The Guest Book

Wallowing in the cocoon of Villa Tiga Wasa (VTW), perusing the guest book has been a source of immense fascination and pleasure. Engrossed in the many thoughtful comments from previous guests, I find myself identifying with every single one of them.

The first log entries dated February 2012 are made by the owners themselves, Chris and Kim; noting relevant info like suggestions for restaurants in the area, villa road repair completion and internet upgrades. Beyond that, it is quite an eclectic global guest list. I note with interest that most of the previous guests have been from parts of the world other than America, with stays ranging from just a few days to three full months! Average stays lasting around 2-3 weeks. Visits by Canadians top the list; maybe not surprising since Chris and Kim are Canadian. Then I would say in order, Australians (my maternal ancestry), Scandinavians, Germans, French and an Austrian family from Tyrol. Even a family from my paternal ancestry, Finland!

Noting the length of stay of the many international guests, my very first thought revolves around the incredibly ludicrous concept in America of the one week vacation. My second thought is disbelief at the complete lack of negative commentary. Reviews of VTW are nothing short of stellar from every single guest, even when the road was out, or the internet wasn’t working (Germans who recognized that most don’t come to VTW to work). The most common comment being that everyone loves Sumi’s banana pancakes. Except for Belang apparently! One guest commented, “…he didn’t seem to like Sumi’s banana pancakes – it is his problem – they were absolutely delicious!”

So, as Americans, I am very much aware of the fact that Cliff and I are in the minority of International Guest nationalities. Including two self-described “white chicks chasing a terrified mouse in the villa bedroom” from our hometown Denver, who made a five-night stop-over at Tiga Wasa after a “grueling business trip in Indonesia.”  And the Pfeiffers from North Carolina, who also took the prize for most return visits to Villa Tiga Wasa – a total of four times, citing the summers (which is really winter in Bali) as much better than in the South! I can believe that! Unfortunately, the Canadian couple that stayed from October through most of December, didn’t mention anything about the weather during their stay which included at least part of the rainy season.

One guest remarked, “We never even left the Villa.” I get this ~ it’s kinda like rehab. Everything is taken care of for you while you work on relaxation, a tan or a good novel. No need to dress up, put on makeup, or even take a daily shower (we don’t – always!). No stress! Need a new tank of water? Kadek will install. Forgot to turn the outside lights on at night ~ Ketut will handle. Don’t feel like laundry? Sumi will wash, hang on the drying rack and fold with a cheery smile. Drain is plugged? Kadek will take care of it. Need a driver? It is a phone call or email away. Yep, I could get used to this!

I turn another white-lined page and find myself reacting sentimentally to a heartfelt message written by a French family from the Bordeaux region; they had spent three weeks in August at VTW. I instantly recognize the distinctive French hand writing style; the upright lettering, and the cursive “t’s” that look like American “v’s” and the lower case “f’s” with reverse bottom loops. I feel a spontaneous smile bloom on my face. It just looks like luscious poetry, even if you can’t say “bonjour!” I am touched when I translate the words from this French family from the Bordeaux Region, “Time had stopped while here in Bali. We will surely return! We will never forget any of you.” (translated from French) The French sense of passion and sincerity escapes so many Americans.

So, I spend a few minutes pondering this reaction and ask myself why the writing tugs at my heart strings? I go back decades, to when I first started college and decided to enroll in all the mandatory degree requirement classes first to get them out of the way! Little did I know just how much I would fall in love with the French language. I never really liked the mechanical part of learning my own native tongue. And it was only through learning a foreign language that the whole technical construction of the English language then made sense to me.

Annie Baudiment, straight from Paris, was one very patient and persistent French Assistant! After Annie’s year at Hope College, she went off to teach in Asia. Annie encouraged me to continue studying French. We corresponded for some time while I was still in College. Our many letters, written on very thin blue parchment-like Airmail / Par Avion foldable and sealable stationary, a combination of French and English, are now stored away in a file box in our 10×15 foot storage locker! Clearly still a treasure of mine. Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate her on the web.

I digress! However, for us, this is what experiencing other cultures and places is all about. Connecting the cultural dots from point-to-point on the planet has been unbelievably rewarding. And Villa Tiga Wasa and Bali have proved to be magical places that have imbedded in our souls. Relaxing, peaceful, amazing! A jewel and a tropical paradise! I echo the words and expressions of many fellow travelers in the VTW guestbook. In the end, I agree with the guests from France & Morocco who made this insightful comment about VTW: “This place is hard to find, but difficult to leave.” In good humor, they also stated they had made peace with the lizards! Personally, I find them a source of endless entertainment.

Cliff and I feel fortunate to have enjoyed VTW during a time when the internet has mostly worked, the road has already been re-paved and the weather near perfect! Sometimes I am surprised by how quickly a place comes to feel like home as we explore the world, and VTW has been one of those places. As Kadek pulls up to VTW and we board the vehicle, headed to Ubud, we recount our many blessings!