Imagine you are cozy at home in your cute little two bedroom house when suddenly the doorbell rings. You get up and answer it to find college kids as far as the eye can see. You don't want to be rude so you invite them in and they enter like a tidal wave with pizzas, cases of beer and of course, those red cups. You let yourself have a little fun, eventually they all leave, and in the morning you wake up to a disaster. Your favorite antique lamp is on the floor, the whole house smells like stale beer and there is trash everywhere. You don't even know where to begin so you sit down for a minute and just cry. This is what Bali felt like to me.
The other side of the mountain lead to the north shore of the island; the place we would have our first aquatic adventure. We bumped down the narrow road and turned into our hotel. We were greeted with cool towels, delicious smoothies and the gentle hospitality I had been craving since our arrival. We were guided to our villa, which was built in the traditional style, out of wood, with a thatched roof, gorgeous carved furniture, a beautiful walled in outdoor bathroom and an open air sleeping platform. I felt like I was in heaven. That evening we had a delicious meal, next to a beautiful beach where the last of the days adventurers were enjoying a crepuscular snorkel. We polished off our deliciously cold Bintangs and made our way back to our villa to fall asleep under the mosquito netting on our gigantic bed. It felt like we had finally made it to the real Bali.
I woke up before dawn, happy and refreshed. I grabbed my camera and made my way down to the beach to capture the sunrise. It looked exactly the way I hoped. The tiny crescent bay was dotted with small boats and canoes. The air was still and silent. The first, deepest reds were just starting to illuminate the horizon. I crouched down and braced my camera against my body to compensate for the lack of tripod in the slow shuttered light. I tried not to breathe and squeezed the shutter, again and again as the light changed with each passing minute. As the sun rose higher I saw glimmers on the sand. In another heartbeat I realized that those beautiful glimmers were plastic bags and bottles, washed up with the lazy morning swell.
In 3 minutes my sunrise session went from perfect to horrific. The higher the sun rose the more trash I could see. Two men from the hotel were coming down the beach, picking up trash as fast as they could before the rest of the guests stirred and started their day. I slunk back to the villa, my briefly elevated hopes squashed.