Sunday Afternoon at the Beach

Sunday afternoon is a busy time on the beach in Amed. Nadine and I took a walk down to the point along the black sand at the edge of this horseshoe of beach. I sat in the water as she sat on a big black volcanic rock where we could see all that was happening in the village. Nearby was a young couple sitting on some rocks. Sometimes they were close together but not touching. Other times they were on their own rocks, staring out at the ocean. Courting, Bali-style?

Just down the beach, a group of people dressed in their temple garb were doing a ceremony on the beach. There was an altar of sorts made of palm fronds close to the sea. We could see the priest blessing things with the holy water – always three times. People wearing their sarongs and sashes sat in the sand. I’m not sure the occasion. The day before we had seen a ceremony right on the edge of the road near a small stream. People were kneeling along the edge of the road in their finery. I think it was a baby ceremony. In Bali, children’s feet don’t touch the ground until they are 3 months old. With multi-generations living together, we often see the grandmothers holding the babies but an uncle or cousin or anyone else helps care for the children too.

Further down, there were local people swimming in the sea next to a few tourists wearing snorkels, fins and masks. The coral fills this cove and I’ve seen hundreds of fish of many varieties in my forays into the sea here. There are dive shops all along the street and a group of international divers were at the next table as we ate dinner last night, conversing in French and accented English, almost all smoking and with beer bottles all around. A chicken perched just above us all.

The big action was around a fishing boat that had just arrived. Men of all ages were helping to pull in the large green nets. Two men sat at the edge repairing holes with thin fishing line. There were lots of shouts as they wove the nets onto the shore hand over hand. There was a reason for their muscled bodies. At the same time, the boys swimming nearby found a new perch on the edge of the boat to practice their flips and dives. Earlier they had been jumping off an older boy’s shoulders. The scene could have been at any U.S. summer camp.

A woman approached in her sarong and sash carrying a basket of offerings. Oblivious to all the action around her, she carefully lit the incense and placed offerings on the boat balancing herself on the thin rails. On the shore, she left another offering on a big pile of netting. This morning as I write, another boat is unloading their cargo and reeling in the nets. I can hear their chatter. A boy of about 10 just came through the restaurant holding three big silver fish to bring to the kitchen. We’ve been eating fresh fish each night, grilled to a delicate perfection and covered with spicy Balinese sauce or garlic butter or a simple tomato sauce. Served with rice and sauteed vegetables, it makes for a tasty dinner. They have called the fish tuna and barracuda but I’m not sure they are the same varieties as what we name them since the fish seem much smaller.

Around the boats on the shore, mother hens lead their chicks through the tasty bits around and under the boats. Chickens and chicks are everywhere in Bali and whenever I hear the peeps, I’m right back at my classroom in the spring, hearing the peeping after the chicks hatch. There are also basket cages of roosters along the roads, the chorus I hear each day. The ones in the baskets are for cock fights. Technically illegal, cock fighting takes place in each village, I hear.

Further down the shore, there is the usual soccer game taking place on the beach. I’ve seen children playing soccer around the island and noticed that the little shops near the schools have balls for sale.

This being Monday, young children are dressed in their school uniforms, ready to hop onto a scooter or begin the walk to school. I’ve already greeted my new friend Wayan, this morning, who attends the junior high in the afternoon. And yes, I gave in and bought a handmade box made of palm fronds from her, filled with salt processed here on the beach. Each little stand has large bags of salt for sale. Processing happens during the dry season, so I haven’t seen it, but the evidence shows a huge quantity is made here.

And yes, I gave into the massage too. $5.00 bought an hour lying on a chaise on the beach. It wasn’t the quietest setting with the family’s toddler playing with a hose nearby, chatter from the older women sitting on the steps and a few tourists sipping drinks at the restaurant. My muscles were happy though.

Earlier that day, Nadine and I had done a mountain bike ride. We started near the top of a volcano in a forest. It was mostly a narrow dirt path to start, going steeply downhill with some occasional steep uphills. Nadine, being from the flat Netherlands, had her challenges but as we descended into the rice paddies and villages below, it was easier. We could see the trees where the abundant tropical fruit grows. Our guide pointed out the durians tied to the trees way up high. The ties are to prevent them from falling and smashing on the ground when they ripen as these fruits aren’t picked. They are famous for their locker room smells, and illegal in some taxis and hotels,but the inside is a creamy tasty sweet treat. They say when the durians fall, the sarongs go up. Such a pungent smell for an aphrodisiac!

Once again, seeing Bali by bike was great. This time we were the only guests and we were much further away from the roads most of the time. Children waved as we passed and we stopped for our snack of fresh bananas and rambutans (a prickly red fruit with a translucent middle) on the edge of the rice paddies. We could see the volcanoes in the distance, almost like a child’s drawing with their perfect symmetry. Our ride finished down an incredibly rutty road to a beautiful white sand beach. The water was a gorgeous aqua and the waves were fierce. As I waded out into the ocean, I got dragged under by a surprisingly big one, filling my bathing suit and hair and body with fine white sand. It was all worth it, though, as we ate our lunch by the sea.

My bags are packed this morning as Nadine and I share a ride south back to Sanur. Just a few more days in Bali before I fly to Thailand on Friday. Still time to soak up this reverent and sensual place.









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  1. Debbie

     /  February 27, 2012

    Hi Ellen…I’m MaryKay’s sister Debbie. I live in Prescott, Arizona. MaryKay hooked me up to your blog. I am enjoying reading about your traveling adventures. I so admire your courage & spirit to go off on this journey. Travel safely, looking forward to your next post!

  2. Barbara

     /  February 28, 2012

    I can’t believe it has been 3 weeks already! A few more days and off to an new adventure…enjoy the rest of your stay in Bali. It sounds like a wonderful place to relax and soak up the culture.


  3. Jane Rosser

     /  February 28, 2012

    We’re taking notes on where to spend next winter! Your blog with photos is terrific and we look forward to hearing about your next adventures! Jane and Ken

  4. Patsy

     /  February 28, 2012

    Oooh! As we await snow here in the valley, it sounds wonderful to be wearing a sarong! I miss Costa Rica & was quite comfortable there in shorts & a tee……Oregon is gray these days and I can hardly wait for summer! Will anxiously await your pictures! Pat

  5. maureen macdonald

     /  March 1, 2012

    Wonderful to read about your day to day experiences in Bali–so colorful. Great news about Emily. We got our first big snowfall today so it’s a SNOW DAY for all of us big kids. lots of love, maureen

  6. Peggy Kehew

     /  March 4, 2012

    Hi Ellen – good to see you in some spandex in this blog!



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