Santa Ynez, California, and Back to Bali
Updated: Mar 14, 2022
If the World had a Heart it would be Bali. And I have heard 1st hand from my friends there that somehow it has been miraculously spared the devastation that has so tragically affected that part of the world. It has been so wonderful to be back in Santa Ynez, it's easy to forget how beautiful it is when in 'other' glorious places. It was been an extraordinarily stunning fall/winter. I am still taking hikes in sleeveless t-shirts, although there are many frosty mornings, the sun always seems to get the upper hand pretty quickly. At this time of year the light is amazing - everything is high intensity colour, and you can see forever. Those of you not here (those here may well be sick of hearing and talking about this film) should see 'Sideways', it was filmed right in this Valley and has some great shots and really does accurately show how lovely it is. And of course the best thing about being back has been seeing daughter (son is being elusive... but seems fine), and all my wonderful friends.
I came back to a high gear work schedule, sometimes 7 days a week... which is excellent news since I am back to replenish and recoup, and since I never work 8 hour days there is still time for fun and enjoying this incredible place. I have been living back at the 'Trout Farm', in the idyllic little cabin there, although I am now temporarily staying with a friend in another magical little spot through the holidays. The plan is of course to go back to Bali - in fact I've moved it up to April (possibly even late March). I am going for a month, then to Laos for a month, then back to Bali for 2 more.
Don't know why Laos is so vital to visit, but it has been calling to me, and I'm sure I'll find out exactly why once I get there! I think I will probably be going there alone, but from what I can gather it is not hard to get around, and people I've met who have been there all say it is very beautiful, despite having been the 'most bombed' country in all of history. Then it will be back to Bali for another 2 months, so I will be gone a total of 4 (to begin with anyway). There is a lot of visa juggling to be done, but I have plans to get that sorted out this next visit. The thing that has been consuming my every non-working moment since coming back is the astrology workshop I am planning for December 2005. I won't bore you with details... but if you are interested you can check it out... www.astrologyinbali.com... Having said that I am very excited about it (I'll just bore you for a minute.) I love the idea, it brings together the things I'm most passionate about... astrology, travel and Bali. And I will get to hang out there with a bunch of other astrologers, how great is that? I really like the organisational aspect, my dear friend Jean has created a lovely web-site... I've written and edited it... but she is definitely the artistic heart of the whole thing. And if this 'test run' works out it could be just the ticket to support this nomadic life I love so much (yeah!). Melanie, from England is going to visit Bali for a couple of weeks late May, which will be wonderful.
I will be back in the US late July/August, in time to go to Chicago for a very big astrology conference where I will be touting mine, and hopefully recruiting many people. Then I will be back in Bali Nov/December for the 'grand event', and possibly longer. I plan to reward myself with a trip to Gili Air (the island I visited and loved so much on my last visit... Xmas in Coconut Cottages, yummy,) and then I think I'll take one of those sailing trips to Flores (another of the Indonesian Islands) where the Komodo Dragons are... pretty exciting.
Back to Bali, late March, 2005
Yes I am back in Bali... and very happily so. Strange phenomena, but as soon as I heard people actually looked forward to getting these letters... I felt I had nothing to say. My own weird psychology I know, but the 1st few days I was here I had some moments of anguish about what one earth I could say I hadn't said before?Well as much anguish as one can muster when lying in a hammock in Paradise. I mean how boring is it that I am back in this gorgeous place... waking up to 360 degree views of rice fields, jungle in the distance... glorious sunrises, sunsets etc,etc,etc., doing yoga at dawn, getting massaged, scrubbed, manicured and all my senses delighted by the colours, smells and beauty that is Bali?
I can't avoid the realisation that if I can't be happy living somewhere this beautiful then there would have to be something seriously wrong with me! Of course the experience this time is very different, now I arrive to be picked up by a driver who is a friend, taken to 'my' house, with my things already there, no trial and error about what restaurants to eat at or masseuses to call. Everyone is greeting me like an old friend, so guess what, it's even better. I'm practically Balinese, now if I could speak more than 3 words of their language I'd be in rare form! I was wondering if I might have built it up too much in my imagination, but I hadn't, I haven't had a single disappointing moment. I had almost zero jet-lag which was rather strange, but I believe it has something to do with that happiness enzyme/hormone(?) that actually enhances your immune system, I was so excited to get here that I think I was overdosing on it!
And traveling on the mercury retrograde was just fine... apart from pinching a nerve in my pinkie by trying to be Hercules with my outrageously heavy suitcases (filled with books and appliances that all promptly blew up when I plugged them in... oops there's that mercury retrograde!).
The 1st day I was here they were celebrating the full moon, which was lovely, all kinds of chanting/music at dawn etc, except it wasn't the full moon it was 2 days early! When I asked about this nobody had an answer, and who am I to question an ancient civilisation? I hope I can find someone who can help me get clearer on the part astrology/astronomy plays in their religion.
And I've had my 1st adventure, so I feel I have something to write about (phew). Last time I was here I became close friends with a 22 year old Balinese called Kadek who also happens to be an amazing foot reflexologist, and one of the most delightful, kind, joyful, humble, buddha-like souls I have ever met (and nobody get excited there are no Harold and Maude scenarios going on). I just came back from crossing the Island on the back of his motorcycle... which will tell anyone who knows me well how much I trust him... I generally can't stand those things. And it was really fun, it only takes 3 hours to cross Bali, but you pass volcanoes, rice terraces, a lake, endless villages... slight carbon monoxide poisoning being the only downside.
We visited his family who live in a very remote farming village, that is never visited by tourists. They have neither inside nor outside plumbing, and live purely off the food they grow plus the tiny wages of a daughter who picks fruit for someone else. And of course Kadek helps them too, he is the son who moved out of poverty to be educated and build a career for himself... against the odds of being lower caste (yes, sadly that system does exist here) and the son of subsistence farmers... but a huge motivation is a better life for all his family, with his main goal being that all his siblings get an education. He himself is already teaching at the college in Ubud (at the ripe old age of 22) besides working full-time.
Their home is a hut with a dirt floor, not a single possession that isn't a necessity (the one decoration/luxury in their home was a battery operated wall clock) yet they were completely gracious and I think gathered all resources to prepare a meal in my honour... neighbouring women (everyone it seems a relative of some description) came to help, and everyone else came to have a look. I am, sometimes uncomfortably, an Aquarian through and through... I positively squirm at that much attention, but all I could do was just that, squirm my way through it as I sat there in awe of their generosity and kindness. And I do believe I may have now eaten squirrel.
The village itself was beautiful, lush and full of trees and flowers, and as usual everyone smiling radiantly. My 3 Indonesian words didn't help much... Kadek's family don't even speak Indonesian, only Balinese, the indigenous language of the island. But as I've noted before they are a people who don't need to fill space with chatter, silence is perfectly comfortable to them, so it never feels awkward. Another big difference about being here this time is that I am very busy... I am working on my project, so lots of organisational things to deal with, and it is going really well. I have a very long 'to do' list which is usually only a part of my US life.
First on the agenda is a social visa so I can stay for extended periods of time, and I will have to spend about 4 days in Bangkok getting that together. So my plan is to be here in Bali until about April 19th, then I leave for Thailand, and as soon as my visa is organised I am going to Laos. I want to be there about a month, then I will be back here for when Melanie arrives from England (yeah)... And my friend Theo actually arrives in just 2 days from now, another fearless speed vacationer, she will be here only 6 days, but they will be fun-filled! I have no idea what lies in store for me in Laos, but not one person I've spoken to who has been there has anything but glowing reports. Then I will be back in Bali for 2 more months until late July. a very interesting way. And in the meantime I am appreciating every minute I have left here on this 'beautiful beyond words' island.