Maybe now is a good time to remember WHY we are doing all this. So, let’s go back and explore Bali.
Sonrisa seemed happy on her mooring ball, so I gave her a squeeze around her mast and told Grin to “be good” while we are away. Our taxi driver Abu meets us at the shoreline and shuttles us about an hour to the local ferry docks in Lembar, of Lombok Island.
We tuck up to the ticket counter and ask for two tickets.
“Oh, this isn’t the Fast Boat dock. You need to go over to Gili Gede or Sindiggi.”
“No, we’d like two tickets for the Ferry, please.”
“This isn’t the fast boat.”
…Andrew smiles and blinks, stands and waits.
The man behind the counter shrugs and prints out two tickets, certain we are not where we are supposed to be. Andrew gives him the $4.00 pp US. The ticket master hands over two tickets and explains our ferry is the “big one with less rust.”
We look around the corner to see three big barges squeezed in at the dock, one made composed fully of rust and a larger one next door with only scattered patches. We shrug, buy two bags of of rice and chicken from a man who chases us down the dock swearing there is no food available on the ferry, and climb aboard. The ferry master takes our tickets and directs us through a mass of big trucks to a stairwell. We climb the top and to our surprise find wooden chaise lounges lined up beneath a shade cover and old school street lamps lining the decks.
Ferrying in luxury, we are!
We settle in for our four hour crossing.
“So what’s on the itinerary?” Andrew asks me. Usually, Captain Andrew plans and manages our destination list, but this time I took the reins.
“You aren’t going to like it.” I say. I turn back to the book I’m reading with my feet propped up on my backpack. Without looking up I tell him “we are going on a search for our tantric energy cores and to find our personal gurus.”
Captain Andrew gives an uneasy chuckle. He’s afraid I might be serious. For weeks, I’ve been sifting through google search results with titles like "Reiki Training for Life Coaches Silent Yoga Retreat," or "How Are You Really, Beauty of Bali Retreat," or "Tantra Yoga for Couples". And the truth is…I am serious. We are going to find our tantric energy cores and to find our personal guru. The disappointing aspect of all my google searching is, however, that a fully guided tour to finding your personal guru costs a pretty penny. So, I gave up on that and decided I would lead this quest on my own.
“Our retreat shall begin with welcome drinks at the rooftop bar of the “Max One” hotel, with a disappearing edge swimming pool and a rooftop view of Bali’s volcano Mount Agung. We have a lovely air-conditioned room (with a shower! AND hot running water) for a cool $45.00 US per night, breakfast included! Each morning, we can follow our own pilgrimage path (i.e. down the street) to our personal Portal to the Universe: Ubud’s Yoga Barn. We will commune with sacred monkeys and engage in ritualistic gelato eating whenever we pass my favorite gelato store just off the beaten pilgrimage path. (I’m pretty sure I’ll find my guru in there.)”
Andrew interrupts. “Are we going to see any of the temples or are we staying in Ubud the whole time?”
“Of course! Wayan will take us anywhere you want to go.” I explain.
“Who is Wayan?”
“He’s my friend on Facebook. He’s a taxi driver. You know, Wayan!” I look at Andrew, expecting this to jog his memory. In all seriousness, Wayan and I have been in communication via Facebook messenger since the Oddgodfreys first arrived in Indonesia. Two of our friends from the states happened to be traveling in Bali. Wayan befriended them on Facebook when he provided them with Taxi services. Then, as any good Indonesian will do, he sifted through their friends to see if there was anyone he wanted to know. He landed on Andrew and I, and sent a friend request.
“Are you in Indonesia?” He asked me.
“Yes! We are in the Kei Islands,” I told him.
“Are you coming to Bali? If so, I can be your taxi driver.”
I confirmed with my US friends that he was indeed an excellent taxi driver, and then a few days later I laughed about Wayan’s very Indonesian (and industrious) way of thumbing through Facebook with our dive guides in the Kei Islands. “Wayan!” They exclaim, “We know him. We stayed at his homestay. It was lovely. His family is so nice.” Perfect. A taxi driver with two separate high recommendations. As we sailed West through Indonesia, everyone asked us if we had been to Bali. Most who asked also seemed to know Wayan; each providing raving reviews of his various accommodations. “He speaks excellent English. He’s a careful driver.” My choice of taxi driver seemed quite clear, so Wayan and I kept in touch.
As we disembarked the ferry, a smiling face with a sign reading “Leslie Godfrey and Andrew” stood near the pathway into town. We climb into his Toyota sport SUV with air-conditioning and deeply tinted windows: “great for hot days in Bali, but terrible at night,” he explains.
We give him the address to our hotel in Ubud, and he hands us a booklet explaining all the places we need to see while we are in Bali. I thumb through and declare we must see This Temple, and That Temple. Wayan slows in a small village and points out the afternoon market. “While you are in Bali, you must eat Babi Crispy.”
“Okay,” I say. “Let’s stop!”
“You want to stop now?” Wayan asks.
“Yes! If you can, if it’s not too much trouble for you.”
Wayan swings into a parking lot. “No problem!”
He guides us through the market, carefully stepping around little palm woven baskets filled with marigolds, bougainvillea, a clump of rice, and a sprig or two of pandas grass. “These are offerings,” Wayan explains. In Bali, we give offerings of thanks to our business, our cars, our homes. I decide I probably should afford stepping on offerings made to the Gods. We stop by a cart selling painted masks of various deities. Wayan points to each and explains, “Good and evil, they must always go in pairs. You never have one without the other.”
We stop to gather a sampling of dessert treats made from rice gluten and fruit jellies. We try one of several kinds, some of them delicious, some of them just strange. We visit the donut stand, and a little lady mashing up a Balinese sauce of some kind. A pile of deep fried egg sits on a plate, and if you'd rather have your chicken products more fresh, you can buy a tiny chick hand dyed by little old ladies coloring their feathers with brightly colored markers. You know, for the kids.
Then, we take a seat at a stand selling Babi Crispy.
The smell of glazed, warm pork rotates right in front of my nose. My mouth waters, and I close my eyes. “In most of Indonesia, they do not eat pig.” Wayan explains. “Muslim people do not eat pig.” Indeed, this is true. Besides the pork satay Iksan sent us to eat in Sumbawa, we have not had pork in months. MONTHS! “What would you like?”
“Just serve the plate however you would typically eat it.” Andrew tells the lady.
She looks back at Wayan.
“Like locals eat it?” Wayan asks.
“Iyah! (Yes),” Andrew confirms. This exchange always prompts me to wonder what I’m getting myself into.
Soon, two plates piled high with pork and various pork products arrive before us. The glazed, rotisserie outer layer is crunchy with sugar, rich with pork fat. There are also several pieces of meat, three delicious fried pork skins, one blood sausage, another sausage of unknown composition, and a few pieces of other meat of unknown origin (organs?) top rice, “island greens” and a spicy, sweet salsa made with minced lemongrass, onions, garlic, lime, and deliciousness. To drink, as usual, sweetened iced tea.
We dig in with gusto, breaking our long “babi” fast.
...Bali to be continued.