Imagine a flat, green island ringed by white sand beaches with views of blue mountains across the water. A warm, clear sea laps quietly at the sand, its color ever changing from aquamarine to deep turquoise with the light. Beneath the waters lay outcrops of sea grass waving gently in the shallows, and mounding stoney corals swarming with vividly colored fish. Narrow walking paths criss-cross the island and intersect with a circular one that outlines the circumference and takes a mere 90 minutes to walk at a leisurely pace. Most everyone walks. The only ‘vehicles’ are carts painted bright blue and pulled by small horses.
Dynamite fishing has been a problem in the Gili Islands and the evidence underwater is overwhelming. Huge sections of the reef turned to vast graveyards of shattered corals, virtually absent of life. Pocketed amongst these battle zones are rare oasis of corals that were missed by the bombing.
Balinese Hindus place beautiful offerings, known as canangsari, in front of their houses. Mixtures of flowers, leaves, fruit, rice and crackers are laid out in handmade boats or trays of betel leaves, called a porosan. Each offering must be in a porosan and contain an areca nut and a lime. These key items represent the three manifestations of the Hindu supreme spirit, Sanghyang Widhi: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer. Offerings are set out on shrines, to appease the good sprits, and on the ground, to appease the evil sprits. Often lighted incense is placed in the canangsari, sending beautiful fragrances out into the morning air.