No, it wasn’t the water to wine big-spectacle kind of miracle, complete with amplified soundtrack and big-screen enlargement. Just one of life’s little serendipitous moments that tend to happen when you open yourself to possibility, put messages out to the world and keep your antennae up. After a great day biking the back roads of Bali, Talia and I had a little recouping time at our hideaway and were just preparing for a twilight walk into Ubud for dinner. Five minutes before going, I was lamenting that we would leave Bali without Talia seeing a genuine temple festival. One minute before going, Talia thought she should e-mail our Air B&B host to make sure about our airport ride tomorrow. 30 seconds later, he appeared at our door and said, “There’s a temple festival in my village tonight. Want to come?”
We arranged to meet him and his brother after eating at a close-by restaurant and got out our newly-bought sarongs. Bali still generously opens its life to tourists, but on its terms—ie, sarong and special head-piece. At the appointed time, he and his brother arrived with motorcycle transport and appropriate headgear and off we went into the night. And now my Bali re-visit was complete. How often I headed off like this when word got out that something special was happening here, there or anywhere.
We arrived at the temple with gamelan playing and women emerging from the inner temple with the remarkable offerings of fruit piled-high carried on their heads. The night market was across the street along with a little mechanical merry-go-round whirling with the little ones, some priests anointing the seated folks with holy water, another priest singing over a loudspeaker in a different key and different tempo from the gamelan, Talia and I the only outsiders, but everyone smiling at us and friendly.
Truth be told, it was low-keyed compared to others I’ve been to. No dancers at this one, no barong or Rangda masked dance, one gamelan instead of two or three, but still Talia got the flavor that she absorbed at 3-years old, but didn’t quite remember. It was over some 20 minutes after we arrived, but worth it to get a taste of this unbroken tradition on this most remarkable island. And I looked pretty cool in my headdress also.
On the way there and back, my host’s younger brother asked me question after question with me behind him on the motorcycle. Not easy to hear at my age with him up front and the wind and the sound of the motor and with starter English at that, but some interesting questions like “What do people like to do in America?” Well, that’s a challenging question! “Shop. Watch TV. Let mean and greedy Republican senators vote to privatize National Parks. Protest against the same. Watch cops get away with murder. Work to educate a new generation toward compassion, empathy and connection with the ‘other.’ Save money so they can travel to Bali and eat, pray and love their way back to harmonious balance.” Like I said, not an easy motorcycle conversation.
At any rate, a lovely end to a lovely day at the end of a lovely week, ripe with serendipity and things aligning without Google polls or advance reservations. Just some simple hopes and intentions voiced out loud and set out the door and see what happens. And mostly, it happened.