Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain. (Vivian Greene)
As my time here on the island is coming to an end, I tend to get a little sentimental from time to time. Despite the pandemic and our ensuing lockdown, my adventure here has been incredible. At first, it truly was the paradise I expected, with beautiful nature, great guests that sometimes even became friends, and a new family of colleagues that made me feel welcome from the very first day. Then I had plans to go diving in Sulawesi (which happened just before everything closed down last March) and to travel around Java in May (which didn’t happen because there was a travel ban). And then the long wait started.
I’m not a very patient person, but I had to learn. First, because of what life on the island is like – it's slow and a there's a lot of waiting! And then, because of the long months of not knowing when the lockdown will end, when the borders will re-open, whether the resort will survive, whether we will still get a salary and keep our jobs, whether people will travel again and when I’ll be able to go home to see my family. So much waiting for things to start moving again.
I remember, in the beginning people often said, «once this is over we will…». And I thought: this will not be «over» any time soon, so we better learn to live with it. But I must admit, I had a hard time accepting the new situation. Whenever there is a problem, I usually try to find a solution quickly and move on. Yet, there was no moving on at all, and I had to start dealing with these feelings. So I learned how to dance in the rain! We all did here on the island and tried to make the best out of the situation. Enjoy the peace and quiet, relax and sleep more, get a new hobby (I took up Yoga), organise staff events and keep the team spirit up, while still renovating and keeping the resort in shape. And most of all – keep our guests and friends informed and entertained so that they continue dreaming about Pulau Pef!
Even though we never got any financial or other support from the Indonesian government since the borders closed, there was no use complaining. Or waiting for the storm to pass. So, we started dancing! We never gave up hope that we and the resort will survive this. There were ups and downs, of course, but the general spirit was high even though many of us didn’t see our families and friends for months last year and money was getting so scarce that some didn’t know how to make ends meet. That’s why we started a new dance – Raja4Rice! And we found out that the solidarity from our guests and friends is incredible! The program has been running for more than a year now and we are still receiving money for rice. Thank you to all the donors out there, our employees still really need it!
I feel that we had it much better here on our little island than people back home. We were always able to still see each other, be with real people instead of spending countless hours in Zoom meetings. We didn’t have to wear masks or keep a distance because we didn’t mix with anybody from outside the island for a very long time. And we were able to still have some fun which I feel was sometimes lost among my friends back home. And mostly – we talked about other things than the pandemic! Our topics here on the island may not always be of international importance, but it’s exactly the «normal» discussions we have that helped us get through the crisis so far. It’s dealing with everyday issues that keeps you grounded and prevents you from being eaten up by unnecessary fear. You cannot make the storm pass with your will or hide in a corner until it’s over. All you can do is continue and learn how to dance in the rain.
I’m still not very good at accepting an uncomfortable situation and learning to deal with it instead of trying to get it over with as quickly as possible. People over here are much better at this because waiting seems to be part of their DNA. But I tried to learn from my colleagues and I’m improving. Let’s hope that my new dancing skills will also help me in the future with any other crisis that may still lie ahead.
I never even dreamt of working on a remote island in Indonesia, but life has a way of taking care of itself…