Bali is near the equator, and the heat and humidity are fairly extreme. I have not checked the temperatures as my internet access is very limited and slow most of the time, but I would guess the temperatures reach 95 degrees each day, with very high humidity. It's generally sweltering, and there is no air conditioning, nor even fans, in most places, so the pace of life is forced to be much slower. Especially for those of us here from places without the constant extreme heat. I learned after my tour of the village from our local teacher who is studying to be a teacher at the university in Denpasar, that because Balinese people ride their motorbikes everywhere, they are also not used to walking in the heat and tire easily, just as we do.
|View of the family compound |
from the breakfast table
|What I see when I wake |
up in the morning.
|So delicious. The yellow fruit is jackfruit. Love it!|
|View from my windows.|
My room is simple, yet comfortable. For now, I am staying in a loft room with a soaring thatched ceiling and two twin beds, as it was the only one open when I arrived. Since most volunteers are younger, and the hosts prefer to house them with others their age, I will be moving to a single room downstairs this weekend after more volunteers arrive. My floor is made of gleaming white tile, and I have built-in cupboards and drawers with intricately carved wooden detail around the windows and glass cupboard doors. My windows have no glass or screens, but only wooden shutters. I have left them open all the time to capture any breeze there is, but do need to close them in the afternoon to block the sun. I also have a ceiling fan and an electrical outlet, as well as 2 small overhead lights. I use the lights as little as possible, because at least in my mind it helps keep the bugs out. I sleep under a mosquito net mostly to help protect me from contracting diseases like Dengue fever, which you can't be immunized against. My only furniture besides the bed is a wooden chair and a reclaimed dresser. The electrical outlet is European and requires an adapter, so I can only plug in one thing at a time to charge since I brought one adapter. I really love the space and the view up here, and I will miss it when I move downstairs to a single room.
|The beautiful home of Juan Carlos.|
I was startled on my first afternoon here to find some animal poo in on the floor of my room. I knew it was too big to be a mouse, but had no idea what type of critter had deposited it. After talking with my volunteer friends at breakfast, I learned it was gecko poo. Apparently a large gecko lives in my ceiling munching away on mosquitos. So I've named him Juan Carlos and choose to believe he prefers the ceiling to my bed.
I have a "modern" bathroom downstairs, which means a toilet like we have at home, and a shower. They are together in a small tiled room, and the shower is a wand on the wall near a drain in the corner. There is no enclosure of any sort, so you just shut the bathroom door and shower away. There is also no hot water. At first, I did the shower version of the Hokey Pokey - just put one body part under the water at a time due to how cold it was, but now I plunk my whole body under the spout at least twice a day. And I caught myself yesterday wishing the water was colder. In fact, my fellow volunteer and friend Sabine, a Ph.D. chemist and patent attorney from Germany in her life outside of volunteering in Bali, told me that she discovered from a conversation with our hosts yesterday that the people we see wrapped in towels when we walk down the road to have dinner at a small cafe do have water at home, but choose to bathe at a public bathhouse near the river because the water is even colder there.
|Gado gado from the Pulu cafe.|
Dinner out in pj pants.
|Fresh pineapple juice |
and vital water.
Traffic here is best described as an intricate dance where each person knows their part. Roads are narrow and often crowded with parked motorbikes and vans along the side. If there are sidewalks, they are narrow and often have large holes into the infrastructure below so it's critical to carry a "torch" as my European friends call a flashlight, and always pay close attention to where you are going. Motorbike (part motorcycle, part scooter) seems to be the preferred mode of transportation, and I often see multiple people riding on one bike - a toddler standing between his parents on the seat, 3 people on the seat with a young child standing where you would place your feet on a scooter. Sabine has learned to drive one here, and I am in awe of her courage. Komang, our delightful 20-year-old local teacher who is actually studying education at the university in Denpasar, about an hour and a half away from here, lives nearby and gave me a ride home after our volunteer orientation in Ubud on Sunday morning. As I looked across the top of her helmet (yep, I am a giant here too) and gripped her tiny waist, I just prayed that I would not have a brain injury if we crashed. I shouldn't have worried as she is a master dancer on the motorbike.
To reassure all of you concerned about my safety so far from home, rest assured there seems to be no better place I could be. Balinese Hindus believe in karma, and that everything they do reflects on their families and friends, so they are genuinely good people. There is little crime, and people are exceptionally kind. Always. We need to be much more concerned with falling into a hole in the sidewalk than experiencing any crime. No one locks anything, and feels secure that it will be there when they return. Reminds me of the Auburn I grew up in. Rest assured, I am watching carefully where I walk and am careful when crossing the street.
Thanks for your patience in waiting for my first blog post from Bali. On my first morning here, Melanie, a beautiful, smart young woman from Canada who reminds me so much of Olivia and has been here for several weeks volunteering already, wisely told me, "Bali teaches you patience." And that's a lesson we can all continue to learn.