Driving north to Ubud (the "cultural" centre of Bali) - the roads narrow, the drivers are ridiculously bold, the earth greens with the terraced fields of rice ...
We arrive at our "swanky" boutique hotel - aLiLa - the air is fresh and humid, the terraced hillsides are all shades of green with jungle, a tribe of monkeys greet our arrival. What a cool place!! Looking out over the "infinity pool" (rated one of the best 50 pools on the planet ... who makes these lists??!!) to the countryside and a calm settles over us. This is definitely a differant Bali than Kuta!!
Devin has decided he'd like to be an elephant trainer (he's as comfortable on an elephant as he is on Pongo, our quarterhorse!). Ambling through the jungle on a 3 ton animal - watching him step on a coconut and pop it like a baloon -- a highlight!! We are pleased to say that Devin's homeschooling is going well -- he was even a "helper" in the elephant show, teaching math to the elephants!!
This morning, our hotel treated us to a trek (2 hour guided walk) through the jungle and rice fields followed by
a picnic (which turned out to be a 5-course, 2-hour affair). Amazing!! Our guide grew up in the area hiked through and had intimate knowledge of every plant, tree , building and person we came across. In the first couple hundred yards of our hike we must have seen 20 different plants and trees. Rumbutan, mango, coconut, banana, coffee, vanilla, taro, sweet potato, rice, papaya, durian, jackfruit............and many others used in ancient healing traditions --- the learning was wonderful and the scenery was spectacular!
Most Balinese are farmers, but a farmer here is different than what we experience back home. Rural life in Bali is simple and subsistance ... The farm is a small terraced rice field, and all the farms work off the same water system and work together as a community - about 100 families sharing spoils and losses. If you are lucky, you have a cow (which of course are sacred), which are used to help plow the rice terrace. Most farmers will also have some ducks, chickens and a small plantation of various fruit trees.
It was amazing how easy it was to step into the shoes (if only for a moment, and in
a very small way) to experience what life is like for these typical Balinese (problem being, the metaphor does not work very well then most are not wearing shoes)
Phil is off to Viet Nam tomorrow -- Jan and Devin have elected to stay on in Bali for the remainder of the trip (Devin is considering moving to Bali - he likes the idea of learning Balinese and surfing/boogie boarding every day and becoming an elephant trainer on the side!!). We'll all meet up again in 5 or 6 days for the final family time. Love to all!!
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