Reluctant Gypsy

My passion for moving on is waning. But here I am again, in a different place on the opposite side of town, hearing new sounds, seeing new sights, and soaking in the differences.

I’ve been in Bali sixteen months. I’ve made friends, settled into a community, and in March I’ll be permanently installed in a home of my own. But for the next four weeks, until the house becomes available to me, I’m in a sweet efficiency apartment overlooking two temples and twenty tiled rooftops.

Two temples and twenty rooftops

The family temple is the area behind the ornate doorway in front. The second temple is on the roof in the upper right corner.

Southwest view

Southwest view and more rooftops

My closest neighbors here are building a house twelve inches from my balcony. Even by Bali standards that’s very, very close! You’d want to be on excellent terms, and we are, the Munias and me. My neighbors are a pair of white headed munia. How do I know this? They don’t exist anywhere else I’ve ever been and the name is unfamiliar. Google of course! It took about ten minutes. It helped that I knew that here a sparrow is a pipit and a thrush is a kutilang. The munia is neither a sparrow nor a thrush, but…oh nevermind!

Sitting in her nest

Mrs. Munia in her nest

I called them a pair, but I suspect they’re a threesome. There’s a fair bit of flustering about in the palm fronds. They’re building a nest with gusto, all three of them. And they play sky tag during their breaks. I’m here for a month. If I’m lucky I’ll get to watch the whole bird birthing process. They don’t seem to find me at all intimidating, nor do they appear to require privacy for their intimate business. That’s exciting! Well…you know what I mean!

And because Gwen, my favorite sister, always needs to know exactly what my current residence looks like, here we go Gwen, this is for you.

The tiny kitchen

Here’s the kitchen area with a new rice cooker, my first! Sitting in front of the cooker is a bowl of salak (snakefruit). It’s my favorite healthy snack. We won’t talk about the unhealthy ones!

This is the view from the kitchen. My chair and laptop are positioned in the doorway to catch the westerly cross-breeze that was divine. It kept this 85 degree day cool!

This is the view from the kitchen. My chair and laptop are positioned in the doorway to catch the westerly cross-breeze. It was divine and kept this 85 degree day cool!

And the wall opposite the bed with a large lumari, aka wardrobe. The door is open. My door is always open unless I'm asleep.

This is the wall opposite the bed with a large lumari, aka wardrobe. The palm tree at the edge of the balcony is the Munia’s home.

I’ll spare you the bathroom photos and just say it’s sufficient. Flush toilet, shower with hot water, miniscule sink and mirror.

There are only four apartments. I'm the upper right.

There are only four apartments. I’m the upper right. There are two more on the left.

The number of moves I’ve made in my life has now exceeded anything even remotely appropriate. I’ve packed up and relocated over 50 times. I wonder if there’s a psychotic label for someone who does that. Who does that????! But it’s in my chart, my astrological birth chart. I had already moved about 42 times when I enlisted the services of Anita Doyle, a brilliant astrologer. She was in California, I was in Minnesota. I’d never met the woman, but over the course of the one-hour phone reading she proceeded to tell me my life story and beyond. The information had a profound influence and propelled me in a new direction…still moving, but now with purpose and intent.

However, all that chasing about could be coming to an end. I hatched my eggs long ago, the chicks are grown, and I’ve finally found a corner of the planet that suits me. I think I just might stay.

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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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