The day greets us innocently enough. Predictably, we are up by dawn. A mostly cloudy sky masks the sunrise which appears unremarkable at best. Happily, there are many more to come. I start counting the days. Mornings for us begin like every morning has since we embarked on the crazy wild journey of our relationship; conceived over six years ago via an internet dating website. Which brings us back to coffee. Specifically, since Istanbul, French press coffee – dark roast. Does this not sound noteworthy?
Over our travels this past year, I have learned a lot about the many interesting and different ways to brew coffee around the world. Including a large unusual manual espresso press we used in a little Airbnb in New Zealand, which worked similarly to a geared, double lever wine opener. We had not seen one like it before nor since. And then there is the infamous petite, hexagonally shaped aluminum Moka pot, designed to be placed directly on a gas burner. It operates like a percolator and boils the coffee, resulting in a thick, sludgy, acrid brew that rests at the bottom of an undersized cup. Apparently, Americans super-size their coffee as well. At a few different Airbnb’s, the aluminum Moka pots had been poorly cared for and harbored thick mineral crusts at the bottom. I used this in Italy and other parts of Europe, and finally in Istanbul. It became the bane of my morning. I can see why Italians might be willing to handover a euro several times a day to slam down an espresso shot while leaning with crossed-ankles, hip jutting out, sloped against a narrow elbow-high counter in a cramped espresso bar!
So, we have sparingly added a French-style coffee press to our mobile possessions. I finally broke down and purchased it at a Starbucks in Istanbul; overriding Cliff’s concerns over more stuff to lug and possible breakage. For nomads, this seemingly simple decision equates to purchasing a major appliance. I tell him not to worry. The plastic casing looks sturdy enough to prevent breakage and the size is just right for us. I had firmly decided I could no longer deal with the ubiquitous Moka pots, or the continual surprise of pots that didn’t work, or have filters, yada, yada, as we moved to different accommodations. I resolve that adding a coffee pot to our baggage is worth the hassle. Later I confirm it fits easily into my Osprey backpack. Many months further into the trip while in Australia, I also purchase mugs decorated with Aboriginal Art. I like my coffee hot. So, I select mugs that are trim and narrow at the opening, minimizing heat escape. Consistent coffee measuring. Right-sized mugs. One less thing to think about in the wee hours of the morning while the cobwebs are being cleared from my brain or we discover there are no mugs in the cabinet (Yes, it happened! And drinking coffee from a glass does not work well!). Such is the life of a nomad!
Since we also house-sit, weeks after the French press purchase, while scanning a house-sit blog post on “must-haves” of things that house-sitters take with them to a sit, I learn that other house sitters are doing exactly the same thing; carting their pots and mugs around. Many sitters point out it provides a touch of home and a whisper of routine in a lifestyle that is otherwise devoid of such luxuries. Although most of the sitters are located in the US and doing domestic sits via automobile which makes it a lot easier to tote around their goods, I feel vindicated.
It has been a lazy slow start to the day at Tiga Wasa for sure! We’ve savored our coffee and a piece of well buttered sweet wheat toast out on the lanai while basking in the serenity and studying the patterns of the clouds on the mountains to our east. Sumi will be arriving around 9 to prepare a light breakfast of fresh fruit and fried bananas. Meanwhile, Cliff wastes no time donning his swimsuit and stretching out on a lounger by the pool with his Kindle. He’s been trying to finish reading Madame Bovary, a choice that sprang from us both reading and thoroughly enjoying The French Perfumer. Penned about a hundred and fifty years ago, it’s a slow historical read; Madame Bovary is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea.
The entire villa is laid out facing north towards the sea. It is situated on a hillside which affords a perfect view for sunrises, while sunsets are eclipsed by the trees. Shaped in a long rectangle with almost continuous decking, the villa layout takes advantage of every possible view. I prop myself up on the porch just outside our bedroom and start thumbing through a white three-ring binder designed to be a comprehensive guide for guests; labeled Information Package (IP). It is thorough and well done covering everything from internet setup, driver trip rates, village restaurants, septic tank operation, and water conservation to typical Balinese phrases and dishes. Under electricity the commentary reads: “Sometimes the electricity just doesn’t work. This is Bali.” This reminds me of a house-sit we did for almost six weeks in Bora Bora where another common phrase that expresses coping with typical remote island issues is, “That’s island life!” or “This is an island car!” which translates in English to “it’s a beater!”
Since all of the documents in the IP are professionally typed, a hand-written note in Bic blue ink from the owners, Chris and Kim, stands out. There is a hand-drawn sketch of a Tokay Gecko as well, imploring guests to be kind to the resident geckos and not kill them! “Please remember this is a tropical country. You may encounter fascinating reptiles, insects and other creatures on the property and sometimes even in the house. Please ask the staff for assistance if you are unsure about what to do about any particular unfamiliar beast. We have asked the creatures to remain outside, but there is a bit of a language issue and not all species have been willing to comply.”
One of our gecko housemates hangs behind an enormous colorful canvas painting in the kitchen of a fish market worker holding a rather large fish (see photo!). Mr. Gecko has been getting our attention by sending out incredibly loud mating calls which sound oddly like the word “gecko.” Geh-Koo! Geh-Koo! The calls echo playfully against the glossy hard-stoned floors throughout the villa. We have not seen him yet, but I look forward to seeing our Tokay’s beautiful colors! Apparently, geckos are chameleon in the sense that they do change colors according to their surroundings. (…guess who just stuck his head out right before I posted this?!?)
As we had experienced first-hand in Bora Bora, geckos will inhabit your home, without your permission. In the words of Tiga Wasa owners: “They are harmless, beautiful and interesting creatures.” All so true. But, no mention of the fact that they do leave a messy “poop trail.” Fortunately, Sumi sweeps and washes floors daily and they are beautifully clean and shiny, especially since it is custom for everyone to remove their shoes before entering a home. Bare feet are part of island life. It’s fun to walk up to a house, and sometimes a business as well, and see a pile of assorted flip-flops. It’s almost like a welcome mat! There is a note in our IP asking guests to wash their feet at night before bedding down to save on laundry. Makes sense.
For those of you that don’t know, geckos are nocturnal in nature. However, we have seen plenty of the “generic house variety” geckos outside and inside during daylight. Since Geckos have large pads on their feet, it allows them to easily and quickly scale completely smooth surfaces, including walls of course. Our first night here, Cliff heard some strange noises on the roof. We now know it was a gecko but of the still larger outdoor variety – about eight inches long. If I had a pet gecko, I would probably call him Spiderman.
Sadly, we learned there had been a recent murder of a gecko in the Red Shower Room, by an obviously terrified and uniformed guest of the villa! We don’t have many details about his death. Mr. Tokay was just going about his business in his home, The Red Shower Room, when a giant with a large canister began spraying him repeatedly. Turns out the unsuspecting gecko was “sprayed to death” with a can of bug killer. I have terminated many a spider, including one in a Paris shower and one in Australia. But a gecko? How very unfortunate.
As you can see, part of living in a tropical paradise is sharing it with the surrounding habitat. I do admit to leaving flip-flops bedside for nighttime emergency trips to the toilet in case of unsuspecting visitors. And we have “at the ready,” a handy headlamp on the nightstand to be able to see clearly while stumbling to the toilet. And, yes, I do check around the toilet and under the lid for random creepy crawly creatures. Just in case.
The clouds are coming and going today; looks like it could rain. Warm – mid 80’s with humidity about to match. In fact, looks like this is the exact daily forecast for the rest of the week. Perhaps the rest of the month. If you think there has been too much talk in this post about coffee and geckos…then maybe Bali is not for you!
Kadek has moved the lounge cushions up under the lanai to keep them out of the rain. I am going to take a nap. No need to worry about what’s for dinner. Lovely!
Post script ~ this is like the post of the dream that won’t end, because something else keeps happening! As I am trying to complete my final edit, Cliff bursts into the bedroom saying there was a gecko in the freezer as he was trying to retrieve some ice for a glass of water. His only guess is that the gecko fell into the freezer when Cliff initially opened the door. Cliff then had quite a time trying to get the gecko out of the freezer. He finally flipped him onto the floor where the poor little gecko, about three inches in length, lay stunned. Cliff was not sure if he was just chilled or dead (remember ~ cold blooded creatures). After a minute or two the gecko started moving and appears to have recovered. He ran off under the frig. Maybe I should rename this post “Day of the gecko!!”