We invite you to participate in our new series – New Eyes: Travel Changing Perspectives. It is easy to participate! Simply share an image on social media and write a few words about how that image of your travels changed your perspective. Please use #neweyestravel so that we can find your incredible images and stories! (We are also happy to have you share your image and story via a guest blog post. Contact us if you’re interested!)
Today’s image and description are shared by our very own Tara Nygaard, who came up with the idea of sharing stories to go with our new theme (thanks Tara)!
Sunset, 1990, at Taman Ria Beach on the remote island of West Timor, Indonesia. I landed here on a puddle jumper from Darwin, Australia. Only a handful of people ventured here because of rising violence and political unrest in nearby East Timor.
I had no idea what to expect, my life back home was relatively peaceful. Even as a New Yorker, the closest I had come to violence was fighting for a seat on the subway during rush hour. But after 9 months of backpacking, life had become a daily tradeoff between calculated risks and the exhilarating opportunity to walk the road less traveled. So here I was at the Taman Ria Beach Hotel.
My “hotel’ was more like a scene from a horror movie. Our rooms faced a dilapidated mid-century carnival park, complete with rusted statues of giraffes and live chickens that would soon become my dinner. Oh goodness…
Then at sunset, I stumbled upon them. At first I thought it was a special performance or a maybe even a mirage. It was some form of martial arts practice…but what kind? Tai Chi? They moved in slow, deliberate, simple movements. I had never seen grown men move with such grace. Blue shirts faded like the sun into low tide. They created a calm completely foreign to my Western mind. Here I was only 100 miles from a civil war, but never had I felt such peace. Never had I felt so far away from rush hour in New York.