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Wishing all my readers a magical Christmas and holiday season!

I have to pinch myself every time I wake up in this magical land of Bali. Never in a million years, especially when I started this blog around Christmas this time last year that I would be in Bali, a land half way around the world from Los Angeles, CA, good old U.S.A.

It’s been three weeks since arriving, and I am happy here. I settling into a quiet peaceful life here, waking up with the roosters at 5;30 a.m., taking time  to do my qigong and yoga exercises before breakfast around 7 or 8 a.m.  A Balinese breakfast is rice, of course, some vegetables, and always fruit. Then, I get ready to walk 1/2 a mile to the public internet which costs around $.50 an hour. I am a familiar sight already, the shopkeeper giving me the same stall, #6. This is my one connection to the outside world, my family and friends and I am grateful.

This is the first time I’m Christmas without my family. When I told my host this, he suggested they prepare a feast for me if I would pay for a young pig, about $60. to feed more than 20 people. The day before the feast, they ride all over the countryside looking for the right pig. It can’t come from the farm where the pigs are fed factory meal. It has to be home-grown on a diet of vegetables. But, alas, no young pig.

We feast instead on chicken and duck.  Actually, the fowl is more to my taste.

Six or so men take  all day to prepare this feast. In fact, one of the cooks is a chef at a hotel in Denpasar, the capital of Bali. He arranged to get the day off to cook. Wayan, my host, calls me to apologize because he can’t find a Xmas banner in the village. He has to go into Denpasar, and hour and half drive away. I tell  him not to go, that what is important to me is the thought, all his planning and all the time and effort to make this special for me.

At 8 p.m. on Dec. 23rd, 12 children or all sizes and ages, from 4-12, arrive en mass to the homestead,  to escort me to the feast. This is the time most of the neighborhood is around, and our chef got special time off to come home to cook. Giggling, jabbering among themselves, one shakes my hand and introduces herself in perfect English. I guess she’s around 9 or 10. When I arrive, I see  a banner. The children drew and colored it.  Wayan tells me he spelled it out for them to copy. “Mary Christmas” it said, with all the “s’s” depicted as a duck! I am  so touched, I don’t have the heart to correct the spelling.

All the men and women come forward to shake my hand and wish me a Merry Christmas. The whole neighborhood shows up,  those already there pulling in others  as they either walk past or fly by on their motor bikes.

We eat the most delicious smoked chicken, barbecued over a makeshift brick oven pit.  There is also duck soup; chopped meat stir fried with shredded coconut, shallots and garlic; a spicy leafy green vegetable dish; a coconut drink, and of course, a huge pot of rice. In true Balinese style, we eat with our hands.  Food is eaten the right hand only, and there is no talking during dinner. I am told this is the custom.

Eating is serious business.

The children and women scatter shortly after eating; the men stay to have drinks and talk. Wayan takes pictures for me to send home, also a video. I divide my time between talking with the men and walking across the road to talk with the women and children.  There is a definite stratification in socializing, the men together and the women together, but separate. The girls, from an 18 month old to a 10-year-old, all play together on the porch, with the baby protected in the middle.  The grandmothers and mothers all watching, talking and joining in the laughter.  All the boys take off somewhere. I share my last chocolate bar with the children, a desert treat. Interesting that the girls get the chocolate first, since they are around, even as I make sure half is saved for the boys.

I speak English to one woman, Coman, who translates for me.  I learn that “mimi” means grandmother in Balinese, that these women are younger than I am, but look at least 10 years older.  I am saddened at how poverty and lack of proper nutrition can affect aging. I have no idea what hardships they have endured and what pains they have experienced in life. I am once again reminded of the many things we take for granted in the west – electricity, hot water, a toilet that flushes, refrigeration. At this time in their lives, at least, they are treated with due respect.  Their daughters-in-law take care of them.

The men, all having grown up together, share a companionable conversation, one borne of knowing one another since childhood. I let their conversation drift across my ears as I sat in the one seat of honor, listening to the lilting sounds of the Balinese language.  Every once in a while, Wayan would translate, and I am content to simply be there.

I am so grateful for all these new friends, my new family, strangers only three short weeks ago. The villagers are the real Bali – open, friendly, trusting and honest. I want others to see Bali as I am fortunate enough to experience it.

Please share this blog with your friends, in FB, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other social network you’re part of.

Please excuse lack of image; I was trying to copy one in, but no luck. The computer instructions are in Indonesian and there’s no one here that speaks English!

Have a sacred holiday!

 

 

One of the things that Ruthbelle Naparstek mentioned in her book, Invisible Heroes, is that many trauma survivors turn to spirituality.

I am no different. To me, my spiritual journey has been the saving grace from the abuse I underwent. It gives me hope that everyone can find peace. It also gives me direction as to where and how I can help others who have or are dealing with trauma.

Spirit is what led me to Bali! Read the rest of this entry »

I landed in a small village in Kerambitan, far away from the tourist crowd. It’s an hour and half away from the larger cities and the artsy places. It’s where the real people of Bali live.

I was so fortunate to come during a huge celebration of ancestors in the Hindu tradition. So, my hosts – Wayan and Linda Sukerta – picked me up at the airport and whisked me away shopping as soon as I got off the plane ( a 20+ hrs. of flight including a 4 hr layover in Taiwan). I had to buy a special outfit for the temple ceremonies, which Linda came to help me dress for the day after. I was blessed with holy water and given some really delicious food whose name escapes me.

I felt an immediate kinship with Wayan and Linda, although I had never met them before. Such is the love in Bali. Read the rest of this entry »

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