Star date: October 2003
THE END OF BIRTH IS DEATH.
THE END OF DEATH IS BIRTH.
SUCH IS THE LAW.
Landing in Bali immersed us in the fervor of the largest cremation Ubud has seen in years. An exotic display of Balinese Hindu rituals went on for days and preparations had been ongoing for months. Anyone in the surrounding 4 villages who had not been cremated privately (a costly event) over the last 5 years was buried, exhumed, and cremated (83 total. Sometimes husbands and wives share the same deity statues. It starts out serious for the official blessings then becomes a festive celebration of life and rebirth. Once the spirit leaves the “cocoon” of the earthly body it is joyous and free. And so we celebrated this joy.
We have found another 'home base' in Ubud, the mountainous artisan area for carving, batik, silverwork, and art in general. Each family has a little shop out back and everyone is busy learning and perfecting the family’s craft. We are staying at the Jati 3 Guesthouse and have oozed right into life here with daily trips to the market for fruits and veggies, the Bali Buddha Café, Dewa’s Warung (a lovely tempeh, veggies, and rice 50 cents) and long walks through the rice fields and villages. I even helped cook a gourmet Balinese vegan meal with the family last night. We could easily stay for a couple of months. Bali can be very busy so you have to search out the hidden quiet places.
We took a week, with a young couple we met from Oregon, to explore the northern parts of Lake Batan, a fishing village on the ocean near Lovina, the volcano at Lake Batur, and our favorite the water temple at Tarta Gangga with surrounding terraced rice paddies. The latter village was small and remote. We would hike over, around and through the rice terraces and surprise the workers, who would immediately stop what they were doing to carry on an elaborate conversation, neither of us understanding a word, but laughter and body language got the point across. As we stood balanced on the edge of a deep ravine we all laughed as we waited for the next farmer to pass by and show us the obscure trail along the thin mud walls, across a stream and back up the other side. An amazing engineering feat of water work and mazes of dammed earth.
After 10 days of resting back in Ubud we are off tomorrow for sunset along the ocean, at Uluwatu Temple, then a lively, unique Kecek dance performance. Friday we fly to Laubanbajo, on the island of Flores. From there we will catch a fishing boat to Komodo Island to see the dragons. With 2000 wild ones on the island, if this is the last travelogue you receive it may be because the dragons are faster than we thought and the “Soup d’jour” was us!
We hope this letter finds you all happy and healthy and looking for the good in each day.!
Thanks for your notes. Hope we survive and are able write again next month. It is fun to keep in touch!
Love, xoxoxoxo Nancy & Joseph
PS Guesthouse in Tarta Gangga: Purni Prima (Bamboo)
Enjoying the vegan meal we cooked with the family at Jati 3.
The intricate maze of rice paddies at Tarta Gangga.
Ceremonial procession at Lake Batur.
Boys will be boys. Dressed for the filming of a commercial.
Dancers at the Kecek performance, along the ocean at Uluwatu.
Card game at the local market. Loser has to put a
clothes peg on his ears