Some things just NEVER happen in Bali, at least not in Ubud. So, when a day starts off with a ‘situation’ that catches me off guard, that has no basis in day-to-day reality, is so utterly untypical and incomprehensible, I start to wonder if last night’s full moon might not have been (once in) a blue moon…
Walking along the main road heading up to the organic market up in Penestanan, I overheard a young Australian man (his wife and infant son standing steps away) calling out: Taxi! This guy was actually trying to wave down a car for a ride. No other drivers were in sight. Impossible, I thought. In my 1.5 years of living in Bali, I’ve NEVER EVER seen, let alone heard, a tamu (foreigner) try to flag down a cab. It was unheard of, surreal, a scene that I knew would be met with disbelief when I shared it with friends. In a city that ostensibly prides itself on a likely ratio of 400 taxi drivers to every one tourist/foreigner, this was nothing short of miraculous. When I saw this young lad and family at the market shortly after, he told me that he’d waited for TEN minutes, then finally walked down Hanoman to find a ride.
Then, as I passed the market, a Balinese woman crossed the street with her plastic bag and started to walk just ahead of me, in the same direction. I followed her for what felt like ½ a kilometer before she turned off into a driveway and spa beyond, leaving me befuddled: Balinese people NEVER walk ANYWHERE. Not unless they are children, and even then rarely walking to school; maybe over to their friend’s house next door. Not unless they are over the age of 85, in heavily tanned bare feet, riding their ancient 1930’s edition rusted bicycle, a scythe sticking out of their back pocket. Not unless they arrive late to
temple, the parking lot is full, they must park 100 meters away and nobody else is passing by on a motorbike to give them a lift..
Finally, on my way home – my bag only lightly loaded up with cherry tomatoes, strawberries and (a new leafy vegetable for me) green and red amaranth – I was about to cross a street, when a shiny black car came to an abrupt halt inches from my body. I knew well enough to stop, long enough to make eye contact and determine whether I could forge on, when suddenly I saw an unfamiliar gesture: the driver, a shy smile spreading across his face, motioned for me to cross. I know this might sound strange but that NEVER happened to me on the island of the Gods. It simply does not happen. Balinese are notoriously horrible drivers, riders – perhaps because the large majority has never taken a driving lesson in their lives (ok, more on that another time). They generally avoid eye contact, more inclined to sideswipe you rather than yield to a pedestrian. They won’t give it a second thought, riding up to park right in front of you, blocking your path, alighting from their bike with not a glance in your direction.
I wonder, full moon, blue moon or no moon at all… do all these curious incidents happening over the course of one day signify that yet more hopeful changes (as rare and incremental as they might be) are still comin’ to Bali?