Looking for Love on Lovina, Bali


Well, er, the problem was, I thought I saw a real live mermaid.
Get that?
Loping on Lovina beach one day, I came across a troglodytic Indonesian man crouching over a campfire. Was he eating a cat?! “Very nice bitch,” the local sarong hawker spat in the sand. Lo and behold! I saw a bikinied blond, like the satuesque prow of a Viking vessel, splashing out in the water. Aha! Bali Baywatch. Glint: tail! But when
the magical apparition, usually confined to the edges of 16th-century maps, subsided, I found myself dangling alone in the deep, lapping at the shore like the tongue of a blind man licking his false teeth.
“Maybe you want to see the dolphins?” the hawker persisted.
“The dolphins? Hey, that sounds interesting,” I said.
“Okay. I arrange.”
This time a real sea gypsy, with a soiled rag tied around his
head, greeted me on the beach. His smile betrayed a ragged set of
broken Chiclets. He shook my hand and winked, a cataract, an evil
eclipse. He resembled the demonic emcee from "Tales from the Crypt."
But hey, the boat looked sort of seaworthy, and an adventure is
an adventure.
So I gave him a handful of rupiah and we dragged the canoe out into
the water. The antique ghost ship glided through the waves like an
ungodly phallic symbol, until halfway out the motor conked out and a
worried look stole over the ancient mariner’s face. “What’s the
matter?” I asked with trepidation.
The Cryptkeeper began unfurling the heavy sail, pointing.
I looked over and saw a fin slicing the water.
And another. And another. And another.
Hence, we were surrounded by scores of dolphins dancing in
undulating curves, coiling like verboten question marks. I’d never seen
this many dolphins together at once, not even on TV. The old man
grinned at me, my respect for him rising inestimably. I laughed just to
hear what my own voice sounded like in the spray.
Did the divine dance of the dolphins go on every day here in
Bali away from prying eyes? What universals governed such an event? My
miraculous mermaid sighting had probably been a dolphin, too, but it's
fun relying on educated guesses rather than fact or fiction. Off an
island at the very edge of reason, I now wondered not how many more
dolphins I would spot, but how the bejesus we would get back to shore
with only a Bahasa curse and a tattered sail.

J Edwards

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