After a lonely night sleeping in the clinic in my sundress, with a grungy mouth and no toothbrush in sight, I woke at 4:30 AM, still hooked up to my IV, to the sound of roosters. I couldn’t get the wifi to work, I had finished reading my 400-page novel, so I took some time to go over my teaching notes for the retreat, to review our itinerary, and otherwise put my teaching hat on.
I prayed that I’d get sprung from the clinic first thing in the morning. I felt good, just stiff and sore from lying in bed for 24 hours. I no longer had stomach cramps or diarrhea. If anything, I had the opposite problem. With all the plug-up drugs they gave me, now nothing was coming out and I had that uncomfortably full feeling in my belly. I hoped this wasn’t going to be like hospitalizations after surgery at home—where you have to poop before they let you out of the hospital.
I was downing another breakfast of (you guessed it—white bread toast and bananas), when I got an email from my student, Tawnya, who arrived late the night before. She’d read my post and asked if she could come visit me in the clinic. I told her to come right over.
I was feeing fine, but they weren’t going to let me go until the whole bag dripped into my arm. They’d set the drip at such an infinitesimal speed that I would have been in there for another half a day.
Tawnya is a trauma nurse and she told me there was really no need for the saline drip to be that slow, not by U.S. standards. So with a conspiratorial glance between us, she closed the door and pulled the window shade. Then Tawnya expertly scooted up the pole to increase the gravity and the little drops in the IV started coming faster. Forty-five minutes (rather than three hours) later, the IV was empty and Deyani came in to discharge me. She gave me a variety of pills to keep taking and had me fill out a one page evaluation form for the clinic. And that was it—I was on my way.
My bill by the way, had not been resolved. They’d tried to contact my insurance company and had been given the run-around and they told me the whole thing might take a few days. They took my email address and they know where I’m staying for the next few days—and that was good enough. I still have no idea how much my little stay in the hospital is going to cost, but I’m sure it will be nothing like the 30 grand or more a night in a US hospital would cost.
This was my last look at the clinic:
After lunch, Tawnya and I hired two scooter drivers to take us around for the afternoon. It was Tawnya’s first day in Bali and she was eager to see some local villages and some rice fields. “I’ll have to get past my training as a trauma nurse,” she said, as she climbed on the back of her scooter.
My driver, Made Bolot, spoke excellent English and we chatted about all kinds of things as we tooled up and down tiny roads, through villages, past avocado groves, peanut fields, corn crops, hot chili fields, a door factory, and all kinds of construction projects along the road. Made told me was 25 years old and had graduated from college in business and entrepreneurship. He wants to be a businessman.
Made told me he hadn’t taken a rupiah from his parents for college; he’d worked two jobs to put himself through college. “I did it all by myself,” he said, and now, he gives his parents 200,000 to 300,000 rupiah a month. The filial loyalty thing is very big in Bali.
When I asked if he was married, he said, “I’m not married yet because I can’t afford it yet.” He said he needed 20 to 25 million rupiah to get married and that he also needed money saved up to pay for the ceremonies for his children. He said, “Without money, it’s hard to get a girlfriend. No money, no honey.”
“Is 25 late to get married here?” I asked.
“Not really, “ he answered. “I want to find myself first.”
“You sound like a westerner,” I replied.
Made told me a lot of Balinese people marry young because they’re pregnant and that sex between teenagers is accepted. He said a lot of married people have affairs, but stay together. I asked if women had affairs too, and he said yes.
At one point we passed what looked to me like a temple, but it didn’t look permanent like all the others. Made said it was built temporarily tor a cremation ritual and that several people from that particular village were probably going to be cremated at the same time. Cremations are too expensive for most families to have their own. Often the Balinese will bury their dead until they can take part in a communal cremation. Then they dig up the bodies and burn the remains. I wished I could have taken a picture of that, but we were moving too fast.
Made was, however, an excellent driver. At one point I told him, “You’re a very good driver. I feel very safe with you.”
“My mother always chooses me when she needs someone to drive her. It’s because I have a woman’s soul,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“I like it more quiet, more peaceful.”
We rode easily through small village after small village. A woman carried a huge load of bricks on her head. There were chickens and roosters, dogs and pigs in the rutted narrow roads. Small warangs sold drinks and cheap looking goods by the side of the road. Rice was drying on large tarps at the roadside. People were out everywhere living their lives. Women were carrying outrageous loads on top of their heads. I saw a girl, no more than 5, carrying a huge bundle of grain that twice as long as she was tall. We were definitely not in tourist Bali anymore.
Made took us to Budakeeling, the silversmithing village. They jewelers worked at eight outdoor tables, doing incredibly fine hand work.
A shop next door featured some of the most exquisite silver jewelry I’ve ever seen. Made said that the workers work on commission—they get 10% of the price of each piece they make.
This gorgeous bonsai banyan tree was in the courtyard outside the shop:
We rode up one very long road that was full of construction materials. There was one open-air workshop where men were sawing huge pieces of black rock with a power saw. Made said the rock there was almost all used to build temples.
Further up that same road were a number of vast quarries where they were mining black sand. This region, Butus, provides the raw materials for all the cement and concrete in Bali.
As we rode to our next destination, I told Made that I’d been with my daughter when I came here last year. “But she didn’t want to come this year,” I said.
“Is she with her boyfriend?” he asked.
“She doesn’t have a boyfriend,” I said.
“Maybe she is hiding it from you,” he said. “When I was fifteen and I had a girlfriend, I hid it from my parents. They would have said, ‘No! No!’” We both laughed.
Just about then, the gorgeous sunny day we were having gave way to a huge rainstorm that drenched us from head to toe. I was sorry I hadn’t thought to bring my poncho, but I was glad I had my phone in a plastic baggie. My little writing notebook got soggy. The rain was cold and wet and we were totally exposed, but once you’re soaked, what difference does it make? You can’t get more wet.
Whenever we stopped the bikes, Made would jump up and down to try to get warm. “Cold, cold!” he’d say. And then we’d get back on the wet motorbike seat and set off again.
Our destination was Revolusi Fisik, a memorial commemorating Lieutenant Colonel I Gusti Ngurah Rai, the national hero who commanded Indonesian forces in Bali against the Dutch during the Indonesian War of Independence. He was killed in the Battle of Margarana. This monument is in tribute to him and the 21 soldiers who died with him. By the time we got there, the sun had come out again.
According to Wikipedia, “On 20 November 1946, the Dutch launched a large scale attack on Marga with the assistance of troops from Lombok and supported by aircraft. Lt. Col Ngurah Rai ordered a Puputan, or fight to the death. He died along with all of his troops. The battle is now known as the Battle of Margarana.” His image is also found on the 50,000 rupiah note.
As we traveled to our final stop, the fields owned by Bugbug Village, here are some of things we saw along the way:
You see young kids like this working all over Bali:
When we first hired him, I told Made Bolot that we wanted to walk around a rice field. The fields he brought us to were a huge verdant wonderland.
This is the path we were walking on:
I felt stoned just from the brilliance of the green everywhere. It was the first community rice field I’d seen that had so many crops besides rice. There were long beans, hot chilis. This is water spinach, which I’ve been eating daily for the past week:
This is what rice looks like when it’s growing:
These are flowers cultivated especially for offerings. Children, like this boy, pick them and are paid by the kilo.
The cement pathway we walked on was part of the subak irrigation system. Water to any one area could be shut off and diverted to another.
These bags of rice hulls were piled by the side of a field. They’re used for compost and fertilizer:
Here are some of the other things we saw:
And near the exit to the field was this little shop, where we stopped and bought four bottles of water for thirty cents each:
We had a fantastic afternoon.
After we got home, I got fitted for some scuba gear (I decided I had to have one last dive before the rest of the students arrive tomorrow) and had a massage by another Made. Massage is taught in her family and she and her sister-in-law give most of the massages here at Lotus Bungalows. I paid $15 plus a tip for a fantastic, strong massage. It was in a bale (an open walled pavilion) right on the ocean, with billowing white curtains and the sound of the waves all around me.
After that I had dinner with Tawnya and Linne and then turned in early to write this post.
I do have to warn you—I will definitely not have as much time starting tomorrow as I have had up till now. I’ll be working again! But I do hope to keep the blog going, even if it can’t be as detailed or elaborate.
P. S. I’m organizing things for the group—and feel ready to let go of the adventure/vacation part of my trip to facilitating the experience for others. Our group will arrive in two waves tomorrow—one at 3 in the afternoon and the other quite late at night.