As our time winds down here on Bali, the air has become even sweeter, the rice fields even more green, and the people even more lovely. Bali is like a trick baby–you know, the one that is so cute, it tricks you into thinking you want another. When we first arrived, Chris expressed that he probably would not come back here. Just yesterday, the refrain had shifted to, “Who knows, maybe someday we will come back here.” Wow! Often upon first arrival, it’s hard to get into a groove, especially when kids are involved. Our first house in Bali, Whitney Bungalow, did not help. Villa Satori, however, including its location along Juwuk Manis, would make anyone want to come back to Bali.
Though Ubud is not extremely kid friendly (with its lack of parks, sidewalks, and places to ride bikes), there are still so many activities to enjoy, especially in the surrounding areas. Our last two weeks have been a busy mixture of school, cultural moments, and fun outings. Merle’s big dream for our trip was to do a zip-line obstacle course through the jungle. His wish was granted at Bali Treetops, where he learned all about paying attention, following directions, staying clipped in, and conquering fear. Through the course, Merle added more pride and confidence to his sweet 6 year old sense of self reliance. Seeing him grow personally makes me at once look forward to seeing him continue to develop but also want to hold him as a little boy forever. Big thanks to Chris who shadowed him every step of the way.
The same day we visited Munduk Waterfall. This involved a lush, damp jungle walk, with no sign of the waterfall, and then BOOM, there it was! It was a such a sudden sensory blast that Merle stopped in his tracks, paused and just took it all in. I love that Merle is sensitive. His senses are so raw that he literally feels a place with his entire being, and he needs time to absorb it. The result is a cherished memory, treasured beyond our own recollections.
Just like the ocean, it is always exhilarating to see a big waterfall. This photo of Merle and Chris is a tribute to an old shot of them in the same pose when Merle was only 8 months at the Taughannock Falls in Ithaca, New York.
Here at Satori, we are surrounded by nature, rather uber-nature, since everything is so radiantly alive, not to mention remarkably noisy. The multitude of frogs and toads at night, along with the crickets, cicadas and mystery squawkers, is such a cacophony, it verges on freaky. We enjoy peeking in on our resident toad who lives in a hole in some potted horse tails on the back porch. He occasionally emerges like a dapper old man on his stoop, having a look at the world going by.
All throughout our trip, we have seen an amazing amount and variety of butterflies. At the Chiang Mai insect museum, we learned that butterflies rarely live more than two weeks. That makes seeing one all the more special.
While briefly stopped along the road one day, an iguana suddenly leapt with a diminutive thud onto the car. We were sure to place him safely back on solid ground after a couple photo ops. What a cool creature!
My love of flowers continues. As you know, they are in bloom everywhere, but what makes Bali truly special is the endless, ubiquitous array of floral canang (Hindu offerings to the gods). Since our arrival at Satori, due to various auspicious days, Wayan has blessed and given thanks to our books, Chris’ bike, the pool pump, and even the TV. Thank you, Vishna, Shiva and Brahma (and Wayan!) for this and much more! (By the way, the kids liked that the gods were offered their favorite treat in SE Asia, a sugary probiotic drink called Yakult.)
The day the books were blessed was Saraswati Day, a time to give thanks to the goddess of learning. Our local masseuse friend, Soni and her brother Kasna, invited us to come with them to see the festivities at their village temple. This gave us a chance to wear our Balinese finest. Mathilda especially jumps at any opportunity to dress up. More importantly, though, we got the basics on how to pray, briefly witnessed a ceremony and even got holy water sprinkled on us from a priest. The kids dutifully drank it as well (eek!) and had rice (which is considered sacred) pressed onto their foreheads. Now we understand a little more about the perpetually strange yet magical activities of the devout Balinese.
Merle, in particular, takes prayer quite seriously these days.
We adore where we are at the moment. The rice has grown so quickly that the recently planted fields now undulate in the breeze. We feel constantly humbled by the generosity of the warm and open-hearted locals. Satori, with its modern comforts (Coninuous hot water! Unfailing internet! Huge, 2 person, outdoor bathtub! Constant electricity! Air conditioner in every room! No roaches, rats, bats, or cats! Toilets that flush well! Dedicated staff!) make me feel reluctant to move. As our Bali time wanes, moments become gilded as they flit into the past. Soon they may or may be not be remembered. Ellen recently said to me that all we have in the end are pictures to remind us. True, I just wish the brain could remember—taste, smell, feel–every detail too.