Well I'm just about ready to go. This trip as has been something I've been dreaming about for as long as I can remember. Everyone I know has heard be talk about it and now it's about to happen.
I was able to get approval on a leave of absence from my job for 6 months, maybe more if I'm lucky. Thank you Denise, Eric and Elena. I love you and I can't tell you how much I appreciate this opportunity to pursue my dream.
I've read and researched the places I'm traveling to, enough to have a feel for the place and a general sense of what I'm getting into but for the most part everthing will be on the fly. I'm looked into many different organizations on idealist.org, the intreaging and useful http://www.couchsurfing.com/ site which I will be trying out.
Well I've been stuck with vacines to the hilt. I've bought trip insurance to evacuate my self from most any place in the world and have two different types of malaria pills - who would have known there are different types of mosquitos/mosquito borne diseases in Asia and Central America. But - strangely enough South America and Asia have the same kind. Hmmm. I also did a few pre-check ups with the dentist and doc and I think I'm healthy at this point.
I've have sufficiently scared my mom and dad to death, my sister just thinks I'm wierd and must be from different parents, but generally most people I talk to think I'm a total nut. Thank you to the friends and loved ones don't think I'm a total nut and have encouraged me to pursue this.
Why I am I doing this and why am I going at it alone?
All I can say is I just need to. It's inside me, I've tried to suppress it an settle my hide down, get in some long term relationships and try to sit still in one place but the desire bubbles up with a vengence a few times a year. There is more to say but I'll leave it to that for now.
What do I want to get out of it?
I want to learn about community rituals. I want to learn new dances and art forms by taking classes and meeting artists and talking to locals. I want to feel and create connections with the global world by volunteering at a variety of organizations, by initiating conversations and by sharing the video and photos I take. I'm seeking to find my place in the world and gain a greater sense of independence and so so many other things.....
How long has it been in the making?
I wanted to go just after I finished my undergraduate degree, but I didn't. I started working like a rational human being. I started to love it and filled my desire to create community by putting on community art and music events. After about 3 years on the job, the desire to take a big trip came on strong again, but I felt I like I would have to quit working and I didn't feel I had enough experience to justify the idea in my brain. After some pondering I started taking classes at CLU towards a masters degree. I finished this as fast as I could and as frugally as I could so that I could still put pennies away for this trip. Ahh.. after completing the degree in a little under two years and saving for about a year after completing the degree - that pesky resssion hit. The City's budget hit the fan. Saving the city some money by taking a leave of absence became a win-win way to make my dream a reality. After much contemplation and many conversations with my supervisor and department head and teaching a generous co-worker to take on my responsibilities I was able to get out the door. It became my time to go AND come back to a job.
On Tuesday, May 19th after dropping of my absentee ballot for the special election I left for the airport.
In order to get to Indonesia I flew from Los Angeles to Tokeyo, then to Bangkok for an fabulously comfy airport chair snoose from 11 pm to 8 am in the airport then I flew to Denpasar, Indonesia.
Wondering about swine? Well each aiport did thier own version of a quaranteen. Tokeyo sent 6 people on the plane fully dressed in protective clothing, googles, masks, a gown and gloves and took all of our temperatures. It was a Bowing 747 so it took quite a while! Fortunatly I didn't have a fever even though I was sweating whatever was going to happen to the people they red tagged.
I had arranged a driver to pick me up at the airport and can't tell you how happy I was when I saw my name on his little sign and heard him say Robeeeen Robeeeen! Is it you? I said yes! And we walked to his minivan. I started to hop in, until I realized I was getting in the drivers seat. Novice mistake. So they drive on the other of the car and the road. I'm so glad I'm not driving because even with my "push bike" I can't seem to stay on the right side of the road.
I got into town at about 5 pm on May 21st and am staying at Narasoma for 85,000 rupees or $8.50 per night. I'm renting a bike for two days for a total of $3.50. This place is already heaven and I've only been here a few hours. I biked around for about an hour and then picked a place to get a bite to eat and two Indonesian beers (Bitangs) at a little restaurant near my homestay. I was totally exhaust and giddy as I had my first dinner to start my trip. http://www.narasoma.com/
I think I'm going to stay in Ubud for a few more days and try some balinese dance classes and maybe another type of art class but I haven't been able to sit still yet. I've been biking all over trying to get a feel for the place first. There is sooooo much art and culture here it is ridiculous. On the drive into Ubud from the aiport, I think I saw over 20o intricate furniture makers, (the spaces sort of looked like an even wilder version of Stonesworks Studios/Art City - fabulous and funky and intriging), there were over a thousand wood and stone sculptors of various types and 1000s of painters from all over the world. I just met this expat from Detroit who owns a funky studio called the Art Zoo. He clued me into a few people I should ask to do some videos.
Lot's of English is spoken here so far so I'm having a pretty easy time of it so far. Things will definitely get a little tougher as I go to Java and Sumatra, 2 of the 13000 other islands that make up the Indonesian archipeligo.
Ubud has small paths through the hills where there are home stays, guesthouses and art and yoga studios strewn about. They aren't quite sidewalks but there are really neat and the one I walked on today has some rice fields near by.
So I'm still getting the hang of the video. I've taken alot so far, but I really don't know what I'm doing and I'm surprised if this actually posts to the site. Hopefully you can see it okay. We'll call this one the Indonesian Xylophone. These fellows were taking a class in a town square! - Ok, it looks like it's not working. I need to take the video in smaller size. So stay tuned until I learn.
I love and miss you guys and I'll write again soon.