Monday, October 24, 2011

getting younger every year

Another year younger, spent again in the beauty of our island home with my hunk of a husband and dear friends.  The day began with a motorbike trip south to swim at one of my favourite lagoons and explore the mangroves; a burst of beachcombing and coffee at a friends bungalow, then back to our village for a little party.

John and Hildi have recently returned after a few months in Europe and we were reunited  over almond milk chocolate shakes and cake in Tinggi's pondok.  I have strict regulations regarding birthdays, including: there must be cake, a rendition of "Happy Birthday" and no doing dishes.  Tinggi's maids baked me the the trusty one bowl wonder chocolate cake and while I got my hands sticky making smoothies, I didn't have to wash up.

Full of excito-toxins and stimulants, we rode to Baylo's house on the cliff for a sunset picnic and candlelit sleepover with views fit for a birthday princess.  Totally unexpected, Greg and Anita arrived on dusk with another cake that Anita had decorated in fine Indonesian style. A great day, a charmed life. Thanks to everyone that makes it possible.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

shifting gears

Twice weekly, a 12 seater prop-jet offers the option of a 25 minute scenic flight to the mainland. The two room terminal sits lonely beside the tarmac, with an unused xray machine filling most of the check in area. You walk around it to get to the bathroom scales, where you and your luggage are weighed in, and someone collects the hand written ticket stub. A glass door leads to the stuffy VIP area, where three plastic floral lounges wait for important uniformed bums.

The flying tin can dissapeared into a puff of white cloud and the Indonesian lady beside me dug her fingernails into my thigh like it was a great white life raft.  I patted the gold rings on her hand reassuringly, confident the Australian and English pilots had things under control.  While I have no qualms about flying, there is something unnerving about seeing the runway from the pilots point-of-view, their hands flicking between switches and levers as the white line guides them to the ground.  

I've left the peace of our village to join other wordsmiths and bookish types at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.  After the festival, Aquaman and I are skipping over to Singapore and Penang for a visa run, preparing for our final two months undisturbed as the wet season builds and the pace slows further under a blanket of humidity.  I'm very excited to be an official photographer for the Writers Festival, as well as volunteering at a number of key events, including the Paul Kelly & Lucky Oceans concert.  Keep up with who I meet, what I learn and how many coffees I drink over at Treacle for Stickybeaks.  

Sunday, October 2, 2011

grand final day

Even here, free from the media hooplah of the AFL final series, the lure of the grand final brought the Aussies together to share in three hours of brotherhood based on an odd shaped ball. We convened at Jenet's "bar", where the smell of greasy hot chips and cold beer made for an authentic footy atmosphere.  The diesel generator chugged in a nearby shed, powering the satellite TV live coverage on Australia Channel. We only had enough money for hard seat tickets and a soda water.

A few bewildered Europeans came and went during the broadcast, and Greg (far left), the American manager of the resort, sat through three quarters as part of a cultural immersion program to better understand his Australian guests. He asked whether he should barrack for the horizontal or vertical stripes. We were cheering for the West Coast Eagles, but unfortunately, they didn't show up.  The crowd was small  and subdued, with no fanatical Cats or Pies supporters present.  Many of the expats are from NSW and Queensland, and thus followers of a football code foreign to most Western Australians and Victorians.

Congratulations to the Cats, commiserations to the Pies and farewell to Micky Malthouse, you have done us proud.  Carn the Eagles in 2012.

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