Memory of Bali - September 2009
I sit here listening to the rain, Balinese boys laughing and playing and a familiar sound of country music echoes through the night. I am sitting on my balcony in the beautiful island of Bali. Trying to find something, maybe myself, yoga or a spiritual discovery. I have the urge to write; idea’s and thoughts poring out of my soul. I have been backpacking Southeast Asia for 3 weeks now, each day finding a new discovery. I sit and wonder, or ponder many questions about myself, god and my new and old life. I realize that I am different, changed a new sense of discovery lights my face. I have followed my dream listened to my heart, and as it comes to a close I cant help but wonder what else is out there for me to discover. I have two hearts and I am struggling which one is more important to me. My first heart is to travel, learn, experience and my second heart is my home where my fiancé and family are. I can not decide which one is heavier on the balancing scale. Of course people in my life are most important but I am not sure that I am finished, and that getting married is what I really want to do? Is it just the safe option? Or what I am supposed to do? Is it a fear of never finding a better or stronger love, because I know that I will not he is perfect? I am not sure if I am ready to go “home” yet. But I have been on my own for the last year, I am returning a brighter, self sufficiently, independent woman. In the last year I have used I resources and done things I never thought I could do: such as fixing my toilet in Korea with my bare hands, a hair pin, paper clip and hair tie. I mean I can use resources! Who would have thought? I have been lost and found, literally and figuratively. I face fears of returning, I am in Indonesia alone and I am afraid of returning to the place I grew up.
I decided to read Eat, Pray, Love for a second time while I am here. We happen to be on the same road in Bali. And I was just invited to Italy for a few weeks. I think what do I really want. I am scared to return, what will I do, will I find a job? I am scared to figure out if my fiancé and I will work out. Maybe, I am afraid that it may not. Do I really want to be married? I am struggling with in myself for the right answers. I look down at myself, I look different. My hair is darker and thinning because of the water and lack of vitamins and protein. My wrists are filled with bracelets from women around Thailand that tied them on me. My finger has a ring that symbolizes luck from a market in Bali. I have cuts and tons of mosquito bites from diving and climbing and sitting outside looking at the stars at night. I have found my inner artist, fashionesta and bare foot hippie child. I am more fit and crave extreme sports and activity. I haven’t had a period in a year. Some days I look in the mirror and do not recognize the new woman looking back at me. What am I searching for? What do I want? Do I want to be married?
The smell of incense and spices fills the air, smoke drifts from the mountains and temples filling me with spiritual delight.
It has been raining since I got here, but that hasn’t stopped me from discovering Ubud. My first stop was determined by a game of rock, scissor, paper with my friend. “I win I go south first, you win I go North first” I won, so I am sitting in the South, in the artsy center. It is filled with paintings, sarongs, women caring heavy baskets on their heads and hand cut wood carvings. When I arrived I had no idea where I was headed, no idea where I was going to stay and sleep that night. I had not a dime in the local currency in my pocket to buy a clue. In my first 30 minutes I grabbed a cab which I we became instant friends and he asked if I wanted to stop and meet a good friend of his. Of course I did! We stopped at a huge warehouse/farm that was an art gallery. In the gallery were elaborate paintings, I met an artist by the name of Made. We talk and share smiles. He tells me I am different and that I am happy he can see it on my face and in my light. He invites me to live with him and his family and teach me how to paint. He wants to see me everyday, and share my energy and spirit with him and his family. He asks for nothing in return, no money or favors just the kindness of living with him. Unfortunately, I politely declined, but I am thinking why not? I reason was I would want to stay longer in Asia, I know in my heart that if I stayed and lived with this Balinese family, I may never come “home”. At this time, I had a ring on my finger and a fiancé waiting for me to stop being a nomad and come home to get married. I buy a painting. And I had another plan, I had to find another man with the same name. There are four names in Bali, yes four. So, the first child are all called the same name and then the list goes down, when a family has five children they start all over again. Which can be quiet confusing to an outsider. So, I have my own mission impossible, to find a man whose name is Made, like first born on this island and have him accept me as his student. I only know that he owns a silver making shop and his first name. I have no address, no city name and no idea where to start and why something magnetic is pulling me closer to this man. Not only was there a captivating pull towards him, but also the county, and to have this adventure alone. I felt in my heart that no one could come with me but I must find my own way.
In the streets of Ubud are shops and tourist. Strangers offer conversation, and will talk to you without knowing you at all. The constant question of where are you going? And where are you coming from? Flows smoothly from people sitting on the road. The land smells of sweet flowers and the air is fresh compared to the thick air of Seoul. Life seems to have a slower pace, which is calming. I explored Monkey forest temple where hundred of monkeys live in the open. I got a massage and pedi at a local spa and talked to a young Balinese woman about boys. Women and children are the same everywhere. The woman love to talk all day, talk about men and share beauty secrets. Children play and run in the street barefoot; laughing their sarongs kissing the sandy earth. I smile to myself. I watch a traditional dance with live music; it was entrancing. It is still raining. I have a yoga class in an hour, and tomorrow I am going to a small city to search for Made, accompanying my journey is a cool looking Balinese man with a long ponytail and quite large muscles. He is driving me across the island on the back of his motorcycle.
I just came back from my yoga class. It was enlightening and wonderful. It was like nothing I have experienced before. It was insightful to the culture and religion. He referred to GOD a lot, it was beautiful. The yoga was a cross between releasing negative energy; I think there was a point where he was out of his body. I swear it. I feel lighter, my heavy heart and mind are now at peace. I got home and danced around. Tomorrow is a new adventure and I don’t believe in time.
I wake up to my friend at the front desk “good morning dear” wake up. I go down and chat with her, she tells me each day I look more “fresh faced.” That is a great sign; maybe I am becoming myself again after a hard year. I realize in retrospect how challenging my job was, and my body and mind feel lighter each day. Also, I am becoming more comfortable in my own skin. Its about time, dessert first anyone? Ok I am not there yet, but slowly I am recovering and balancing my mind, body and soul. I think about the yoga session last night…it was as if he was talking about me. Maybe I am an egocentric American. He had me pick up my leg and rock it like a baby, he explained that we have to treat each body part with loving kindness like we would a child. We need to concentrate our minds on taking care of each body part. I decide he is right.
I rode through the country side grabbing a handsome older man with a ponytail around the waist, praying that I wouldn’t die and laughing. We drove through rice fields as green and wide as the eye can see. Women balancing palm baskets which are offerings to ancestors and gods on their heads walking to temples. Children were in the streets wearing traditional clothes because tonight is the full moon. We stop at the oldest temple in Bali. There was a ceremony getting ready to take place. Women were making offerings and lighting incenses, the smell is intoxicating. Offerings to the GODS were placed on wooden carts with wheels, resembling accent wagons. They were filled with fruit and sweet sticky rice. The men were sitting and talking and cooking meat on an open fire. The temple was organic and green. You could feel the presences of something peaceful and calm. I walk down the 400 stairs and bought a sarong from a man with a beautiful bright eyed little girl. Her eyes were the color of coffee and a shy smile filled her wondrous face. I kept walking and became speechless from the greenery of the rice fields, the cascade of waterfalls and intoxicating smells. Everyone is happy and laughing. The community welcomes me and says good morning. I am in bliss: I am grateful: I feel small in this large world. Our next stop is an organic plantation. My driver enjoyed explaining the kinds of plants; coffee, coco, vanilla, cumin and ginger. He shows me the animal a mongoose which eats coffee beans then poops them out, it is cleaned and made into an “earthy” brew. “It is expensive in other parts of the world and considered a delicacy” he explains. He wants me to try the “poo” coffee. Hell, yes! I will try shit coffee. He is right, it is “earthy.” I am a vegetarian and hope this doesn’t count. The guide is hilarious and we sit overlooking the plantation sipping fresh coconut milk, ginger tea, poo coffee and ginseng coffee. He tells me to buy some for my husband “Good stamina” he says, “It make for very good lover” he explains with a mischievous smile. So, I buy some and hope he is right.
The driver and I make small talk during the 4 hour drive. I like him, his energy is good and I enjoy his company. The small village that we are going to is a stretch of many small villages spread out. There are hardly any tourist and has small hotels. It feels good, quiet and welcoming. Within seconds I decide I already love it here. I kiss my new friend on the cheek as he helps me with my bags to the small bungalow where I am staying. My room is beautiful and has intricate details carved into the wood. I am overlooking the ocean on a small hill. It is freeing and breath taking all at once. I am lucky. I can not sit for long and walk down to the beach, The beach is covered with black sand! I have never seen black sand! I take off my shoes and run through the smooth darkness as I sink into the earth. I am one with my earth, my GOD and myself. It is warm and feels safe on this beach. Only a few people line the beach, snorkeling and swimming. The waters edge holds coral and rocks and the water is shallow enough to swim out very far. I am lucky. I take a deep breath and lay on the clay like sand; it has the texture of a stress ball…my own earth bean bag. I open my book, and chat with an older lady trying to give me a massage. She is nice and has a heart warming smile with missing teeth. I like her immediately. But, I have a goal, and I explain to her who I am looking for and why I am here.
I need to find my guru, my yoga man. I get up and start out on a mission…I need to find a new hotel room and guru, maybe not in that order. I roam the streets in flip flops a sarong and a bikini. I stop at each shop looking for yoga specialties and clues where I may find this man. Everyone stops me to ask “where are you from?” and “where do you live here?” and “How long do you stay?” “How many people are you with?” says an elderly man sitting on his porch with a piece of hay dangling from his lips. Its interesting, I come to the conclusion that Bali is the place to be alone because everyone will talk to you. I feel a little shy about putting myself out there for real friendship here. I can’t pinpoint it. I will do better tomorrow. After walking quite far and speaking with multiple people later I walk back to my hotel…ok tomorrow I will find him! With an optimistic smile and passion.
Then I look up and a sign on a wall in the back of a restaurant says “yoga, spiritual healing” I go in. Next door is a silver shop, I think I have found him. I talk to his friend I am going tomorrow. I am so excited, I hope this works out and that I can study from him. For tomorrow I need to get rest and allow myself to sleep in. I can exercise and then relax in the sun for the rest of the day. I think again I hope I can study yoga from this man. I feel there is something to be learned from him I feel drawn to him and I don’t even know him. I have to meet him. I also need to be more willing to make friends, and invite them to dinner or chat longer with people. It seems I am talking to people then “you want to go to sunset on my bike” meaning I will show you for money. That is not their intention but it is true. I need to focus on positive energy and peace of mind. Also bring good people into my life. I breathe in for peace, for change for life. I feel myself become more ME. More artistic, I am not going to hold back on art anymore. I want to learn to paint and dance while I am here. Breathe for change, breath for me, breathe for peace in my heart. I only want to give love, I can only give love. And I can’t give what I don’t have, which is negative energy, so I can only give love, compassion and light.
Later his friend rides his scooter to come find me, yoga man can’t have class tomorrow. But he wants me to come meet him now. His friend invites me to dinner and later on to enjoy the festival, I am in a wet suit and have nothing but my room key. I politely say “I am very tired and need to shower and rest.” I hope I did not offend him, and that this will not determine my study. So, I will meet him the day after tomorrow. I think I should stay the rest of my stay on this beach. It is quiet except for the festivities but that is only tonight. I can hear the lullaby of the crashing waves softly against the black sand between songs and dance. I can see the lights and feel a faint breeze from my open window bringing the smell of incents.