We are Afraid

More often than not, I feel hypocritical ‘calling out’ media when they talk about Bali. Pot calling kettle black and all that. But lately I’ve seen reports that make no sense.

Several online ‘news’ sites have been claiming that Bali has seen a ‘surge’ in visitors and tourism since we opened the borders to domestic travel. The definition of a surge is a sudden powerful forward or upward movement, especially by a crowd or by a natural force such as the waves or tide. Yes, there have been visitors but let’s not get carried away with poetic license.

The first day arrival of 4000 visitors does not really make any impact on the 4 million plus inhabitants on Bali, although any number of visitors currently is certainly welcome. Facts and figures are more helpful right now than dramatic wording; would you consider getting in an elevator if instead of saying up and down, it said surge and plummet? Probably not.

There are also reports saying that the Balinese have returned to the land to farm. Fascinating. So, do they own the land already? Or are they going into lifelong contracts to rent the land in the hope that one day they can pay it all? Or are they simply just starting up a farm on land that isn’t theirs and hoping the real owners don’t notice? And what about those who have never farmed a day in their life?

Yes, wherever possible people in Bali are becoming as self sufficient as they can, bartering with produce for items they can’t grow, but the last time I checked, electricity bills for example, cannot be paid with coconuts or bananas. And crops take time to grow so it’s not like they have instant income just because they start farming. I have learnt what true resilience is watching the local people in Bali as they have done their very best to support their families.

Then there are my all-time favourite reports – the speculative ‘we know when Australians can travel’ report. These reports actually ‘know’ diddly-squat and if they did, they would not all contradict one another. All these reports do is add to the fear and angst felt by those who are reliant upon tourism in Bali for their income; stresses those who haven’t been able to see families since the pandemic started; and demonstrates no empathy for those who missed Bali holidays, weddings, births, and so much more.

I spoke to a colleague in Japan a few weeks ago and he gave an interesting perspective to the facemask debate. He said whether you believe masks help or not, is totally irrelevant. Facemasks are a sign of compassion and that you are able to think about others. And I totally agree. It’s not about whether they are hot or uncomfortable, fairly sure the ventilators required by COVID patients are actually more uncomfortable. It’s about the entire world uniting to stop a virus that is crippling the global economies, causing an increase** in mental health issues, and taking the lives of loved ones.

** in this instance, I do believe the word surge would have been appropriate, but I don’t want to be seen as one of ‘those’ writers.

During the pandemic, there are friends that I have seen regularly, almost daily as we help each other, feed dogs together, and support each other’s businesses. Due to a tragedy recently, we hugged for the first time since March. And even though I am not a touchy feely person, I realised that I miss hugging. Because now, we are afraid. We are afraid to shake hands, we are afraid to help others, afraid to hug when someone is crying in case their tears carry contagions.

So I will wear a face-mask every single time I am with people, to show them that I care, that I want to wipe away their tears, and make up for all the hugs we have missed.

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Written by The Travellist team

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