Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Searching for Christmas...

Here are the 12 items that were on my "12 days of Christmas" list:

1. Christmas Tree Ornament
2. Christmas Tree
3. A Candy Cane
4. A Cup of Hot Chocolate (Whip cream optional)
5. Red, White and Green Sarong
6. Red, White and Green Beaded Wallet
7. Beaded Flip-flops that have Silvery Snow Flakes
8. Another Christmas Tree Ornament
9. Santa Claus
10. A Decorated Scooter
11. Tell 3 people that didn't know the story "The Night Before Christmas", the story
12. 4 Screaming Boys (just to make me feel at home)

And here is what I came up with...

If you click on the picture it gets a little bit bigger.
I had a ton of fun completing my mission! I know the pictures are small but unfortunately, the internet is painfully slow in these parts and uploading 12 different pictures would have taken 17 days...
The first picture is one of the two ornaments. Then we have a group of Christmas trees taken outside of an Ace Hardware, there's an Ace Hardware in Bali? Could that mean a possible Walmart somewhere on the island? The next item is the candy cane. And of course it wouldn't be Christmas without a Starbucks hot chocolate, except that it's a cafe latte that I had the guy put whip cream on top of to make it look like Hot Chocolate. Let's face it, and a certain family member of mine might disown me for saying this but, I'm just not a huge fan of hot chocolate and if I'm going to pay 3 times what I pay for a meal in Bali for a cup of hot chocolate that I'm not even going to drink then I've gone crazy. To those that are judging scavenger hunt completion... Hot Chocolate was on the menu! Next is the red, white and green sarong, which was not an easy find and is also more of a cream/off white color but Christmasy nonetheless. Then, jump to the red, white and green beaded wallet that is indeed shaped like a watermelon. (Watermelons are making a comeback as the traditional Christmas holiday fruit.) Next is the silvery snow flake flip flop, also a hard item to find. Then the second Christmas Tree ornament. And wait, what was that noise? Oh, that's right it's Sissy Santa Claus! I had the most fun with this one... The hat consists of a red towel and a white towel, Tom and Michelle (my new friends that I met over the weekend) helped fashion a white beard and eyebrows using Tom's shaving cream. I'm wearing a green sarong and my embroidered Christmas pajamas that only cost upwards of $500 to have shipped to me! Next is a scooter that I decorated myself, that one was just not going to be found! Then, interestingly enough, I chose an audience of mostly Indonesians that don't understand a single word of English to tell the story of "the Night before Christmas". I had an interpreter that interpreted as best she could. Have you read "the Night before Christmas" recently? It's in Old English and hardly makes any sense even to me! Lastly and probably my favorite picture is of 4 screaming boys. They aren't actually screaming in the picture but they definitely were before I took the picture. We were sitting outside having lunch and we kept hearing laughing and screaming and I thought, this could be the picture for the last item on my list. So I went to the sea wall and sure enough,  there were 4 boys wrestling around with each other in their underwear, jumping in and out of the water. All I had to do was go over with my camera and they immediately came over to me wanting to get their picture taken. Kids in Bali really love having their pictures taken. If you look closely, with your magnifying glass, the kid on the left is flipping me off, which is just perfectly fitting to remind me of the boys that I miss so much at home!  

Christmas Bali Style...

To keep me from missing home too much and to keep things fun and light, I was sent on a "12 days of Christmas" scavenger hunt. As I am sure most of you know, Christmas is not observed as a major holiday here in Bali. However, as the island becomes more westernized with all of the ex patriots now residing here, Christmas has become a little more well known.

So, before I share about my scavenger hunt adventures, here is a blip about how I spent my Christmas... As I wrote in my last post, I went to the north part of Bali. I stayed at a Sanctuary/Hotel, much more of a sanctuary than a hotel. Other than myself, there were 3 other guests. There are only 5 rooms available to stay in, hence more of a sanctuary. It is more along the lines of being invited into the owner's home and she does in fact live there. We had a formal dinner on Christmas Eve and all of the staff were invited to join us. After dinner, we sat around while Tom, one of the other guests and Ketut, a staff member played an African drum and the guitar. Tom taught us a few traditional African dances and Ketut sang American music and Christmas songs even though he is only just beginning to learn English. Although I was missing home and being with my family and having to fight back a few tears, it was a Christmas that I will never forget. I fully enjoyed the simpleness of the whole night as well as the people that I spent it with.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Life just slowed down for a minute...

It's interesting how even in a third world country you can still get the feel of the big city. Personally, I'm more of a wide open spaces kind of person. (Yes, that was a Dixie Chicks reference) I am currently living in Denpasar, which has that "city" feel and while it's not exactly a city like we would imagine one, (the tallest building I've seen is 4 or 5 stories) there is still that fast paced, people are more worried about getting to where they need to be feel to it. Then, drive about 40 minutes north and life slows down. Look to your left, look to your right and all you see are lush green rice fields. To me it's like going from Florida to New Hampshire.

Then, drive even further north up around the mountain/volcano area and life slows down even more. Another weekend adventure, to the most northern part of Bali and out of the hustle and bustle of Denpasar!

And the ride there... Well, let's just say it's a good thing I'm not a person that gets motion sickness! (I typed this all on my phone on the way there by the way)

Go up, go down, hear a horn beep, almost run into two girls on a scooter, turn left, turn right, run over a pot hole, ears just popped, another horn, another pot hole, swerve around a scooter, water bottle just popped, make not a 3 point turn but probably a 7 point turn due to a ceremony blocking the street, almost ran over a dog, another pot hole swerve around another scooter and now we only have an hour left of this drive...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

26.2 in sight...

Exciting news... I have registered myself for the first ever full length marathon in Bali! I'm fairly positive that it was meant to be, considering that it is exactly 18 weeks away and it just so happens that 18 weeks is the amount of time that I need to properly train.

I am so excited that I will be running my second marathon while I'm here. When I signed up for Miami last year the weeks couldn't go by fast enough. As excited as I was for that marathon, you can only imagine how excited I am for this one. Not to mention it will give me something to focus on and take my wandering mind away from missing home constantly. So, chaffing, constant achy legs and permanent shorts and socks tan here I come!

17 weeks and 4 days... April 22, 2012

This museum is in the middle of the park that I have been running at.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Permisi, Ubud?

I went on my first real adventure today. I have been on mini adventures since I have been here, i.e. finding my way to the supermarket and then trying to figure out what laundry detergent looks like at the supermarket, but this was the first big adventure...

Let me just preface with, Mapquest does not exist in Bali and street names/signs are a rare sighting. I drove into a little town called Ubud today. What should have taken about 30 to 45 minutes only took me an hour and 45 minutes! I made it in record time. I used the few Indonesian words that I know and at every stop said to the motorist next to me "Permisi, Ubud?" and they would point in the direction I needed to go. I laughed to myself a few times about the whole situation and just thought, is this seriously how I'm finding my way? On my way back to Denpasar, where I am currently staying, I went down a street that was not looking promising. So, I asked a guy who was walking along the road "Permisi, Denpasar?" he smiled, pretended to kick a soccer ball and then motioned to go right. That meant, go past the soccer field, take a right and that will lead you to Denpasar. I gave him a thumbs up and a "terima kasih" and was on my way. That made making a wrong turn totally worth it and put a huge smile on face!

"Permisi" means "Excuse me" and "Terima kasih" means "Thank you". That is about the extent of my Indonesian!

Here is some of what I saw on my adventure today..

Rice Terraces

This is where the rice harvester lives...

This picture does not even do what I saw in real life justice

Monday, December 12, 2011

One of those days...

This morning I was really missing home…  After a much needed pep talk over skype and a couple really good emails, I realized that this year in Bali is about way more than just me. It is about all of the people that I will touch or make an impact on along the way. I’m saying all of this in the most humble of ways, no ego involved, I promise. Much like the story that makes up It’s a Wonderful Life, I have no way of telling who I will make an impact on, how I will make that impact and whether or not it will be big or small. When I have days like today that start out a little on the rough side, I'll think of the bigger picture and who might miss out on everything that I have to offer. I’m planning on going with whatever gets thrown my way...
Speaking of going with whatever gets thrown my way, I had my first wipe out on my scooter yesterday! I was trying to turn around in a tight area that was sandy and wet, I hit the throttle a little too hard and the bike slipped out from under me. Two Balinese men came over and helped me lift the bike up and then get it started again since it had fallen on the engine side and wouldn’t start. After what seemed like an interesting conversation between the two men and me, a conversation in which I just smiled a lot and said "thank you" in Indonesian numerous times, I was on my way. Needless to say, I have a few battle wounds and I’m a little sore from the spill. Fun times!
And to keep you up to date on the simple and most interesting things… I bought a few items from the supermarket the other day. Laundry detergent (which may or may not be rat poison, I’ll find out when I get my clothes back from the housekeeper), the Indonesian version of Gatorade (not so much like the American version), some sort of red fruit (haven’t got the slightest idea what it is yet) and hangers (luckily those look the same hear as they do in America). It was an interesting adventure to say the least. Again, fun times! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cold Showers and other fun adventures...

I started my first day of work yesterday. I observed a couple of classes, one with 6 to 9 year olds and the other with teenagers and up. As usual, the little ones were the most fun to watch, they just have a totally different way of being and learning than the older ones do. That’s not to say that the older age group are any less willing to learn, it’s just different. I will actually be teaching my first class today. I’ll have the 6 to 9 year olds, so I am looking forward to that!

Yesterday, in the younger class, a little girl came up to me and got just about as close as she could get to me with out actually touching and said “Excuse me Ms. Can I use the toilet?” Of course, with her little accent, I had absolutely no idea what she had said the first time around so I asked her to repeat herself. It was the cutest thing ever... I’m looking forward to more of those particularly simple and innocent moments that totally catch me off guard and have me smile ear to ear!

To keep you all up to date on everything else... I haven't taken a hot shower in over a week now, the streets of Bali all still look exactly the same to me, I now have two restaurants instead of one that I frequent, Roosters crow at all hours of the day not just at the break of dawn and I have found myself replacing certain words in my vocabulary so people understand what I'm talking about. Here are a few examples: Holiday instead of Vacation, Toilet instead of Restroom, AirCon instead of A/C, Helm instead of Helmet and the list goes on...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

These streets...

I'm officially of resident status here in Bali. I moved to a more permanent place or "home stay" as the Balinese refer to it. It won't be too permanent due to a few factors, the most importantly being that I do not have internet access but at least I feel more comfortable than I did at the previous cockroach hole!

I have been without internet for less than 24 hours at this point and have felt unbelievably lost. Without going into too much detail, I will mention that I did have my first breakdown last night since I have been in Bali. Somehow, the cockroach, mattress on the floor, fan that did absolutely nothing place didn't faze me in the least...

I also got a scooter. After my first outing, I have learned that all streets in Bali look much like the last. However, I did somehow manage to find my destination. I only got turned around a couple times and only almost fell off twice while attempting to turn around. Throughout all of this, I am pretty impressed with myself. I even stopped to get gas all by my big girl self! Getting gas entails stopping on the side of the road where you find a little stand with glass bottles that are filled with yellowish/gold liquid. To fill up, it cost me 15,000 rupiah which translates to about $1.50, dirt cheap! Granted, it's only a scooter so the tank is not that big but still, dirt cheap!

Did I mention that all of the streets look the same and I have to actively remember to stay on the left side of the street! Again, pretty impressed with myself!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Crossing the street is just not an option...

There are a few realizations I have come to know in the past few days since I have been in Bali.
Balinese sales women don't necessarily speak english except for this one line "You have time visit my store. Look. Maybe later." And what do I do? Smile and say "maybe later".
Cheesy American music is apparently popular here. I have heard 3 or 4 american songs since I have been here, other than those songs on my itunes, and 2 of them were Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love" and Bryan Adams' "Everything I do". Those could possibly be two of the cheesiest songs. Sorry to those of you who have these songs on your playlist...
Balinese people are some of the kindest, genuine and gracious people I have come across and crossing the street is really challenging and hardly an option. Just when you have looked one way and looked the other and think that it's safe, all you hear is a squeaky scooter horn coming straight at you. Scootering is no joke in these parts! I have yet to buy my scooter but when I do, It's quite possible that I will crap myself from pure terror. I'll keep you posted... 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

38 hours later and Roughing it is the understatement of the year...

38 hours, 3 planes, 3 sequrity checks, 4 viewings of Home Alone, 4 countries and several bad airplane meals later I have made it to Bali. It's 4:32 in the morning here and I have been wide awake for about an hour. As I type, I am sitting on a matress that is in fact on the floor. I am in my sports bra and underware and in the corner of the room there is a fan that is about as powerful as blowing on yourself. When I turned on the light that is more like a fading flashlight to go to the bathroom I caught a glimpse of a cockaroach that immediately scurried under one of my 4 bags that are on the floor and I haven't seen it since, Awesome. Does it sound like I'm complaining? Because I'm not. I happen to love the idea that at any moment I could pull out an item of clothing from one of my bags and a cockaroach (palmetto bug for those of you who prefer that term) could come crawling out. I love the element of surprise! Did I mention the shower is over the toilet??