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  • Writer's pictureEvelyn Roberts

More Zig-Zagging the Planet

USA, 2011

Dropped into America with a thud like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Slept most of the way across the Pacific; to be greeted by a customs officer asking "why would you go to India and Indonesia and ... don't you like it here?". Now sitting in a Super 8 Motel directly under the LAX flight-path; life is such a trip.

Nothing is more generic than an American Motel; coast to coast, chain to chain; they even all smell the same. And those continental twinkie-style breakfasts that'd make anyone actually from the "Continent" want to jump under the nearest bus. Oddly I like the whole experience, it triggers some weird sentimental type flashback thing of 1st arriving in the US (1975) and finding everything so huge and overwhelming.

Finally learned to love these jet-lagging days; no choice but to surrender to brainless no-woman's land for as long as it takes (and I have fought tooth and nail against it in the past). It's like hibernation; the one and only time the mind gets an extended break ... and then Mama Bear wakes up to a whole new honey promising world.

All wistful fantasies of life in more romantic, refined and poetic times get shelved when I remember that that in the past women never sat around in their flannels all day drinking tea out of giant unladylike mugs with tiny little machines on their laps supporting, informing and educating them while connecting them to the whole wide world so they could manifest their dreams of living, working and traveling all over the world.

Loving the physical beauty and amazing individuals of the US (despite the denial and fear), while achingly missing the deep soulfulness of the East (despite the tourism, poverty and trash). They are palpably different realities; in my dreams, and even when I simply close my eyes, my very cells are acutely attuned to the difference between being here and being there.

America; please get an atlas. If one more educated, supposedly intelligent adult looks completely blankly at me when I say Indonesia after they've asked me where Bali is… Everyone else knows exactly where you are and what you are doing; we share a planet, at least be able to reciprocate by knowing vaguely where their countries are.

3 days of painful ear infection in right ear rendering me (temporarily) deaf there. Saturn Return (traditionally Saturn rules the right ear ... bingo), with Mercury (ruler of the hearing function) opposite stationing in Aries (inflammation). Not happy (hard to be with an ear on fire), but those amazing planets do make it easier to ride the process, and like Mercury it is slowly gathering speed and moving on.

Thanks to whoever recommended the garlic/mullein ear-drops ... they are very healing, however I may have to move to Italy if I ever want a social life again

For some of us survival depended on complete separation from mother; biology allows almost anyone to procreate. A broken entry can transform into a life of creativity, freedom and joy. I thank whatever was in the gene pool that graced me with wings to fly; although ever sad that my mother did not find her own. And there are countless amongst us who have created some divine elixir of life from generations of tears.

I just came across a beautiful small enamelled box of Mucha's "Zodiac" that I bought in Prague. Every time I'm here in the US it shows itself amongst the very few belongings I still have here; inside are an acorn and a piece of barbed wire, both of which I took from Auschwitz on that same trip in 2004. What we choose to hold on to is both odd and significant.

Trivial markers can ring like beautiful bells ... today I practically bounced with joy on noting that way before my yoghurt is close to curdling, I'll be back in beloved Bali!

Preparing to cross the world free as a bird, living a life I love with a passion, doing work that ever inspires me, traveling to and living in the most beautiful places I could ever imagine. My good fortune in this lifetime stuns and astounds me over and over again, and then on top of this there are my amazing friends and loved ones.

It may sound weird but music is very intense for me, I get so mesmerised and bewitched by whatever I'm listening to that it almost governs my state of mind. I spent my youth immersed in it but now only play it when practicing yoga or on rare occasions. I still really love it and much appreciate the wonderful clips friends sometimes post.

Hiking with my son this afternoon I retold story of grabbing him out of range of a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike, when he was age 2. We then stopped to talk to someone while unknowingly I stood literally inches from another rattler, and I was snatched away by my son and prevented from stepping on it. What goes around literally came around, the exact same 2 wildly beating hearts, roles reversed, 30 years on.


Hong Kong airport, most luxurious shower of my life, lounging in a huge leather swivel chair staring at amazing mountains, trying not to succumb to 19th meal in 24 hrs. Flight great, 3 movies and a fab sleep + these "Marco Polo" perks are spoiling the heck out of me! Bali in 8hrs, saya senang sekali (I am very happy).

Ah, Balinese wine... every silver lining has an occasional dark cloud around it, I can only imagine the painfully puckered expressions this stuff would evoke from my Californian winemaker/connoisseur buddies, yet here I am (most courageously) drinking it.

If anyone is missing the moon, she's cooling off in the flooded fields outside my house before she calls it a day.

Excitedly preparing for a trip to the neighbouring island of Lombok ... which means "chili pepper". Let's just see what red hot adventures can be cooked up there.


New day, new island, new friends, new adventure ... my repeat childhood has turned out to be way more fun than the first run. Feels like this is the real thing, that was just practice.

Kuta Lombok, tiny, simple beach town on south coast. Oddly the noisiest place I've been in ages, calls to prayer over loudspeaker, not a single motor vehicle (2 or 4 wheel) has a muffler, and every restaurant is vying for loudest sound system of the year.

Just back from 6 days touring Lombok (island a 4 hour ferry ride from Bali) - a wonderful experience. Many people say it is how Bali was 25 years ago, and true there is no such thing as a hot shower (at least that we could find), zero accommodations outside of tourist areas, some pretty intense roads and beautiful artisan villages and completely untouched areas. However it didn't even feel remotely like Bali, the energy is very different, and although there are many lovely warm people, it is far less friendly in general than the island of endless smiles.


Humour can attack like a fever: living in the middle of the Bali rice fields, the Japanese restaurant playing piped Diana Ross completely runs out of rice, we laugh so hard I am crying, my friends and I practically fall off our mats, then we all stagger home still in stitches ... stone cold sober but intoxicated with silliness.

Amazing day riding around the backroads. After 7 years I am finally on the front of the scooter, and realising that part of it comes down to trusting myself as much as I do others. Having a blast!

Living the life, planning the plan.

Another Saturn Return ouch: I am cutting down a large, beautiful, very old, slowly dying mango tree because (embarrassingly) it could wreck a little pool I am putting in. I pledge to plant at least 5 more to replace it, but this does nothing to make it feel better. Saturn's cold and stony homemade soup is always so hard to swallow.

It’s mesmerising observing the occurrence of exact aspects that will never happen again. Firmly on earth yet eyes fixed on the heavens. What about today will I never forget? I, of course, avoid the periodic cock fights in Bali, but live near a field where they occur. Today rushing past, for the 1st time I ran right into someone carrying a bloodied bird. It is a shadow aspect of this island I love. Today it wouldn't let me turn away.

Yoga today on a large lawn circled by large stone buddhas. 3 sightings of 2 black snakes (both harmless unless you are a frog), one tiny, one about 4 ft long. Largest one slithers inches from my mat and down a small hole under a statue. A little later, out pops just the snake head, very cutely looks around for several minutes ... then back under buddha.

1. Never be without a camera in Bali.

2. Astrology is ever stunningly literal, this was my Pluto conjunct Venus transit treat for the day.


Longest haul to date on scooter, 2 hours and some to the East coast. Really fun, although I choked on enough fumes to warrant an extra year as a smoker. I now detest the smell of cigarettes, but I did thoroughly enjoy those years of nicotine and clicking Bic lighters. The gods know this, and on occasion they are really sweet and grant me smoking dreams.

Of course there are accidents, but it is striking how there is zero road rage or spatial narcissism in Bali. Everyone moves with ease, allowing and flowing so generously ... and I'm guessing the patience gets jacked up many notches for a bule (slang for foreigner, literal meaning albino) ... like me. Home again, feeling a little like "whoever is a famous motorcyclist". I can't name a single one.

Another countdown to California (back October 5th), living a blessed life of mixed feelings, beloved friends, amazing places and dizzying travel. Between now and June 2012: Bali, California, Mexico, California, Bali, Java, Bali, Australia (and 60th birthday!), California, New Orleans, Mexico, California.

Ex-pats or nuevo-colonialists? The thief's hand fits very snuggly into the philanthropist's glove. Eco footprints also crush what they walk over. We are guests, we must never arrive empty-handed and always give back more than we take.

Gentle rain fits my mood (getting torrential as I write), I so love my friends in CA, but leaving Bali is always a wrench (6 days and trying not to count). As so many have a "great love" of their life, this is the place of mine. Not a lick of competition on the planet, but I'll keep flirting (travelling) just in case.

There are certain days when the landscape inside my skull shifts from as chaotic and fundamentalist as the Spanish Inquisition to as serene and gentle as a Japanese garden. I justify this (console myself?) by thinking of my brain as a microcosm of this crazy globe we are spinning on, so please nobody lock me up or cast me out of the cosmos quite yet, I'm seriously working really hard on brain peace.

It’s a personal quirk, but between Bali and the US I refuse to travel with one solitary ounce less than my allotted baggage allowance. Making up the (very slight) difference by wildly stuffing coffee (which I don't even drink), vanilla beans, cinnamon and all kinds of sundry delights into all corners of my suitcase, it now smells like the hold of an ancient galleon (or how I imagine one to smell).


Hurled, in a mere 36 hours, from the pristine peaks of the breakfasting classes to the murky pitiful depths. From fresh picked green coconuts, luscious fruits, juices and home made yogurt to the Super 8 Motel Complimentary Buffet Breakfast. All you can eat, with plastic utensils, styrofoam containers and cardboard food, again. Trader Joe's, I will hunt you down and find you very soon.

A glaring difference between East and the West is how all of life just spills into the streets of Asia, you are never alone and always feel like an integral part of the river of humanity. Here, life takes place behind closed and hidden doors (except for people walking somewhere). Mid-day driving in suburban California is like driving around Bali in the middle of the night when everyone is asleep - except for all the dogs.

Just had a face-off with a tostado the size of Texas. The tostado won. It's now gloating in my fridge barely minus the pan-handle. I had forgotten the meals served in America are roughly equivalent to the size of the continent itself.

Been working non-stop on the computer since 8:00 am this morning. It is now 3:20 pm and I literally just realised I am still in my pyjamas. Not sure whether I should be worried about my growing eccentricity or delighted at my good fortune for having such a fab job.

Walking this gorgeous valley amongst the lofty, statuesque eucalyptus with their fragile, shallow roots, and the sheltering, stocky oaks with their deep and stable ones. Can't help musing on how the relative toughness of the bark/skin also belies which has the greatest staying power.

If you can't be in the place you love, love the place you're in. From every which perspective, sunrise hot-tubbing overlooking the mountains of Santa Barbara is a pretty amazing compensation for anywhere else one might be currently missing.

Next workshop in Mexico

Flying Santa Barbara to San Miguel de Allende via Phoenix; mystical and mythological markers so firmly and quietly rooted in our lives that we don't even notice what constantly mouthed mantras they have become.

Phoenix: hot, flat, dry, barren desert. Perfect place to turn to ashes. Preparing to enact the myth 21st century style; get fastened into a giant metal bird and bye bye.

Midnight in Mexico City, met by a gorgeous, bowl-shaped moon, bright orange from excessive pollution - does that make it less beautiful?

On a bus from Mexico City to Queretaro (4 hrs), and there's wifi. Far cry from the chickens I usually had on my lap on my very first sojourns through this wonderful, colourful land, 35+ years ago.

While writing an email about an issue with my pool in Bali, I flooded my bath-tub in Mexico and created a river down the steps of the Hacienda! Something about awareness and water is trying to get my attention - okay I'm listening, I'm listening.

A huge thank you to the "Heaven and Earth Workshops" family who keep on supporting us and coming back time time and time again:) 60% attendance of this one is return students ... you warm my heart.

Sky-lights: those whimsical, homeopathic doses of sun or moon light, I'd forgotten how sweet they are.

Half the group is downstairs in a cooking class preparing the rest of us a veritable feast. Since dinner will be late (by my wimpy standards), I'm wondering if I know them well enough to go to dinner in my jammies? Or would they even notice?

Tamarind margarita evening, ibuprofen sunrise.

It's our day off so wandered the streets of San Miguel with Rick (Levine), then he headed off for an espresso, and me for a B12 shot at the Farmacia (they will always do them there in Mexico). Differente strokes.

I realise how completely delusional I am about my age when I find myself persistently trying to assist others with their luggage etc, when they are obviously at least a decade younger than myself.

It's nigh impossible for us who had one, to fully understand what having zero education means, no matter how bright the individual. Feeling floored, slapped and spun by this realisation, and the question of what to do for just such a soul who is part of my Bali family. And there is no literacy programme in Ubud that we can find.

My personal hero of the day, Lauren Tracey, who is voluntarily teaching our housekeeper in Bali (who has never been to school) to read and write. Had to share part of this email I just received from her:

"Erni is reading! She's moved from not knowing the alphabet (still confuses some letters) to reading words on sight and reading simple sentences. She now recognizes her own name.

Anyway, we've been working really hard in a variety of ways. We played store the other day, and Erni read the shopping list and found the items in the house. It was a great way to test comprehension. She is at the very beginning stages of writing, which is developmentally right on as an emergent reader. I've found that I don't need much language to teach reading and writing in a foreign language. Isn't that remarkable? Methods and skills transcend language."

One of the things I appreciate about my life is the discipline of regular packing up and consequent sorting and purging. However it's really odd how my paperwork is so much like my jewellery box, I know I put everything away separately and neatly but when I'm not looking it mixes itself up and requires hours of unsnarling.

Having an "everyone is wonderful" day, kindness abounding, perhaps because I'm happy to be traveling again? But more likely because for today at least I'm not blurring my own vision with all those silly projections.

Back to Bali

Hanging in Hong Kong airport after completely missing Dec 6th ... left at 10:30 pm on the 5th flew right through Tuesday landing here on the 7th. On a quest for Grand Marnier and a steaming hot shower ... most confident both will be found.

Toad on the lock ... it's 3am ... and this sticky, seemingly comatose creature is between you and the bathroom and refusing to move!

The good life: when you have time to fret about whether the coconut that just fell, (from a great height I might add), into the lotus pond hit one of your koi or not.

These long intensive workshops are such a rich opportunity for diving into the bottomless depths of astrology, and although I never actually forget, still I find myself being reminded in ever new and surprising ways why I love this language so much.


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