Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tuesday April 26 to Wednesday May 4 – Adieu to Robin and Peter – Aborted Cremation Viewing – Blog Updating – a Sick Man, Recovery, and Life in Penestanan

Robin and Peter were up early on Tuesday morning and ready to meet Made for the drive to the airport in Denpasar at 7:00 a.m. I walked down through the lane with them, past the Dream Café where the staff all waved goodbye, and on out to the road. Sadly, but joyously, we hugged, and I watched them climb into the black SUV with the bunny on the back window and Made to look after them until they reached the airport. Thank you Robin and Peter for a great time. It makes me happy that we had this opportunity to enjoy Bali together.

I walked slowly back to the villa stopping in to the Dream Café to order a “take out” coffee latte, then continued two entrances further down the lane to Rumah Sawa Kita for my money, and returned to pay for the coffee and pick it up. It wasn’t ready, and after about 5 minutes the staff said to me they would deliver it to me. They knew where we were staying!! So, sure enough 7 minutes later, it arrived at my table beside the pool! Only in Bali!

Ray has been quite miserable with his cold and since we haven’t been able to source any real hard meds, after using up some sinutab that Peter gave him, he has pretty well had to suffer through all the sniffling, sore throat, aching stuffed-up sinuses, and now cough!! But, the good thing is that it has given me the opportunity while he is lying low to update the blog!!! I love to write it for many reasons. It gives me a chance to recap what we have seen, read about it, and fully understand it; I love to write; it serves as a memory recall for us when we get into discussions about events back in Canada; and most importantly, it gives you the opportunity to “travel vicariously” through us!! Ha Ha!!

There is so much to learn about this little Indian Ocean island nestled in the Indonesian Archipelago. The one thing that I truly enjoy is the Balinese ability to practise their culture amidst tourism from every corner of the world. They are very serious about this. Gade, the house manager, tells me that Balinese people know that the tourists come to experience their culture, and that motivates them to maintain it. Bali-Hinduism perpetrates every aspect of a Balinese person’s daily life. It is an interesting mix of the Indian Shivaite and Buddhist traditions, with older beliefs and practices integrated from Indonesia. The temple appears to take up a lot of time, and money due to the many rituals, celebrations, and offerings that are required. For example, there are two shrines in our garden to which Jero makes a daily offering with burning incense to at least one.

Hindu-Balinese believe that life is a continuous circle of life, death, and rebirth until moksa, which is liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth (although this definition can vary somewhat). It is one of the four goals of human life. There are rituals at various stages of life to ensure that people move toward this state. For example: when a baby is born it is considered to be an infant god that embodies the soul of a reincarnating ancestor until it is 42 days old. The baby is carried around by a family member and its feet are not allowed to touch the impure ground until it is 105 days old. At that time there is a ritual ceremony and the child’s feet touch the ground for the first time! Thanks Robin for this information! There is another ceremony that Robin explained and that is “tooth filing”. After a child reaches puberty, its pointed eye teeth and all six upper front teeth are filed smooth. This is meant to overcome the elements of man’s beastiality. There are many, many more rituals, and these are just two. Very interesting!

I have my friends as I sit here and write my blog: the geckos!! They are quite harmless, quite sweet, and surprisingly curious!! They run along the edge of the table, stop, look up at me, and wait. If I don’t move, they will venture a little closer until I tap my finger on the table and they are gone in a flash. The other day I watched one stalking an ant. The ant was busying itself on the table, the gecko spotted it and moved in erratic stages towards it, then in a split nano-second it thrust out its tongue and hit the ant. The ant immediately rolled into a ball. The gecko sat watching it, then it must have decided that it wasn’t interested, or maybe it didn’t like the ant, or the ant was too big, and it went away. The gecko returned in a few minutes and by this time the ant had recovered although was still a little dopey! The gecko stared into its eyes from about a centimeter away, then became bored and turned away. Quite fascinating.

We were supposed to watch a funeral procession on Tuesday after Robin and Peter left. But it didn’t happen. Apparently Jero was given the wrong time and it was all over before midday when he had thought it would take place. However, Gade, the house manager, dropped by and told us about a royal cremation happening sometime soon. We have since found out that it takes place on the 8th May. Gade has secured a booking for us in a second story restaurant on the route. After that we might just follow the funeral procession, dressed in our sarongs and waist ties.  The town will be blocked off, and it will be simply crazy – thousands of people in the streets! It is supposed to be quite spectacular. There is also another cremation going on at the same time. It is a “high caste” cremation, Brahmin, and Gade has said we should watch that as well. So….the 8th seems like “cremation” day!! 

The funeral tower or "bade" is being built in one of the side streets close to the temple. Here is a picture of it in its early stages. The body is carried from this spot to the cremation ground in the funeral tower, then transferred into an animal shaped sarcophagus, which will be carried along with the tower. I think the sarcophagus used in this case is a "bull".  But I shall give a full explanation and description of it all after the 8th!

Did I mention that the person we are renting from has dengue fever. He was in hospital, but appears to be a little better and is now at home. You can get really sick with this viral infection which is spread through the Aedes mosquito. It seems to be very prevalent here in Bali at the moment. Needless to say, we are being diligent about applying deet.

There was quite a stir on one of our walks down the lane. An older white man with long unruly hair, dressed rather shabbily in long cotton pants and a dirty-white long sleeved shirt, was walking towards us surrounded by a group of about eight “lane” dogs all running around, barking at each other, barking at the man, and barking at anyone else who passed, while the man talked to them kindly, telling them to “shush” and otherwise acting and muttering a little “crazily”. This little procession interrupted the scooters, anyone walking and a kid on a bicycle leading a rather nice looking dog on a leash and followed by a young girl. They had stopped and were watching. As we came level to them, the little girl looked at me, giggled, pointed to the man, then to her head with her finger, and said “crazy!!” I laughed and had to agree. We spoke with Geoffrey and he has no idea who this man was.

Another day, an Australian woman came tentatively into our compound in quite a tizzy. She told us she had had an accident and we had to turn off our hot water. Apparently she had been gardening and had hit one of the poorly buried plastic water pipes which was now spewing water across her garden. This was about 5:00 p.m. and she was trying to get hold of someone to come and fix it. She rushed out. A few minutes later she was back, the chap to fix it wouldn’t be here till the following morning at 9:30 a.m. The result, we had no hot water overnight. She was clearly embarrassed. Not a big deal!! Later that evening we were in the Dream Café for dinner and who should walk in but this Aussie lady and her husband and a couple of friends!! She was even more embarrassed and more especially since her husband and friends were ribbing her about the accident. And she was back the next morning just after 9:30 a.m. to tell us it was fixed!! She and her husband own the house behind ours and live here 5 or 6 months of the year.

One morning I was sitting in the garden relaxing with a cup of coffee and Ray called out to me “look up” which I did, and this is what I saw. He is enormous!! Probably 3 to 4 inches overall. Not sure whether it is a male or female. I think it is a "Nephila Pilipes” or a species of golden orb-web spider. I decided to check whether or not it is poisonous but I think whereas it can give you a nasty bite, it is not lethal to humans. The bite can cause local pain, redness, and blisters that normally disappear within 24 hours….unless you have an allergic reaction and it triggers an asthma attack!!! I think I’ll stay away from it!

Gade pops in to see us from time to time and a few moments ago came and whipped Ray away on the back of his scooter to show him the restaurant we must go to to see the royal cremation!! When Ray gets back we are heading into the rice paddies for a walk. It is a new route, so we will have to see how we fare!

This is how “everyday” life in a rental villa in Ubud goes! Laura arrives in a couple of days and I am sure we will be more adventurous then. There is no harm just chilling: I don’t very often have “nothing” to do!! I have however, sent in my offer to volunteer at the Squamish 50 Race (http://squamish50.com) in August. There are a variety of distances, all run on trail, so it should be quite fun!! Anyone else going to volunteer??

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