Monday, March 8, 2010

Month two in paradise and finally, the amazing swimming turtles

Dear sisters,

You can't know how happy I am to be showing this video to you, which I had promised you in my last post. It took a mere three hours and twenty minutes to upload and that is not counting the five days of frustrated and frustrating attempts. Internet is neither a fast nor reliable medium in Paradise.

As you can see serious underwater swimming training has been going on in the past month. The first challenge of swimming a pool length underwater has been conquered and now the turtles are training for a length and back again, in a single breath.

The weather is hot and the living is still easy. Not much has changed, although we are both making slight personal progress on the yoga mat and in Bahasa Indonesian, which means I can now push my hands up to a backbend saying "saya suka ini" (I like it") at the same time. This, of course, is of no interest to anyone except me, so I will keep it at that.

We have seen ceremonies, cock fights, big birds, ugly birds, more sunsets and eaten good things. I am wearing flowy garments to manage the heat. In the evening we may watch an illegal copy of a recent movie, for purchase at 1 USD everywhere, with strange English subtitles, but usually our eyes fall shut before 10 pm.

And now it is alright for both of you to tell us all about you.

Love S1

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


On the outskirts of our village lies a large concrete walled house with a two car garage, and what seem like watchtowers overlooking the rice paddies. Often when we drive past, a blue "taksi" will be coming, just as another is going. Frequently multiple cars are parked in the sandy gutter.

Here lives a locally renowned Balinese healer, who has a busy practice.

One day Wayan, our present driver, asked if we would like to see him. I stuck my hand up, so the next day he set off early to ask permission. He came back and said I was lucky, because the healer could see me at 9.30 the same morning. I borrowed a sarong from Putu, our cook, who could not hold a straight face as she tried to fasten it around my big white body. She also prepared an offering basket with pretty flowers and two sticks of incense. I would just have to add some money when I got there.

At the entrance to the house, a monkey chained to a wire, munched a banana.

Inside was a flowery courtyard with statues placed here and there. A pretty woman in Balinese ceremonial dress came out smiling to greet me. I smiled and returned her greeting. I was uncertain what to do next. Wayan coached me. He advised me to put 100.000 Rhupia in the basket, which is about 10 USD, not a local offering. I placed the basket under a golden statue of what looked like Krishna and Wayan lit the incense. Soon a friendly faced man dressed all in white, with a bushy mustache and big warm hands came out to greet me. His English was very good. "What can I do for you?" he asked with a big grin. Not quite sure what he could do for me, I said I had been ill not too long ago and wanted to know if I was okay.

"Come in, come in." I will first have to see you" he said as he ushered me into a small room with a low table covered in flowers and colorful fabrics, banana leaf mats on the floor. I sat cross legged on one side of the table and he on the other. "Now concentrate on my forehead", he said. "I must see you", gesticulating his hand in a up and downward motion. I concentrated very hard on the spot between his furrowed brows as he closed his eyes. At a certain point he lifted his left arm slowly over his head and flicked away a flower from between his thumb and forefinger, which I guess meant he had seen me. "You will be very lucky , he said. I can see that'" Then: "Your stomach, you have problems with your stomach (that's from our colonics I wanted to say, but didn't), lower back and neck". "Okay", I said, waiting to see what would come next.

"Come here and lie down."

There was another mat with a white pillow next to the healer. I lay on my back with my head on the pillow and he started massaging my abdomen very hard. I had to turn over on my stomach and he briefly massaged my lower back. Then I was asked to sit cross-legged facing him, lowering my head onto his chest, so he could massage my neck.

"I see your heart" he said suddenly, and made me sit up again.

"You have a very slow heart rate"

This, actually is true. Very often when I had my heart rate measured in San Francisco, the machine would start beeping because I fell under the normal range. There, nobody seemed too bothered about it. But the healer was concerned. My heart needed a massage too, he said. He prodded hard in my chest bone for a while. And then again.

"Now let me see you again" he said and I had to look at his face again as he closed his eyes, the lids not quite falling shut, so I could see the whites of his eyes vibrating ever so slightly underneath.

"You are good now", he eventually said, "Just a slow heart." "Keep breathing deeply" And with that advice, he fixed a fragrant flower in my hair, dotted my forehead with holy water and I was on my way.

And now for something completely different:

The amazing swimming turtles!