Natural Resources

We took the last couple of weeks off.

I had a plan for a road trip on the island of Java, which was unfortunately foiled by the local COVID testing requirements. It looked like I was going to need to get tested again before I could get on the ferry to come home, and there’s a shortage of test kits in East Java, so I was at risk of getting stranded out there. That was a non-starter.

So instead I did a road trip on the island of Bali! We already posted the full story, but in the interest of brevity I wanted to jump straight to a conclusion here.

The Balinese economy has been devastated by COVID. Something like 80% of it was driven by tourism, and that’s just gone. Just TRY to come to Bali right now… if you aren’t already in Indonesia, you’re out of luck.

A lot of the more interesting destinations on the island are pretty remote. I visited a couple of them over the weekend, and they were WAY off the road! In each case, some enterprising villagers had hacked an opportunity out of raw triple-canopy jungle.

In one case, a manicured garden cafe took a 45-min trek across three rattan bridges to reach. Imagine keeping that place resupplied!

In another, somebody had cut a sturdy staircase through the jungle down a mountain ravine through over a THOUSAND feet of vertical elevation, complete with steel railings and lamp-posts. It was epic!

But here’s the thing: there are a lot of places like that on Bali. And even pre-COVID, there is a limit to the number of people who are going to REACH those places. If you’ve watched my videos, you get it: a tour bus isn’t gonna make it.

So here’s the truth: nobody was EVER going to get rich on the Golden Valley Eco Cafe or the epic staircase at Juwuk Manis. The numbers NEVER added up. By any rational economic analysis, those things never should have been built.

Yet they were. And I’d just like to point out here that for every sober accountant providing “adult supervision” to an audaciously risky project, there is a wild-eyed dreamer who is driven by a vision and will roll up his sleeves and hack that staircase out of the jungle FOR FREE if necessary because he just can’t abide living in a world where that thing was not built.

Without that adult supervision, most of the dreamers will fail. Lord knows I have! But without the DREAMERS—willing to spend themselves hollow in pursuit of vision—we are all diminished.

I think the compulsion to pursue a vision at any cost is a natural resource as rare and precious as any of these treasures here on Bali. The challenge is in bringing it to market.

If you HAVE it: find yourself an adult to supervise you and then get back to work. And if you FIND it… appreciate it and enjoy the ride!

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