For those of you who know me well, know that I’m not often caught with a light schedule… but I am starting to get used to a very uneventful lifestyle. My lungs are still having trouble, although I am doing truly, everything possible to get better so that I can sing again. I think part of the problem is the air quality here. Garbage is burned at a dedicated rate, mold lives everywhere you do, and rats live among the gardens, the streets and the rooftops, kicking down their dirt through the bamboo ceilings.
Today I contemplated for a long time about whether I should write something or not. I thought, what can I tell you that will be interesting? What can I tell you during my placidity that will keep you coming back to read my musings? After much contemplation, and a scattered attempt at coming up with something for you, (and for me, of course), there was one event that I realized was a much bigger thing than I first made it to be while writing.
It started by me telling you the uneventful day I had when I posted the pictures of my delicious breakfast. That day, I ventured out with Lisa -on what started as a hot day- to “Mingle”, the internet cafe that I frequently frequent. We sat out on the patio for hours not doing much at all except drink coffee and watch the weather turn as clouds came in with a chilly breeze. After a few hours of unspecified pensiveness, we decided to wander down the street to another cafe (Tutmak) for lunch. After some homemade yogourt and muesli, and a beautiful cup of chai, it started to pour, and we talked very genuinely between moments of that same pensive mood, looking out at the sky, intrigued at when this downpour would lighten up so that we could walk home (oh, and also intrigued by the boys playing soccer or flying kites in the field beside us, on such a stormy day).
I remembered our walk there, and my enjoyment of just being, even in gloomy weather. The fact that I could just sit there and not worry. Moreover, the fact that even amidst this uneventful period of travel, that I am still able to find joy. That I am still able to learn and grow through my interactions with the culture and the beautiful people surrounding me.
It was then that I realized what important things were right there, waiting to be written about.
One of the most beautiful things I have discovered about Bali, is the smallness of it. The people remember your name. Even after a brief interaction or small sale. They are always interested where you are going, they are always reaching out with a smile and a warm heart. When I walk down the road where I live, I greet the small warung (inexpensive restaurant, eatery). The first one is owned and operated by two men named Nyoman and Putu. Right now, they are just selling juices because they can’t afford to sell food yet. So every day, Lisa and I go to get a juice. I order a fresh young coconut water and Lisa orders the watermelon juice (or bravely, avocado juice garnished with chocolate around the glass). We think we may be the only customers there, as Nyoman doesn’t have a sign or anything on the business. Before I stopped to talk to him I wasn’t quite sure they were selling anything to the public…
Next door is a small mechanic shop for motorbikes run by Komang and Gde, two younger boys who don’t speak much English. We always smile and say hi, and have managed to get through some formalities through broken Indonesian and English, but sometimes we get stuck, break out in laughter and I continue my walk as we are left without much to say.
Across the street are two young men running a laundry service (the one I use for the laundry I don’t do by hand), Wayan and Komang. (PS – you will start to learn as I name new friends that many people have the same name here). Wayan speaks English fairly well and Komang just smiles. I usually prepare my Indonesian phrases before going there so that we can communicate… although laundry is fairly straightforward… main vocabulary needed: separate.
Then I pass Leslie’s homestay where they know my face and smile and wave.
This is my 3 minute walk down the street. And that’s not counting the walk through the family compound where Pasek, Wayan – their parents and their children always greet with enormous smiles. Or the construction workers finishing the new building in the front – the construction workers that work for nothing, yet have the biggest smiles I have ever seen in my life.
Then there is the places we go, like Mingle, where it is our Balinese “Cheers” (please replace beer with coffee)… where the staff is like family, and when we come in they greet us with hugs, kisses and handshakes. Where we often spend hours on the upstairs patio, while periodically being visited by rotating staff. Even the Australian owner comes in at times unfazed by our continued presence. We often joke that we will just move the building, the staff and everything about this place back to Vancouver when we leave… they have become friends and a staple to our lives here.
I suppose seeing the same tourist/foreigner for more than a week or two is less usual, and of course, as smiley as we are, we have made many friends, in many places. And I am fortunate enough to be here, passing those places every day.
I realize now that I have much more to write, but I have been back and forth between the internet and must sign off on this entry. I will go home to sleep, with a rat trap (finally) above me, so there might be less chatter found tonight when I go to sleep. Perhaps I can just sing my cat and mouse song again. Juk meng, juk bikul, juk meng, juk bikul! (hopefully this will be so funny and adorable to you when you can hear it!) Actually, one of these days I will post some recordings so you can listen to the wonderful, interesting and awesome music I am discovering on this side of the planet. Even on days that I am not doing much, I still discover much about this place, the people and their culture.
Many hugs to everyone… miss your smiling faces too! XO