Gili Air, a place of Magic

I anticipated our return to Gili Air like a school boy awaits the first day of summer vacation. We dropped anchor in the same place as last year and I went ashore to find old friends and new. Gili Air has it all going on, the diving brings people from all over the globe, and the restaurants are sublime all with beach front seating. The one mile long island has no paved roads, only sandy paths, no vehicles, only quaint pony driven carts and no major resorts, only small huts and bungalows. Enough international tourists find this place to make it interesting but not enough to be daunting.

Meg wanted to join the world of diving and I looked up findacrew friend, Jill, now an instructor on the island. She is working at Blue Marlin Dive Center. This is an excellent dive center with training pool, class rooms and excellent staff. What really impressed me was the dedication of the staff. The manager had a baby while I was there and the staff was diligent about making sure things ran smoothly in her absence, even giving up long awaited days off. I would recommend Blue Marlin Dive Center to any visiting diver.

old friends and new.

We signed Meg up for the open water course and I arranged fun dives for my crew and the crew on Paikea Mist. Pacific crossing friends Allen and Allison had joined Michael and Gloria for an all too short stay. It was so good to see old friends again. We all hopped on the dive boat, an outrigger open boat chalk full of divers.

I did three dives with this great group, my South African dive guide, Jessy, was fantastic. I went on a “muck dive”. Muck Diving is the art of finding and identifying very small life forms living on flat sandy bottoms. I am more of a shark, Manta, big fish guy but I found the muck dive at Gili Air to be fascinating, we saw seven sea horses and many other micro wonders of the deep.

Diving by day and jamming by night, a perfect life for me. I am not a drinker so most bars have no interest for me. Last year we found a small thatched hut place on the beach and we all took to it instantly. The Freedom Bar has a magical allure. What makes it extra wonderful are the guys who jam there nightly. I was disappointed to find the musicians where all off island the night we arrived. Word was sent to Agu, the band leader, on Lombock that Capt. Brian was here to rock and he made a hasty return, yahoo.

I played music on the beach for three glorious nights, even did a bit of singing after strategically waiting for the crowd to have a few drinks. I joked with the two Brit gals sitting by us, “after you have four drinks I will sound good, after five I will look good, haha”. We played from their extensive song list of rock classics, Latin and even a bit of folk. At first glance the boys look a bit rough around the edges, a calculated charm. When the music starts the reality of this tight combo, Agu’s entertaining style and Jey’s virtuoso guitar playing come to light. There is something cosmic that occurs when three guitars align like rarely combining stars and the three of us did just that. Both guys exceed my abilities but drew me to new levels and I played dozens of songs I had not played before.

Sand in my toes, the moon rising above the ocean and playing music to an exuberant audience from across the globe, it was nirvana. In the wee hours when the last song was song I packed up the Gibsen and took the short walk back to the dinghy with a smile on my face and a glow in my heart. I had just spent four days in the realm of magic. Gili Air has returned to me twice like the mystical land of Brigadoon, and I pray it will return again.