There are certain people who come into your life that have a greater impact on your being than what could have ever been expected. These people tend to become like family, as they support you, inspire you, and are a part of lasting memories that will forever be cherished. Dick and Annette, who I like to refer to as my *soul family*, are just those people, and to say that it was a blessing for them to visit hardly recognizes the deep appreciation I have for the experiences we were able to share. We spent nine days exploring the islands of Bali and Java, and catching up on each other's lives. In some ways it felt as if it had been forever and that we had so much to catch up on, yet in other ways it felt like more of a continuance from where we left off. These two crazy kids (both of whom are in their 70's) have traveled the world, but still share so much enthusiasm for what they have yet to see. Dick, for example, has been to 123 countries and over 400 airports. Annette has traveled a portion of those, sometimes with Dick, and other times on her own. Even with all their experience, however, their excitement for travel and new culture is admirable. Dick is an amazing photographer, especially with portrait photography, and he runs around with his camera, getting up-close-and-personal with the locals to capture their essence. (You should really see his work!) Annette amazes me too, with her eagerness to explore, MOVE, and learn!! To be honest, certain days I had a hard time keeping up with the two of them!
Our first day venturing out, we spent the day visiting small villages around Ubud, each of which had their own local handicraft. One village, for example, was the woodworking village of Mas. Another was a silversmith village. We spent the day admiring the unique craftsmanship of each place, enjoying the spicy flavors of local foods, and embracing the company of our new friends, Agung (the best driver in Bali) and Wendy (a wonderfully educated friend who was willing to show us some of the island).
Days following their arrival, we visited Buddhist and Hindu temples tucked away in thick jungles, we explored panoramic views of some of the local volcanos, and we admired the hard work of farmers spending their days in rice paddies. One afternoon we were graciously invited to a traditional Balinese wedding and were astonished at the family's eagerness to make us feel accepted and welcomed into their home! Both the bride and groom were adorned in golden headdresses and exquisite attire, all the men wore traditional sarong, while all the women wore laced blouses colored appropriately for the occasion. The altar was decorated with brightly colored baskets and traditional weaving, the buffet table was full, and a giant pig was tied up and ready to roast over a fire! They invited us for food, pictures, and conversation, so willing to educate us on their culture. That was really a once-in-a-lifetime experience we were all amazed to share!
In the evenings, after long days of exploration, we often sat in the garden, surrounding our hotel swimming pool, sharing appetizers and drinking martinis. We got to reflect on our experiences for the day and I got to continue to learn from some admirable people. We discussed anything from relationships, to family, to travel and culture, to my future business plans and anything in between.
We ventured to the island Java for a quick trip with the main attraction being Borobudur. We were a little nervous of flight delays, considering there was a volcano that had been spurting smoke for several days and many flights were canceled, but we made it with ease. We found a nice home-stay in the center of Historic Yogyakarta and really got to feel the influences of the island. It was surprising how different the two islands are. Java felt more like India to me, than what I had experienced of Indonesia through Bali. The streets were busy and chaotic, there were bicycle and horse rickshaws weaving through traffic, the air was polluted, and there was so much more chaos than what you experience in Bali. I loved it. We all loved it. It was exciting to get such a different taste of Indonesia in such a short time. The morning we went to Borobudur, we woke at 4am for our 5am pickup from our taxi driver. We wanted to catch the early morning at the temple, knowing its great significance in Buddhism, and we were eager to learn more. Borobudur was amazing, there are no other words to describe it, really. It was built with the dimensions of a traditional Buddhist Mandala and had multiple levels of Buddha statues, and stupas. Tourists from many different cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs gather together to admire this impressive, ancient architecture. It was honestly more impressive than I ever would've imagined. Following Borobudur, we ventured to explore Mt. Merapi. It's a well-known volcano on the island, for its devestating rumbles in years past. We drove through some of the surrounding villages that were devastates by the eruption in 2010 and it really put into perspective how powerful this Earth really is. We ended the day visiting a famous Hindu temple called Prambanan. It had a very similar feel as Borobudur, but Hindu Gods and Goddesses in replacement of the Buddhist mudras. Our whole time in Java, we were on the tail-end of Ramadan, a religious fasting holiday for Muslims. Being in a Muslim country, during Ramadan, visiting Buddhist and Hindu temples was my idea of church. Peace within all religions. It was really a blessed experience.
It felt good to get back to Bali after a couple of days on Java. The people of Bali are perhaps the kindest tribe of people I've ever met, their smiles so wide, and their hearts so large. There were only a couple of days left before Dick and Annette had to return to the states, so we stayed busy visiting some beaches one day and, the next day, we headed to the mountain town of Munduk to enjoy cool weather, delicious food, and beautiful, mountainous scenery. The morning before they left, Aguung took the three of us to look at some living options for myself. We viewed three or four different home-stays, discussing prices and location, giving me an idea of where to move, and giving Dick and Annette an opportunity to know where I may be living for the remainder of my trip. Following a little "house-hunting" Aguung invited us to join his family at temple for morning prayer. It was so great to meet his daughter, wife, and father, and was the perfect send-off before we said our goodbyes. Although I was excited to move forward into the birthing center and into my yoga studies, I was still certainly tearful saying my goodbyes to those two. What amazing travel companions and what great friends! We had so much fun together and I look forward to swapping photos and watching the footage from Annette's video-camera that I tend to be incredibly awkward in front of.
So, yes, I did find a place to call home, I am loving the Yoga Barn and learning so much. I'm aware of every muscle in my body as I ease deeper into my Vinyasa Practice, I'm stimulating my consciousness through meditation and shamanic breath work classes, I'm being entertained with knowledge on astrology, detoxification, and a myriad of other health and spiritual courses. As far as the birthing center goes, it's been a little slow to start. I'm teaching prenatal yoga and offering prenatal massage and Reiki but, like I said, not too much has manifested just yet. It's just an honor to be in the presence of Robin Lim and her team of amazing midwives and healers, but we'll save this conversation for the next blog though!