The last 2 days have been really hard. I feel sad and lost and have no motivation to do anything. The sun is shining but the world feels like a dark place. And the most frustrating things is it doesn’t matter what I do, the feeling doesn’t go away. I have a hot shower, go for a long walk on the beach, make myself a nice breakfast, and listen to my favorite music. None of it helps.

One of my best friends came to visit me yesterday from Bali. I felt so many emotions when I picked her up from the harbor. She holds me tight and I feel the tears coming. She makes me feel safe. Although she wasn’t here when the earthquakes happened, I don’t have to explain to her how I feel, I know she knows without me saying a word.


We walked together to Villa Nangka and I see the island through her eyes. It’s like we are walking in a Hollywood film set where the actors are on their lunch break. The streets are empty and the shops are closed. I show her around and we visit the village opposite of Villa Nangka where she used to live. Almost all the houses in this village are destroyed. We sit down and I started talking to the lovely woman that runs the little warung (small restaurant) in the harbor next to Oceans5 Dive Resort. I always call her ‘mama’ and she always calls me ‘little one’. I take her hand into my hand and look into her eyes; her sparkle is gone and has been replaced by emptiness and helplessness.

She asks me: “Is your house also broken little one?” I nod my head. What about your villa’s she asks? I tell her that they are also all broken. She looks confused and finds it hard to believe that apparently an earthquake doesn’t distinguish between race, age or gender but that it can hit all of us.

Home sweet home

Why is a place you can call home so important to us? Because for better or worse, by presence or absence, it is a crucial point of reference—in memory, feeling, and imagination—for inventing the story of ourselves, for understanding our place in time. For most of us home is a place where we can go back to, where we feel safe. In the last days I realized that not having a home, a place to go back to, is one of the things that I find the hardest these days.

Although many of my friends offered me their home, it’s not the same. Their home doesn’t have my favorite books, my pillows, my clothes, my pictures. Their home doesn’t smell like my home. Their home doesn’t feel like my home. For me it’s not about the material things, it’s about the place that I created. A place where you I can hide when nothing else makes sense. A place which is an extension of my personality and where everything has a fixed place. I hate it that I constantly need to search for the most simple things as everywhere it’s a mess.

Letting go

If I had to describe my own character I would definitely use the words ‘control freak’ and ‘perfectionist’ (and of course ‘smart’ and ‘funny’). Yesterday we moved the office of the Gili Shark Conservation Project to one of the classrooms of our partner in crime: Oceans 5 Dive Center and today we will go to Begadang to prepare the new accommodation for the volunteers. It feels weird. One side of me is extremely happy and grateful that, with the help of our friends, we can still continue our research and help the community to rebuild their lives. And on the other side I feel sad that I can’t welcome the new volunteers, who are arriving this weekend, in my ‘home’.

The volunteers are normally doing 2 research dives in the morning and return to Villa Nangka around lunch time. I love the moment where I’m standing in the kitchen, preparing lunch for my Sunshine and me, and the volunteers walk in. Always with big smiles, sparkly eyes and full of stories. I need to let go and trust that others will put the same energy and love in looking after our volunteers as I normally do. Not so easy for the funny, smart perfectionist. I know I can’t control everything. So I decided to relax and have faith that everything will work out.

Love Rose

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