Well people – I finally got to hang out with some Americans last week here in Ubud, Bali. Whoot whoot!! The majority of travelers I’ve encountered so far have been from Europe, Israel, and other countries, so I’ve only seen one or two since I left the states. Cool, cool, some of MY people all the way over here across the globe – Yes!! Don’t get me wrong, I am really loving everyone I’m meeting from across the globe, but there’s something nostalgic about some good ole’ Americans… Like PB&J baby… Mac-n-cheese… Cookies and milk…  Yes!!

I was at a restaurant one night and there were two people talking at the table next to me so I was in earshot of them… The moment I tuned into their American accents, first checking my mind to make sure there was no Canadian twang, eh, I immediately turned around to greet them… “You’re from America!!”  High fives all around!! LOL… No, seriously, we high fived 🙂 I told you before, none of that fist bump crap…

I met Chuck, he’s traveling for a few months, and came to visit his friend Meghan who left San Francisco to move to Ubud, Bali several months ago. Huh, she moved here… Like, permanently… Brilliant Meghan, brilliant!!!  We exchange contact info and before I know it, we’re planning an outing together. Meghan and her boyfriend Nevin, who is also an American and lives here, have become close with a local family and we were all invited to visit a holy waterfall and to their home for dinner.  Sounds like a good day – I’m in!!!

We go by scooter, Chuck and I on one, Meghan and Nevin on the other, out from the city of Ubud and further out into the rice paddy fields through the back roads of Bali. We pass by the most incredible wood carving workshops you could imagine… Wood carving is a major industry here, in case you didn’t know… All that cool reproduction furniture they make in China and sell at Pier 1 Imports originated here people… Really amazing stuff… We zoom by… wait wait, that place was cool, we have to stop there – no Eryn, that tree trunk coffee table won’t fit in your backpack… neither will the ornately carved entry doors for your nonexistent house… Grrrrr.  Finally we pull in at a parking lot and dismount the scooters… Perfect 10 dismount Eryn! LOL

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We had a quick stop for lunch where they had individual huts for each dining table overlooking the rice paddy fields – Cool cool!!  Here we are, just chillin’ out relaxin’ after our lunch…

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 These are rice fields people – before I came to Bali, I never thought once about where rice came from or how it grew… Really interesting process…  I was told it grows like ears of corn with little kernels that are the individual rice pieces… Once picked, they beat the rice kernels off of the stalk and then dry them in the sun.  I’m sure there’s more to it, but that’s the explanation I got so far…

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This guy came over to our table at lunch and was selling palm frond hats – reminds me of Key West…

So, the waterfall is a holy place and known mostly to locals – very few tourists have the opportunity to experience this, so I’m feeling pretty lucky to be included, having just met my new American friends. We descend down steep zig zag steps further down down down we go, into what can only be described as a jungle. Well, we are at 8 degrees below the equator Eryn, we are in the tropics… Massive bamboo shoots extend high into the sky, around and above us creating an impressive canopy of greenery… Ferns grow horizontally, protruding out from the moss covered rock face walls as we continue further down the stairs.

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Carving on the side of a rock – Really cool!

The rushing noise of the waterfall becomes louder as we near the end of the stairs and finally arrive at the ground level. Decorative umbrellas are all around to adorn the prayer area and we pass by making our way to the clothes changing area. Wayan, Meghan’s local friend even brought proper sarongs for us to wear into the holy waterfall. Awe, that was nice Wayan thank you! We participate in their prayer rituals and then walk down a few concrete stairs and into the water we go, gingerly making our way over the rocky ground with water up to our knees. Holy freakin’ cold water…

We’re told that one portion of the waterfall is meant to wash away any negative emotions/sins/karma. You stick your head into the rushing water face first until you find the air pocket behind the rushing water close to the rock face. You put your hands on the rocks on each side of you and stay there for a few minutes and hold the intention of releasing your negative energies. Here I go, face first into the forceful surges of frigid water… Ok Eryn, ok, ok, relax, you can breathe in here… Yeah, it’s cold, the water vigorously rushing over your head and your body, but you can breathe… Just relax- release the negatives… Feel the energies of this powerful place… Relllaaxxxxxx… Then you turn around and lean your back against the wall as the water continues to rush over you… After you’ve washed away your negative energy, you move to another area of the waterfall and lean your back against the rock face in three different locations. You hold positive intentions in each area and let the water rush over you, bringing you new positive energies and experiences… When in Bali…

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We change back into our dry clothes, hop back on our scooters and head over to Wayan’s house where he and his family will prepare dinner for us… Wow, how lucky am I, eating dinner with the locals and I’ve only been in town a few days… The four of us contribute 40,000 Indonesian rupees for Wayan to purchase 3 chickens (That’s less than $4 US) Huh, I’m a vegetarian contributing to the purchase of chickens which will then be killed for our consumption… Lovely. I don’t think twice about contributing – they are having me to their home and I am more than happy to donate. I’m just not looking forward to the moral dilemma of the chickens’ death. No matter Eryn, this is just part of their culture… Suck it up!!

Four generations of Wayan’s family all live together in a small compound. They have several open-air villa type huts, with several sleeping areas in each one. Their properties are designed quite differently than ours are in the states, as you can imagine, but they’ve designed it all quite efficiently and they seem to be a happy cohesive family unit…

We look on as Wayan and his grandmother prepare to take the chickens’ life. Oh shit Eryn, this is really happening… Prepare to see the chickens die… Wayan holds the feet while grammy holds the head – with a sharpened piece of bamboo shaped like chopstick, grammy gently pierces the skin at a certain location on the neck NOOOOOOOO grammy donnnnnn’t dooooo iiiittttttttt and pushes the spear all the way through and out the other side. She removes the spear and they allow the blood to drain into the bowl beneath. The chicken is then cast over to the side as they reach to pick up the next chicken. Huh, the chickens that are still alive seem completely unaware that their buddy just got the spear to the neck and they’re next in line… They peck around on the ground right next to Wayan. Here we go, chicken #2 – Eeeekk… I watch as the first chicken flops around in spastic fits, the life slowly leaving his little chicken body. OMG that chicken is still flopping – OMG OMG…. So sad… I contain myself, keeping perspective that this is just the reality of their culture, but it’s hard to watch, nonetheless…

After all the flopping around has stopped – took several minutes, I’d say… The chickens are placed into a bucket of boiling water and they soak for a bit, then the feathers are easily removed. They continue cleaning the chicken and cut them open to prep them. Every single piece of the chicken is used for something. They save the blood, the intestinal lining (after cleaned out – I watched) the organs, the feet, the head – EVERYTHING. Don’t wanna know what they use all that for… Hey Eryn, look, you made it through the chicken killing – you didn’t throw up or run away or anything… Good job you! (By the way, Wayan was told earlier that I was vegetarian and wouldn’t be partaking in the chicken – didn’t want him to be offended when I didn’t eat it)

The four of us hang out on their open-air villa for a while and sip on tea while dinner is prepared and I get to know the Americans a bit better. (Wayan’s family speaks very little English, so unfortunately not much conversation there) We all dine together – some of the most amazing food I’ve eaten, lots of veggies in some spicy sauce with rice… And sambal, my new favorite side item/condiment – chopped up tomatoey type salsa with spicy and sweet peppers mixed in… Can’t comment on the chicken, although the Americans talked about how much different it tasted from the mass produced chicken in the states. You know, if you’re gonna consume an animal, that’s the way to do it, I suppose. I mean, at least you’re aware, acknowledge and appreciate that you’re taking an animals life – different from packaged store bought meat… Actually, I’ve seen some studies on this – if you ask a child for example, where chicken nuggets come from, rarely do they understand that it comes from an animal on a farm… They only know it as something that comes out of a package or from McDonalds… Sad, sad, really…. Ok, Eryn, get off your vegetarian soap box and move it along…

After some visiting and more eating, we thank the family (Suksuma in Balinese) for having us as their guests and zoom off into the night on our scooters… Wow Eryn, that was a lot of local culture packed into one day… We decide to stop for a few beers so I can better cope with the post-traumatic stress of the chicken killing… Just kidding, I was ok, but seemed like a good excuse for a beer 🙂

Special thanks to Meghan, Nevin and Chuck, “The Americans” for inviting me and to Wayan and his family for having me to his home and including me in this special day.

Oh, and sorry I didn’t actually get pics of the waterfall – I can’t believe, somehow I missed taking those pictures.  I think I was trying to wait to take a picture when no one was in it (which never happened) and then I must’ve forgotten.. Duh, me!  And I decided not to take pics of the chicken killing (actually I would’ve loved video!) and Wayan’s home, as I didn’t want to be disrespectful or exploitive to their family and culture…

Ok, that’s all for now folks 🙂

 

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