Family Magazine

Meanwhile, in Bali

By Behan Gifford @sailingtotem
We had a crazy fast run from Gili Air down to Bali. The current here really rips, and when you're headed south, it's your friend. Both Jamie and I tried to take pictures of the water's surface to illustrate the big rip lines, but they are entirely undramatic when captured with a camera... just take my word for it. Wild! Thank goodness the (barely there) wind, swell, and current generally cooperated to run the same direction, or it could have been pretty uncomfortable.
We had picked Serangan as a good place for Jamie and the kids to park while I was back in the states.  It was certainly a more crowded anchorage than we've been in for a while. We've taken a mooring in the harbor with the help of Ruth from Isle Marine services, our ship's agent for Indonesia.
Serangan Tucked into the fleet, primarily a mix of charter and working boats
We were lucky to arrive in Bali shortly before Kuningan, the last day of the annual Galungan celebrations- one of the most significant events in the 210 day Balinese calendar.

As part of the Galungan festivities, massive banners called penjor line the streets of Bali, both urban and rural. Made primarily from bamboo, rice stalks, and palm fronds, they're taken down on a specific date after the festivities end.
Penjor banners for Kuningan Even the small temple near our mooring has it's own penjor
Meanwhile, Balinese culture is already a colorful riot of rituals and symbolism at the most mundane of times, and these decorations put it over the top. The quietest country village road suddenly feels like it's waiting for a royal procession.
Meanwhile, in Bali bigger than your average neighborhood block party
Although Bali is reported to have more than 20,000 temples, the one which is the focal point for Kuningan turns out to be, lucky us, located right by our moorage in Serangan. Thousands and thousands are expected for the ceremonies and celebration. What an amazing celebration to have the opportunity to be part of! It kind of kills me to miss out, but there's no chance of skipping out on that flight back to the USA.
Temple visitBefore I left, I did make sure everyone would have 'pakaian adat'- traditional dress- so they could enter the temple and participate. Here, Mairen and Siobhan are at the temple on Kuningan. On this last day, the ancestral spirits that came down to earth on Galungan (10 days prior) are supposed to return to that what they're looking for? My favorite photo of the kids (along with others form Kuningan) is over on our Facebook page.
It's a busy, crowded affair that takes over Serangan- which is really just a small island, attached to Bali by a causeway. Life shuts down for several days in anticipation of the event. The streets are lined with vendors selling everything from pork sate to technicolor-dyed chicks (seriously, the poor little creatures are dyed in all the most obnoxious colors of the rainbow- I find this very confusing!). I can't be there, but they give a full report over Skype to the frozen wonderland that is the northern midwest in spring.
It's just that after we've woken up to snow, and Jamie sends me this picture of the girls at the beach, that I get a wee bit jealous. As much as I have daydreamed about high latitude cruising, it is possible (as I sip another hot mug of tea) that my climate now has a narrower band...centered closer to the equator.
Double Six beach
Jamie has connected with extended family in Bali. Yes, thanks to Jamie's cousin Hilary and her husband Dan, we're related to a Balinese family! Dan's brother Curt has been living here for more than two decades. He knows how good an excellent Italian dinner (capped with homemade gelato) would taste, and treats us to a great night out. As much as we really do love Indonesian food, it's great to have a break! Curt's kids are just a touch younger than ours, but age doesn't matter when you have a big beach and surf to play in together.
As much as I miss my family, it's great to have Skype and readily shared photos. As much as I value being able to unplug, we are lucky to have the choice. Staying this connected despite our miles apart is pretty tremendous, and a far cry from what cruisers in years past experienced. So I tolerate the ridiculous hiccups in our connection, and redial their Skype account for the Nth time to get my beach report for the day.

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