I was paged at the MSP airport and told I was denied boarding. I asked myself how this could happen when I’d been planning for Bali for a year. Eventually, the visa question was qualifiedly cleared up, the flights went without a hitch, my room at the Singapore transit hotel was upgraded and I saw Sherry’s smiling face on arrival in Denpasar.
The drive north and inland to the town of Ubud was both familiar and disorienting after the 32-hour overseas trip. On arrival, I was introduced to my new home and it’s owner, Sumantra. It’s a small but comfortable room and has stunning views from the balcony of gardens, temples and across acres of red rooftops.
It was not an auspicious start when we blew the power by plugging in my power strip to recharge electronics before heading out for a walk and lunch.
The scooter, car and construction noise mixed with the color and smells of shops and restaurants as we walked down the now-familiar and still broken-apart Hanoman street in the afternoon heat. Edging through my fatigue was also the question “What am I doing here”? We sat at Altmans restaurant where I was served a coconut with the top lopped off. I drank thirstily.
Then on we went to the money changer with his back-room counter and calculator where I walked away with a tremendous clutch of bills – 1250 Rp. per $100 bill. I returned home to unpack and then celebrated with a cold Bintang on my patio. My internal dialogue settled into a place of “Ahhhhhhhh, this is right”.
This feeling was even more pronounced after a good night’s sleep and breakfast with Kopi (coffee) on my patio. The roosters wakened me repeatedly starting at 3:00 and were accompanied by the pet mynah bird squawking (who knew?) and soon after, the cicadas buzzed an electrical tune for an hour. I traded a mini kitchen for air con which provides a sheer curtain against early-morning noise as well as a couple of hrs away from the heat of the day to read and write.
This morning I was picked up on a moped by Sherry’s good friend, Ketut, for an adventurous drive to Bayu’s restaurant. She had invited me to be her guest at her writers’ group and I enjoyed hearing others read words they’d written and to, unexpectedly, share a piece of mine. On leaving, I was encouraged to write more and to join the group during my stay. Hmmmmmm.
A trip to Coco’s (THE) grocery store, and a blister from incorrect shoes for the unexpected walk home, left me tired and sore, wondering how far I could go for dinner tonight. Perhaps it will be bungkus (boonkoos/takeout). PostScript…perfect, Sherry brought me a yoga mat and bungkus and stayed for a nice visit.
And now, a cool breeze blows across my balcony. Neighborhood children sound the same everywhere…..just a different language. The clouds build over the volcanoes to my right and darkness prepares to settle over Ubud. Ahhhhh, there sounds the rooster again.