An Abrupt Goodbye to Bali

What could possibly go wrong? We’d just extended our tourists visas, paid the rent for a few more months, and were comfortably settling into the humid routine of Ubud’s outskirts. Our house overlooked a beautiful backyard dotted with papaya, banana, and the obligatory rice paddies. In the morning our neighbor would let a flock of geese into the paddies to graze and their evening honking would be our call for a hot ginger tea.

I’d fallen into the rhythm of waking just after the sun, writing two thousand words while drinking coffee, feeling the heat blossom into a full powered oven. Then, Maddy would wake and we feast on fresh fruit: sometimes on the tender slippery flesh of a young coconut or the trickling juices of passionfruit. Sitting at the outdoor table we saw Mount Agung on our left, and to the right was only trees, rice, and the occasional runaway rooster.

It often surprises me how fast I feel at home in many places around the world, and this house was one of them. With the protection of a mosquito net and the grace of the fan, we lived happily (if not a bit sweaty) for months, until the fateful day. Though we got most of our produce from our local friends there were some products we got from the Tesco just an eight-minute drive up the road. So we took the backpack (to avoid plastic bags) and headed off, as we normally did. I was wearing tights and a short sleeve dress, Maddy in his shorts and t-shirt.

After shopping at Tesco we headed for home as always. When the stoplight turned green the SUV behind us hit our moto, knocking us forward where we slid into the intersection. Maddy hit the asphalt, the moto landed on his knee, and I landed on the moto in a dog pile. A stranger came, turned off the moto, and helped us to the side of the road as the hit and run driver disappeared off a side street. Maddy was already bleeding and I could tell this was a bad wound. But we had no choice.

“Maddy, get on the moto, you have to drive us to the hospital. Now! Before your shock wears off and you realize how hurt you are, VAMOS!”

To his credit, he picked up the bike and we drove the ten minutes to the clinic. I still remember the faces of people in cars and on other motorcycles looking at us, both bleeding and covered in dirt, eyes focused ahead, still terrified we were going to crash again yet braving the road.

As the weeks went by, Maddy’s deep wounds were not healing, and progressively kept getting worse. We were spending hundreds of euro each week treating him, and it wasn’t improving at all. After consulting with a family friend who is a physician they advised him to come home to Europe and get himself checked out where he could recover with less humidity and stress (we lived on a top floor, so every day meant going up and down stairs which was very painful for him). The local clinic’s doctor advised us to seek treatment in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore as they had limited recourse and were prescribing him .5mg of Xanax for the pain. Obviously, it didn’t help, so he was in constant pain. Though life had been so lovely, it was obvious what we needed to do.

Our flights home to Europe weren’t for months and the airlines didn’t see fit to help us out. So, in a panic, I rearranged everything for us to leave Indonesia and be closer to a hospital in Malaysia as that’s what a local doctor advised. Finding a cheap easy air Asia ticket online can be a bit of roulette, but I was able to piece together a journey from Bali to Penang to Kuala Lumpur to Madrid via a long layover in Saudi Arabia. Poor Maddy was weak, exhausted, and in constant pain; not to mention concerned about the random stabbing stomach pangs he kept experiencing (we later found out these were from medications).

There was another problem: I hadn’t yet been out of the European Union for 90 days (as per the Schengen agreement) so he had to make the long journey home alone! An easy flight search found me a ticket back to California where I could organize some paperwork and then meet Maddy later in Madrid for the holidays. So, while everything isn’t always roses and pineapple whilst traveling we’ve still managed to make the best out of even the worse incidents. It’s been nearly a year since these events and his leg is almost recovered, though we don’t have any onward tickets to South East Asia right now. In fact, we’re leaving to housesit on a Greek island next month and you can be sure we won’t be using a moto to get around!

Brandy Bell loves adventuring around the world. She's been a solo female traveler since 2006 and has visited over 25 countries, made countless international friends, and now writes to inspire you to travel in a sustainable and responsible way.

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