach and the length of the break.  There are “green waves” as the locals call them – clean long lines, some of the longest rides I have ever had.  My instructor, Yoga, moved me down to a 7’4” board based on my skill level; I cannot help but blush with pride and have a hunger to learn this sport.  The surf break and conditions may be different but the rush that I feel is the same as I drop into a wave and the energy builds behind me catapulting me forward.

I have tried to explain to others here that surfing has changed my life. To be more precise, surfing in Barbados has changed my life.  Here in Bali, sitting on the surfboard looking out to the ocean, I am filled with that same gratitude.  My heart is full, and I can feel it when I am off the water.

Never have I been to a retreat quite like this and my expectations were largely unformed.  I have done retreats in Canada, and I have been to all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, yet the Goddess Retreat is an echelon above.  The care to detail is astonishing.  The grounds are esthetically beautiful, and the spirit is peaceful.  It is beyond a privilege to be here.

I come from Canada and have been living in Barbados.  I am accustomed to friendly people.  Balinese are right up there with Nicaraguans as the friendliest people that I have ever met.  In Bali, a smile is genuine.

Several people have asked me if I could live here.  This is a curious question to someone that only has a 30-day visa.  Maybe it is because I picked up my life and moved to Barbados.  Do people wonder if I am tempted to do it again?  Here are the first impressions that hold me back:

  • It is crowded. I figured out why there are so many scooters in Bali, when there aren’t in Barbados, which shares a similar climate. It is because this is a densely populated island, and the roads are overcrowded.  I was taken to Changgu by scooter and my instructor went up on the sidewalks to get around the cars, which were barely moving.  He was not the only one.
  • It is polluted. The poor ocean around Bali is full of plastics.  We were literally swimming in it when we were snorkeling, and it is disgusting.  It isn’t all Asia’s plastic either, the currents make our problem with plastics their problem.
  • There is a 12-hour time difference to Toronto/ EST. This makes working here (for me) almost impossible.  Barbados may be a way more expensive option, but it is in the same time zone to my previous life.

Have you had the experience where your first impressions turned out to be the ones that you carried forward about a person or a place?  Were they the truth speaking through your intuition?

My first impressions of Bali are that I love it, but I could not live here.  It could be a cheaper alternative to Barbados, but it is not a substitute.  The travel was long, and I am grateful to be here.  This is my wanderlust life: freedom to move around the world and experience it fully.