As usual, I wake up early. It’s 6.30. After a quick visit to the bathroom, where I say hi to the guy who does the morning shift at the hostel, I decide that a couple of more hours of sleep would be good for getting over my cold. Few things are as annoying as being sick when you’re traveling. Next time I wake up it’s 9. I'm staying in bed to go through new e-mails and one of them catch my attention. This could be the turning point, I’m thinking. More excited than I've been in a while. I begin writing a reply.
Then I glance out the window and notice some odd smoke. Probably nothing, but I have a bad habit of painting horrible scenarios in my mind, which are never true, but I have to check either way. So I get up and go outside. The smell of smoke is heavy. But then again, this is Bali, where people burn garbage in their backyard so that alone is no reason to panic. A couple of people are standing outside, next to the pool. They’re staring at the hotel restaurant, but they don’t look alarmed.
"What is it?” I ask. With an increasing feeling of discomfort. “Fire, I just heard something and went to look", the guy replies. I walk towards him to see what he’s looking at and see that half of the roof is burning. "Holy shit, this is not good." Great observation skills, Sanna. I can see that the others are starting to get that as well.
I run into my dorm, throwing my valuables in my tiny daypack and leaving everything else. When I get out a minute later the whole roof is on fire, and it's spreading fast. Standing at the same spot where I yesterday hugged some friends goodbye and am now watching the flames spread all over the restaurant (which is also the way out), is surreal, to say the least.
"This is insane", I say to nobody but myself. Being stuck in a fire was a recurring nightmare when I was a kid, and suddenly I’m in the middle of it. The staff sees us hesitating about which way to go and start yelling at us.
"Run, run, now!"
So we all run out, right under the flames. Out the tiny alleyway I use as a shortcut. I've walked here probably hundreds of times. I've walked here with people from Germany, from the U.S., from Singapore, from Bali, by myself. This hostel is currently the closest thing I have to a home. The staff knows my name. They give me ginger and lemon tea when I'm sick, I help them with updating their phones. The thought of anything happening to them or this place makes my stomach turn upside-down.
/ / /
An hour later it’s all over. The fire is out, everyone is okay. Apparently a cable exploded, in the new dorm that has yet to be taken in use. If somebody had been sleeping in there, the ending might have been different.
There is also questions about insurance and how bad the damage actually is. The staff is worried. About the place, their jobs and the next paycheck. They’re cleaning it up right now, and hopefully, it’s not too bad below the surface of grime and water.
/ / /
Being bothered by a cold feels pretty ridiculous right now. Instead, I’m just incredibly grateful for the fact that nobody got hurt today. It could have ended a lot worse.