Well, you might think that once you’ve been climbed by monkeys, it’s all downhill, but each day here has brought new and interesting experiences. On Saturday as we were returning to Kuta from Ubud on the bike, it started to pour down rain just as we arrived at the place we had been thinking of stopping — Batubalan, the village known for stone carvings. It seems that most of the major villages between Ubud and Kuta are known for a particular type of craft, with many people within the village involved in that activity. For example, we drove through one village that was renowned for egg painting and had at least five street-side studios/shops where eggs could be purchased right next door to each other. It seems like this would create competition amongst neighbors and friends, but then again, the Balinese seem to be very community-oriented and have temples, conservation projects, etc. that are funded by local villages. But I digress…

We made our way through three different shops that were chock full of stone carvings. Each one had its own selection of unique items, but there were several smaller items that each one had in common that must be typical souvenirs for tourists such as little praying Asian dolls and wall hangings with flowers. Surprisingly, they did not have any statues of the male anatomy or couples in sexual positions, as almost every souvenir shop in Kuta (and to a lesser extent, Ubud) had several of these in wood, often with a bottle opener attached to the end. We’re not completely sure what this is about but think they must be a gimmick to get drunken Aussies who aren’t into art to spend their money on carvings. Anyway, we picked up a framed relief (3-D) wall-hanging of a holy ceremony that looks like it has been around for 300 years, along with some smaller items for gifts, and loaded them onto the bike — one bag between Dallas legs, the relief in my lap, and another somewhat heavy bag in my hands. We had as much as we could possibly transport and left the Batubalan villagers looking very pleased.


These sculptors are working with cement, but limestone is also used carvingsAt least we didn’t try to transport one of the really big ones

As we drove away, Dallas said, “Just don’t move around. With all of that weight back there, it seems more unbalanced”. Great! Then we’re all set for our trip through the big city of Denpasar! We hadn’t gone through the city yet, and it was an all new adventure. Fortunately the rain had stopped! The two lane streets were three or four vehicles thick, with scooters squeezing into very narrow spaces between cars and curbs. Naturally Dallas, having a whole 24 hours of experience on the streets of Bali under his belt, was right there with them, and I had to use caution when we were stopped at the lights and inching forward in the pack to make sure I didn’t scrape the adjacent cars with the stone carving in my lap. When I mentioned this to Dallas later, he said, “Oh, I thought you would just hold it upright.” Apparently Mr. Practical didn’t realize how heavy it was, but he did a great job navigating through the traffic, and only once did I question his judgment when it appeared that we were headed into oncoming traffic (we turned eventually). We made it back to Kuta with sore buns but in one piece and thoroughly enjoyed our $4/hour full-body massages that afternoon!

We stayed in Kuta for the rest of the weekend to enjoy the beach and the nightlife. I love the surf culture here as well as the great relationship between the Balinese and the tourists, many of whom stay for weeks or even months at a time. I was starting to feel pretty darn comfortable in our little room by the beach, but alas, we had to go. Before heading back to the boat on Monday, we ran some errands to collect things we will need in Africa — passport photos (10 each, I guess they require them for everything there), copies of the new boat registration certificate, and t-shirts and balls for trading/gifts. If you have to leave a place you’d rather not, it’s a blessing to have something else to look forward to, and I think Dallas and I are both pretty psyched up for Africa at this point.

It was nice to be off the boat for a while, and I guess we stayed away long enough, because I was happy to see her again. It was fun to come back to Serangan, too. Even though we’ve only been here a short time, it’s such a small village that you start to see the same friendly and familiar faces. Today one of the villagers is doing some cleaning and waxing of the boat for $20. It’s a win-win for him and for us, and he’s been great to have around. He just asked us if it was ok for him to smoke a cigarette in the cockpit and told us that he started smoking after seeing Slash from Guns and Roses smoking while playing the guitar! Of all the reasons for a man in a small village in Indonesia to start! Of course his continued habit probably has something to do with cigarettes only costing $1/pack here.

Tuesday was a rough day, particularly for Dallas. He woke up the night before with a temperature of 103 and full body aches and pains. He was in pretty bad shape throughout the morning, alternating from fever to chills. Our mariner’s medical guide said that if traveling in malaria-infested areas, attribute fever to malaria unless proven otherwise, so that afternoon we took a taxi to an Australian-run medical clinic for tourists to get him checked out. In addition to malaria, they also ran tests for dengue fever and a couple of other things, all of which came back negative except for one that was a possible indicator of dengue. If you aren’t familiar with dengue, try to keep it that way. It is a nasty illness that you get from mosquitoes in Southeast Asia. We’re pretty sure Dallas had it a few years ago after we returned to the States from Thailand, and he was fighting a high fever for almost a week and still recovering a week after that. (Fortunately it didn’t progress to its most severe form, which involves internal bleeding.) Needless to say, we were really hoping that he didn’t have it again, and based on his seemingly swift recovery (his fever broke last night and hasn’t returned), it looks like he’s in the clear.

Last night we returned to Kuta to pick up our new eye glasses. I’ve never had glasses before, but my vision ain’t what it used to be, and at these low prices ($75 for an exam, lenses and frames), I thought what the heck. Maybe it will help me restore my image as a serious, professional woman when the time comes! Ha! Dallas was also pleased to get some new ones since his last pair broke on our passage to Vanuatu, and his soldering fix didn’t take. Since then he’s been using contacts as well as a really old pair that he can now return to its rightful owner, Harry Potter!combined glasses

Our most practical souvenirs from Bali

From Kuta, we caught a taxi to head up the road to Seminyak, the Beverly Hills of Bali. We were pretty surprised at just how upscale it was, a completely different scene from Kuta. The Italian restaurant we selected had excellent food (mmmm, salmon…my favorite!) and service. They even brought out a complimentary appetizer and after-dinner cordial. Big thanks to Dallas’ brother Tim for the meal! It was a rare treat!

We are working on the boat this week and getting ready to set sail on Saturday, weather permitting. For two days we’ve had very light winds and rain, and the GRIB data is predicting more of the same until late next week. We’d prefer not to have to wait to depart but don’t want to motor all the way to Christmas Island, either, so we’ll see…