Month: November 2017

The adventure continues

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Before writing about today’s adventures, I wanted to answer a question I’ve been asked by a couple of people who read my blog. I figured it’s important enough to answer so everyone understands…The question is, why do I call my children, creatures. A few months, one reader expressed how he thought it was disrespectful to the kids.
I want you to know that along with Danny, my children are the most important people in my life. To me, the term, ‘creatures’, is a term of endearment. We do everything together! They are my sidekicks, my adventure partners, and my absolute treasures. I watch them husk coconuts, climb trees, dig holes, build rock towers, jump off cliffs, eat crazy foods we can’t identify in foreign countries…they are like little creatures exploring the earth with Danny and I, leaving no rock unturned. I adore them all. I hope that makes sense.

Our journey across Indonesia to Hong Kong, continues, and it’s been a blast and a half thus far.
When we awoke this morning we explored around Kuta in Lombok, and felt like we had been transported back in time.

Carts pulled by ponies made their way down the streets, and women sat selling fresh fish in a market place.

If a fish was too big, it was cut up right there and sold in chunks.

Lombok is roughly 1700 square miles, and is mostly Muslim and Hindu.

Not much is known about Lombok before the seventeenth century. Disunity was taken advantage of as it was governed by a Sasak Prince, and neighboring Bali took control by 1750. At this point Sasak and Balinese have intermarried.

Rice, soybeans, cloves, coffee, tobacco, cotton, cinnamon, cacao, cassava, corn, coconuts, bananas and vanilla are grown in the fertile soil of the island.

During down time, vendors sift rice to separate grains from husk. I love watching their skill!

We entered an area where many were seated, selling all sorts of things.

I loved watching people converse, chat and laugh together, and wished I could chat and hear their life stories.

The outskirts of the market were really muddy, but no one seemed to notice, and meandered through it regardless.

The market spread out deep into the muddy grounds,

then suddenly ended with a paved path to the beach. At the end was a pier in progress, being made from bamboo.

The water was still, and scattered with small fishing boats. Several that had seen many trips out onto the ocean were finally laid to rest close to shore.

Two fishermen were preparing their nets for the next catch, sorting through, unraveling and picking out pieces of seaweed.

Some children were playing on the beach, so we gave them a bag of fruit from the market. They thanked us in broken English with beautiful big smiles on their faces.

What a picturesque little island!

Lombok is definitely a place I’d love to spend more time exploring.

We kept checking the airport status because as the morning wore on, the ash cloud from Bali began heading our way and we thought it might close. Danny and I kept in contact through text, and finally it was time to take flight to Jakarta. As we flew over Bali, we could see the ash cloud emitted from Agung, as it now reaches over 5 km into the air and mixed with the clouds. The slightly darker ash can be seen right in the center of the photo. (Right behind the white cloud in the very middle)

Today our journey takes us to Jakarta, then on to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where we will spend the night then continue on to Hong Kong tomorrow.
Our friend, Jack, who is taking care of our dogs back in Bali, sent us a picture and said the dogs are doing fine. Jude is loving sailing the coast of Australia while my mom is enjoying spending time with my Aunt in Queensland. Life is good, and we are so grateful for our adventures.

Operation Hotel Kilo

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The past few days have been an interesting time to be in Bali. Rumblings and tremors have increased in frequency. As ash clouds have begun to spread over Bali, our skies have turned white, and intense rains have caused flooding in streets and villages. Monkeys and other critters have migrated into areas where they aren’t usually seen (like our neighborhood), in an attempt to move farther away from the volcano, and airports on Bali shut down. I have not felt panicked at all, but I have been concerned about Emma’s asthma flaring up, and have been keeping close tabs on her. The three creatures that are home (Mycah, Aidan and Emma) and I were scheduled to fly to Hong Kong yesterday morning to spend a week with Danny, but the airport was closed. We rescheduled for today…just to wake up to cancelled flights once again, so we sat and discussed our options:
A – try rebook again for tomorrow and see what happens.
B – Just hang out in Bali, be prepared and take what comes.
C – Find a different way out

We could see that given the weather, the airport would most likely be closed for a few days so ‘A’ was pointless.
If the situation became really dangerous and Emma’s asthma was bad, we may reach a point of it being too late to leave – especially if the ash cloud closes airports on surrounding islands as well, so ‘B’ didn’t sound too smart.
So, with Danny’s encouragement we decided on ‘C’.

We arranged for a driver to pick us up and take us to the ferry dock which was an hour away in the direction of the erupting volcano. After waiting an hour for him, realizing he was MIA, we were eventually able to track down someone else to pick us up. We took our bags to the end of the driveway to wait for him, and after half an hour of him also not showing up, a van drove past, stopped and backed up, and asked if we needed a ride. We told him we need to be someplace an hour away, in a 45 minute time frame. He took It seriously and drove like Danny does, but he dropped us off at the wrong location and sped off back the way he’d come. It had been an interesting ride across because we had to get so much closer to erupting Agung in order to reach Padandbai where the ferry’s are. This is a poor photo but I took it as we sped past banana trees. You can see ash clouds billowing out of Mt Agung, totally covering the mountain with cloud then blowing to the left (west) in the photo. Perhaps our driver was a bit nervous and wanted to get back in a hurry.

We jumped onto the back of some scooters with our luggage, and were driven the rest of the way to the correct spot.

Each of us were given a special ‘Lombok’ sticker, since that was the island we were headed to, and waited half an hour before heading out. We were told that it was the last ferry out.

Fishing boats sat in perfect rows, anchored in the still, shallow water.

We chose to sit on the roof of the ferry, where we could feel the wind in our hair and the ocean spray on our skin.

Many others joined us on top, as we sat listening to music and enjoying the ride.

As we left Bali, all I could think about were Angel, Stanley and our many human friends who were still there. Just then I received a group text from a gentleman in our church who works for the airport. Seismic activity surrounding Agung was picking up the pace considerably.

I wanted to go back. To be there to help. It broke my heart.

I looked over at Mycah, then to the twins. I knew I was in the right place. Right now, my children’s safety is my concern, and I knew I would do what ever it would take to keep them safe.

Mycah and I noticed that just by chance, the twins were wearing matching colors. So we asked them to stand for a quick photo! They are so connected. Just in case I hadn’t mentioned it…I adore my 11 creatures.

We passed by some pretty scenery and gorgeous beaches – the kind that we used to anchor Tanda Malaika by.

Interesting sea stacks and tiny islands stood out in contrasting colors of rich chocolate browns and bright greens.

We finally reached Gili Island, where some exited and others boarded. The water was beautiful against the thick dark grey sky.

Continuing on, we reached Lombok.

We walked the pier until we reached yet another driver, who would take us farther in for about another two and a half hours. The island is so lush and sparsely populated compared to Bali.

Everything seemed to move at a much slower pace.

I chatted with the driver about Bali and Lombok, as well as his family, his one son whom he is so proud of, and of religion. We talked about how Lombok has many more muslim people on it that Bali, and we talked about Indonesian traditions and food. He asked what foods we liked and we mentioned some of our favorites – one of them being jagung bakar (grilled corn with a special hot sauce on it), and he stopped on the side of the ride by an old woman who was fanning a fire, and asked her to prepare some for us.

It was obvious she had done this so many times before, as she efficiently fanned the fire and roasted the corn. It was absolutely delicious!

From her little place on the side of the road, we could see Agung rising up behind a mountain range in the far distance…venting clouds of ash and steam just like before.

By the time we reached Kuta, which is half an hour from the airport, the sun was setting and we were hungry. We secured a motel room with a couple queen sized beds in it, arranged a ride to the airport in the morning, then set out for some Mexican food at a place that had caught the kids attention.

The burritos were delicious, and lucky for us, guacamole was in season! I took a photo of this on the menu…they must get some complaints when the guacamole trees aren’t producing!

Tonight we are snuggled down in warm beds. We are safe and tired. As I have been writing all 3 creatures have fallen asleep and Danny texted to say good night – that he was going to sleep too. I guess it’s my turn now. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow, provided the Lombok airport stays open. The adventure continues!

There she blows!

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So many have reached out, concerned about us as Mt Agung has become active. Thank you for your love, concern and prayers. We are doing fine and are a safe distance away. The wind generally blows to the south west, which sends the ash cloud across the ocean. As long as it continues to blown that direction, we should be fine. Several have been posting photos on Facebook and many of them are quite spectacular!

For the last week I had planned on meeting Danny in Hong Kong for a week, and the creatures have been excited for a week without supervision. Today Danny and I decided that given the fact that Agung is erupting, we’d rather not leave the creatures alone and so they will be joining me when I fly out to Hong Kong in the morning. My greatest concern is how Emma’s asthma is going to respond to volcanic ash, and I don’t want to be away from her if she is struggling. It’ll be a fun trip.

We took my mom to the silver factory, where she was mesmerized by the hard working locals in the factory.

She fell in love with several pieces of jewelry on the showroom floor.
Four days ago she left for Australia to visit my Aunt and cousins. She met up with Jude as well, and has been having a splendid time.

The highlight of our week was when Danny arrived home on Wednesday night. It’s always a race to see who gets to hug him first, and this time Aidan won. We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving meal together, along with our friends, the Amat Family.

Emma is such a sweetheart. I have hurt my back once again and am walking bent like an old woman, so the night before our meal, Emma made rolls and a milk tart (South African dessert). I woke up at 5:30am to start cooking the leg of lamb and the ham, and was joined by Angel in the kitchen.

He still has kidney failure and is slowing down more and more. We treasure every day with him. By 6:30 Emma had joined me and together, her and I made the Thanksgiving feast. Everything was from scratch since Bali does not carry many of the familiar Thanksgiving food items, in fact not one single turkey could be found on the island! Hence, the ham and lamb.
Mycah and I took turns cuddling Pierre, the brand new Amat addition.

I am so grateful to Emma – for her sweet spirit and her wisdom and insight. She was such a huge help! Sometimes I look at Aidan and Emma, and am amazed at what incredible individuals they are. They are so big, and yet it seems like yesterday that they were wrestling in my womb together. Now, they are all grown up, independent and so very smart. What wonderful travel companions. I love adventuring with them.

Our next blog will be from Hong Kong, as the adventure continues.

Jimbaran Fish Market

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Starting with a few updates from home here in Bali….the duck lives and is well.

I posted a video the other day of a dog we stopped to help on the side of the road, who was being eaten alive by maggots. He was severely dehydrated and lethargic. Between my friend, Moon, my mom and I, we gave him lots of water, called a vet, who gave him a shot that made all his ticks fall off and the maggots come crawling out of him by the hundreds. We have all checked on him often since then – making sure his owner is feeding him well and giving him his meds and water, and now after a little surgery at the vet and lots of antibiotics, he is happily walking around wagging his tail.
Cheers to Chico the dog!

Our sweet friends, Ana and Thierry, had a beautiful 9.6oz baby boy and have named him Pierre. He is so big and so dang cute. We had a fun gathering with them and many other friends at our villa and feasted a couple days before she went into labor.

Speaking of babies, our beautiful little grand daughter, Zailyn, is growing beautifully! She will be 1 on January 27th, so we will be flying the US to celebrate her big day with her and her Mummy and Daddy. I can’t wait to kiss that sweet little face!

A couple nights ago, some friends of ours invited us to join them at the Jimbaran Fish Market for dinner. We hadn’t been there yet, and immediately agreed to join them. We all met at our house and in one big scooter gang, drove an hour to Jimbaran. Mycah and her passenger were jolly stylish in their watermelon helmets! We call them Mellonheads.

As we parked our scooters the stench of fish hit me square in the face. It was getting dark outside, so as we entered the tented fish market with lights shining brightly, it took a second for my eyes to adjust…long enough for me to not see the deep puddle of stinky fish juices that I stepped right in to! I’m always either barefoot, or, when I have to I wear shoes, I wear flip flops. In this lovely puddle I was standing in flip flops. The first couple steps I took out of it shot fish cocktail up all over my back and every step after that was deliciously sticky. Yummy!

Spread out in front of us were rows and rows of tables, all covered in containers of every kind of fishy thing you can imagine.

Rather than breathing in and smelling the fish potpourri, I found myself breathing only through my nose and talking like I had a cold. As we passed by tubs of shrimp,

crayfish…

octopus, squid and fish, I couldn’t help but think of the many times I’d been in the ocean swimming along side these gorgeous creatures as they swam freely.

I felt especially bad as we passed by some cute little sharks who were lying wide eyed and limp.

For about 600,000 IDR ($45), we bought 10 kg of fish, shrimp, squid and clams, and took our stash across the street to a restaurant where they take your goods, weigh them, and cook them up for you.

All our food was cleaned and laid out on a giant BBQ, while we relaxed and enjoyed ourselves in conversation and cold drinks.

My mom enjoyed her favorite – a delicious, fresh coconut.

Before long, our table looked like a Las Vegas Seafood buffet, with deliciously seasoned shrimp, BBQ clams, savory fish and the most amazing calamari.

I thought to myself several times that I wished Danny was with us and I couldn’t wait to bring him here.

What a feast!!!

By the time we were done, we were so full, and my flip flops were permanently glued to my feet. As we climbed aboard our scooters and drove the hour home – cool air in my…helmet, I just knew at some point the smell of fish would stay behind. When walking into my room that night, still smelling like a dead fish, I pulled off my dress and smelled the back of it where my shoes had flipped up fish smoothie, and about puked. I jumped into the shower, scrubbed thoroughly and washed my hair, them burned my dress out on the sidewalk. (Ok just kidding, but I thought about burning it!)

Now we see him…now we don’t!

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We’ve been living in Bali for 3 months now, and in those 3 months Danny has spent 5 nights at home. He has accepted a position as a pilot for a young billionaire who keeps his jet in Beijing. In the past 3 months Danny has been flying him back and forth between Beijing, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore etc…A couple of weeks ago he called saying he was coming home for 9 days, and ended up being able to stay for 4, and last night he arrived home around 10pm, and upon landing, received an unexpected email saying he needed to head back at 7am this morning because the owner wants to go to Shanghai. So, once again he’s gone! I’m so glad he loves what he does. We miss him so much when he’s gone and appreciate his hard work.
Jude is currently in Australia. She’s been spending the last week with her South African side of the family in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, and is helping our friends, the Murry Family, work on their sailboat, Pandora. Within the next few days they will be setting sail to explore the beautiful waters around Australia.

In the mean time, we continue to explore Bali and enjoy the culture here. Recently, the streets have been decorated with beautiful traditional Balinese decorations to celebrate Galungan. It marks the time when ancestral spirits came and visited the Earth, and the good spirit, Dharma triumphed over the bad spirit, Adharma. One of my favorite decorations, is Penjor, which is an offering to express gratitude for life. A tall decorated bamboo pole is secured by the roadside, and the upper end that curves represents the peak of the sacred mountain, Mount Agung, and the very end represents the tail of the Barong (good spirit).

Penjor stand tall in front of each Balinese home for the holiday and are also used in temple ceremonies.

Women carry their offerings on their heads much of the time and remind me of those I’ve seen carrying all sorts of things the same way in Africa.

We took my mom to see the beautiful rice terraces, where layers of green stack like pancakes,

and hard working farmers stand bent over hour after hour tending to their crops…stopping only for prayers and sacrifices to the Gods.

The markets were busy as vendors spend their days bargaining with Westerners who want a good deal.

So many of these hand made crafts are created here in Bali, then shipped all over the world, marked up and sold for more.

Some of the stalls are so stacked with product, the goods seem to swallow people up inside where they’d never be found again.

Markets are perhaps some some of my favorite places. I love the people, the energy, the colors and textures.

Smells draw me in, as the scent of curry powder, incense, fruit and flowers fill the air. When it’s extra humid, the pleasant aromas are periodically interrupted by patches of sweat, garbage and fish. An aromatic buffet.

We walked down paths past beautiful moss covered temples that seem to have been forgotten,

and thatched roofs stacked like totem poles.

Every peak, every step and every level is symbolic in Hinduism…all a carefully planned and created masterpiece for the Gods.

The air is so thick with moisture from recent rain, it gathers and drips, saturating the ground once again.

Some walls never seem to dry and become a perfect base for vines and tiny beards of moss.

We finally head home as midday light finally makes its way through the trees and lights up fern like stained glass along the walls. I love immersing myself in nature because it is simple, and beautiful.

Nusa Penida: Day 2

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Our second day on Nusa Penida was another fascinating one. Jude and Mycah’s bruises from the previous days scooter mishaps were wonderful colors, and their scrapes were scabbed over. While others still slept my mom and I went for a stroll to check out the neighrborhood.

Fishermen were securing their boats on land, after unloading their morning catch.

Temples looked beautiful in the morning light,

and so did the beautiful flowers all around.

Locals sat quietly, watching people walk and bike past their warungs (little shops),

while others made morning offerings to the Gods.

We thanked the people running the place we stayed at, and set out for the underground temple. En route we stopped at a beautiful beach, where some of us collected shells while others skipped rocks.

We always love our beach time!

We reached Pura Goa Giri Putri, the underground temple, and parked our scooters under some trees. Some Hindu men were preparing decorations for the next days Galungan, which is a celebration of the triumph of Dharma over Adharma, or good against evil.

We rented sashes and sarongs, necessary for entering all Hindu temples, and began our climb up the many concrete steps.

The sign at the temple entrance encouraged us to maintain heavenly thoughts, words and deeds.

As we neared the entry to the temple, we could hear a bell ringing, and rounding the corner, we could see from where it came…

A priest was making offerings, seated at a small altar. The smell of incense filled the air.

Though we had to get on all fours to enter the cave, it quickly opened up to a large chamber (262m in length), thought to be dated back to the Neolithic era.

Bats flew around freely and huddled in groups on the ceiling.

“Giri” means ‘hill’, and “Putri” means ‘female’, so the cave was given the name because it represents Siva, the Goddess who possess the nature to protect, nurture and love human beings. When times were dangerous and difficult the cave was used for protection.

Many small altars are set up throughout the cave, which can fit 5000 people during ceremony.

A priest blessed each of us with holy water and placed rice on our foreheads, temples and throats.

The holy water comes from a small pond up inside the cave.

When exiting, the final chamber has two different worshipping areas and everything is donned in the color red.

We had heard of a village where weaving is the main craft, and wanted to check it out. After grabbing some bottles of water and conversing with a beautiful little old lay, we headed our beastly bikes down the road to find it.

Tanglad, the weaving village, was a very sleepy little place.

So sleepy in fact, that we saw no weaving and very little sign of life! So, after asking two young men on the street – who looked at us like we were from another planet, we moved on.

We drove for hours, admiring the beautiful forests, rice paddies and shorelines, and finally made our way back to the bike rental to return the scooters. The view of Aging was picturesque, with fishing boats in the foreground, as we boarded the ferry back to Bali.

We feel like we saw Nusa Penida pretty thoroughly, and enjoyed the sites of yet another gorgeous island. We live in such an incredibly beautiful world! I am grateful to be a small part of it.

Nusa Penida: Day 1

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So much has happened over this last week and every night I’ve fallen into bed, exhausted. My sweet Momma arrived and it has been wonderful to have her here. She loves scooter rides even though she has constant helmet hair like the rest of us!!!

We hit the ground running with a watercolor painting class,

and a fun work Halloween Party with 24/7 Pilots! Aidan was a 70’s dude, Emma a pineapple, Jude was Ace Ventura, Mycah an 80’s workout chick, my mom a pirate and me an old lady who’d lost her dog and from behind one could see I’d sat on it.

Nico, Daniel and Teresa looked fabulous too!

We wanted to have one last pow wow with our dear friends, Teresa, Daniel and Nico, before they left Bali to continue on with their journey. We decided on taking a backpack each and spending a couple of days on Nusa Penida.

After a 45 minute ferry ride, we walked over and rented 5 scooters for $120 for two days, and set out on our grand adventure. We quickly discovered that the scooters had extremely bald tires and very little break power, but none the less, served as great all terrain vehicles. We snorkeled for a bit at Crystal Bay, but the clarity wasn’t great due to some funky current and surf (which doesn’t show up in the photo!).

Our adventures took us down roads that would have been unnerving in a 4WD Jeep! Broken asphalt, sand, loose gravel and rocks provided hair raising slides and bumps on the scooters, and Jude and Mycah have the scrapes to prove it.

But, we did reach breathtaking views and traveled through gorgeous scenery.
Kelingking Beach was one of our favorite places. Rock pools far down below from cliffs reaching skyward, were a beautiful scene. I love the eroded rocks gathering water in small pools, providing exquisite variety of texture and color.

Massive waves swelled and crashed into rocky coast line,

then receded to reveal tiny waterfalls reaching down, back into the sea.

A small canyon had formed on the rocky shore, and down inside its saddle, tide pools in inviting colors called to me.

Perhaps the most magnificent scene in the area was, in my opinion, a place called Broken Beach. A sea arch is the only entrance into the beach area from open ocean, and water movement is impressive.

A large bowl with swirling turquoise water, gorgeous waves and a perfect beach, are what one see’s when stepping to the edge to look down inside.

I stood memorized, watching the waves rolling in, soaking in the peaceful sound and colors.

I could have sat watching for hours….

Another gorgeous place we explored, was Atuh Beach, where a rock formation resembles a T-Rex’s head with a gaping mouth.

Tho colors or churning water around a nearby sea stack, reminded me of our back yard in so many places when we lived on Tanda Malaika.

To try and imagine the impressive size of these cliffs, compare the size of the person walking on the beach in this photo.

When I returned from the hike I found my Mom resting with her head on her arms, and brought her a cool, refreshing coconut to hydrate.

At the close of this first day of exploring Nusa Penida, we were thoroughly exhausted, and my mom felt like her tail bone would never be the same again, but we had smiles on our faces and wonderful memories and images fresh on our minds. We sat at a quaint motel and watched the sky darken around Mount Agung. A small amount of smoke could be seen rising from the crater. It is only here, in this setting, that we feel just how large the rumbling volcano is, and all commented on how insignificant it mades us feel.