A day of leisure in Bali to most people might mean relaxing at the beach, a spa treatment or even some light shopping along Legian Street, but we look at leisure a bit differently. With bead business out of the way, we woke up earlier than the roosters, drank a pot of Bali-kopi (the darkest, muddiest coffee in the world, with the caffeine content to match), and we waited for our great friend and driver of many years, Wayan, to pick us up because we wanted to be taken to the country for the day. He arrived at our door with a bag of rambutans, honey mangos and salak, all local fruit. This became breakfast.
We first met Wayan when he was a young man of 19 years. He was working on the streets of Kuta yelling, “transport, transport, transport” while turning an imaginary steering wheel, hoping to give us tourists a ride someplace. For more than 20 years now we’ve watched Wayan grow up, learn passable English, marry ‘Wayan’ and soon have their first child, also named ‘Wayan’. One thing you must understand is that in Bali, Wayan’s ‘caste’ only has four names: the first born child, male or female, is always named Wayan. Over the years we watched as Wayan built a small 2 room cement block home, purchase his first mini-van for his transport business, and have 2 more children. Wayan has taken care of our children when they were only toddlers, he has worked very long hours for us helping prepare cargo, and ensured that everything went smoothly for us while we were guests in his country. One trip we brought along my mother and her 2 friends; he treated them as part of his family. As you might suspect, Wayan is a wonderful person and a very dear friend. He is very representative of the Balinese people.
Back to our day of leisure. We drove for about 2 hours into the country, away from the craziness and into the beautiful landscape that is synonymous with Bali. As we passed temples, lotus ponds and rice paddies we came upon a small field with hundreds of young ducks. Wayan commented, “ducks are more polite than chickens.” He always says the funniest things! He went further to explain: “chickens have to attack each other before they eat, but ducks just eat.” Okay, a good point. Wayan sees everything from a very practical point of view. It was really hard once to get him to understand that some dogs in America visit an animal psychologist. He still doesn’t believe it. We laugh with Wayan constantly as our conversations seem to point out the humor in our cultural differences. So far from home it’s always important to have an open mind. A couple funny examples we recently encountered: a sign at a seafood stand, “Seafood – the life be out of it”, surely they just wanted to let you know they are selling dead seafood. Another cute one: “Costumers Parking Only”. Every time we take the ferry to Java we have to laugh when we read the sign which says “encounter with propeller may cause death”. Does this mean they don’t want you swimming near the ferry? Or no diving off the dock?
Seriously, back to our leisurely drive in the country. We drove through our favorite area called Tegallalang, a wood carving area and our old ‘stomping grounds’. At one time 13 families in this area worked for us producing fishing cats, polka dotted pigs, masks, roosters and other very cool carved wood figures. This was before Happy Mango Beads was born. Anyway, we thought we’d stop and visit some of our old friends. Not only was Nyoman (and family) happy to see us, they were delighted to have a little extra muscle, as they were building a new family temple and there were many bricks to haul and even mortar to mix. So in the hot, humid jungle of Bali we found a way to spend the rest of our day of leisure. Of course Wayan worked as hard as anyone. They rewarded us with black rice pudding and ginger/papaya juice. All said and done there couldn’t have been a better way to spend the afternoon. We spent the long drive back to our hotel in Seminyak trying to make Wayan understand exactly what a Chihuahua is and why we find it necessary to put clothes on them in the winter in Colorado. He only laughed.