Meeting Julie

Another special day! About 2:00 I leave my key at the office, their signal that I’m ready for clean sheets, towels, and a light touch-up of the room, and head out. My mission: keep a 3:30 appointment with author, Julie Silvester. The directions she gave me take me along Monkey Forest Road lined with shops selling beautiful batiks, fine silver jewelry, wood carvings, musical instruments and art. I make note of several that require a return trip for serious shopping!

Around a long curve, up a hill, right at the 24 hour grocery to the reception desk, then another right along a narrow, walled walkway and I’m there. Julie sees me coming and welcomes me to her second floor bungalow. Sitting in the treetop balcony sipping Balinese coffee we chatter away. Then she suggests we walk over and see “the house” before the rain starts. This is what I’ve been waiting for. Julie has lived in Bali for two years and now she’s building her own home. I have read about its progress on her blog but I’m extremely eager to see it in person.

We walk to the building site, literally one house away. I make Julie stop on the path so I can snap a photo of her with the house in the background.

There are women sitting on bamboo scaffolding sanding the beams that support the roof over the balcony.

But the major work today is being done in the bathroom. She now has running water! Soon there will be a pond with fish, a rock wall with orchids growing from it, and a fountain.

As she leads me through the rooms, pointing out different features and reminding me to watch my step, her excitement is tangible. But when she shows me the giant sculpture crowning the intricately carved main door delight simply radiates from her face. Everything has been done by hand. The sculpture was just finished yesterday by a man, on bamboo scaffolding, carving the details into the plaster.

 

The tour is completed and as we leave she points out the detail at the end of each one of the roof tiles. They are frangipani blossoms, the crowning touch! I marvel at this labor intensive project. Everything has been done by hand. Imagine what that kind of work would cost in the U.S.

The tour completed we return to our coffee on the balcony. The sky has been a saturated gray all day and it looks as though it is getting ready to really pour. I have a bit of a walk home but before I leave I want to buy the book Julie co-authored with Steve Castley, A Taste of Bali. Julie has one signed and ready in no time. I tuck my autographed copy into my backpack and wave goodbye.

As I am nearing home I see the warm lights of Atman Cafe across the street. It looks so inviting and I feel a little hungry. About the time I step inside the heavens open and rain pours down in solid sheets. Curled up on a platform amid a profusion of pillows I engage in conversation with the woman next to me. She’s from Oregon and has been traveling for 3 months. I eat my tropical fruit with a sweet chili dressing (I can’t even tell you how delicious that is!) and sink into the deep sensation of contentment that envelopes me. About the time I finish eating the rain has slowed to a skin-moistening mist. I walk the three minutes home, retrieve my key from the office, and unlock the door to a fresh, clean room. Somebody pinch me!

Hanoman Street in Ubud

I love the surprises each day brings. After another superb meal at Atman Cafe I head north on Hanoman Street.

Hanoman is one of the two main arteries running north and south through Ubud. I set off, camera in hand, to capture some images that are representative of the flavor of the village. This carved, painted door with a soaring crown and gargoyle is typical Balinese architecture. It is inserted into a high brick wall that surrounds a family compound or perhaps a temple.

There are always steps up to the doorway so you can’t quite see what’s in there. Today curiosity triumphed. I climbed the stairs and took a peek¬† through the partially open door. There was a large open space bordered by several buildings that I assume are dwellings. The ornate facades of these homes are protected by statues of gods or fierce creatures.

My mission for the afternoon is to visit the new CoCo Supermarket and pick up a few snacks for evening munching. I hadn’t realized until now what a snacker I am! Not having a kitchen with stocked cupboards handy is definitely a lifestyle change. I comb the gleaming isles of the large store. There are thousands of varieties of chips, cookies, and candies. My search is successful and I leave with two apples and a bag of spicy Thai peanuts. There is a somber look to the sky as I head home so I pick up the pace hoping to reach cover before a downpour.

I am approaching my turn when Hanoman Street becomes suddenly quiet. No traffic. That can only mean one thing. Looking up the street I see them coming. A ceremonial procession is making its way toward me.

The black and white plaid fabric is seen everywhere in Bali. I was told that it represents balance.

They pass directly in front of me on their way to the temple to make the offerings that the women are carrying on their heads.¬† I don’t want to be the obnoxious tourist who intrudes upon their traditional rituals with camera flashing, so I try to be discreet and probably miss the best shots as a result.

The parade continues on and I head down the walled corridor that will take me home. As I turn the corner at the top of the steps, there beside my door is a canang sari, a small basket woven of palm fronds containing an offering to the gods. The Balinese present these offerings three times a day. Sometimes I wonder how the women get anything else done. They seem to sit for hours every day making literally dozens of these small gifts.

Finally back on my balcony I watch the threatening clouds approach.

There’s a stiff breeze and…ahhh yes! Here comes the rain!

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