Adopting a Pet, Java Style

We don’t have a name for her yet, but we have a few in the running: Figaro (from the cat in Pinocchio, whom she resembles), Polly (because she loves to sit on your shoulder), Arelia (no idea where this is from, but Ellie mentioned it twice), and Java Kitty.

The estimated 4-week old kitten was found under a car on Seth’s way home from picking up Eliana. Litters of kittens are a common sight here as there are a ton of street cats that aren’t spayed or neutered. Some are sweet, most just want nothing to do with you. Rest assured, she was well bathed and dewormed. She’s drinking a cat milk replacement from a bottle and used the litter box the first night.

Luckily, we picked a sweet one. Name suggestions are welcomed!



Update: The newest name idea we’ve come up with is Banksy.
She’s got a little spray paint of white on her nose and she’s from the streets. Genius, right?!



This one comes to me by old friends who i met last year… Dan and Trishna are a couple who live in a proper 1000 year old village in the Balinese interior, literally in the crater of an old volcano. Her ancestors all lived in the same village and nearly every time we turn around, there is another cousin. When an invitation came to stay with them overnight, I leapt… And was rewarded. In 24 hours, we lived with them and visited hotsprings, drank from a natural pristine waterfall, dipped my feet into a crater lake, and got my “less ordinary” on. Effectively, i’m about to experience life (with a few noted exceptions) as its been unchanged for a few hundred generations. All this, so I could experience the dedication of a new village temple, and its required animal sacrifice.
Here goes:

Wake up at 7 am, fashion a male skirt of two layers and a belt. Put a huge chopping knife and sheath into the belt. Headdress on. Walk to the temple, and enter an alternate reality. Initially it’s Jew-walks-into-catholic-funeral scene, and then it immediately shifts. It’s fucking Oz suddenly and there is no two ways about it… Kansas, this is not. So we find our way to an 18 month old bull, tied to a tree and make small talk for 15 minutes or so as we casually look at the last few minutes of the bulls life without any suffering. He will be sacrificed for the new temple, shiva must be properly regarded. Suddenly, the bull is tied to the tree, head bound to a bamboo pole and the lucky executioner begins his work… . He makes some cuts which appear to start the process, but then slows significantly in progress. Dan and I confer that he’s new at this and this makes it excruciating at watch. At times it is as if he has lost his watch in there. (I’m trying hard to make this palatable dear reader… To know where your food came from and that it also had a life is important… Remember that next time you casually order a steak, someone was there with a knife on a pulse).

Right, so the gore was shaking me up a bit and I asked for some work to do, as I contemplated going vegetarian again.

Tasked with “kitchen duty” I assume a seat under a tarp with 20 or so locals. Minutes before, locals chopped up spices, lots of red chilies and shallots, and put them into 5 gallon buckets. Here, I am wanting to be assisting with my big knife. Cutting board is an old supporting beam from someone’s house, and within 5 minutes the fresh meat is brought in for processing.

Here is the rub. It’s warm. Shockingly so. Another reminder that this was a recent breathing creature. We hack through sate pieces, soup pieces and fat, organs and bone… It’s well utilized by the locals and I am in awe over their abilities with basic tools and profound resourcefulness. It reminds me of how, in the first world, little are we connected to the processes that we have grown used to as a luxury. You order 1 pound of beef brisket, or a kebab… How many hands passed over your supper? What fraction of hands passed over this lunch. So we ask the golden question… How much was the cow, how heavy was it and how many will it feed. We’re talking at least an order of magnitude cheaper (Safeway, folks… And this is a Whole Foods grass fed organic steer, blessed by temple elders) and it will feed the whole village. We are told to make our way to a new tarp and in moments, we’re staring on a cauldron boiling on a wood fire. Three men supervise, with a coconut husk on a long pole acting as a ladle.

So, it’s about to happen… Bullhorn calls and were off to the races. Two laundry looking baskets of rice are swarmed and plates of brown waxed paper are dispersed full of it. We are handed two of them. Did I mention that everything is eaten with the hands here? It’s spicy to say the least, but the flavor is incredible. Meat is excellent and I relish it all… Until I get seconds. I’m asked if I like it and upon my approval, the locals ask me to buy some land in the village. The cost is about $600 for what you might need for a small house.

We are sent home with some sate for the ladies. It’s an experience of a lifetime… A Dr Livingstone moment, in a neolithic event that has been repeated for 10k years and for a change, an iPhone was brought in to record it.







Camping in Kintamani

We just returned (and took a hot shower) from camping in Kintamani with friends who live in the village we stayed in. Their village was having an annual party, with particular significance, in a new temple. We got to join in the festivities by Seth helping with the sacrifice of the cow (more on that later), lots of carrying of offerings and participating rituals.

Between rituals we got to explore the beautiful lake and area by visiting a hot springs, biking around the lake, hiking to a waterfall (and drinking from a leaf, Bear would be so proud), and jumping in the lake to “shower”. Native style.

The past 36 hours have been a fantastic challenge to me. I know I’ll be sore from all the biking and climbing, not to mention carrying of the offerings. Seth feels similar and may tell his own story soon (he’s still riding back with Dan in the motorbike). Ellie got to play with her friends the whole time, so she was in heaven. And she was obviously oblivious to how amazing her surroundings were. I am constantly wondering what will stick with her later in life. Will she bike and think of the hills around the lake? Will she smell incense and get a flashback of praying in the temple with hundreds of others? Will she require rice with every meal from now on because of this experience? Who knows. I suppose that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?














Ubud is Magical

We spent the day in Ubud buying art, and eating amazing food (specifically roasted Balinese beef, ox tail soup, and tofu and tempe empanadas). We started the day with a visit to the Bali Bird Park, which was impressive. Then we rounded out the day with a kecek dance. YouTube it for the full effect, or better yet, get your ass to Bali and see it first hand. It’s worth it.









Fishing Balinese Style

After a morning of taking a break from playing… to play… We decided to go fishing.

We caught 12 bawal and 2 catfish. What’s so cool about where we went is that after we caught our fish, we gave instructions for how they should be cooked (fried with rice) and ate ’em!






Idul Fitri

Today was a 11-hour day at school, and as much as my head is pounding, probably from heat exhaustion, it was worth it.

We celebrated an open break the fast with students and the community. I watched kids play an amazing race/tag game, then had to calm the principal when they all ended up jumping in the school pool. There were bands from each grade who played music, a giant spread of food….

It was great to get to join in the celebration. Ellie had a blast. And I… Need to go to bed.




Two Weeks in Bali

We’re going back. Some may ask, but aren’t you living in Bali? Oh no, my friend, we most certainly are not. We live in Bogor, West Java. We may be living in the same country as Bali, but on a completely different island, surrounded by a completely different religion and culture.

We love Bali. Love! Luuuuurve. And we are so beyond excited to return for two full and uninterrupted weeks of pure vacation. As a reminder, the last time we were in Bali, I worked the entire time (plus prepared my graduate portfolio for my master’s degree).  Albeit I had a few chances to get out and explore, I was most certainly not on vacation.

Now, back to these two beautiful weeks we have to look forward to… We’ve had thoughts about trying to make it over to the Gilis. We have talked about these islands non-stop for the past year, have great referrals on where to stay and how to get there, but haven’t made the jump quite yet in reserving anything. You see, it can add up a bit, island hopping. And we’re on a budget. But we like to go with the flow, so we’re open to whatever unfolds.

We want to spend more time in Ubud. We will be staying in Sanur again, but we’ve only had a couple of days in Ubud and it’s just magical there. I’m hoping to get in a Wayang puppet show and a legit Kecek dance. Any chance to hear more gamelan music, we’ll get. We also want to pick up some art in the traditional markets to help decorate our home in Bogor.

I’m sure there are more waterfalls to see. Food to taste. We definitely want to see more of the westside of the island, specifically Canggu and Seminyak. Seth hasn’t experienced the most southern tip of the Bukit (specifically Balangan Beach), so I’m excited to take him there.

Ellie’s priority is deciding which barbie to take and to be able to “swim all by myself”. Swimming has really become important to her, which is great, of course. We just need to squeeze in a few more lessons before she’s really able to jump in the deep end (without us scrambling and jumping in after her).

So get ready, friends and family, for a feast of the eyes. The fun starts Sunday!