notes from the road

Category: Indonesia

Lombok Blues


Welcome to Kuta.

Brace for crappy roads, crappier food. Loads of flies, child vendors pestering at every corner and restaurant table. No hiding.

Watch out for machetes, flying out at night from the side of the dark road.

Look out for pristine beaches, electric turquoise water and glossy skies.

Wind blowing from the cliff tops where you can see the start and end of the world.

Endless views from coastal towers.

Keep your eyes peeled for big bandaids and Ibuprofen – better yet, stock up before you come.

You wont find them here.

Keep cool when mini mosquitos bite and gigantic, prehistoric geckos piss and poop on white sheets.

Bullies from above, grinning down mischievously from the thatched ceiling, their home.

Listen up for eager birds, chirping relentlessly all morning on our pillow.

View disgruntled water buffalo herder boys, slapping Johnny on the butt when no charity is offered.

Cool breezes and soft sun.

Catch a blast of obnoxiously loud motorbikes flying by, kicking up dirt and egos.

“Fucking Hardcore” Lombok surfer boys frontin’, skinny-tough.

Brown chests blazing, menacing glares followed up by big, generous smiles.

A surprise non-attack.

“Brother, it’s all good. Brother, come to my house and see my baby. We are having his hair cutting ceremony tomorrow, brother. Brother, please come.”

Invitations extended, and a one week old baby suckles her mother’s breast as she lays supine on the floor, hot and complacent, unaffected by our presence.

Encounter over trafficked streets – destination nowhere.

Forgotten mongrels strolling the streets – swinging heavy teats down the main drag, searching for scraps with lonely eyes.

“Is this a spice or a bug in this dish?” The great unknown.

Better to avoid inspection of suspected legs and antennae, push the mystery object aside and continue eating.

It’s all just protein anyway.

Revel in strange findings, like surprisingly strong internet, and crunchy seeds in your bananas.

Experience live music, cover songs from Oklahoma filling the dusty air of this island village.

Eat an aptly named “cosadilla” – as in, “que cosa did I just eat?!”

An odd bunch of tourists.

Oldies and youngn’s doing who knows what in this ramshackle and dusty town.

Blaring mosques sing pitchy off-tune prayers, while the Hindu brothers dress up, sharp and dazzling as they scoot off to their flower filled temples far out of town.

Celebrate expert sarong haggling even if the locals fume and fumble angrily.

“Why did we pay more than a tourist?!”, they cry out, demanding justice as I stroll down the beach, triumphant, laying my new shiny sarong on the sand.

Magnum bars keep us happy – sweet victory with each creamy bite.

The constant search for the next edible meal, hopeless optimism.

Warung to warung, hunting for a pot of gold at the end of this Lombok rainbow.

Doesn’t exist.

Flies abundant, fly heaven.

Don’t laugh too big, or one might find a new home inside your mouth – just sayin’.

HBO in the hotel room. Big score!

But Keanu at his best is still the absolute worst.


My Lombok blues are skies and seas, frowns and cries, love and dust. My Lombok blues are actually purples and pinks, greens and browns, red and orange. Here are some pics of my Lombok blues:

Appearances can be deceiving.


And, sometimes they are exactly as they seem.


Not too shabby.


Another boring sunset..


a surprise around each corner


Lombok blues at their best

secret beach close to tanjung an

Sunday’s in Ubud

I woke up this morning in our beautiful Ubud home feeling happy and energized, excited for the day. I scurried down the steps to the first floor, bursting open the front door to find golden sunlight flooding the airy space. Brilliant rays sparkled across the face of the big Buddha statue that sits peacefully in our entryway.

The electric green plants gleamed at me, and I felt compelled to turn on the music and just dance into the new day. Inspired, I clicked on our wedding song, “Te Doy la Vida” by Compay Segundo.

Johnny had only just awoken, and groggily shuffled down the steps. I found him in the bathroom sitting on the side of the bathtub; frothy toothbrush in mouth, tired eyes barely open. I couldn’t resist. I grabbed him tightly and in my best operatic voice bellowed out:

Te doy la vida, porque mi vida es tuya! Te entrego el alma, sedienta de ilusión! No dudes nunca que muero por quererte!! Te doy la vida, te doy el corazón!!

I felt my heart growing, filled with love and playfulness.

“It’s Sunday Dance day!!” I squealed.

The Yoga Barn has been my Ubud sanctuary for the past week. I’ve been taking a variety of classes, exploring the different traditions, learning new meditation techniques, and strengthening my yoga practice. I’d seen “Sunday Dance” on the weekly schedule and after hearing rave reviews, decided to check it out. Sunday Dance is one of the many classes offered at The Yoga Barn. But unlike the other yoga and meditation courses available, what makes Sunday Dance special is that it’s basically a massive dance party in the middle of the day. No talking allowed.

The mere idea of busting a move in broad daylight, no booze or BFS for support, made my stomach flip and flutter. But the thought of all the budding yogis and yoginis, not to mention the seasoned “gurus,” coming out to mix and mingle on the dance floor was a sight I could not miss.

So that was that. When in Ubud….go to Sunday Dance.

I somehow managed to convince Johnny to come with me. When we arrived, I knew we were in for an experience. Johnny realized it too, and immediately backed out.

“No, I’m not going in there. I can’t do it. This isn’t my thing.”

“Oh, c’mon, Johnny!!” I pleaded. “Just give it a chance!”

But before I could even convince my own self to stay, he was out of there. Passed the door, down the steps, Johnny had high-tailed it.

“I’ll meet you in an hour-and-half at the Cafe!” he yelled up to me.

So there I was. Alone. Standing in the doorway, in limbo, while the hula-hoopers, long haired nymphs, and shirtless new-agers streamed in around me. I took a deep breath, and waltzed in. When in Ubud…..

I found an open spot in the back of the room where I could safely sway and get into the groove. Soon enough, there were bodies and souls twirling and twisting all around me. The DJ spun a mix of tribal, uptempo beats splashed with some psychedelic ambient sounds. Basically a crazy free-for-all, sweat flying, hips swaying, arms soaring. Wet forms oozed onto the floor, while others floated, suspended in a trance-like state. Sharp cries echoed in the room, vigorous clapping, banging and jumping, followed by slow contorting waves.

I danced in awe of everyone around me. I fought the urge to stare, to laugh, to gasp. I closed my eyes, feeling the music and the energy around me. I knew that there was nothing I could do that would be out of place here. I could move in any way I felt like and it would be welcomed into this mix of motion surrounding me. At that moment, I let myself go. I danced fearlessly for about 30 minutes. I didn’t burst into radiant life crystals or some other tripped out transcendental experience.

Better yet, I danced and just had fun. Exactly right for me.

Bali Blogging Aint Easy


View from our room, Bingin Beach

I set out 2 months ago with big dreams and high hopes to start a killer blog that would knock the socks off of all of the thousands of avid and loyal phantom readers I had met and befriended in Fantasy Blog Land. After leaving town, I realized there was more to this blogging thing than just day-dreaming. That’s when I got stuck.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit it but we’ve already traveled to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Bhutan and not even one measly blog post has aired the world wide web. I promised myself and my “followers” at home (aka sister and mom) that I would write furiously every day and post beautiful photos.

It’s not all bad news though. I’ve written in my journal and I’ve clicked over a thousand times. But now I have a massive feat of editing a mountain of awesome photos, deciding critically which ones make the cut. No small job for the Queen of Indecision.

Plus, now comes the fun of weeding through my journal scribbles and selecting a few solid morsels of freshly acquired travel wisdom, thoughts, and reflections that are “upworthy.” Most of my idle rants hardly seem up to snuff.

So here I am in Bali, sitting in a cafe on Bingin Beach, watching surfers rip up the big swell coming in. Johnny, my husband, is out there too and I am constantly looking up, straining my eyes on the shiny ocean hoping to spot him among the other 40 wet dots bobbing in the water.

So where to start? What to write about? Who even cares? Well, I’m not exactly sure about the first two questions, but the last question is clear. Who cares? I do. Today I finally decided that I really care about this project. Good or not, I am getting this damn blog going!

I am the worst combination of perfectionist and procrastinator. Needless to say, not much gets done when I get my wheels turning. I spin and spin and stay in one place. Part of this experience of traveling for a year is to get out of my comfort zone, learn and improve myself. No more lazy daydreaming or paralyzing procrastination.

Today is the start of my blog, the official start of my journey!



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