Global Cooling Hits Bali

I had a Facebook chat with my friend, Komang, this morning. He was complaining. He said it is cold in Bali right now. I asked him, “How cold, Komang?” There was a pause then the message popped up, Komang is typing…I’m glad that little note appears. At least I know that the answer to my question is being thoughtfully prepared, that the other end of my correspondence hasn’t decided to walk the dog or take a shower. In a few minutes I was rewarded with his answer, “I don’t know…it is so cold I use shocks.” That stumped me. Shocks. Hmmm. Whatever shocks meant to him, I didn’t think it meant the same to me, so I typed my next question, “Are shocks blankets, Komang?” I needed to know. I watched the white blank space waiting for his answer and pretty soon the message popped up again, Komang is typing…He was apologizing,”I’m sorry, I mean socks…It is so cold I sleep with socks AND blankets.” Meanwhile I Googled temperature in Bali just to get a feel for how miserable it actually is. Daytime temperature 77 degrees Fahrenheit the website said, tonight, mid sixties.

Here in Minnesota, in the midst of a record-breaking heat wave, 77 degrees sounds like paradise. I’m guessing the rice paddies and bananas won’t freeze!

As I was zipping along the freeways today, from the skyscrapers downtown to lunch in the suburbs, I couldn’t help but think how radically my life will change in ten days. I am returning to Ubud for four months. In a country where, by law, no building can be higher than a palm tree, there’s a different code. The pace is slower. Everything I need is within a few minutes’ walk. I like seeing chickens on the side of the road, clucking and pecking. I like watching the motorbikes come early in the morning with huge crates of produce, fresh from the fields, strapped on the sides. I like the pageantry of the cremation procession that stops traffic for hours. And I know that I am viewing it all from my white, Anglo Saxon, privileged perspective. But there is an authenticity there that disappeared from our Western culture about the time plastic was invented. It calls to me.

I have always felt a deep relationship with antiquity. The ruins at Pompeii, the architecture of European cathedrals, Chichen Itza, all fascinate me and create a desire to know more about the people who lived during that time. In Bali the ruins are there but so are the people, living and believing much as they did hundreds of years ago.  And if Komang says it’s cold, who am I to disagree? In a land that rarely sees the thermometer dip below 83, a night in the mid 60’s would seem frightfully chilly.

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