Our next destination promised a change of pace that we were pleasantly anticipating. Our driver navigated the sharp twisting and turning roads that led us through the mountainous interior of Bali as if was just another daily drive. We traveled to Tyler's uncle's infamous home in the hills South of Singaraja (on the North coast of the island) during a monsoon of a day. The rain was so thick it made it hard to see ten feet infront of you (this coming from a Vancouverite - no stranger to that liquid stuff from the sky). And as we passed people on scooters in raincoats taking the treacherous, foggy corners with ease the thought did cross my mind that the roads were likely prone to mudslides and I questioned our safety.
But, everyone else was treating it like it was a normal day and I calmed my breathing and felt relaxed as we climbed the steep road to the house we were going to call home for a few nights. I later read in a paper that my gut was right about the safety concerns. Three people died that day in slides on the same road we were driving. I was led to two conclusions: 1. we were so lucky and 2. I should always trust my gut. Life often boils down to simply timing and it boggles my mind to think about what may have been had we stopped for another drink or something.
Thankfully we arrived safely to the most beautiful home perched atop tiered rice paddies, with a view that stretched beyond the coast and over the ocean. It was quiet. We we removed. And there was a great calm feeling that came from being in a home (rather than a hotel).
What a priceless experience we were offered, to be in this place just the two of us. The house overlooks rice plantations. Staircases of green that stretch as far as the eye can see. A reminder of the consistent human exertion required to produce food for towns and people here.
I couldn't help but recall moments of eat, pray, love when waking up to eat breakfast with this view. It's cheesy, I know. I didn't really even love the book, but the message in the story did resonate with me. All I could think was how completely fortunate we were to be able to experience this place. Trying to be present in places like this can be hard for me because I'm so overwhelmed with the beauty that I often feel removed from the situation by thinking about how much I am going to miss it when I leave. This place created a sense of calm that made me want to be present and think about nothing but the moment that I was experiencing.
The cows in Bali are incredibly beautiful. The predominance of the Hindu religion results in complete doting on these amazing animals. They were the most beautiful colour with shiny coats, fully bellies and bright eyes. I rushed to their lovely thatched roof stable as soon as we got to the house! Such beautiful creatures.
Tony's place had a resident dog, cows, ducks, roosters. The animal biologist in me was in heaven.
It rained harder than I ever could have ever imagined for our first night. Since we had underestimated how removed we would be without access to a car, we spent the night in with a meager dinner of instant noodle soup and fresh fruit and local eggs we had picked up at a hut along the road on our journey in. It was a constant lightning light show so we hunkered down into the house with our warm food to watch bootlegged DVDs. The fat rain drops on thick foliage combined with a symphony of talking frogs outside made it necessary to pause our movie a few times because the volume of the tv couldn't compete with the show going on in nature. We had many good laughs as we were at the mercy of nature in the most ridiculous of ways.
As quickly as the rain came on, the clouds would part and the sun would heat the wet ground creating the most intense humidity. We swam and read and talked and it was pure bliss. There was something really beautiful about being perched above manmade structures that blend seamlessly into the landscape in the most wonderful way. Alone with your thoughts in an incredible space.
Our second day we went out and explored the sparse local streets around us. We ate at a beautiful, empty restaurant overlooking an immense Jurassic Park-esque waterfall.
We took a wrong turn on the way home and climbed a mountain (no exaggeration), all the while being chased by wild dogs and getting friendly greetings from all the local children on the hill. What a juxtaposition. I'm sure the local families were wondering where the heck these two white people were climbing to in the middle of nowhere. Lol. That was one of the most stressful times of our trip and it just happen to be one of the best memories as well.
Getting lost lead to yelling, laughter, fear for our lives, meeting many people and a hilarious memory to reflect on when we were in a safe place later on. It also let us be closer to the real life of Balinese people (mostly) removed from the tourism industry. Their homes, their yards, their families. The children at every house would run to the side of the street to giggle and test their english on you "hello! hi! hello!".... so sweet. All the while Tyler and I were pouring with sweat (hikes in humidity are not fun) and trying to plaster smiles on our faces. I will say that it made for the best swim of my life when we got back to the house.
Thanks for keeping up with my journey so far.
Keep checking back for 2-3 more posts on Bali to come!
After that it will be back to normal on the blog :)