I’m having a bit of a block for some reason, regarding the next installment of my blog.  Not for shortage of stories to tell – quite the opposite in fact.  There are so many interesting encounters and experiences naturally unfolding throughout the days and nights that I hoard them, like little snapshots, and when it comes to putting them all to the page, I don’t know where to start or how to tie them all together.  I hate having to leave things out, for fear of losing their subtle significance.  I guess the best way to go about it is to reflect on the past few days – the survival of my first hard-core week of yoga, and all the little adventures and developments that have happened in between.

Local cuisine and chasing fireflies

On Thursday night, Narok kindly offered to take me out for the evening.  The perfect opportunity to escape the tourist-traps and eat like the Balinese eat.  I was really looking forward to it, not just because my appetite has started to soar these past few days, but also because I wanted to break my solitary, early night routine and learn a bit more about Bali.  He picked me up at about 8, and still the heat had not subdued.  I’d spent most of the day sitting in a cool bath and sprawling out in front of the fan, desperate to lower my body temperature, and alleviate myself from the constant sheen of sweat I’ve been wearing.  Any trips into town, or treks into the country-side will have to wait until the cool mountain breeze is stirred up once again.

Being on the scooter is such a brilliant way to see everything.  We weaved through the streets, horn beeping erratically (its like all the vehicles in this place have Tourette’s syndrome), and watched people go about their daily lives.  Each building is unique and
everyone is so conscientious of making their surroundings beautiful.  Stone walls are dressed in flowers, the entrances to compounds adorned with colourful offerings and incense.   Usually very simple, but then some days the offerings are considerably more elaborate.   Friday was definitely an important day, judging by the display outside of Mawa House (my homestay).

We parked up alongside a small warung, tucked down one of the side streets I wouldn’t have seen in the Lonely Planet.  I disembarked, with considerable elegance, unlike my first few fumbled attempts – shoe wedged in between the exhaust and pedal, skirt caught behind the seat, and inspected what was on offer.  The place itself was incredibly simple.  Painted a tropical green, with cracks in the walls.  The kitchen, a small enclave, inhabited by a group of attentive men.  There weren’t any menus, but a glass-cased trolley containing trays of ready-prepared food, and a vat of rice.  Narok patiently explained what each of them was, and I debated for a few minutes before selecting the curried tuna, fried chicken leg, little fish thing, and the green stuff at the end.  The man behind the counter piled my plate up with stomach-filling generosity, and we made our way to a table in the far corner before ordering a coke and iced green tea.

It was really lovely to just sit there and talk, about work, school, families, all the things that one shares with a striking and concise honesty that comes with making friends when travelling.

It didn’t take long to get through my dinner, and as I brushed my hair back off my neck to cool down, Narok suggested a drive.  So that’s what we did.  As we ventured away from the centre the air cleared, and the rush of it against my skin offered much-needed respite.  Narok had said something about fire, but as with most things I don’t quite understand, I nodded my head and said yes, not having a clue where we were headed, or what I was about to see.   We left behind the closing down shops and quiet cafes, passed families bathing and washing their clothes in the river, and then came to a stop.  I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be looking for, in the dark, next to a paddy field, away from the activities of Ubud, and then I saw a flicker of light.  Then another, and another, and suddenly we were surrounded by fireflies, dancing and glowing like miniature lanterns.  It was like a fairytale, a scene from an imaginative child’s dream.  They seemed so gentle, and moved with such grace, that when Narok went to catch one, I was scared that the magic would stop.  He came back with two in his hand and I caught them in mine, fingers turned orange and transparent, couldn’t help but laugh as I opened my palms and watched them fly away.

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