Updated: Mar 1
I am at this moment sitting on the top part of a pagoda staring at the Bali Sea on the north coast of Bali, at a little place called Alisari. I don't believe you'd find it on a map. Would someone please explain the phenomena that I can actually see the curvature of the earth perfectly from here... it is the strangest thing!
In Ubud I met this artist named Symon, who brought me here, a giant teddybear of a sweetheart who is rapidly becoming a good friend. He is from Detroit and has lived in Bali for 25 years and has a studio/art compound both here and in Ubud. The work he does is wonderful/wild/colourful and his studio is called the 'Art Zoo'. He is training lots of young Balinese (who are all his models also), and they are all working on sculptures, casting and painting. You can see the work on symonbali.com. He is quite the wild and colourful character himself (lived in Nepal for 7 years before coming here) and has made me very welcome. I have my own little guest-house that is amazing... not a single inch of the property isn't a work of art in itself. There is a 5 foot pink plaster penis right outside my room that really quite took me aback - which is of course an important Hindu fertility symbol! There is a pool (filled with drinking water!) a lotus pond and several guesthouses each one handcrafted and completely unique.
I met another English artist, Jason Monet(he was actually born with that name and considers it a bit of a curse!) who is going to paint me when I get back to Ubud (hasn't told me what colour yet… teehee!) Apparently he is quite well known (as is Symon) and has a good website too, just in case anyone is interested. This is an absolute haven of/and for artists, it could, of course, because the Balinese themselves are great craftsmen, and the light/natural beauty and life-style seems to lend itself to it beautifully! I'm almost tempted to pick up a paint-brush myself. And the Balinese are the most dramatically gorgeous people. I am particularly enjoying being around these young Balinese, they are so lively, gracious, thoughtful and full of enthusiasm.
So I obviously came out of my retreat mode, I've been visiting temples, and trying all the different kinds of massage (purely research of course) taking wonderful hikes, eating great food, and generally just soaking up this beautiful island. I am really being drawn to another place, a tiny remote island off the coast of Lombok called Gili Air… no cars, police or anything. I might run off there for a week or so.
Next month I will have about 3 weeks of friends visiting, which will be fun.. and when I'll do more of the 'tourist' thing. In the meantime I am actually succeeding at doing astrology readings over the email and phone. This makes me feel (a little!) less like a hedonist, and very encouraged that I can keep travelling. Bali really is one of the least expensive places I've ever been, and I'm already plotting my next visit, this could easily become one of my 'homes'. Laos is on my list now too... but it's not so far away from here. All in all, life is very good, I have a whole new chapter for my 'memory' log, and I feel richer and immensely fortunate to have 'discovered' such beauty, creativity and simplicity amidst the craziness that is going on 'out there' in the world.
These people have been far from immune to all that... they are still suffering from the bombing, through grief, shock and the loss of tourism. There are several large resorts close by that are completely empty. Of course people are the same everywhere in so many ways... you lose that starry eyed idealism after spending more day-to-day time with them, pettiness exists the world over unfortunately! But there is a definite magic here… a sense of the divine and a closeness to the earth that is really nourishing to be around.
Am now back in Ubud having just driven through the centre of Bali (when I went to Alisari we drove around the coast). It was stunningly beautiful. In my last email I joked about falling in a rice-field, well I have... twice! Once to a rather large audience of workers. I was very muddy that time, but they kindly helped me out and didn't laugh (at least not while I was within earshot.) The 2nd time was just now... and fortunately no audience, I just got wet. The pathways between the fields are very narrow, and I've never been known for my grace... so no (Carolyn) I'm not going to be trying it wearing a sarong with 3 baskets balanced on my head!
To all my 'astrology' friends... I'm convinced my Neptune transit played a cosmic joke on me, the prevalent thing it brought into my life is .... DUCKS. Everywhere I go I'm surrounded by them. They've cut down a lot of the rice around my house, and now there are literally 100's of them. I can barely think for the quacking!