Saturday, May 22, 2010

24 Fluid Ounces remembering Bali

If that was the amount of iced tea or water consumed... no second thought. That however is the amount of hot sauce with which I managed to lace almost everything I ate this week. Not having the right chili peppers to make a garlic, hot pepper, vinegar... I had to settle.
What I really want is this sambal that we had in Bali. We were invited by a guy we had befriended at the Tegal Sari in Ubud to have dinner at his family's home. Ever meet people that just radiated "gentle"? That was our experience there... the gorgeous terrain aside, it is the people that had me enthralled. Nowhere else have I encountered such welcoming people.
Ketu was the first one who adopted us. She worked at a restaurant named Suchi. I won't ever forget the name because it was hilarious how many times she had to explain to Japanese tourists that Suchi was the name of the owner of the restaurant and they did not make sushi. Ketu introduced us to Eric the Australian hailing from Perth... hilarious guy.
Between the two we were able to ask many questions and find out the do's and don't's of etiquette. She showed us pictures of her 2 beautiful children and their new family temple that they had just built. Eric, the grizzly older gentleman, at that time pulled out a colorfully wrapped small package and handed it to Ketu. He growled some comment about no more excuses about not enough updates on his grandkids. It was a new camera. (It seems Eric was adopted by Ketu many years previously. Unmarried man in his later 50's when we met him, Ketu and her family was his only family. He traveled to Bali as often as he could to visit them.) Ketu was thrilled and promptly sent Eric out to get film.
Timid is not the word to describe Ketu. She is a mother hen. She would bring Eric plates of food he did not order and he would protest. She would tell him he was drinking too much and that he needed a haircut because he looked like a surfer. You have to witness it to appreciate it. All of the chiding and needling was never malicious and the exchange was always comical.
We debated about where to go and what to do... my husband and I did not plan out most of the trip as we are not ones for schedules. Ketu informed us that she called her husband and we were going to see temples today. Well... ooookay then. Temples it is.
Her husband Nyoman showed up all smiles. He may very well be one of the happiest people ever. Always finding humor in whatever is going on around him, however at that moment he was laughing at Eric because Ketu refused to bring him beer until he had breakfast.
Nyoman is a man with several jobs. Aside from working as security for an upscale hotel, he also drove a cab. I am amazed at traffic in Bali. I thought Caracas was a bit intense... Bali it is insane. We saw 5 people on 1 moped. I never would have thought it possible. Whole family... 1 moped. The women able to sit side saddle style and all I have to say is they must have incredible balance.
Nyoman took us to their home first to see the family's new temple. It was stunning. You could stare at it for hours and still not see everything. It was intricate it was gorgeous. I was so busy looking that when a stealthy chicken brushed up against my leg I screamed. Yeah, I was caught a tad off guard.
That's when we heard giggling. Nyoman introduced us to their daughter. She was 9 and he told us she had only just started talking a few months ago. When she was born there was a flu going around. Ketu and the whole family had it. She delivered while everyone was ill and the baby, not even a day old spiked a very high fever. Their belief is that their daughter must have done something in a previous life. Ketu delivered early. Eric was hoping to be in Bali before she delivered, but ended up being a day late. He took Ketu and the baby to the hospital. He cared for Nyoman and his parents. The baby's fever was so high it had caused brain damage.
Their daughter survived, but it took many years for her to learn to walk and even at 9 she could only say a few words. She was not without a sense of humor as the chicken incident had her in a full blown giggle fit. She instantly had a crush on my husband. She grabbed his hand and showed him around their family compound. (Bali homes are more of a series of separate single rooms.)
Nyoman was floored. He had never seen his daughter take to someone so quickly. She was attached to my husband... literally. Nyoman told us how she liked motorcycles... Harley in particular. So that is what we nicknamed her... Harley. It was the sound she liked.. and she tried to make the sound.. my husband did the same. That was it... she was so happy she squealed and wrapped her arms around him.
When it was time to leave to continue on to Tanah Lot, Harley was devastated. We visited her a few more times (brought her crayons and coloring books)... we still have the pictures she colored for us. Such a sweet girl.

I have been thinking about Ketu and her family a lot lately. They just kinda popped into my mind out of nowhere. I really hope they are all ok.

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