Monday, November 28, 2011

crossing meridians

crossing meridians,
unraveled consciousness slow
to pick up stitches

Indira's huge smile outside Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport above the sign with the big letters spelling my name is a big relief. I had been waiting for my ride for over an hour, longer than was comfortable. At least the taxi drivers were not persistent. I am hot and sweaty and in that thin consciousness after 40 hours traveling, losing track of the comforting regularity of day and night, sleeping when they turn down the lights, eating when served.
          I spend the last "night" on a carpeted window ledge in the Singapore Airport, blessing my earplugs. When I wake and take them out at 6 am (their time), it is to hear the gruesome details of a manhunt for a serial murderer of young, long-haired women. I flee the transit lounge. 
          Actually, I manage to sleep on the plane 4 hours at a stretch, thanks to getting a seat by the exit with room to stretch my legs and only one person next to me, a nice young girl who didn't snore. I made the seat change in San Francisco, with two Malaysian girls who were new and a supercilious French supervisor, but he did give me what I asked for. I sit next to a history professor from North Carolina going to Bali for R&R between research on 17th century Portuguese in Macao, India and the Philippines. He talks the whole way. I mention my sister's Fulbright Scholarship to Russia, working with alcohol prevention. He tells me he's a recovered alcoholic, has a list of meetings for all over the world, does Hatha Yoga, is interested in meditation, separated, shows photos of his kids.
          Going through customs, they make me open my small suitcase, looking for CDs. I should have changed money in the airport: 11,500/1 for $100s. I do change $20 before looking for a phone to call Robin. Fortunately, I turn left and see my sign at last. An hour ride to Nyuh Kuning, four lane for awhile. We get pulled over by the police and I catch the driver slipping money to the cop while he is looking at the driver's license. "How much did you have to give him?" I ask. "Normal," about $1. Of course, like India in more ways than religion. The roads get narrower as we go, past endless stone carving shops, then wood carving shops. Everything is very ornate and orange.
          At Pondok Frog, the family compound of of wood carvers, I meet Ida Bagus, the village priest, his wife and their sons and grandchildren. We're staying in three rooms, each with a squat toilet and cold water faucet on the other side of a partition from the bamboo bed. Robin and I are in one room, the girls in the other two. Robin gives me the bed, over which I put my pop-up mosquito net. She puts my inflatable Camprest mat on the floor, with no mosquito net. One bare compact florescent bulb and a nice flower arrangement in a little niche. So much like other places I have visited, Senegal, the Philippines, Nepal, India.
          We walk through the Monkey Forest Sanctuary on a narrow, slanting road. No monkeys, only a line of women going to a ceremony in a temple, carrying towering fruit offerings, expensive and showy. Robin says they get to take one home, though not their own. At the other end in Ubud, we wait half an hour until G. picks us up for supper at a Japanese restaurant. G's husband, S., picks up the tab. They are the American couple who paid for Robin to come back from the US to deliver their baby. I order sashimi and a glass of beer and, on top of travel fatigue, I almost pass out. Back at our room, I crash at 9, sleep until 2 am. My inner clock thinks it's daytime. I sit up, meditate, fall asleep again, unraveled consciousness slow to pick up dropped stitches. 

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