The island of Lombok lies to the east of Bali, about 20 minutes to reach by air and 5 hours by public ferry. Despite the inconvenient access (flights can be cancelled without prior notice and ferry piers on both sides need long commute by car and are full of unpleasant touts), Lomok is worth a visit for its natural beauty and diversity.
We went in late July mainly for Gunung Rinjani, a mighty volcano that towers over the entire northern Lombok with its summit at 3726 meters. The plan was to start from Sembalun Village, climb to the summit, trek down to the volcano lake, hike up again to the rim, and then walk down through rain forests and water falls to Senaru Village. It would take 4 days and 3 nights out in the wild with the company of a guide and two porters. Unfortunately I injured my foot the first day falling off the trail and had to be sent back to Mangsit Village in West Lombok. Marcus went alone and came back after three nights completely exhausted. The trekking was so demanding, he said, that he might have given up at certain points had he not promised to take many pictures for me. And those are truly beautiful pictures.
My injured foot largely restrained my mobility when I was by myself. I was first driven a long way to see a “magic man” in a village, who massaged my foot with some oil which smelt coconut but was said to have the magic man’s healing spell in it. Then I was dumped on the beach. Fine white and black sands and crystal clear turquoise water stretched in front of me. Sunset and then sunrise. Finally I could move and managed to cross water to the beautiful island of Gili Air after surviving the terrible harbour of Bangsal. A German girl sitting next to me on the boat said we were going from one paradise to another. For me, beaches can be extremely pretty but are never intensively touching. I never choose a pure beach place for holidays. I’d rather be fighting for breath on the trail to the summit of Rinjani instead of looking for sea stars in a low tide. But now, I had no choice.
There was full moon, bright and solid. Sitting at dinner table by the beach with a grilled snapper and glass of lime juice, I felt stricken by a melancholic loneliness. I had a good view of Gunung Rinjani in clouds across the water and Marcus was up there somewhere in those clouds, perhaps eating banana pancakes cooked for him by the porters.
“Next year”, as many people said to me when they saw me walk with a crippled foot on the street of Senggigi and learned what happened. Yes, next year. I still have many of them.