Holy motorbikes!

As adventures go, today gets a perfect 10. It had all the required elements: suspense, terror, discovery, delight. To say that I have an uneasy relationship with motorbikes would be, well, a lie. I am white-knuckle-clench-jaw terrified of riding on any motorized vehicle with only two wheels. So when Wayan invited me to visit their home I was thrilled until she said she would pick me up on her motorbike. My big smile did an instant melt-down. “Motorbike?” I squeaked. “Yes,” she flashed her own lovely smile, “you ride on the back. I will take you.” Face it. An opportunity to visit this Balinese family in a village about 30 minutes away, to experience first-hand how these beautiful people live, just doesn’t come along every day. There was no way I was not going.

Suspense. Wayan was coming at 4:00. By 2:00 I was feeling knots in my stomach. At 3:00 my palms were sweaty. By the time I heard the sound of a motor approaching at 3:55 I was hyperventilating. Taking a deep, cleansing breath I grabbed my bag and went out to meet her. She strapped me into a helmet, popped the back foot rests down and I climbed on. My grip on her rib-cage probably permanently rearranged her vital organs. Terror!  Then off we went. Traffic on the streets in Bali is frightening enough when I’m walking on the sidewalk. But to be weaving in and out between tour buses and hundreds of other bikes similar to hers, horns blaring, without anything protecting my fragile body, put me in a catatonic state. I clung to Wayan’s tiny middle for dear life.

After a few miles we left Ubud. The air was fresh, traffic was light, and in spite of myself I began to enjoy the ride. I don’t believe I said that! But its true. Upon arrival at her home I was introduced to her husband, Komang, and their adorable son. Komang works at the reception desk of a high-end resort spa. Both Komang and Wayan speak very good English.

My tour of their home commenced. I followed Komang to the family temple area. As he explained the function of each of the structures and what they represent I was struck anew by the dailiness of their beliefs. There is no separation between the secular and the holy. They are interwoven so seamlessly that one is unrecognizable without the other.

Komang explained that each of the small buildings in the temple area has a purpose. One is for making offerings to honor the ancestors. One receives offerings for safety. Another, offerings for prosperity. One that struck me with particular impact was the edifice that represented caring about doing good work. They make offerings and prayers, daily, for caring about doing good work. With all these prayers, setting the intention for such goodness, its little wonder that Bali is a very special place.

Did I mention that I was an instant celebrity here. Upon arrival children began to gather around me. No matter what I did or said they found it hilariously funny. They have mastered the words, ‘Hello’ and ‘Bye.’ But they mostly like Hello, so every few minutes one of them would blurt out, “Hello!” and wait expectantly for my answering, “Hello!” Then they would all laugh uproariously.

 

 

The Balinese lifestyle is completely different from ours in the West in other ways too. They have a house for sleeping, a separate house for cooking, a place for the ceremonies of marriage and death, and the temple area. All of these are surrounded by a wall, maybe 8 feet high. The buildings are small by Western standards, but most of life is lived outside. And why wouldn’t it be in this climate where as the saying goes, “Even a rock, if planted, will grow.”

There is a stream that runs a little distance from the house. Earlier Wayan had pointed to it saying that this is where she does her laundry. Huh? Sometimes I have to catch myself so that my shock and disbelief don’t offend. A few moments later she added that this is also where the women bathe every morning at 6 a.m. “Men too?” I asked. “No, men go somewhere else.” As I said, much of life is lived outside.

When we returned from our walk through the neighborhood, Wayan disappeared into the kitchen building and emerged a few minutes later with a treat. It was fresh coconut milk, straight from the coconut, which was harvested from one of the three coconut palms on their property. Then Komang’s mother joined us. She takes care of their mischievous three-year-old while Wayan and Komang work six days a week.

 

After refreshments Wayan and Komang offered to take me to the night market. Even though it meant another motorbike ride, my curiosity triumphed and off we went. There were no tourists there tonight, and we strolled through the isles, Komang carrying his son and Wayan holding my arm. I saw many Balinese women walking arm in arm and I felt much love for this little family that has so warmly welcomed me into their lives.

 

 

There were food vendors everywhere and the knawing in my stomach reminded me that Wayan and Komang had come straight from work and were probably hungry too. Komang pointed out the various dishes naming them. “And this one is bubur ayam…” he had barely gotten the words out of his mouth and I interjected, “Oh! Can we stop and have some? I will buy your dinner. I love bubur ayam!” My gracious host and hostess agreed. Three heaping bowls of the savory dish were presented and what a delicious treat it was. Three bowls of bubur ayam and beverages set me back a whopping $2.00.

As we finished our meal the sky looked like it may be working up to another twilight downpour. We quickly returned to the motorbikes and straddling the trusty machine, I once again wrapped my arms around Wayan’s waist. Waving goodby and thanks to Komang, we set off to beat the rain. What a spectacular day. And, thanks to Wayan, I think I may have overcome a major phobia involving two-wheeled, motorized vehicles!

 

Advertisements

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Diane Struble
    Mar 21, 2012 @ 23:16:02

    Congratulations. You have now done what I would never do, namely getting on a motorbike as a passenger. I remember when Lisa rode on a motorcycle with a friend who reported that the fingerprint imprints were undoutedly his for life. Thanks for reporting about the Balinese way of life. It sounds lovely.

    Like

    Reply

  2. Komang Subagia
    Mar 22, 2012 @ 08:33:42

    it was our pleasure welcoming you to our family,…

    Like

    Reply

  3. here
    Jun 07, 2012 @ 18:37:47

    It seems to me that this site doesnt load up on a Motorola Droid. Are other folks having the exact same issue? I enjoy this site and dont want to have to skip it whenever Im away from my computer.

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: