hello dear friends,
greetings from the island of fuming volcano!
at the very beginning of my ‘newsletter’ let me assure you that we are all fine, only a bit more grey hair in my case (or as one of my family members sweetly put it – i look knackered and grew older 🙂 as much as i’m trying to take it easy, it has been kind of rollercoaster-y here in the last few weeks, lot of good things happening as well as some serious ones, so this email is going to be a bit of a mixture!
as i mentioned in my previous email, in october we embarked on our planned visit to the land of Oz, mainly for 2 reasons – firstly we do have a few very good friends there and really wanted to see them and secondly we figured out we were never going to live any closer to australia than in bali – so we better go while we are here! after the initial chaos of not being sure whether we will be able to fly (the volcano on highest alert), switching destinations and times.. we finally took off and landed in brisbane – where we haven’t planned to go at all (;
we had no regrets and really loved the town, followed by sydney, blue mountains, bellingen and finally byron bay. it was a superb trip (although 3 weeks with our ‘new’ teenager were definitely full of life lessons in self-restrain.. not always successful..) and we enjoyed immensely. apart from other things i was a bit surprised by the amount of cows (that surely must be the most numerous animal in australia, they were simply everywhere we drove through!!) – wonder what australians do with them? – but we had our fair share of koalas, wallabies, kookaburras, possums, goannas and many other beautiful creatures to satisfy our cravings.
dom celebrated his 13th birthday in Ninja Warrior Style (if your kid is crazy about ninja warriors as well, miranda in sydney is definitely worth checking). from the opposite side of the spectrum – linda loved her 10th birthday at https://www.crystalcastle.com.au! all in all australia was great, i’m sure we will be back once we recover from the financial losses.. one more time big thanks to our friends for sharing their houses and lives with us. and to the wonderfully courageous german ladies who dog-sat for us in ubud, not frightened by the volcano news!
we happily got back and out of the blue had one of those weekends when everything seems to be going in weird directions – we went to a funeral which was a very special event, at the same time heartwarming and heart-wrenching, dom got bitten by a dog (and had to get rabies shots), my precious phone fell on the floor and the display broke (i was really counting on that guy to last longer..) and – finally mount agung erupted! honestly, i was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed.
november brought a sad good-bye – to my beloved cat oskar, a faithful companion of 18 years. we all were very sad as he had been part of our lives for so long (i’m sure some of you remember him pretty well.. from the wild party animal in old prague times to a wise desert dwelling elder 😉 – but he had a great life with us, traveling faraway lands and enjoying our love. he will always be in our hearts. as kipling aptly put it – dog or cat, it is truth: Nevertheless it is hardly fair to risk your heart for a dog to tear..
as for our pet volcano – at the end of october the alert was decreased to level 3 and everybody (including us!!!) started to feel rather comfortable with the whole situation (meaning our emergency bags begun to collect dust (wait, was that the volcanic ash slowly settling?!?) and we just left them half-empty somewhere.. – until first ashes were spewed out of the mount agung! very quickly everybody started panicking, in real life in bali and on social media everywhere. this went on and off for a while, tremors, earthquakes, lahars, ash in the air.. until the bali airport shut down – that’s when the hell broke loose. one would have thought that the destiny of evacuated people – mostly subsistence farmers – would be of the greatest concern. they were (sometimes forcefully, as they didn’t want to leave their homes, fields and cattle behind) evacuated (or often re-evacuated) to the camps. they had to leave everything behind without any indication whether their houses will still be there when/if they are allowed to return. however all we could see in the media was the plight of poor tourists stranded in horrible bali. don’t get me wrong, i’m really sorry for people who cannot return home as planned but.. the volcano has been rather active for a while, insurance companies stopped insuring travel to bali, volcanologists reports were widely available.. i’m all for people coming and supporting the economy, as it’s very sad to see empty restaurants, little local business etc but – use common sense and if you want to come be prepared for the fact that you might get stuck here for a while or you might need to find alternative ways out of bali!
for those of you who have a special relationship to this island or simply feel compelled to help, here are few charities i can recommend – or do your own research if you wish to donate:
kopernik – mount agung emergency response donations/general help in refugee camps: https://kopernik.info
bumi sehat – mount agung evacuees at bumi sehat donations (bumi sehat is ubud hospital for women – taking care of pregnant refugees and those ones with newborns): http://www.bumisehatfoundation.org
and finally, if you are fed up with human race, you can consider donation to bawa – organisation that helps stranded animals in the exclusion zone: http://bawabali.com
the situation is serious but at the same time rather funny – at least for those of us who have an option to leave. can’t resist to quote our friend lawrence who put it out rather aptly: “after sitting around trying to decide what to do about the volcano development people contract a condition wherein they lose most social skills but are repositories of random knowledge of things like upper air wind hydronic. it’s called Ash-perger’s Syndrome” ((-;
volcanic insanity also affects our family life – resulting in occasional eruptive arguments while in the background you can hear: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BN1WwnEDWAM – this dilemma of course applies to bali, not to the marriage! yet.
as for some news from our ’normal’ life – the eco house project seems to be going along swimmingly (looks like there won’t be any shortage of material e.g. volcanic rocks!!!) and the post and beams are already erected. we are getting to know our future neighbours a bit more. we celebrated balinese galungan – victory of dharma over adharma, welcoming ancestral spirits on their yearly visit of the earth. as a dear friend of mine mentioned – while some relatives might be less welcome than the others (which can apply also to those still on this plane..) it’s great to remind ourselves where we come from and where we are heading!
our current house is beautiful and cumbersome as usually – at the moment i’m 100% sure there is something living inside our roof. i can hear it moving.. but i can never see it!!! after our recent trip to yogyakarta we returned home (with bags full of dirty clothes as you do..) to discover that our washing machine was broken for the 4th time since september and that dom doesn’t have any clean clothes to wear to school. i usually patiently wait (for varying stretches of time) for the repair guys to appear but this time i lost my nerves.. and shot out to chase our new family darling. living in bali for 1.5 years i dismissed the idea of ridiculously expensive ‘expaty’ ace hardware and being advised (and escorted) by our driver and friend wayan ventured into the realm of local shopping. i have seen washing machine models i never knew existed (ok maybe you don’t really want to read about washing machines but i was fascinated!!!) for prices i also didn’t know that existed.. and finally i decided to buy one. the delivery guys were great (didn’t even mind dragging the old machine up horrible wet stairs, the new machine down the same stairs, through the garden (and dog shit!!) only to find out that the machine cannot be connected. anyway, people here are usually very resourceful and do not tend to panic, so a truly alternative solution was found. hooray – we are not a stinky family any more!
dan is still busy with his new hobby of dirt bike riding – in his typical way trying to organise see-volcano-up-close-ride but rather surprisingly having difficulties to find any friends to join him!
linda is enjoying bali dancing and as a proud and of course uncritical mother i must say she is doing great!
we haven’t had any guests staying recently (i guess holidays under the fuming volcano aren’t for everyone..) but we had our share of social life with our new friends, of course always discussing volcanoes, wind direction, airlines regulations and other uplifting stuff. i’m beyond thrilled as two of my venerable teachers currently are in town and i so enjoy spending my time in good company! it would be cool to proudly announce i’m studying with them.. but i think getting massages, dipping in the waterfalls, shopping clothes and eating lunches also counts ((-;
we recently took a little break from the volcano hype and traveled to java – only to be met by even more volcanoes! we visited ancient town of yogyakarta with it’s stunning buddhist temple borobudur and hindu shrine prambanan and the old kraton. we encountered the best chocolate in the world as well as a violent but short case of yogya belly (-; we enjoyed it a lot but were rather overwhelmed by the busyness of the bustling city – all those people, cars, dancers, musicians, batik sellers, hawkers, motorbikes, rickshaws, noises and smells.. way too busy for us bali villagers!!! and – what i found particularly puzzling – in 4 days we haven’t seen a single dog! how very odd..
december is here and we are suppose to visit family in europe soon – let’s hope mount agung will make allowances for that! enjoy the end of the 2017, merry christmas to all celebrating and let me know how you are doing.
lots of love,
i was contemplating a picture of THE washing machine here.. but.. i guess you wouldn’t appreciate it as much as i do!!!