Bali, Hi - Eight months in Bali

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Part XV
Bali, Bye!
by Mad Dog

 

Like any experience, you take things with you. Hopefully they’re nice thoughts and learned lessons and not parasites or black magic spells. 

    After 8˝ months I finally left. That was 2˝ months longer than I intended, 6˝ months longer than I’ve stayed anywhere else during the past four years, and if my math skills haven’t deteriorated from the heat, humidity, and mildew, eight months longer than I thought I’d make it during my first week there.

    The signs were obvious at the end: ever waning motivation; getting food poisoning in Singapore of all places, the country that puts cleanliness above godliness; my computer croaking as soon as I got back to Bali (and having to wait through three cycles of “It will be ready in three days” before it was actually ready in three days); becoming way too sociable for my own good and running the chance of ruining a longstanding and to date well deserved reputation; watching the ducks come and go for a second rice growing cycle; and having several good friends leave. There might as well have been a huge bamboo sign in the rice fields with an arrow pointing west saying, “Tamu go home!”

Baby Wayan's three-month ceremony    Like any experience, you take things with you. Hopefully they’re nice thoughts and learned lessons and not parasites or black magic spells. I learned patience—at least I hope so. I learned to miss rice if I didn’t have it at least once a day. And I learned that most Balinese think “Hallo Mister” is one word, or at least don’t know what mister means since to them it’s a non-gender specific greeting. Like yin and yang, plus and minus, and gravity and antigravity, there are two sides to everything. And that includes Bali.

 

  I'll miss clearing immigration in 32 seconds by accidentally leaving a 50,000 rupiah bill in my passport. And being upset because the last time I made it through in 29 seconds.

Things I’ll miss:
- Seeing sparks every time I plug something in.

- Looking in the mirror when I’m in full ceremonial dress and knowing I look pretty fly for a white guy, even though as Jason says, we look like we’re selling hot dogs.

- How easy it is to meet new people.

- How few of those people are Americans.

- Being able to say “How are you?” in Balinese and having someone understand it. Okay, after they ask me to repeat it three times because my pronunciation is so bad.

- The 12-piece sushi dinner at Ryoshi’s for Rp23,000 (about $2.05).

- Wayan, Made, Nyoman, and Ketut. All 1.4 million of each of them.

- Riding motorbikes through Penestanan at 1 AM with Diana to see the groups of men with homemade spears and clubs waiting for a rival village to cause trouble. Though it could have been macho posturing designed to make sure they got sex when they went home and bragged about how they protected the family and the village. I’ll have to remember that ploy.

- Clearing immigration in 32 seconds by accidentally leaving a 50,000 rupiah bill in my passport. And being upset because the last time I made it through in 29 seconds.

- The glow-in-the-dark plankton in the water off Nusa Penida.

I'll miss views like this, that's for sure- The sounds of gamelan orchestras and priest’s chanting wafting through the rice fields at night. It sure beats hip-hop pumping out of the back of a car.

- Shorts, t-shirts, and no shoes. All the time.

- Lunch of gado-gado from the warung behind the banjar for Rp1,500 (13-cents).

 

 

I won't miss being stopped on the way out of a village near a holy water hot spring to pay for parking even though there was no parking lot, we parked on the side of the road, and no one helped us park.

- The lack of any discernable traffic regulations for motorbikes.

- President Abdurrahman Wahid’s impeachment.

- October becoming National Labor Strike Month so “all labor strikes, demonstrations, and negotiations [can be] held at a specific time,” making it easier to remember, packing all that messy inconvenience into one month, and giving Hallmark the opening they’ve been looking for to promote their new line of “Happy National Labor Strike Month” cards.

- Rocky the Balinese Wonder Dog, though lord knows why.

Things I won’t miss:
- Gecko shit.

- Getting shocked anytime I touch a metal part on anything that’s plugged in.

- The answer to the questions “When will it be ready?”, “When will you be open?”, and, well, any question beginning with “when” always being “Three days.”

- Making friends and having them leave after days or weeks. Hey, that’s my role, thank you.

- The rain during rainy season. Or the laundry that never dries then.

- The fourth hour of wayang kulit, the shadow puppet performances, which is when they do the extended “Who’s on first?” routine in Balinese and I take my third nap of the evening.

No, it's not mine- Forgetting to tell them I want my coffee “sedakit manis” and having to inject myself with insulin to counteract the sugar shock.

- Busy signals, slow throughput, and dropped Internet connections.

- The jury duty I was excused from in San Francisco because—whoops!—I was in Indonesia and just couldn’t make it.

- Being stopped on the way out of a village near a holy water hot spring to pay for parking even though there was no parking lot, we parked on the side of the road, and no one helped us park. Or even showed up until it was time to leave.

    When one list is longer than the other, that’s a good sign. Selamat Tingaal!

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