Selamat Tinggal

It's a sad day today. We say farewell to the home that's been ours for the past three weeks, and to the dear friends we've made. When someone says goodbye in Bali, the person that is staying says "Selamat Jalan" - "Peace on your way". The people who are leaving say "Selamat Tinggal" - "Peace in your life".

One last look at the patio outside the kids room where breakfast was served every morning - delicious green pancakes and strong coffee or papaya juice.

And this is Oka Wati, our gracious host for the past three weeks. We ask her to write her name in a book we'd been reading, "In The Ring of Fire" by the local (to us) Santa Cruz author James D. Houston, which talks about her. She writes her name in Balinese, and then in English - Anak Agung Oka Wati.

Here is Oka Wati with our friend and "room boy" Mega, who would bring us breakfast every morning, clean our room, and tell us of Bali. He had hooked us up with our driver Dewa, and kept us up to date on local Balinese happenings - which temple was having a ceremony, if a cremation was coming up, which dance performances to go to.

Anak Agung Oka Wati.

Another photo of Mega, off to collect breakfast.

This is Wayan, the kid's "room boy". He was a virtual Kato in his attempts to teach us Indonesian. He was determined that we learn the different selamats for the different times of day - selamat pagi (5-11am), selamat siang (11am-3pm), selamat sore (3pm-sunset), selamat malam (after sunset). He would leap out of the bushes at us unexpectedly as we would return to our rooms, and demand "Selamat?" and we would have to answer correctly for the time of day!

Julia, Dan and Wayan. Even the kids, with their jaded teenage perspective, were amazed by the Balinese experience. They still talk about Bali as being the best trip we've ever taken them on, and talk about going back again on their own someday.

Even the animals that live at Oka Wati's had come out to say goodbye! Too bad we never got a photo of the little geckos that clung to the ceiling of our room and kept us awake at night with their call: "Geck-O".

Our faithful driver and dear friend Dewa was on time to pick us up and drive us to the airport. Everyone helped us load our bags (including our huge gong) into the minivan and then we were off through the warren of backroads that by now were starting to look familiar, past temple ceremonies and gamelans playing. At the airport we struggle through the doors with our luggage, but Dewa isn't allowed in, and we're inside before we realize he can't join us. We wave to him through the glass windows, heartbroken that we never had a chance to say goodbye properly. He waits outside to make sure we've checked in safely - he seems as sad to see us go as we are to say goodbye to him.

Check-in goes smoothly - nobody seems to care how much our luggage weighs - and with the gong, it weighs quite a bit! But we are taken by surprise that we have to pay a departure tax of 25,000 Rupiah each! With our Indonesian money all but used up, we have to change extra money just to pay the departure tax. Very fancy departure lounge and duty free shops, and then we are boarding our Garuda 747 for the trip to Jakarta and home.

Our last views of Bali are of the crashing waves near the airport, the view over Kuta as we take off, and the terraced rice fields that look from the air like cardboard relief maps from school.

This is the shoreline at Kuta.

Back at home in California, in the fast-paced world of computers and freeways, our gong stands unpacked, surrounded by the umbrellas and flags that we bought in Bali, ready for its new life with our gamelan here.

Bali had been a magical trip, which opened our eyes to new realities and which enriched us in more ways than we can tell.

Looking back at the page in James D. Houston's book that Oka Wati had signed, we read this:

"When you enter a place like Oka Wati's you enter a loaded realm, on this island layered with patterns of gesture and ritual, symbols and ceremony. Long before you can begin to know what all the imagery is about and how deep the layers go, it is working on you, just as the eyes of the Balinese begin to work on you. Whether you know it or not, you are being blessed, literally, two or three times a day, simply by being here".

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Photos: Astrid, Martin and Julia Randall
All content copyright (c) 2002, Astrid, Martin and Julia Randall