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Feeding Our Senses

The sounds. Some quiet evenings we sit in our house and can hear the Muslim Call to Prayer. It brings me back to childhood visits to Pakistan. I love it. We also hear music being played on a Gamelan, a local Indonesian instrument, coming from the huts in the field behind our house. It almost sounds like musical wind chimes in the night. The birds are always chirping here. Some are familiar, like the morning doves, but some are musical, just like this island. We hear roosters in the distance, and our nights are filled with the sounds of Tokay Geckos. Jason and I started taking Bahasa language classes this past week. For 2 hours a day we are entertained by a new favorite sound, the Balinese giggle. It is hard to explain, but if you come visit you will surely hear it.

The sights. Our whole house opens up to the garden. There are green coconuts with delicious coconut water that we love to drink. There is a giant fan palm at the end of the pool and a rainbow of flowers everywhere. As dusk hits, the bats come to life, putting on a dance as they swoop over our pool for sips of water and an insect or two (million). In the mornings as I open the upstairs windows I look out over the palm trees and cows in the field next door. I often spot our cat waiting on the roof for the chance to jump in through the bathroom window as soon as it is open. Apparently entering through the door is boring. Our dog, Dali, also waits for us to wake every morning. We open the curtains to the sight of her full body wagging, as only she can do. The skies over Bali are also a memorable view. Since it is windy season we are graced with brilliant kites in the sky everyday. And no one can come to Bali without being awed by the majestic Mount Agung, the dwelling of the Gods. She is fierce and dangerous at times, but when you live here you cherish the moments when the fog lifts and you see her, almost as if she is watching over all of us.

The smells. I don’t have a great sense of smell so unfortunately only the strong ones hit me. There are offerings to the Hindu Gods on almost every doorstep and street corner. Many have incense and it is lovely. I hope that smell will become one of the sensory memories that the girls associate with our time here when they are grown. The smells I am not too keen on are the smoke from the trash fires, pervasive but hopefully less common as rainy season approaches; and I am not a fan of the sour smell of shrimp paste at the local markets.

Namaste

The feels. I am a hugger. I am very comfortable hugging and I still get lots of hugs from my family and American friends here. Being part of a multicultural society also means we kiss. I haven’t figured out who does the single cheek kiss vs the double cheek kiss or the real lip-to-cheek kiss vs the air kiss. It was quite uncomfortable at first, but now I love it. Another daily reminder that we are not in Kansas anymore.

The tastes. The local dishes typically use the same ingredients: rice, noodles, chicken, garlic, ginger, onion, green beans, carrots, peanuts and chilis. We have been limited in the variety of Indonesian dishes we have tried so far, but everything we have tasted we like. Some food stalls and local Warungs (restaurants) use too much oil and salt for our taste, but we have definitely found a few favorites. It is the food that the kids eat at school almost every day. There is also amazing Italian here, as well as Indian, Mediterranean, Western and Japanese. Our budget prefers Indonesian, but our palates often crave everything else!

*photo credit for Mount Agung: Samantha

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