On Monday August 28th I had planned to greet Guests for our villa manager because they would be arriving late. Their flight was delayed and they were to rent a car and drive themselves to the villa which is approximately 3 1/2 hours away from the airport, a drive that they are confident to make safely. I spent the day doing some reading and and just lounging around knowing I would have to force myself to stay up to get the guests settled in. I'm normally in my PJ's and ready to sleep around 10pm and out like a light by 10:30-11pm.
By 10:30pm I had asked Julie the owner, my best friend to reach out to the guest which she had already done, and give him my number. At this time I believe they were already on their way and expected to arrive at 11pm. It is now 12:06am and still no word form the guests and I'm worried and so is Julie who is trying to keep communications with them. By 1:30am we had received a HELP text and shortly after a location link, the guest knew he had to get us that info while he still had a signal.
We are now relieved that at least we know they're ok and have an accurate location for them. They had taken a wrong turn and ended up deep in the mountains and while trying to get out of a ditch the clutch snapped. It was pitch dark and they could only hear the barking of a pack of dogs. With the signal dropping out often they decided to get two sticks in case they needed to protect themselves against the pack of dogs. Luckily for them they had a full tank of gas, snacks and water.
When I received the location which said they were only 24 minutes away, Julie and I decided that hiring a driver with a van would be the quickest and simplest rescue. We informed the family we would be there shortly. The Parents Zahir and Ruth, son Ed 14 yrs old, Zak 7 yrs old, Sophia 5 yrs old who had already been stuck for a few hours in the car would now patiently wait for us to rescue them. The driver arrived at the villa around 2am to pickup a flashlight, Villa sign and instructions on exact location, he was very confident that he could locate guests and it was now in his hands while we all wait.
By 3:30am we have now lost all communications with the driver and the guests are looking for an update. We can no longer wait and I decided to take the villa car with our own driver and we were now going to search and rescue the guests and the driver. Simple right. We now leave confident that this New Yorker with a good sense of direction can locate everyone. The only problem with that is once we got close our signal started to drop. My good sense of direction only exists if I have the help of google maps, lol. Below shows my location, Im the blue triangle at 4:50am.
At this point I could not do this rescue without Julie and Tripp back in the States. They had me download an App called Glimpse that would allow them to track my movement before I continued off the main road. As calm as I usually am when it comes to putting out fires, I was cold, scared of the wild barking dogs, had a language barrier and was unfamiliar with this new territory I was about to explore. I knew that we couldn't take the car up this road because we would risk getting stuck just like the guests, we found a few bikers that would now join us on the search. I promised to pay but never told them how much and they never asked. We would now jump on the back of these bikes and headed on what seemed like a footpath, it is now around 5:30am and I again am pretty confident we are close. We then ask the guest to honk his horn repeatedly and we hear nothing.
I'm now feeling unsafe on the back of the bike because of how steep the hill is so we all go back to the crossroads and make another plan. The bikers are now questioning if the guests are on this road. The original driver now finds us at 6:13 am and I had already decided to send 2 bikers to continue on this road I'm sure the guests are on, and ask that they don't stop until they reach them. It's now daylight and I am surrounded by some very willing and dedicated people, most of who I just met hours ago. At 6:15am I receive a message from Julie that the bikers found them, I am so relieved. The driver insisted that we travel through this dirt road in the van instead of going on the main road which would take an hour to get to them. I wasn't too happy with this decision but they know their roads best. The road is bumpy and at 6:47am we could not get enough traction to go up this hill and start sliding backwards towards the edge of the cliff we were on.
At this point I jump out the car and try to convince them to slowly turn around and go the long way, and they are trying to convince me that they can do this. Grabbing large rocks to put behind the tires, revving up the engine and pressing on the gas to get up the hill took 3 or 4 attempts before they actually made it.
I have to mention that the guests have been stuck for over 8-10 hours, never panicked and were calm and smiling when we finally arrived.
We now arrive at the villa exhausted, hungry and tired, we were surely ready to sleep but continued to share our side of this all night adventure laughing and grateful that it was all over.
At the end of this I found myself laying in bed grateful for so much, which is why the title is Holy Mother of Gratitudes. I sometimes find it hard to write 3 things down in my daily gratitude book without repeating the basic "I'm grateful to be alive.", now I have an entire list of very specific things I'm grateful for, like
- I'm grateful that Julie and Tripp back in the States kept me calm and could plan ahead enough to track my movements. I felt safe because of it.
- I'm grateful that the original driver never gave up on looking for them and we were all able to reconnect.
- I'm grateful that Ketut Sura woke up and joined the search by driving me to find the driver and guests and to translate instructions.
- I'm grateful that I'm sober and able to be of service and help with the search.
- I'm grateful at how willing the bikers were to help and how dedicated they were to search without asking how much they were getting paid.
- I'm grateful that we didn't go off the cliff or fall off the back of the bikes.
- I'm grateful for technology like My iPhone, Google, Snapshots, Glympse App to track my movements and the two trusted people that stayed calm the entire time to guide me.
- I'm grateful to have had a team that searched just as hard as they would have for family.
- I'm grateful that the guests stayed calm and patient.
- I'm grateful no one was hurt.
- I'm grateful I could learn from this experience
- And of course I'm grateful for the air I breath, being alive, walking, being healthy, being in Bali, having faith, my past struggle, my current recovery, and the list goes on.
I believe we all are capable of rescuing others in an emergency like this, to find a drive and commitment to help another human being that you may not know. Look at whats happening currently in Texas with Hurricane Harvey, and how many people are out rescuing others, and the father and son who died after rescuing so many people simply because their boat drifted into a live downed power line. I'm sure they knew the risks of possible danger but they kept going because others were in current danger. How about a current story of a woman in NY attempting to jump in front of a train, many onlookers but just one person who felt it was their duty to try and help, I'm sure when he climbed to her and sat beside her that he didn't know what he was going to say but he knew he had to try something, or maybe he had faith that he would be given the right words.
There are many people that need rescuing everyday, or maybe just a lending hand, or maybe just someone to point them in the right direction. Maybe theres a language barrier, maybe you can help explain your story in a way they can understand and help. Or maybe the person you sent to help gets lost on the way and now you have to rescue more than one person. Sometimes just picking up the phone or making a call for someone can make the difference.
I took a road that I knew would be difficult, but I had faith it was the right path. It was rocky and steep and almost seemed too narrow to be an actual path, there were road blocks and at times I felt I was in danger of going over the cliff. I had to remember that I was given a map, and no matter how hard it would be to get there it was the right path. It was no longer about me but about another human being, how far and long would I travel. Giving up was not an option.
Of course as I write about this search and rescue, it became a journey I could use as a reflection of life, a reminder that we are to be of service to each other. We wouldn't have been able to do this without a dedicated and trusted team, there were no personalities or personal issues lingering that caused chaos. There was no one person in charge, we all worked equally as hard to help and the result was a group of people all smiling and grateful at the end.
Age and experience isn't always the the solution to a problem, sometimes its the simple questioning and advice given from a 7yr old son to his surgeon dad who asked "why can't we drive?" "Can we walk?" "Then we should just wait.". A simple solution that now had his dad saying "Oh yeah, it is that simple.". I needed that particular reminder that day.
KEEP IT SIMPLE - BE OF SERVICE - BE GRATEFUL - HAVE FAITH
And don't forget to pay attention to what's happening around you. It may be a lesson, or a sign from your higher power.
Mucho Love and Mucho Gratitude, Jamie