Over the course of the week Ethan has exclaimed the obvious, "life is really different here" phrase. He then follows it with an explanation about why life is really different here. We wait for something profound but realize that with his 4 1/2 year old mind, the small differences are the ones that get noticed and the ones that really matter. The first time it was because he ate mangoes for breakfast instead of berries. Today's explanation was a bit more complicated, having something to do with how black ants in Bali bite but red ants don't whereas in Bend it is the opposite...but then there was our most recent weekend excursion to Padangbai (East Bali) where all the ants seemed to be biting and some were a strange mixture of red and black, confusing matters for sure.
So, we have had our second successful weekend away at the beach. The first was to the resort-filled South (Nusa Dua) where we checked into a fancy 5-star resort and played holiday for the weekend in the massive pool, sandy beach front and manicured town. It was fun but in some ways we felt like we could have been anywhere in the world -- a sort of strip-mall version of the perfect tropical holiday.
This weekend we ventured east to the port town of Padangbai where ferries leave for Lombok and other islands to the east. Via friends at Green School we were directed to the lovely Puri Rai hotel in 'downtown' Padangbai which consists of one street on a small bay in a tiny town at the base of some lush green tropical hills. Puri Rai had everything we could wish for and more: sparkling clean cheap rooms, three small pools in a beautiful garden setting and a delicious restaurant on the street side of the hotel. The town suited us as well - plenty of choices for food, a snorkeling area to the north and a beautiful white sand beach to the south. We met our new neighbors there (new Green School staff from Vancouver, Canada and their two boys, ages 5 and 7.) We were also accompanied by our partners in crime, Casey and Mary. The kids went nuts on the beach together, catching critters in the tide pools, running and screaming from the waves and building intricate sand castles in the shade of the palm trees. It felt great to be 'away' on holiday again, this time in a quieter part of the island. Of course we met people who had just traveled down from the North and East of the island who were expressing their dismay at leaving the more out-of-the-way parts of Bali for busy Padangbai too early, but it is all relative and with young kids still getting used to the place it was great to be somewhere that still offered eggs for breakfast and pizza for dinner.
Life is really different here, especially because I am writing from my desk at the top of the staircase in our bamboo village house with all the noises of the jungle that have almost faded into background music by now. Our resident gecko is chirping from the high ceiling, the fans are buzzing in circles and the insects, frogs and other creatures that I hope to learn about soon are creating their evening symphony just outside the floor plan of this house (most of the time, except a few occasional passes through our place). Mary loves to come over and look at our front entrance which is basically a railing with an opening in it and ask us if we have found the key to our house yet. That's why we picked this place, though -- we're loving being outside all of the time, minus the somewhat difficult critter encounters that come with the territory. We're certainly learning how to clean up after ourselves to minimize contact.
An update on our critter friends:
The oracle remains at his/her post in the trees outside our front door (our massive black spider friend.)
Geiko the Gecko is doing his/her daily rounds, eating mosquitoes and pooping freely around the place.
Tolerable, because we know he/she is eating a lot of mossies.
A house lizard was on the door of the fridge the other morning when Chad went to open it and then leaped inside once he/she saw the opportunity. Chad had to work pretty hard to get it out, too.
Kinky the rat has had less to snack on now that our bar soap is stored in the fridge at night. Let's hope he/she finds greener pastures down the road. Otherwise we're resorting to setting a trap, but we're not there yet.
Chad's downstairs right now helping Casey remove what she describes as a 'huge' spider from the top of her mosquito net. I'll leave the details on that to your imagination and sign off. Casey is now screaming and Ethan is saying, 'be careful Dad, it might be poison'.
Back to work tomorrow...more on that once my head stops spinning with school-related matters. For now I'm most certainly enjoying the 'holiday' of this working holiday expedition. School with students doesn't start for another two weeks, so we are making the most of our summer vacation.