My adorable friends, the seashell girls, visited me often at my lodging on the island of Gili Air. A choppy ferry ride from Bali to Lombok and a short hop to Gili Air in a tiny boat that felt like it would capsize at any moment brought me to the tiny island. Walking around the entire perimeter of the island took less than an hour. Around 6 PM I joined other guests and walked around the island, stopping to watch the sunset over the water, then off to dinner.
For a few days I was the only occupant staying at the bungalows. It cost 15,000 rupiah per night, including 3 meals per day, served at the outdoor dining area. One of staff brought me lantern each night after dinner, served around 7 PM. The bungalows were not equipped with electricity. For this reason, along with the outdoor toilet and mandi (Indonesian style bath), the one room bungalow was my favorite place to stay during my solo adventures to Southeast Asia in 1993.
The seashell girls stopped by to chat with me and try to sell me seashells, and on one occasion they assisted with my collection of magic mushrooms in a nearby field. Susana! they called out to me with a smile, extending a tiny arm with a fist full of mushrooms. The kitchen cooked up an omelette for me and the other guests at the bungalows. We went snorkeling whilst under the influence of magic mushrooms, a most enjoyable experience!
Sometimes I wonder how the seashell girls are doing now. Twenty-two years have passed. Do they have children of their own now? Did they receive an education? Do they still live on the island? Are they happy? Sometimes, in my mind they have not aged a moment, they are frozen in time, as in this photograph. If I visit Gili Air again I shall be expecting to see them.