Code Orange

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving. But my family has a tradition of stretching out birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations for a week, a month – or more. So, in light of the fact that I could very well still be celebrating until tomorrow (which, technically, according to rules of time difference, my is ok because morning in Ubud will still be Monday afternoon in western parts of Canada); and since, according to the Jewish religion, all festivals begin the evening before the day of a holiday, it was perfectly permissible for me to begin marking Thanksgiving last night. All of which is a preamble (read: excuse) to this story about the occasional foibles of starting a party too early –and, perhaps, letting it get out of control.

The thing is, by the time I settled in at Juice Ja by very late afternoon yesterday, I was hungry. Very hungry. I’d had bits of little things to eat in the morning, but nothing substantial. Water alone,  though it kept me well-hydrated over the course of the day, did nothing to quench my hunger. I ordered veggie quesadillas and immediately dug in to an aromatic, nutritious meal. But, when I was done, I was still hungry. So, naturally when the waiter suggested I try the carrot cake – with delicious frosting, he added, an irresistible twinkle in his eye – I had no choice (as if!) but to cave in to the almighty carrot.

My rationale went something like this: carrots = vegetables; carrots are orange and festively fall colors = perfect for Thanksgiving; frosting = (probably) made with palm sugar = healthy. Ostensibly, anyway.

And so, carrot cake it was. And, like people with allergies or those on a diet, I knew full well that I might enjoy… but also regret those bites of extraordinarily delicious… ummm.. re-worked carrots.

As it always does, it happened in the middle of the night: I was deep in slumber when the mosquitoes came in to play – and my body transformed into their playground.

I hid under the covers. Nothing doing; they came in right after me. I turned on the fan to almost full blast. Forget it. By now, they’re onto us and our devilish ways of warding them off; but somehow they’ve developed a foolproof immunity to the breeze.

The earplugs did nothing to block out the buzzing. I swatted aimlessly in the dark, desperately trying to knock them out senseless, too tired to care whether I might discover in the morning a dozen of them mutilated and sprawled on the top sheet.

The bumps, itchy as heck, quickly appeared all over my arms and forehead. Spreading up and down my arms globs of kayuh putih (a herbal remedy for infections, alternately used as a mosquito repellent.. theoretically speaking, at least) did nothing at all – other infuse my bed and garments with a strong eucalyptus smell for the rest of the night.

Serves me right, I grumbled to myself, as I nearly suffocated beneath the sheet. I have no business ingesting that amount of sugar – and not long before I go to bed! What was I thinking?? These bloody, nasally-enhanced bloodsuckers can smell the sugar on me (in me!) from miles away. They feed on the sugar that courses – apparently transparently – through my arteries, even if I’ve done the ‘right’ thing and gone palm (sugar). And my pores apparently leak so much gooey sweetness that is just too damn hard for them to avoid.

Somehow, finally, I managed to curl up right beneath the fan-on-full-blast and fall asleep. But not before swearing to wean myself off sugar… sometime soon.

Today, in the true spirit of Thanksgiving, I turned over a new leaf (hurrah!), begged off sugar – yes, even chocolate – and headed to Warung Sopa for a piping bowl of their famous pumpkin soup. Who am I kidding: it’s by far a healthier way, gastronomically speaking, to celebrate the festival – and to keep those munchin’ mozzies away. Thank you, to the gods and goddesses of food – nutritious and yes, also somewhat less so, for the bountiful gifts of this earth. Amen.


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