Happy New Year from Laura in Bali, March, 2012
March 23, 2012
Happy Balinese New Year or Selemat Hari Raya Nyepi!!!
Today is the day of silence in the land of lush cacophony of sounds from motorbikes, guttural laughter, temple bells and prayers, birds, frogs & geckos galore, and the constant chatter of locals in both deep and casual conversations. For 24 hours, no one – and I mean no one – leaves their family compounds to venture out on the streets to work or to hang with friend (no planes land or take off, no traffic/cars on the road) as it is the day that the Balinese believe that they must fool the gods into believing the island is abandon so that the “low spirits” will leave them in peace and saunter off to find other places to exist and wreak havoc on for the next year. Last night the kids and young adults marched around town carrying huge demonic mardigraw like papier-mache creatures held up on bamboo scaffolding and hoisted up and down in circles to first woo, and then confuse, the lowly gods. It was fabulously wonderful to see the creatures being animated by the energy of the crowds and the music from the gamelan and gongs cheering them along. Today is meant to be a day of contemplation and self-reflection, and so I am. My dear friend Penny and I are staying at our friend’s guest house, lounging by the pool (self-reflecting into the pool, non?) drinking large bottles of beer to steal away the hot afternoon sun (as well as lurching demons?), all the while laughing from the gut and sharing memories of ole (we have known each other in former lives, almost 24 years ago we met here in Bali). While I am sitting here typing away I am listening to the sounds of little tourist kids staying here who are splashing and swimming in the pool â€“ this very one that Daniel learned to swim in as a toddler, when we stayed up the road from here back in 2001. Oh a bit of homesickness tempting to squeeze into my Bali bliss.
Tomorrow we will emerge from this delicious break and return to the hustle and bustle of the streets of Ubud, and I will make my way down to the airport in the south and fly onto my next stop in Yogyakarta Java, where I lived for many years, many years ago. My time is running down and I fly home to my boys and Philly in a week’s time, amazed at how fast this trip has flown. I have done lots of buying, very excited by the goodies I have found in the mist of all the schlock this magically creative culture continues to pump out. The first part of the trip traveling around with my sister Sharon on her first trip to Bali seems like many moons ago. Since she left I have spent my time working hard each day schlepping out to the villages to find treasures while coming home at night to share dinners with many dear old friends ones. I am very fortunate; some would say blessed, to have such a rich life in both parts of my world, but I must say that not thinking about the US politics and the election the past several weeks has been a denial and blessing I have enjoyed very much.
When I return to the States, it will almost be time to get the garden ready for spring planting (Bill has done much of the work in my absence). The thoughts of the spring flowers and nubile green grass shoots peppering the lawn will ease my return from this fertile green land of rice fields and volcanic dark earth. I am sending you all my love from my island of Bali to you in your island of your dreams. Believe in them, for they are sure to come true.
Lovingly in Bali, Happy New Year – Laura