Hey ya harmony: Love song to Nusa Penida.
A month ago, I’d never heard of Nusa Penida, an island off the southeast coast of Bali.
Indeed, I had to zoom in at least 23 times on Google Maps just to find out the name of this little blob of land that seems so intent on staying off travelers’ radars.
But I’d been looking for the perfect place to spend my week in between the start and finish lines of the Indonesian Rickshaw Run, and once I knew its name – and once I’d read on Wikitravel that, “For the adventurous, a side trip to Nusa Penida island will get you well off the beaten path” – I knew I had to go.
I could never have imagined the world that awaited me there – a world of early mornings in Sampalan’s market, of dance lessons and gamelan practice sessions, and of afternoons at the Bird Sanctuary, where the air was constantly filled with the beats of guitars and bongo drums.
And I could never have imagined the sense of belonging I felt throughout my week on the island, one that even now has me itching to be back on its rugged shores.
One of the volunteers at the sanctuary was 21-year-old Will, who spoke humbly of his guitar skills but couldn’t hide a voice not dissimilar [in my opinion] to that of Marcus Mumford. When I told him I loved singing harmony, he suggested we try out an acoustic version of OutKast’s old hit, “Hey Ya.”
It was as we were playing it for the first time that I thought more about what harmony requires of you. In music, it has you simultaneously focused on what notes the person singing the melody is hitting, as well as your own notes.
And, really, couldn’t much the same be said of harmony in travel? Not only staying aware of what notes a place is striking, but conscious of the notes in your own journey as well – two melody lines, two journeys, and [hopefully – provided no one’s off key, of course] one beautifully agreeing arrangement.
So as I continue on in India, I thought it’d be fun to put together a short video of my footage from Nusa Penida, set to none other than Will’s and my rendition of “Hey Ya”…