Bali has taught me a lot of things, my time here has been an amazing string of lessons. You don't have to look very hard for them either, they are everywhere...if you are only willing to open you eyes and your heart.
I will never look at a grain of rice the same way again. The love and care that Balinese people give to their rice paddy's is unbelievable. They sit in tiny palm covered shacks watching for birds, clacking noise makers to protect their precious grains. All of the water used in the rice paddy's is communal. It's source begins high in the mountains with a generous rain and the farmers up there will dam off what they need in their terraced fields. Gravity is allowed to run its course as all extra water is released to flow down to neighboring fields until the much needed water reaches the busy and bustling city that tries to grow around the rice. Rice is still harvested by hand, each and every single grain. Think of that love and care next time your eyes are bigger than your stomach. Give thanks.
Bali taught me how to smile. The people here are always smiling. And not fake smiles, you know the kind that don't reach a persons eyes? We are talking face splitting, ear to ear, huge, wide, toothy grins. Truly genuine smiles that make you feel special just seeing them. Before you know it you are smiling all day long, you go to bed at night and your cheek muscles hurt you have smiled so much.
My yoga practice here has taught me that I am stronger than I think I am. That just when I think I cant do anymore, I only have to try a little bit harder. Yoga has also taught me to release any emotions as I feel them, to not store them in my muscles only for them to sneak out later...
Snorkeling taught me to breath, just float and breathe and not be affraid to let the world pass me by. I simply floated, letting the warm currents of the Indian Ocean carry me along. I was privileged to be witness to a whole new world full of tropical fish in every imaginable color, coral of all sizes and shaped, and silence...blessed, golden silence.
The four of us "kids" ventured up to Ubud for a couple days....I am in love with Ubud! The area was named by a Hindu priest from Java who felt an aura of holiness in the lush jungles. The word Ubud comes from Ubad, meaning medicine. No wonder I loved this place! I want to sell the farm, grab the cats and build a villa there. It is hippy heaven! Yoga, health food stores, funky veg-head cafes, reiki healers, homeopaths, amazing temples, lush jungle, quite streets and A MONKEY FOREST! Yes, you heard right a monkey forest, full of wild macaques monkey's, huge banyon trees and flourecent green moss covering everything.
There are no walls or fences, nothing but lush green jungle on the very edge of downtown Ubud. The monkey's happily stay there, swinging from the long, hanging banyan roots, running around in the sacred monkey temples and eating fruit from the hands of happy tourists and Balinese alike. There are currently 300 macaques in this forest, clustered into three different family clans.
I had a hoot feeding them bannanas and watching the babies play, but the one that showed his teeth and growled at me...I just threw a bannana at him and ran toward the boys. The pictures really are better seen in a larger size, so look for the next photo album I post. You will be able to click the images to see full detail.
While in Ubud we stayed in a unique home-stay, a traditional Balinese living compound divided up into private suites. The Bali version of a communal hostel environment. We met some fellow world travels, swapped stories and Ryan and I went to a 6:30 am yoga class with Honsorro, from Sweden. He quickly became Hans Solo....
The class was held at the one, the only, the infamous YOGA BARN! Famous! Legen....wait for it....dary! I have been dreaming of doing yoga there for years and it lived up to every expectation I had. The class was in a thatch roof elevated space with a view of green rice paddys and swaying palm trees. The teacher was a kind, gentle soul but was not afraid to push us to our limits and leave us dripping with sweat and panting for water.
Ubud is also the center of art, culture, theater and dance in Bali. While there we saw a traditional Kecak dance, something I had been wanting to see since I first saw it performed in the film Baraka over 10 years ago. Taken from the Hindu text, the Ramayan, it tells the tale of Prince Rama and his rescue of his wife Sita. This dance is unique in that there are no musical instruments, instead it is a call and respond chorus of varying tones and pitches sang by bare chested men with fragipani blossoms in their hair, waving their arms in the air to scare off the evil kidnapping demons.
Ryan and I fell in love with Ubud, as we have fallen in love with Bali as a whole. Over a breakfast of black rice and coconut milk porridge topped with bananas and raw coco nubs we vowed to return again before we leave Bali! And on this next trip to Ubud we plan to hunt out the medicine man from the book "Eat Pray Love", yes he really does exist!