The beach is back. Rina speaks.

The beach is back. Rina speaks.

Steve takes the black leather bag from atop the cupboard, places it on the bed, unzips it and goes to the wardrobe to select clothes. I watch from my pillow on the bed and know the game is on. While his back is turned, I sneak down the bed, step into the open bag and lie flat. He returns with shirts, sees me, says, “Peek-a-boo” and I jump out of the bag and return to my pillow. He packs the shirts and goes back to the cupboard. I’m lying in the bag again when he returns with the shorts. “Peek-a-boo,” he says again and I pop up, jump out and return to my pillow. Our game continues until he zips the bag. We’re off on a beach holiday. I’m included because he packed my brush, snacks and leads.

He picks up the bag and walks to the car park. I skip, prance, run and dance along beside him, spinning in circles, intoxicated on anticipation, thinking, “Just the two of us. Perfect.”

Janet is waiting by the car with her bag. “Oh well, just the three of us. A different perfect. This will be fun.”

We are staying at Bali Mystique, of course. Steve’s a creature of habit, but with good reason; it is dog-friendly, has an established tropical garden for me to wee in, is cheap, and best of all is only a short walk to the beach. Oh, the beach, I love the beach.

After check in, we’re off to Biku Restaurant. It’s our favourite and I am treated like a princess. They have a special section outside for people with dogs. I am greeted by name and they bring me a bowl of water even before they hand Steve and Janet the menus. Steve has a pocket of snack for me, but he’ll give me food from his plate too. He’s good like that. He chews it first to remove any spices and then gives it to me. Thank God he’s not a vegetarian. Second hand food is yummy.

The eating ritual is intriguing and always the same when we go out. They bring food and when we are finished, they hand Steve a piece of paper. He pulls out the animal skin from his back pocket, removes some paper from it and hands it over. They smile and thank him. This trading food for paper and smiles seems much easier than cooking for ourselves.

I now get picked up and carried as we tour the shops before returning to our room and air-conditioning. I smell a hint of salt in the air and know we are close to the beach, but it is too hot to walk just yet. The room is cool and I curl on a pillow to rest, while he reads a book.

“It’s 5 o’clock, sleepy head. Are you ready for the beach?” he says.

At last the magic word, “Beach.” I spring into action and tap dance on the corner of the bed closest to the door. Of course I’m ready.

Snuggled under his arm, we collect Janet and walk the 5 minutes to the grey-gold sand. The saltiness intensifies with every step and so does the boom of waves crashing on the sand.

He put me down on the sand and I run and yell to the world, “Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap!” (Translation –  The beach. At last. I’m here. Tickle my feet. Play with me. Oh joy!) Steve and Janet take off their thongs and I watch to see who will throw one first. Janet tosses a rubber thong, I chase it, mouth it and wait for them to get to me and throw another one. My mouth is agape; part smile and part exhaustion from running. The game continues as they walk and I run up the beach. The sand plays with the pads on my feet, the salt air invades my nostrils and me ears are caressed by the fall of waves on the shoreline.

“Rina, stop. Big dog,” Steve calls. I know the drill and wait for him to get to me and raise me to safety. He lets me sniff and play with the small dogs, but we’re more careful of the big ones.

Thirty minutes later, 12 bottoms sniffed, 100 thongs chased, 6 lifts to safety and uncountable words of praise like, “You’re the best,” “Rina, you’re so clever,” “You’re the most beautiful girl in the world,” we arrive at the half way point; a beach side cafe. Janet and I are the only girls here, but the place is full of elderly white men and younger Indonesian guys. Steve orders me a bottle of iced water, cups his hand, pours it in and I drink. It cools my mouth, tongue and body. I pause, Steve ads more water and I resume; delicious. They have juices.

Rested, we start the return game, dodging waves that have crept further up the shoreline.

Tonight we are off to Ultimo, another dog-friendly restaurant, and tomorrow will be a repeat of today. Oh, the beach; I love the beach






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