A Treasure of an Experience: Bali’s Goa Gajah






Above – Goa Gajah: elephant caves in Bali, Indonesia. Wide open, roar, the entrance to a cave, an intricately carved stone mouth, monster, or whatever it is. I didn’t do my research before going (or after). But that doesn’t matter, the feeling is strong, the energy is powerful. That’s all that is important to me, really, or at least in this instance. The impressiveness of the entrance was muted by the dullness of the cave, a small, dark open cavity, with 2 small statues inside. Ganesha, om gum ganapate namah and Shiva, om namah shivah.. But this is not my story.

After leaving the cave and wandering down the path towards the jungle, I saw an old man sitting beneath a magnificent Banyan tree. He was wearing all white and was dirty, as in hasn’t showered in ages. He was glowing, as well and I like that.. A beaming light of being, a true Bodhisattva. Baba Gushti is his name. As I approached, he stood up with a radiant toothless smile, his hands were shaking and his shirt was splotched with red dribble from his betelnut habit. He took my hand and lead me into the river beneath the tree. A magic little spot, with spring fed water and Buddhist ruins from an earthquake in 1917. He surprisingly spoke a little English.

As we left the river, He said. “Mediation cave, long walk?” I, of course, followed his lead through the mysterious jungle. He laughed. I giggled with joy in the magnetic attraction we had for one another (you know what I mean). We walked deep into the jungle coming to a serene and secluded tropical river flowing through the jungle. We crossed, a precarious bamboo bridge and he lead me to the cave in the jungle. We sat and meditated. I sang some mantras, we shared a magical silent moment in the midst of the buzzing jungle. After several minutes we departed, I jumped in the river and smiled, Big. Really BIG. Feeling particularly blessed by that moment. Letting paradise soak into my skin.

A few days later, I returned to visit Baba Gushti. Again, we went to the cave, again we meditated and again I swam in the river. He told me, he lived in the cave for the last 20 years. He doesn’t eat, only chews on betelnut..Sometimes, food isn’t the only fuel to keep us alive.

Open to the moment. Open to experiences of travel. Magic happens.

Samia Shalabi
Samia Shalabi is a Seattle based artist & designer, yogi and traveler who has roots in the Middle-East, was raised in the middle-west and is drawn to India. She has a degree in geology, has traveled all over the world with a backpack, and believes in following her dreams. Samia does yoga most mornings, enjoys walks around Seattle, loves to laugh, and daydreams about where to travel next. She is working on a movie shoot in France.
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