Thursday, March 02, 2006

Back in Bali

Well, I made it. It only took 27.5 hours to get here in Ubud. Boy were my arms tired.
Or my butt anyway.
I got here yesterday about 4pm and was able to stay up till 7:30! Today I've felt a bit weird all day, I guess it's jet lag. I ran into an unexpected hassle too. I brought $100 bills to change into rupiah, to pay for the sarongs. Turns out the Balinese don't take many (or most?) US $100 bills. I never could find out why. Any bill before 1999 is out. And a host of serial numbers for post 99 bills. I walked all over town, since the polite Balinese bank folks hated to just say "no". So they would direct me to another bank that might be able to take the bills. After four banks I called Ratna, our batiker, and she said no problem, she takes visa! Shit. Wish I'd asked. Now I'm carrying around all this cash. Not that I don't feel safe. Hindus believe in karma, thank god.
The other surprise was the sheer volume of the sarongs. Two BIG boxes. I had gotten the dimensions from Ratna a month or two ago. She totally screwed up somehow. I used her measurements and figured I could get the sarongs into half of one big suitcase. The other was for handicrafts. Well, forget that plan!!!
I stuffed my big suitcase chocked full of the things and have most of another box to deal with. Crazy. And they are much heavier somehow than I was led to believe. Oh well. I'll figure out something.
On the plus side, they look FANTASTIC!!!! I only opened one out all the way, but all the rest are wrapped in clear plastic sleeves. They're really stunning. I think we'll be able to sell alot of them at the OCF. Maybe enough to pay for this trip and the sarongs?
It's just 9pm (5 am Santa Rosa time) and there are little geckos running around the walls eating little gnats. I just had a pretty good massage. Not the best, but pretty good. And for $3.50 who's complaining.
People have been very friendly. They all ask where's my family. It must seem really weird to them, really really weird, that I left them home 'alone'. The taxi driver asked me why I wasn't going to stay longer. He wanted me to see Nyepi at the end of the month. I asked him if he would/could leave his children for 10 days and he got a very serious expression on his face. "No, this is not possible for Balinese".
I've given a few gifts so far. A jar of blackberry jam to the nice shopkeeper in the alley. A good saleable book for the bookseller. They recieved the gifts with some confusion. But my friend Putu who plays guitar in the alley, and sung us Hotel California last year, in his raspy voice--I gave him a pink guitar pick I'd bought at Stanroy's Music Center for .35 cents (I bought it just for him) and he was so happy you'd think I'd given him a motor bike. He promptly fetched his guitar and tried out the pick, playing Leaving on a jet plane in his amazingly raspy voice. I was able to record this on my spy camera, surreptitiously. I think it will be a treasure for Krista.
So Putu asked me if I'd like to go on a tour of Ubud tomorrow. I said 'sure, a walking tour?' He laughed and said 'no, on motor bike'. I'm going to go for it. After a morning massage.
I had a wonderful gourmet dinner at a gorgeous but deserted resturaunt. It was the kind of plate that arrives looking really beautiful, but rather small. But ends up doing the trick because it's just so damn good. I kept thinking of Jerry and Joyce. They would love it.
But there are other, less loveable aspects of Ubud. It's dirty and hectic, at least where I'm at. I'm actually staying in the room Joyce had last year. I'm not sure how many times it's been cleaned since. The floors are clean. And the bed. It's just a bit grungy around the edges.
The pool is still fabulous, although it has a new three story building right next door. It's a very attractive building. I took a swim last night, but it was a bit cold (amazingly). Without the kids though, I'm not sure how much I'll be using it. They really made it fun.
Now that business is mostly wrapped up and the jet lag is starting to wear off, I'm starting to think about heading off into parts unknown. See the 'real' Bali. I'll keep you posted.
One last thing. My driver today taught me how to say 'thank you' and 'how are you--fine' in Balinese. Not Bahasa (the official Indonesian language) but pre-bahasa Balinese, which he said is much better recieved, especially by the old folks and little kids. It was like receiving a secret key to unlock smiles. Big smiles and invitations to sit down and chat. I'm still struggling with the pronunciation of those two gems and the other bahasa phrases I'm trying to use.
Well, good morning and Selamat Pagi.

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