Monday, June 30, 2008

Komodo Island Angst - Saturday, June 21

Komodo Island Angst - Saturday, June 21

We enjoy another lovely morning relaxing at the small open air cafe, one rice paddy away from our bungalow. We again order banana pancakes, hot coffee and fresh fruit and all is delicious. The morning light is golden as we walk down the pathway towards Ubud, descend the long stairway to the street below where Wayan waits to drives us to Tabra's house. Two large jardineres with floating lily pads and two carved mermaids guard the lush garden pathway to her front door. She lives in a lovely spacious bungalow overlooking the river. The downstairs of her home houses her business with heavy teak work tables, desks and computers. An intricately carved door leads to an adjoining room and a veranda stretches the entire side of the ground floor. An low, over-sized table sits between two long cushioned benches and Tabra tells me that they often work outside, inventorying beads and designing new pieces. Her personal quarters are upstairs, equally lovely with a veranda overlooking the river below. She has created a magical space in which to live and to work. Manicured gardens surround her compound and are shared with several other ex-patriots. We meet several of her employees and are able to check our e-mail. Although I have a printed conformation paper for our Komodo trip, I have no plane tickets or further information. One of Tabra's employes calls the travel office on my behalf and my blood pressure rises as I watch her facial expressions. I speak no Balinese, but I can tell that the news is not good. They have no record of my reservation and I have prepaid for this trip well over a month ago. She assures me that she will fax my receipt to the company and straighten it out if possible.

Our plans are to drive to Tampaksiring, a bone carving village and then on to Mount Batu for lunch. All is exciting and new to us as we gaze out the window at the bustle of Ubud. The old king has died and preparation for his cremation, two weeks hence, consumes the city. Scaffolding towers are being constructed in the center of the square and as a result, the traffic congestion is awful. Prayer flags flutter and floral offerings grace every doorway and today, everything that is made of metal. Today is the day to bless machines and Wayan has placed offerings upon the dashboard of our car. Every car and motorcycle in Bali is seemingly bedecked with a flower offering. In Tampaksiring, Tabra takes us to her favorite bone carving shops. John and I have seen similar carvings at the Tucson Gem and Mineral show and together we choose several detailed pieces. Tabra is searching for inspiration and components for her charms and when I begin to understand her vision, I point out carvings that I think might work for her designs.

We continue onto Mount Batu, and eat a buffet lunch on the terrace overlooking the impressive volcano. The view may be spectacular, but the food is not. This is the first time in Bali, that I feel caught in a tourist trap, with overpriced, mediocre food. We are accosted by vendors, trying to sell their goods as we make our way back to our car. Driving back to Ubud, we stop at a coffee plantation overlooking a lush jungle valley and taste several varieties of coffees and chocolates, but no one pressures us to buy. The afternoon sun shines golden through the foliage and John spots a huge spider suspended in his sunlit web just out of reach. Tabra calls home and the news is good concerning the Komodo, Rinca and Flores Island leg of our trip. Our reservations have been found and plane tickets and an itinerary packet will be delivered to Tabra's on Monday.

We end a full the day with dinner at the Dirty Duck, an elegant restaurant in a garden setting twinkling with lights. Wyanne drops us at the foot of our stairway and we make the climb back up to our palatial bungalow nestled in the rice paddies.

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