Night swimming Bali style

The gin was only partly to blame really.  We’d brought a litre of Bombay Sapphire with us from Australia from the airport duty free. Imported alcohol is heavily taxed here so although cocktails made with their locally produced spirits are reasonably priced and the local Bintang beer is very cheap, wine and imported spirits are in the out of reach category mostly. The juicy fragrant limes purchased from Denpasar market for ten percent of their Australian cost, cold tonic water with generous amounts of ice and the smiling kitchen staff have mastered the art of a perfect gin and tonic.

A round of drinks before dinner for all the goddesses gathered on the lounges is a perfect conversational lubricant. I suggest that the wines that were brought in by Sarah and Fiona should be opened and placed on the table to share. Holding back and being polite isn’t really my natural style so I walk around the raised bench to the fridge, grab the bottles and do it myself.  Indonesian sate sticks with noodles and snake beans will be perfect with the Koonunga Hill Sav blanc and Cape Mentelle Cab Sav. Both chilled from the fridge, a bucket with iced water is organised to stop them heating up too quickly. The menus here at the retreat are not well described by the word gourmet. Fresh, local and mostly organic produce is combined into a changing selection of meals. The poached eggs I have each morning for breakfast as the most flavoursome I’ve ever tasted.

Conversation flows as easily as the wine. We retire to the comfy couches and I curl my legs up and underneath me, partly to protect them from the hunting mosquitoes. Laughing abounds and some women peel off to retire for an early night, whilst others hunker down with another drink. Nadine insists she’s driving even though her bungalow is only a few metres stroll along the private lane. Sarah has already stated that she doesn’t drink so I’ve only a few of the goddesses left open to my corruption. Slowly they disappear one by one until I’m sitting here in the evening’s heat with an empty glass.

I look around the now deserted retreat and soak in the beautiful natural setting. My eye catches the light reflected in the pool. Set down between our room and the communal area, its cooling waters tempt me. I realise that I’m still wearing my bathers underneath this loose top. Peeling it off over my head I drop it on the thick soft grass. I lower myself in quietly and begin my expert dolphin moves. Diving down to touch the pool floor and rising again with my head breaking gently through the surface. I picture my moves as sleek and graceful as any sea mammal.

The quiet is peppered with the sounds of insects and the water rippling out from my fingers as they push through the water. I float on my back looking upwards. There’s so much ambient light in the area that only a few stars are visible in the sky. The knot where my bather top ties behind my neck is bulky and awkward as I try to arch my head backwards. So I untie it and also the clasps behind my back, flinging the wet top onto the rattan sun lounges. Diving below the surface once more the cool water swirls around me.  A few laps around the pool and no one has appeared from their villas. Rows of pendant lights hang outside the villas illuminating the path beside the pool. I wonder where the switches to these lights are.

Climbing out at one corner, I go the stairs and search for the light switches. Palm flat to the wall and quickly they are extinguished. Only the lights inside the pool remain on. The ability to turn these off eludes me. Bather bottoms whipped off and I dive back into the pool. So refreshing the feeling of water on my skin is a luxury. High vine covered walls and lush canopy of trees add to the secluded atmosphere of my private night swim. I know logically that I’m in a busy Indonesian holiday area but right now I’m only aware of myself and the light cool water on my skin.

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