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Our Unbloggable Life

It’s been over a month since I last posted here. I did write one post, but it was when I was sick and whiny and feeling quite pathetic. If it was something exotic like Dengue or Bali Belly then maybe it would be worth a read, but it was just a miserable kidney infection followed by a very unsexy common cold. No one needs to read that!

Mostly I have been quiet because our life has quieted down. It’s still gritty, hot, and completely unpredictable Bali, but somehow it has become our new normal. We notice less of the trash. We are less phased by the driving and the insects and lizards that share our home. The tokay gecko that dropped from our ceiling did freak me out a bit, but thankfully we haven’t had any snake sightings. A lady down the road on the other hand, 8 months pregnant… cobra in her freaking bathroom. I would have gone in to labor or dropped dead from a heart attack for sure! Grocery shopping, paying bills, just navigating day-to-day life is easier now. Google never has the answers in Bali, but thankfully our community does. Whatever you need, someone has a “guy” or a “lady” for that. We now have a yogurt guy, a pizza crust guy, a salad guy, a water delivery guy, a chair making lady, a home massage lady. The list is endless but once you get it down, life here is usually pretty easy as an expat.

We have a pembantu, or house cleaner, who comes 6 days a week and seriously keeps us afloat. She doesn’t speak English and our Bahasa is quite pathetic, but Google translate helps us communicate. It stinks of post-colonialism and white privilege, but we justify it all because Indonesian law actually requires expats to hire full time local help at home. They are unlikely to ever enforce this law, but we like to quote it often so we feel less guilty. Our pembantu, Luluk, is from Java and her 5 year old son still lives there with her mother. It is a common thing here as Bali provides better job opportunities than Java, but she only sees him once or twice a year. It is heartbreaking for us to imagine, but it is a “normal” practice throughout the developing world. There is a universal drive to provide your kids with a better life, but the sacrifice is so much more when you are born in a place with limited opportunities.

The culture here really draws you in. The Balinese people that we have encountered are more honest and generous than we have found many places. They are proud of their land and their traditions. Family and religion are a priority. Most families live in compounds with multiple generations. Nursing homes and daycare is essentially nonexistent. There are many religious commitments and we run into road closures almost daily because of ceremonies at the local temples. Although the Balinese are primarily Hindu, their ceremonies are steeped in ancient Balinese culture that predates the introduction of Hinduism here. I believe most of the ceremonies are meant to ward off evil spirits. There are ceremonies for the Hindu gods, but there are also ceremonies when the rice is planted, ceremonies when the rice has grown for 20 days, ceremonies for the knives they use to harvest the rice, ceremonies to ask forgiveness, ceremonies for deaths, ceremonies for balancing nature’s energy, and even a ceremony when babies are allowed to touch the earth for the first time at 3 months old. Since our pembantu and most of our Indonesian friends are actually from other parts of Indonesia, and primarily Muslim, we haven’t been fortunate enough to get a close up view of any ceremonies yet. We just get to see their beautiful outfits and decorated streets as we approach the temples. Inevitably we moan and groan when yet another detour makes us late for something, but we are learning to leave earlier and check Google maps for road closures.

So why is our life unbloggable right now? Well, we have settled in. We hope to be here for the long haul and we are not rushing around to experience every sight and cultural experience. We have a huge Indonesia bucket list, and many nearby countries that we look forward to visiting, but the kids are in school during the week and need down time on the weekends. Right now we are happy to immerse ourselves in the richness of our friendships and the beauty of our local surroundings. Jason and I have to leave the country every 60 days for our Visa runs, but so far we have played it safe by visiting Singapore. We were so shell-shocked by our transition here that Singapore was an indulgent, clean and modern reprieve. This year all of our longer school breaks will involve trips home to California. Visiting our loved ones and attending my nephew’s wedding take precedence over our adventures. In the meantime there is less to write about. The kid’s school is really our most time consuming thing, and it’s fantastic. The girls are exposed to so many different cultures and experiences. Hopefully they are learning that there is rarely a “right” way to do anything. We can all benefit from more flexible brains.

Jason and I are finally spending less time keeping the house running, and a whole lot more time at the school. He is coaching the girl’s sports teams, helping out in PE, volunteering as their class representative and as the rep for the class reps. The weather and lack of stress or computer work have given him a beautiful reprieve from his autoimmune arthritis pain. I have helped to organize a blood drive and flu clinic at the school, and we are both quite involved with the PTA. I will also be starting a bit of remote work next month as a physician case manager for Teladoc Health. We continue to do drop offs and pick ups to the school together every day, and usually sneak in coffee with friends, followed by swimming or yoga next to the school. We have “mostly” solved the trash burning problem next to our house as we started paying for trash service (plus a little bribe) to the families living in the field next to our house. Jason and I are now truly enjoying our time together, which was not quite as enjoyable during the first month or two of Bali life struggles. And we are absolutely relishing the time we spend with the girls. We still miss our friends, grammas, and Biscuit of course, but honestly we don’t miss the frenetic pace and predictability of our old life. OK, we do miss Amazon and Trader Joe’s too, but our wallet and waistlines have benefited by their absence!

Bali Island School International Day 2019

Playdates and Birthday Parties

Singapore Date Weekend

Thanksgiving at Casa Varley