Little Pig, Little Pig…

I ventured out later than usual today. The morning dissolved in an amazing conversation with a new friend that lasted several hours over breakfast and multiple pots of tea. I could write a book just on the people I’ve met the past two months and it would be a page turner! So after catching up with e-mails I set out to run some errands. Somehow I ended up at the huge Ubud market about 3:00 p.m. That’s a terrible time to go to the market. The vendors are cranky, its hot and crowded, and everything looks tired. To make matters worse, I was hungry. When I’m hungry I can’t make up my mind. My stomach distracts me. So after looking at one woman’s sarongs for about half an hour I told her I had to go eat and I would come back. She told me I made her sick. Whoops! Oh well.

I shouldn’t have wasted my time with her wares. She really didn’t have what I wanted. I went a few stalls down, looked at two items, negotiated briefly, made my purchase and got the heck out of there! Now it was 4:30 and I was starving! I wanted to avoid the busy cafes on Monkey Forest Road and Hanoman so I took a little side street to see what might turn up. Just a short way up Jl. Gootama I saw a sign, Dewa’s Warung. I like places that sit high over the street and this one did. I climbed the steps and took a seat on a bamboo mat and started studying the menu. The prices were really, really low. Must be small portions, I thought, paying attention to my growling stomach. The Gado Gado sounded delicious, and I decided to order a side of Green Fern with Shaved Coconut and Rice along with my turmeric, lime, and honey drink. My order was taken and I busied myself people watching from my perch. A French couple came in and sat at the table across from me.

My drink came first. I inhaled it. Delicious. After about twenty minutes I was presented with a large plate, piled high, of tempe and vegetables with a rich brown peanut sauce and prawn chips. It was the largest serving of Gado Gado I had ever seen. I thanked my server and took a bite. I almost groaned with delight. It was absolutely divine. I wondered about the other dish I had ordered, but decided my server could easily have misunderstood. It happens and this would be plenty. I was half way through the amazing meal when suddenly the other plate with equally as much food appeared. “Oh my!” I said and out of the corner of my eye I saw the French couple look askance at my two dinners. The mistake was mine but I vowed to make the best of it. I tasted the mound of green fern with sweet fresh coconut shavings and then I did groan. How can anything be this good?

Yes. I ate them both. Unashamedly. My bill came to $2.75. I paid $3.50 and waddled home. I am so dreadfully spoiled! How is this going to work when I get back to meat-and-potatoes-Minnesota and have to pay real money for groceries and then cook them myself? I’m a dreadfully, dreadfully spoiled little piggy.

What a day!

It’s 6:30 a.m. Light rain is falling as I head down a deserted Hanoman Street. For days now I have allowed the morning rain to deter me from walking to the Yoga Barn for the 7 a.m. Early Bird Yoga class. It is one of the few Level 1 classes offered and my body is happiest at Level 1. I am the third to arrive. I take a mat, blocks, and a blanket and make my way to the far side of the room settling into a seated, meditative state. When I again open my eyes, the room is filled. There are, at quick glance, at least 20 people on their mats, waiting. The class is perfect, flowing from one pose to the next, fluidly, slowly, with the breath. I leave, calmed and energized.

Back to my homestay for breakfast and a quick change of clothes, then I’m off to the market. The sky is now a brilliant blue with bright sunshine. I gaze upward and can’t resist this shot. Who says you can’t take a picture directly into the sun?!

One must be mentally and physically prepared for a visit to the market. As with markets everywhere (with the possible exception of stoic Budapest) I am accosted every step of the way with, “Miss, a sarong today? A beautiful sarong?” “Miss, silver bracelet for you? Silver jewelry?” “Miss, Miss, good price for you today!” I find that the best answer is to respond in a sing-song voice, “Not today…thank you.” Most often I get a sing-song “Thank you…” in return. Sometimes I hear, “Miss, tomorrow?” I smile and move on.

The air here doesn’t move. There are offerings and incense at every vendor’s stall. I’ve wormed my way deep into the bowels of the marketplace. In the mid-day Bali heat I start feeling slightly woozy. I find my way to a balcony and inhale a deep breath of fresh air.

Yes. All those rooftops house more of the market. I wonder how many of the thousands of sarongs available here are sold on a given day, or how many of the I “heart” Bali T-shirts?

Finally, 200% over-stimulated, I look for an exit and escape. Uh oh! This street isn’t familiar. I go back inside, wend my way in the opposite direction, or as close to that as possible, and emerge somewhere else. Once again outside I recognize a landmark. The Oops Bar. I strike out confidently in the wrong direction. After a short distance I realize my mistake and make the necessary correction. I am heading for the Wayan Cafe, sweet oasis in the midst of sensory overload. It is a fair distance from the market but, dripping with sweat, I am bound and determined that a long, leisurely lunch there is just reward for the trials I have endured.

My persistence pays off. I ask the blue turbaned attendant if there is an available table in the garden. He invites me to go in and choose for myself. As I follow the winding path through rich foliage bursting with blossoms, I hope that I will find the perfect spot, secluded and tranquil. I pass many opportunities for seating but they aren’t quite what I’m hoping for. Then, on my right, is a high platform with a thatched roof overlooking a lovely lotus pond. It sits all by itself as if just waiting for me to find it. I remove my sandals and ascend the platform, sinking gratefully into the cushions.

And now the part my “foodie” friends have been waiting for. You know who you are! The menu is extensive and every dish delectable. I decide on an iced latte to start. The smiling blue turban appears and wallah! Iced coffee.

I’ve decided on an Indonesian dish called Cap Cay (pronounced Chop Chay) for my main course. It is described as “cabbages, carrot, cauliflower, onion, and green vegetables inĀ  a red sweet chili garlic sauce served with plain rice.”
My mouth waters and my stomach rumbles anticipating the flavors.

Oh delight! I am not disappointed. I savor every mouthful and wonder how I will summon the capacity for dessert. Exercising tremendous restraint, I do not lick the bowl. My happy attendant returns to remove the empty dishes and I tell him I must have dessert but I will have to wait a bit. “Take your time,” he says. I’m grateful for that. It is the perfect opportunity to take a few more photos of my idyllic surroundings.

The view to my right…

The view to my left…

And the view straight ahead. I’ve studied the dessert menu and, much against my better judgement, I order two: coconut meringue pie and green tea ice cream. The ice cream comes first. It is every bit as refreshing as it looks.

Yes, I should have stopped there. But Wayan Cafe is also a bakery. One should never leave without tasting at least one of their specialty desserts. Their coconut meringue pie is a pastry lovers dream.

The pie arrives. Gorgeous! I manage to polish off the whole thing. Did you have any doubt?

Reluctantly I know the time has come to leave my little island of calm and head home.

I thank my server again and slowly take myself and my very full belly, down off the platform and back through the serene gardens and home. It has been quite a day and it’s only 3 p.m. I make myself comfortable on the balcony with my laptop and find the place in the Word document where I left my protagonist hanging yesterday. The story starts to unfold in my mind and my fingers follow it, clicking over the keys.

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