"Bali is famous for being the place of coincidence and instant karma. You think something and it happens two minutes later. After all, life is completely run by the Universe; it is that powerful."
Do you believe in serendipity and the power of the Universe? When Chicco Tatriele set off on a wild goose chase to look at a piece of land in a remote Balinese village, he didn't really have the interest or money to buy, he had no idea he'd be stepping onto land that would set in motion a life-changing series of events, and which would eventually result in Fivelements.
Co-founder and Managing Director, Fivelements
"It was my massage therapist who kept telling me to visit the land, saying, 'This is the land for you.' I didn't know what he meant and kept telling him that I didn't have the money. But when I eventually put my feet on the land, my immediate reaction was, 'Oh my God, this is my land!' I felt as if I was coming back home. I instantly felt the magic of the place. It was an incredible feeling, with momentous consequences that kept unfolding throughout the years."
Getting building permission was, however, far from straightforward and the head of the village, Wayan Bawa, not only helped him but became a close friend in the process. Chicco moved in to his new home in Pantai Seseh village, also known as Coconut Beach, six years after buying the land, in 2003. He called it Kura Kura Mistik, or The Mystic Turtle after the sea turtles he had spotted that very first day.
One evening in 2006, as a violent storm swept around his home, he heard a call of distress outside. His Balinese gardener slash security man slash friend Made went out and rescued a woman who had fallen just outside, was covered in mud and had lost a shoe. It was Lahra. Chicco and Lahra's love blossomed from that moment on.
The couple shared numerous common interests, soon creating their very first Tri Hita Karana experience. The first ever initiative to take place in the village, it was designed to raise money for the local recycling and waste management program. With 300 people, a feast of vegetarian food and soulful, spiritual music, they created a deep connection to the spirit under what the Balinese call a white full moon.
One day Wayan took Chicco to visit his wife's village Baturning. Once again Chicco felt goosebumps when Wayan showed him a plot of land for sale there, in the crook of the Ayung River. Chicco hurried to bring Lahra to see it. "While we were walking on the land, Lahra fell once again, losing her shoe again. She looked at me and exclaimed, 'This is a sign!'"
That summer, family friends visiting from Europe listened to the plans Lahra and Chicco had for the land and they, as well as Wayan and his wife, immediately joined the vision that was to become Fivelements Retreat Bali. Chicco had come up with the name years before for a possible eco-project, and it seemed to fit perfectly the project's mission for healing and spirituality based on Balinese philosophies, culture and traditions.
More coincidences were to follow. One day when Chicco and Lahra were discussing the need for an environmental consultant for Fivelements, a friend called and said, "I know someone. We are just 15 minutes away from your house, we can visit now." And Gove de Puy joined the team as Environmental Liaison.
Chicco's experiences with indigenous healing to this point had already woken a deep fascination within him. Following his friend Nicola's experience with a local bonesetter Pak Made and his parents' visit to balian (medicine man) Jero Mangku, both of whom are involved in Fivelements today, he and Lahra searched out and experienced other local healers, and Fivelements became the bridge between the Balinese and the outside worlds.
Chicco calls the over two-year journey to build Fivelements one of faith. "Fivelements began as a series of coincidences. Meeting Wayan, meeting Lahra, meeting our overseas partners all happened on that land my masseur convinced me to visit back in 1997. It was a journey of years to get that land, build my house and meet Lahra, and this land is where we made our son. So later, when Fivelements opened, I said to my angel, 'Thank you so much, now I understand'. And the reply, and literally I heard a voice, told me, 'Thank you for having faith.'"