Leaving the Womb of Mama Bali

Velvet night. The monsoon rain has stopped for a moment. His eyes are wide and shining, much like those of a Legong dancer. His smile is warm and animated. It warms my heart. Nyoman, the motorbike guy, is one of those humans who make life in Ubud so very easy. “You call again, when you come back, yeah?” he confirms our connection before he takes off with my Scoopy. I enjoy the simplicity and flow in all our interactions. And this particular Balinese flavour of caring warmth.

I feel it again at 4:45 in the morning of that same night when I hobble past the house of my landlord with my large walk-in closet on wheels. Putu and his wife came out to wave me good-bye. Why would they do that? We already hugged in the evening! More wide-eyed smiles and some quiet laughter. There is an elegance and beauty about them that turns this encounter into a piece of art.

A moment of awkward follows when none of us knows if a handshake or one of these untrained cross-culture hugs or what else would be appropriate in the tradition of the other. It doesn’t matter. This is about something else. It is about true and simple care.

Every single morning they had discreetly placed a home-grown fruit on our doorstep. The most delicious dragon fruit, which after years in the tropics finally made me understand, what the pink colour-wonder is actually about! Or these massive papayas which we started to dread, when they began to clog our fridge. We looked up recipes for papaya chutney, papaya face masks and papaya curry to somehow stay afloat despite the unexpected fruit flood.

And then the feeble attempt of communicating that we cannot keep up eating with their rhythm of delivery and that we are very happy and grateful but that we are also drowning in the colour orange. We got even more papaya after that exchange. Lost in translation.

But never lost in attention and tender care. Hardly ever felt looked after so lovingly and unintrusively. No strings attached. Until this very last moment far too early in the morning when the sweet couple got up for a last escort to the waiting car.

More welcoming arms on the street. My friend Wayan, driver and guide from the mountains North of Ubud, came down for the safe passage to the airport and a friendly chat on the way.

We are arriving still in the embrace of the warm night. Bound to leave the fertile womb of Mama Bali. Waking up to the bright light of a Bangkok day.

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