Meet the locals!

Last night we were lulled to sleep by the sound of torrential rain rapidly channeling off the tiled roof, down the galvanized flashing, plunging onto the hillside. Simultaneous crackling and pinging of the rain drops harmonized in the background.

Residual caffeine from a late afternoon cup of coffee was still working its way through my system. In my past life, I would be watching the clock and counting the potential sleeping hours left. Now I focus on the rhythms of the rain and the sounds of my own breath. I’ll fall asleep soon enough. I reflect on the incredible day we’ve had; meeting Kadek’s (The Gardener) family who live just minutes from the villa and watching Kadek shinny up a palm tree to pluck a fresh young coconut for us, bursting with numerous cups of coconut water.

Kadek lead us down a grassy path straight out the back of our villa, past his Uncle’s pregnant cow grazing on the villa property, who looked skeptically at us, moos bravely and then backs up. We pass a neighboring Balinese family before we reach Kadek’s home. It’s a five-minute walk. “Short-cut,” says Kadek gaily. It’s apparent that he is excited to have guests!

It feels like an honor to be welcomed into the humble home of a native Balinese family, including a grandmother, aunt, uncle and Kadek’s wife and three children all sharing a cluster of small buildings on a spacious piece of land. Kadek’s property is very clean, tidy and organized. There is a pile of tinder wood artfully arranged in a triangular shape, leaning against a tree. Nearby is a singular pig; shaded and protected in a well-constructed thatch hut. Also, a large area for hanging laundry. And a cow which Kadek informs us they will sell for the meat.

On the back side of the property, directly across from Kadek’s home, his wife weaves decorative baskets in-between caring for the baby and the other children aged 5 and 10, and of course cleaning and food preparation. I am lucky that Kadek’s six-month-old son allows me to hold him. As I return the baby to Kadek, I feel blessed to see the face of a contented Dad proudly smiling at his son as I snap a photo. I think to myself, “People really are more alike than different.”  I am further touched by Kadek’s efforts to sweep off an already clean bench before Cliff and I sit down to watch his wife weave. Her vast experience shows as she rapidly brings a basket to life in front of our curious eyes. Unfortunately, we do not share the same language, so conversation is mostly hand symbols or with much translation assistance from Kadek.

All three children are shy. The almost five-year-old is dressed in yellow and black Transformer pajamas and pokes at the dirt with a long stick, trying to avoid contact with me. The ten-year older daughter is also a traditional Balinese dancer. Her father is very proud of this fact, and that she gets “special” (tutored) English lessons. She can converse with us, but is still somewhat shy. I ask Kadek if that is a typical characteristic of Balinese people and he confirms “Yes!” along with a quick giggle and several nods. I concur that learning English is very important and remind myself how grateful I feel to be able to natively speak the “linqua franca” on this planet.

We order two custom baskets. Available colors are natural, brown, green and pink. We request one for us in natural and brown with Villa Tiga Wasa weaved in, and one for a friend in Toulouse that loves everything pink! We had been looking for the right gift for her since last summer when we stayed in their cozy Airbnb, and this is it! A custom handmade, all pink, Balinese basket with lid. Easy and lightweight to ship too!

On the way out, we pass the elderly grandmother and aunt who appear virtually blind. Kadek informs us “they have a problem with the eyes.” There are many smiles and much waving as we leave to return to the villa. As we start down the path, Kadek’s uncle whizzes by us with a quick wave from his scooter.

We take a slightly different route back so that Kadek can show us the spring from which he retrieves water for his family and our villa. Huge bamboo trees line the foot trodden path we take to reach the water station. Several men and one young woman are bathing when we arrive. One man waves excitedly towards us ~ hey it’s Kadek’s uncle. The (clothed) bathers are busy soaping, scrubbing feet, washing body parts and brushing teeth. I ask for permission to take a few photographs and they all happily shake their heads in agreement. I am now convinced that the Balinese embody the true meaning of the phrase “laid-back!” They all wave goodbye to us as we leave. We take the asphalt road back to the Villa. It is a bit steep and we immediately become aware of the 85 % humidity.

Upon return to the villa, Kadek adeptly scales a tall Palm tree next to the pool to retrieve a coconut. He quickly slices the top off and voila ~ tons of juice; more than Cliff and I can drink. It is pure, sweet and delicious! We get busy back at the villa as Cliff catches up on some work and I make notes and update my blog. I am so appreciative of the fact that I have no concern over “what’s for dinner!” I dig into writing just as the rain starts.

Hours later Sumi arrives, wet, bare footed and smiling; we are still not sure how she gets here, but it appears she walks. She prepares a wonderful dish with small fried prawns, and bits of chicken, pork and vegetables. A heap of rice is stacked in the center of the plate, which we have now become accustomed to having with our meals twice a day. I light a couple of tea-light candles. It is a beautiful night. We are serenaded by the ceremonious chants of the neighbors below us. Even a female voice which is new. We are told the neighbor below is Hindu and the neighbor on our left is Muslim. We know this is the season of Ramadan. But, both neighbors are chanting and praising for what seems like most of the day and often most of the night.

After dinner Cliff and I spend hours trying to figure out logistical plans for a writing conference in Sydney in August. We will be flying from a house sit in Darwin to Sydney. Our air miles won’t work with the available carriers.  The airfare turns out to be considerably higher than we had experienced flying to other parts of Australia, like Sydney to Melbourne or Adelaide to Perth. So, after slicing and dicing the options in every possible configuration, hours later we decide on just a 3-day visit via an Expedia package that offers airfare and a very cheap, very modest hotel. It’ll work! We will be about 45 minutes from the conference venue, however we are quite familiar with Sydney’s excellent public transportation system and have no worries, except that we spent far more than anticipated.

The rain continues. I decide I am ready to get back to reading the novel, “MY NAME IS RED” and 16th century Istanbul. The ever-patient gecko has been frozen in place with just his head peaking over the canvas painting in the kitchen for at least an hour now. Apparently on night duty. I decide to do him a favor and retreat to the bedroom. Lights out. Cliff is still outside on the lanai finishing our booking. All is well!

2 thoughts on “Meet the locals!”

  1. Oh Melody my Friend!
    I am finally getting to read your blog, and feel as though I’m there by your side. Thank you for the beautiful writings, as I am envisioning all with your great descriptions. It maybe time to start writing another book. I miss you and love you. Please be safe


    1. My dearest friend Faith! Thank you so much for checking out the blog! I am so glad you enjoy my writing! One day we will be back in Michigan and will definitely stop to see you and Dave! Will be in Colorado in December, but not sure if Michigan or Chicago (My dad, who in now in a nursing home in Chicago, will turn 100 in December. If he hangs on, we will visit him there and have a “party!”) We promise to be safe! Sometimes we are probably TOO cautious, as grown adults can be! Cliff, who has climbed 14,000 foot mountains in Colorado, and in his early years had a motorcycle and still scuba-dives, says he does not want to drive a scooter in Bali. Not even where we are at in the mountains now! 🙂 Me…I’m a walker!! I miss you and love you as well girlfriend! So glad we have remained friends over the years. Take care! See you in US of A!! xoxox mel

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