(2 May 2017)

The morning after the food poisoning, I woke up feeling like drought-splintered earth. Everything was blurry as I stumbled around looking for any water that might have been cached away. Purple dots tinged my peripheral vision like sparks, and I knew it was time for help.

I messaged Franzi, a Zuna Yoga employee who had taken me under her wing during the teacher training. In a matter of minutes I heard a scooter stop outside, and then a knock on the door. I opened it and Franzi was there, her blonde hair caught in the radiant morning sun like a halo. I don’t know if I have ever seen anyone so beautiful. She handed me a couple bottles of fresh coconut water, and I guzzled them like a newborn calf nursing for the first time.

After I regained some strength, Franzi took me to go eat at a vegan restaurant in Ubud. We talked for hours over a gorgeous spread of food as I drowned my soul in yet another liter or two of coconut water. And so began our adventures over the next few days.

Franzi and I would try out a new restaurant each day. Sometimes we worked on our laptops for a couple hours, enjoying the quiet of Atman Cafe. Other times we would chat over giant bowls of whatever new raw food fad was trending, Franzi’s empathy piercing the dark layers of my loneliness. When we went to a free screening of a new children’s movie, I realized that Franzi was the older sister I so badly needed to guide me on my path of rebirth. After baptizing myself into the waters of my soul during my time at Zuna, I had awakened into the world anew. Franzi helped me to make sense of it.

Whether we were meeting retired journalists on the Campuhan trail or splashing in an river like two wild woman, Franzi constantly taught me a new way to open my eyes to the world. The joy that emanated from her was an elixir to many of the inner challenges that had repeatedly colored my life. By observing the way Franzi danced with the world, I realized that every shadow carried the promise of light. Like a moth shivering out of her cocoon, I felt myself finally emerge from the cold hibernation that recovery had demanded of me.

I spent my last night in Ubud at Franzi’s house, another gift of her never-ending hospitality. The next morning, we wrote each other notes in our travel journals as Scruffy, her fluffy white dog, chased lizards in the courtyard. Franzi hugged me, telling me that she knew I would return “home” to Bali one day. As I got into the taxi to take me to Green School, I cried a little bit.

In the beginning of my gap year, I had set the intention to “encounter beautiful people scattered across the atlas like gemstones.” As I left Ubud, I knew that I had met someone who was just that. To this day, I anticipate my return to Bali and seeing Franzi, the angel of Ubud, once again.

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