What I love about getting to share my journey with you- besides feeling like I get to bring you all with me on my adventures- is that you also get to see, in real time, how synchronicities play out in my life. I’ve tried to explain to people before, but it’s hard to grasp unless you watch it unfold.
Well, here’s another awesome synchronicity relating to my last post. I ended the post with a story about Dirty Dancing- Havana Nights, stating how maybe Bali is courting me to just dance, which was just a metaphor for letting go. Well, as soon as I finished writing that post, I went to go get dinner.
The longer I’m here the more I do engage in this dance with Bali. I’ve been learning that the overwhelm I felt from all the decisions is easily remedied by not making a decision– but following the subtle draw, in this direction or that. To not think about it- that is the dance. And I’m learning how to sway with the rhythms.
So, I went to go find something to eat. I turned right when I felt pulled right, left when I felt pulled left, and sometimes I just stopped for a moment to check in with myself and my surroundings, to really see where I was feeling pulled. In one of those moments of stopping, I found myself standing across the street from, and staring straight at, a restaurant called Café Havana.
This is how the decisions make themselves. No need to think about it. This is Truth and Synchronicity dancing.
I hopped across the street and grabbed a table. I was just in time too, because shortly after I sat down, the placed flooded with people. They were showing up in groups. I genuinely thought it was a birthday party or a destination wedding reception. But I soon saw why the crowds poured in. Live Music. Live Cuban music. I literally almost started crying, I was so happy.
I know I’m in Bali, but in that moment, I was dancing in Havana.
Well, until the food came out. Then I was back in Bali.
Okay, so I said I would probably write a food focused post, so here it is. I need to talk about the food. I was really surprised with the selection of food available here. Basically, aside from traditional Balinese food, most of the food here I would be eating in the States anyway. And even the Balinese foods was nothing totally strange or out of the ordinary for me. Balinese food is mostly a lot of rice, veggies, tempeh, coconut, banana. And let me talk about those banana pancakes again. They are really just a green crepe (green from the banana leaf) stuffed with caramelized banana, coconut, and some other sweet syrupy stuff. They are so damn good! Something about the caramelization mixed with the coconut and the syrupy stuff- they don’t taste very banana-y at all. I tried some raw banana, and still find them gross. So these pancakes are special.
Anyway, of course there are lots of other Asian foods here as well, there’s Indian, Thai, Chinese, Sushi, there’s a bunch of pizza places, even a Mexican restaurant… and a Cuban restaurant.
There’s burgers, sandwiches, vegan, gluten free, organic. There are lots of little coffee shops, and some not so little.
I’ve tried a lot of different things at this point. Obviously the Balinese food is so good. The Thai food was good too. Then I thought I’d give pizza a try. I really wasn’t expecting much, especially coming from Wine Country. And it was pretty much what I expected, but they tried, and it was cute.
Same with the Cuban restaurant. I was so giddy from the synchronicity, the awesome live music, and the overall Cuban vibe that they pretty much nailed (I assume. I’ve never actually been to Cuba), that I forgot to think about the fact that I was in Bali and they aren’t used to that kind of food. I ordered tacos, fried plantains, and chips with beans, guacamole, and “salsa”. I’ll start with that salsa. It was made with eggplant. It tasted like something between a salsa and a tapenade, although I will say it tasted more salsa-y than I would’ve expected, but it still wasn’t salsa. The plantains were of course good (they have those here). The beans were pureed white beans, served cold, and the guac was close enough to guac without really being guac. And then the tacos came out. I had a hard time not giggling out loud when they were placed in front of me. Coming from California, we are spoiled with probably the best Mexican food in the States, and when we order a taco (or five) we have a very distinct idea of what we will be getting. While Cuba is not Mexico, a taco is a taco… except in Bali. Again, they tried and it was cute.
My favorite place so far is Atman Kafe. It’s a trendy expat place, which I did not expect to like so much. But I keep feeling myself being drawn there again and again. They have everything from eggs and toast for breakfast, soups, sandwiches, Balinese foods, Americanized foods. They have a bunch of different coffee drinks, health juices and elixirs, teas, Kombuchas. Definitely a vegan and gluten free haven. They have a bunch of desserts and gelato, fresh coconut juice, which is actually available a lot of places, but I’m always happy to see it (this is where I mistakenly ordered a large- bigger than my head!).
I’ve been going there for coffee, and now that I’ve moved house (I’ll get to that later) it’s my new breakfast spot. Their Avo+feta Toast is off the charts! SO good. They say it’s served on ciabatta, but again, coming from wine country, I would not classify this as ciabatta. But personally I like it better. I’m a big fan of dough and doughy things in general. I love that doughy flavor and that doughy texture, and their bread nails it. The avocado and feta flavors complement each other so well, and they serve it with a Sriracha type sauce. HEAVEN.
I’ve also been noticing something when I’m at these restaurants. Now that I am engaging in this dance, I can see how much I have slowed down. When I first got here I was all kinds of all out of sorts. I was desperately and frantically filling page after page of my journal. I was processing so much. When I found, and bargained, my first few flowy Balinese dresses, I saw so many other things I wanted to buy- for myself, and others. There was so much I felt I needed to go get and go do!
And now I’m settling. Slowing down.
I’ll be here for a while. I can get stuff, when I feel pulled towards it. There’s no need to rush. Now, I barely fill a page in my journal at a time. Sometimes I don’t even open it. I just sit at my table and take in my surroundings, maybe read a little, exchange smiles with as many fellow diners or passersby as I can. And I just stay there. I linger. I’m not in a rush to get up and offer my seat/table to another. I spent so many years working in restaurants, I’m hyper conscious of being a good customer. But as much as I want to be respectful to others, I also need to be respectful to myself. Plus, it doesn’t really seem to matter here anyway. I’d be really surprised if one of the sweet Balinese girls or guys gave two shits about turning my table over to another customer. So I linger. I take my time.
Let me repeat that statement: I take… my time.
My time belongs to me and no other. And so I take it, and use it how I wish. Without guilt. Without obligation. Without worrying what anyone might think. And it seems that how I’ve wished to use it lately has been to just sit in these open air restaurants and cafes, looking at the surroundings, smelling the smells, hearing the sounds, feeling the breeze flow in and dance on my skin, watching the rain pour, hearing the thunder blast, and then the sun comes out again. All in a meal’s time. When I linger.
So, like I said, I found my new breakfast spot (unless I feel pulled in another direction), which is good because I no longer will be having breakfast served to me at my room. I left my third homestay and moved into my new digs.
Turns out Facebook is good for more than posting political rants, cute kitten videos, and stalking ex boyfriends/girlfriends. I am a member of a group on Facebook that posts rentals in this area. In that group, I found myself a room in a villa, home to a bunch of expats (remember I said I wanted to find expats?). I haven’t met them all yet, but there is a Brit, and her mini brit, an Aussie, and two Americans. I think. I’ve only met the Brit and mini brit and one American.
Okay so get this. This villa has a salt water pool (the best kind), and it has a yoga studio right outside my bedroom door! As a resident I get to partake in yoga classes for free. There are not many classes in a week, so most of the time it is empty, and I can do my own stretching/yoga in there. Also, I mentioned I hadn’t been meditating since I’ve been here. Part of that is because, although you can really meditate anywhere, I felt starved for a peaceful environment more conducive to settling into the present moment better. Welp, another synchronicity. What better place to meditate than a yoga studio!
I will admit, I loved the central location of my last place, but it’s a worthy trade off. And once I get a better grasp of my sense of direction from my new place, I’m sure I’ll be just as happy with this location. It’s removed enough from the street sounds, but still walking distance to everything. Oh, and the guy whose room I’m taking over, gave me a sweet deal. I’m getting this place for $10 a night! Which really eliminates my money worries.
Not only that, But I have this place for three weeks. So I actually was able to unpack my suitcase! Which felt so good. I’m feeling more grounded in all kinds of ways.
My head cold is mostly gone. And I’m meeting more people!
Normally, I hate super touristy things, like guided tours, but there are a handful of experiences that I’m probably going to book guided tours of- because, when will I ever get another chance to see some of these things? Plus, it’s another great way to meet people. I have one special activity coming up. I’ll tell you about it after the experience, but for now, I’ll leave you wondering.
When I was booking this experience, the guy working at the tour company, Made (pronounced Mahday), was awesome. Seriously, I felt like I had an immediate friend. I was just hanging out talking with him for quite a while. The business we conducted was totally secondary. He might get scheduled to be my driver for this experience (I hope so!), but if not, I told him I’d come by and say hi.
I’ve also gotten several massage/spa treatments at this point (most of them cost less than a burrito!). I found a place I like, and there’s one girl in particular there, Koma, who has nice, strong hands, and she’s really sweet. So I go back there and they know me now. They greet me with a happy “HIII!” and we chat and laugh. I tell them how I find the men in Bali so attractive. They think it’s funny that I like brown skin, because they like light skin. I call them (in my head) my Balinese glam squad.
The last treatment I got was a spiced body scrub. Finished with a flower petal bath. As she gently rinsed the scrub off of my arms and back, I told her I felt like a princess. She giggled, continuing to poor bathwater over my arms, and said sweetly “just like a princhess.”
Just before that, when I let Koma scrub away all of my dead skin, it felt symbolic. I was shedding my skin.
And now I’m settling into my Balinese skin. I’m even starting to think my thoughts in a broken English Balinese accent!
More sights and scenes around Ubud: