The Healer of Canggu

The Healer of Canggu

A couple of days ago, I woke thinking my ankle had magically healed itself throughout the night. It had been three days since someone on a surfboard ran me over and crashed into my leg. I hadn’t been sleeping much because of the pain, but finally had a full night’s rest, plus – the doctor and radiologist had come to the consensus that I hadn’t broken any bones. So I decided to walk instead of hop to the toilet. The first step seemed all right, the second was most certainly not okay, and at the third step, tears shot to my eyes. I sat back down and opened the door for some fresh air.

“Are these yours?” asked my Balinese landlady, pointing at my crutches that were leaning against the wall.
“Yes,” I mumbled, realising that after barely having recovered from a nasty fin cut that required stitches, I would most likely have to spend another couple of weeks out of the water.
“You should go to Pak Sirkus for a massage; my husband can take you there,” she said. The thought of letting someone touch my ankle, let alone getting a massage from a jungle doctor, made me wince. So I politely thanked her and went back to my thoughts. “He can perform miracles, you know!” she said as she walked away.

Since moving to Bali, I had carefully put together a routine of yoga, work and surfing to keep myself from overthinking where I am going in life. So far, it had worked perfectly, and my mind grew restless at the idea of having to change it. All I could come up with to fill this new ocean of spare time was eating, glazing bowls and adopting an orphaned kitten.
Scared by my own thoughts, I cried out: “Okay, I’ll go to Pak Sirkus!”


My landlady sat me down on a bench for what turned out to be a public spectacle. I looked around and saw people from all corners of the world waiting to be healed. Pak Sirkus was bending a man’s leg in ways I never thought humanly possible, and I heard him growl in pain as some bones in his ankle were popped. My own ankle twitched at the sight of it. When the ordeal was complete, the man sat next to me and told me Pak Sirkus knew he had broken his rib a year ago just by pulling his toe. Also, the healer mysteriously seemed to know about the two pins the man had in his knee, even though they couldn’t be seen or felt from the outside. I was a bit apprehensive, but my curiosity got the better of me.

Next up was an Australian woman who suffered from a hernia. Minutes of painful cries later, she stepped out, winked at me and said: “Once you’ve had a baby, you can do anything!” I was really starting to worry now, thinking that this might be the most painful thing in my life so far, as I haven’t given birth yet. By the time it was my turn, I was as pale as a hospital wall.

Pak Sirkus summoned me to come over and sit down. Noticing the terror in my eyes, he said “Don’t worry – tomorrow you’ll be dancing again!” Not entirely convinced of the truthfulness of his words, I tried to relax. He started off by pressing a stone into the swollen parts of my foot to figure out where the pain was located. He then proceeded to contort my body into the weirdest positions. When I cried out in pain, he looked at me, smiled and said: “No pain, no gain!” Pak then grabbed a book about human anatomy and explained that there was something wrong with my ligaments.


He covered me in holy water and all kinds of oils. When he got to my belly he stopped, looked at me very seriously and said: “Baby!” I was paralysed.
“No, it must be a mistake!” I exclaimed. He continued to repeat, “Baby! Baby!” Then his face muscles loosened and he burst out laughing. “Baby oil!” he said. I laughed hysterically in relief.

Pak Sirkus took advantage of my relaxed state and used the opportunity to crack another 10 bones in an instant. Still in shock about the news of a possible pregnancy and the pain from my cracked bones, I stood up. Mister Circus ordered me to walk. My body felt strangely light as I attempted my first steps. Overwhelmed by the overall strangeness of what I just witnessed, I noticed that my foot was actually half the size of what it was before. I was walking! Of course it was still painful, but it felt a lot better.


The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. I felt like Pak Sirkus had opened up some energy streams that had been closed for a long time. The whole day I had a splitting headache and a tingling sensation in my right hand. But when I took my bandage off in the evening, I was horrified by the size of my ankle. It looked like a distorted elephant’s foot, and I went to bed desperately hoping it was a classic case of “it gets worse before it gets better” .

Now I would love to write about miracles, but the next day, my foot was insanely swollen and painful, and I was still very far from being able to dance. Having said that, it didn’t stop me from trying. After all, the guy is a healer, so he should know, right? So, fuelled with enough alcohol to kill a large mammal, I ignored every sign my body was giving me (mayday!) and went out until 5am (don’t try this at home).


By now, you can probably guess how this story ends. My self-abuse didn’t turn out too fruitful, and after examining my x-ray once again, the orthopaedic found that my bone was cracked. He put my leg in cast, tutting.

Not even a healer can be expected to cure a crack in a bone, so it’s really no wonder Pak Sirkus couldn’t perform his miracles on me. For all other ailments though, I would definitely recommend his services. It’s a hell of an experience: you will limp in crying, and walk out smiling (if I am to believe the testimonies of others).

Every story needs a positive twist, so here’s mine: my insurance paid for me to fly back to Italy business class – a luxury I will probably never experience again – and I am now being pampered by my parents, sipping on a glass of Prosecco under the Tuscan sun. Cheers!

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