Upon Your Arrival…

By Amy Chavez
For The Bali Times

Dear Jane,

I look forward to your visit to Bali. The day you arrive in Denpasar, however, I have a meeting to attend, so I will not be able to meet you at the airport. No worries, though. I have arranged for my friend to come meet you. His name is Ketut and I think you will like him very much.
Ketut owns a rental car company, but I asked him to just give you a ride to my house from the airport. This will not deter him from offering to take you to Kintamani or Ubud, possibly even Thailand. I advise against this, only because I don’t trust his driving skills. To get from the airport to my house, you’ll probably make it with just a few close calls. But all the way to Kintamani? Well, hmm.
You may be surprised when you see Ketut’s large four-wheel drive vehicle. No, you don’t really need a four-wheel drive in Bali. It is convenient for driving over sidewalks and other obstacles, but mostly these four-wheel drives are driven for protection from other cars should there be a collision. You’d think in Bali you’d be able to rent old Brink’s armored trucks, or even Hummers, but unfortunately a four-wheel drive is the closest thing.
And there’s another reason for having a four-wheel drive. If your car gets stuck in one of those giant potholes in the road, it can still get out. Potholes have huge throats; they do swallow. If this happens in an economy car, then you’ve just acted as fill for another pothole. Economy cars pack down nicely into potholes.
You’ll soon be whizzing along the bypass in the chaotic traffic. A few close calls later, you will screech to a halt in front of my house, which is down at the end of a dirt road. Don’t mind the stray dogs milling around in front of the gate. They bark and act like they own the place but they don’t bite very hard. Really, all the people I know who have been bitten by these dogs have been out of the hospital within a day or two. Except the guy who contracted rabies, but that’s a different story.
Soon the maid should come out and greet you. She’ll unlock the gate and let you pass through. You may notice a lot of smoke coming from the back yard. The house is not burning. The maid is burning trash, plastic and all. We’ve tried to get her to stop doing this, but it must be one of those Balinese things. Personally I think the maids in Bali are all sending smoke signals to each other – an ancient form of email.
I figured that after that hectic ride to the house, your body would be needing a massage, which I have arranged through my neighbor Made. Her English isn’t that great, so don’t be alarmed if all she knows how to say is “You want masaaaage?” Like a burger comes with lettuce and tomato, a Bali massage comes with a manicure and pedicure. The manicure and pedicure ladies (yes, two of them) will come attached, literally, to the masseuse, so there is no need to order them on the side. They sometimes further accessorize their manicures and pedicures with bracelets and toe rings. A bit of the gypsy, I suppose. Buy what you want, within reason, and put it on my bill.
After the massage and gentle tugging on the limbs and wiggles of the feet and fingers, you’ll be properly tenderized and tingling all over. If you see some steam rising from your skin, don’t panic. It’s the climate. Everything is hot and steamy here.
So make your way to the swimming pool and retire for the day. The fridge is full of Bintang. Indulge.
If you should need anything at all – a newspaper, some new CDs, some more Bintang – the maid will be happy to get them for you. She doesn’t have to leave the premises for this. She’ll just pass that burning heap of garbage and a few minutes later someone will miraculously arrive at the gate with the things you requested.
You may be lured out of the house by the sound of gamelan music. Upon investigation, you will notice a procession of people dressed as if they were going to appear in a Broadway musical and are ready to break out in song and dance. These are our neighbors. While there are building restrictions on how high buildings can be in our neighborhood, there is no restriction on the height of the towers of fruit offerings carried on the head in these processions. Our local women would put Carmen Miranda to shame.
The procession will slowly make its way to our village’s Hindu temple. Once there, feel free to stay and watch the performance.
I should be home by late afternoon, just in time for the cast party.

Perfect host Amy is at amychavez2000@yahoo.com.

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