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I'm with the roosters again-- a few frogs still let out a croak, neighbors are sweeping up the fallen flowers and leaves from last nights torrential rains, the fish in the pond surrounding our living room occasionally splash in the water and I'm trying to get focused because today we move out of our lovely eco-villa and head for the last five days to Canggu-- a surfer beach to the south.
We spent Thanksgiving with the Balinese family of our Portland friend Lisa Suarnawa . Lisa married Wayan, a beautiful Balinese man, over ten ago, and they have 3 beautiful girls. We have been selling the mandala kimonos and sarongs Lisa imports from Bali at Sacred Money Studios. We were delighted when she gifted us a day long adventure of visiting her husband's village about an hour outside of Ubud.
At 9 am Wayan (one of the nephews, age 23) picked us up, and we headed out of town. There are no highways in Bali-- at least none that I've seen. Two lanes, narrow, with motorbikes defying any rules, almost no traffic control (in two weeks I've seen 2 traffic lights!)-- which always makes me grateful to have a driver! We crossed a deep ravine just out of town and stopped for a photo, only to discover a family of monkeys flying through the trees! There are surprisingly few mammals evident in Bali-- except for monkeys! When I was here decades ago I remember water buffalo everywhere, and this trip I haven't seen one-- and there are very few cattle, goats, sheep-- however, there are plenty of chickens and ducks.
(a note about people's names in Bali-- there are basically 4 names used for boys or girls: the 1st born is Wayan, 2nd is Made or Kadek, 3rd is Nyoman or Komang, 4th is Ketut, then it starts over with the 5th being Wayan, etc. In some ways this makes things easy to remember, but in others its confusing, though I'm sure it makes sense if you are born here)
Soon we were on unpaved roads in the hilly countryside, driving past roadside stands with technicolor tropical fruit on display, or household goods, or plumbing. Wayan told us that their family raises chickens for eggs and have several rice paddies. There was a bit of a language barrier, so when I asked something that Wayan didn't understand he said "Of course!" with the most beautiful smile. I wished for some rudimentary Balinese or Indonesian so that I communicate better, but so far I've only mastered about 3 words.
When we pulled up the family was waiting for us, and we met Lisa's brother-in-law (a splitting image of Wayan!), his sisters, mother and eventually the kids came back from school, so they were introduced as well. Since we were short on language, we used sign language and smiles, and of course Amy had them all laughing, especially after we were served Balinese peanuts and Amy thought she'd died and gone to heaven! We were invited to sit as guests of honor on the platform with a low table and served rich Balinese coffee-- Yum! There was plenty of laughter and opportunity to learn about village life. Amy loved that Wayan's brother is on the village security team-- had a walkie talkie, and they shared cop stories. They seemed amazed that Amy had been in law enforcement! cheap sexy wedding dresses
We shared gifts, they cooked us a beautiful lunch, and Wayan's nephew took as many photos of us as we did of them! We said our goodbyes, hoping to see them again the next time we visit, and then drove to a coffee plantation that specializes in Luwak Coffee (a luwak is a weasel like animal that eats whole coffee beans, digests only the outside casing, and poops out the bean, somehow adding a magic enzyme to it-- which makes for some very expensive coffee!) We enjoyed seeing cacao, coffee, mango, papaya, raspberries and other delicacies growing on the hillside, then sampled teas and coffees with an incredible view of rice paddies.
We headed north to visit Pajapati Bedugul Temple on a lake in central Bali. All I can say is Wow! It was a strange mix of sacred and amusement park-- with gorgeous pagodas and temple buildings, then cartoonish benches of animals and huge vegetable inspired trash cans. And more than any other place we'd visited in Bali, a greater number of Muslim tourists, perhaps Indonesians from other islands. The scenery was breathtaking.
Next stop was the Taman Ayun Temple about 15 miles outside of Ubud---with magnificent traditional architectural features throughout its courtyards and expansive garden landscapes comprised of lotus and fish ponds. The temple was built in 1634 by the then ruler of the Mengwi kingdom, and was in the middle of a ceremony, so beautifully dressed Balinese were all about, a few even asked us to take photos of them. A luscious feast for the eyes.
We ended our day with a traditional American Thanksgiving feast put on by one of the Ubud hotels-- complete with fun fruit carvings, and an unsuccessful attempt to make pumpkin pie. We shared the meal with Jessie Burke , Jonathan Cohen , their kids and Dryden Driggers -- it wasn't home but it sure was great to be with friends while missing family!
I'm grateful-- for family, friends, new experiences, being in a culture that honors beauty and the sacred every single day. Thanks for joining me on the journey!