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Finding Christina Helene

Journal entry July 4, 2018

It makes me laugh to think I was once so afraid the world would be too much like Disney World’s Epcot and therefore be such a disappointment. Even with globalization, where we can have food from any country pretty much any time we want (in the cities at least) there’s still no replacing the smells, the broken and cracked tiles of the foot paths, or the singing of a Hindu hymn in the night like the one I hear from my balcony in Ubud as I write this. Some days the streets are pungent with the smell of sandalwood and some days the haze of farmers burning their rice paddies sting the eyes, while always sweat streams down the back like tears.

I knew today was special when I stepped out of my home stay because the offerings on the street were extra big, extra elaborate and topped with baby coconuts complete with a straw for the Buddha to drink from. The offering weavings reminded me of the popsicle stick challenge, when you try to build a bridge to hold your body weight our of popsicle sticks using no glue.

There are a bunch of fleeting moments that I have to write down to cherish. These are the moments that touch my heart – why I’m glad I went outside today and what slowly carve something beautiful into my soul. A firefly became my roommate last night. He blinked bright and constant all night. Every day I see a geeko, except yesterday when a ladybug landed on my notebook at dinner. I haven’t seen a lady bug or been graced by her luck in forever, since there are none in New Zealand. There was a dying butterfly that was as big as my hand in the studio today.
Then there was the moment in class when the teacher shouted “A dog!” Everyone looked around, confused, because the studio cat had been curled up sleeping by the windows the entire class, and Jose (the teacher) hadn’t noticed.(Jose is a ESL speaker and recently returned to the studio for his first class back since 2015.) “A cat….” some people quietly said – and Jose exclaimed, not hearing them, “Well some kind of animal is over there!” and then continued to teach. I broke out into a fit of giggles and couldn’t stop for a while, letting the laughs silently cascade down my body as to not disturb anyone else.

At night, when I walk back from class after dark and after the traffic dies down a bit, I feel Ubud opens up new and magical things to me that I’ve completely missed during the day time. Tonight there was a corner I’ve never seen before (because I usually walk on the other side of the street to avoid this parking lot and a particularly hard street crossing.) There was a sign that said “No cars 6pm – 11pm.) Intrigued, I followed the tourists in front of me and turned, thinking I would be treated with remnants of the parade I missed while in yoga (classic Tina move.) Instead,this beautiful little street opened up to me and Ubud showed me all of its potential. I remember Wayan driving me to the homestay my first night and passing everything cute and thinking “When I’m ready.” Well, tonight Ubud decided I’m ready.

I’m staying on Suweta Street, 900m North of Ubud center. Ir’s far enough away I get more of a local vibe for life here. I’d say it’s quieter, but Ubud is never quiet between the cars, traffic, animals, musical instruments, sounds of construction hammering, sawing etc., dogs and roosters. Always with the dogs and roosters! I’m very lucky right now all I can hear is warm rain from my balcony, actually.

If Bali has a word, it is Relax. If Ubud has a word, it is Energy.

Last night walking home, dancing caught my eye in one of the temples on my street. This happens every night in the center, but this was different. There was no one watching. It wasn’t a show. It was a rehearsal for what I now know was for the festivities today. I stood there delighted, watching the beauty of it for a while while standing on the street sheltered in the dark…until a child who was almost directly in front of me with his grandma in the dark of the temple grounds yelled “Hello!” I jumped, grinned, said “Hi!” and continued sheepishly on my walk home.

There are a few temples on my walk into the center, including the famous Ubud Palace. The rehearsal temple was empty tonight, but a different temple was bursting with music from drums and bells. There was street food and PARKIR (parking attendants) and stacks of food/baskets on the inside that I’ve never seen before. There was dancing. Locals were outside in their finest outfits grabbing a bite from the street vendors and inside there was evidence of celebration and tradition. It was so beautiful. The locals were so beautiful. There was not a ticket taker for the tourists in sight, and not a white face in the crowd to be found except mine.

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