February 2011 Archives

Seascapes

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Something happens when you stop being tourists and start to live in a place. For us it came just after the island hop and before the month mark.

Like most release, it was preceded by a blockage. For Julian this took the form of a need for solitude, a craving for all things Western and a back itchy with sunburn from half an hour of early morning snorkelling. For me, a strangely intense miniature flu thing and a desperate need to be heard. For us a brush with argument.

We rode the storm. Just. Julian painted a brilliant seascape. I skipped yoga and closed the mosquito net around myself. Julian found me a pill in Bintang supermarket that came in a packet with a photograph of a sepia man with a red tie and a black moustache grinning at his miracle med that made us laugh briefly. I washed it down with Storm tropical ale. Julian cooked tuna steamed in banana leaf with lime leaf, coconut, chili and lemon grass, and served it with the delicious salsa he made with bongkot and shallots. We watched a depressing film.....

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And then, the next day, the blockage was gone and we were living in Bali. The colours in Julian's paintings gleamed. My body stopped aching. I had new ideas for my book. We went our separate ways - Julian to his cappucino and bun and newspaper in his urban cafe in downtown Ubud, me to my tangy tamarind cooler and green papaya salad in the Yellow Flower cafe in the rice fields.

Now there is nowhere to go. Nothing to do. We could live here for ever feeling warm and listening to the raindrops. Unfortunately we only have another nine days.

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Banana Karma

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'No piss' said our hostess at Lumbung Bali Huts commenting on the lack of three quarters of the advertised menu in the restaurant. 'Piss is off. It's not the season'.

We were on Lembongen Island, an island off the coast of Bali famous for seaweed production but obviously not, it appeared, seafood. We had just returned from snorkeling several metres away in the waters of the Indian Ocean that was practically lapping at our toes as we sat, and would see (and indeed eat, wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed) a fine catch further down the bay the next day, but here we were, outside our traditional Balinese thatched hut eating a packet Mie Goreng that tasted and looked like Alphabetti Spaghetti, and a frozen Vista-type 'fisherman's curry'. So much for divine seafood leaping off the fisherman's hooks and grilled in front of our twitching noses, we thought...

But that was before we discovered Scallywags organic seafood bar and grill. The black and white signs with their fishbone logo lured us down past mangroves and over potholes towards Sandy Bay and into paradise. It wasn't so much the seafood, which was middling, but the fact that we had found the ultimate place to lounge whilst watching glassy turquoise waves roll and tumble as we sipped....

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I'm not a cocktail girl normally but this view definitely called a mojito!

Meanwhile Julian, recently seen reading meditation and attachment theory books and carrying things on his head, was sending good karma out to the banana painting he left up on auction before we left for the island so was feeling compelled to indulge in all things banana. The banana fritters were as crystally crisp and frothy in the middle as the waves from which we could not take our eyes.

Now, back in the vast metropolis of Ubud the sound of the waves are replaced by the water feature in our pool, which I am trying to pretend is blocking out the sound of the eternal 'Eat Pray Love' building work that is going on around our rented house. And yet we are glad to be 'home'. Glad to be back to our yoga class, our painting and writing, the delectable butterfish in Nomad, the tuna caught fresh on Thrusdays at Naughty Nuris Warung, the Nasi Lodeh in our corner caff and above all the best coffee in all of our coffee-serious lives, in Casa Luna. There all the baristas are trained in Australia and could teach a thing or three to every coffee maker in Paris.

Oh and yes, that cinnamon bun.