Bits and Bites

The homestay is turning out to be a fantastic find. Not only is it cheap, but it’s comfortable and calm. The beachside area here isn’t hectic by any means, especially compared to real busy places like Kuta, but it’s nice to feel like I’m in the middle of the rural countryside when I’m a minute from the beautiful sand and sea. Aside from me, there is Betty (the owner) Harrison (her husband) and one other guest that arrived today. That’s it. Granted, there is only one other room, but hey. Betty came to Indonesia in 1984 and opened her little homestay in 1989. That’s a long time to be running a small guesthouse at the beach. She said that when she moved here, she was all by herself. Now she is surrounded by other hotels and guesthouses and she is sad that her view of the sunrise is gone, as well as the abundant coconut and mango trees. But such is life, she says. Very laid back woman.

I went for a bit of a walk today. The main road is about a block from here and it runs all along northern Bali. Traffic is moderate. I walked about a mile one direction before I realized that the collections of shops/hotels/restaurants doesn’t really end. I was trying to get to the edge of town. Turns out that doesn’t really happen. Who knew?

As dusk fell, I decided to go stand in the ocean for a few minutes. These bug bites on my feet are killing me and I figured a few minutes in salt water wouldn’t do any harm. After I waded in the surf and sat on the beach for a few minutes, I heard an acoustic guitar nearby trying to find the notes to the opening of ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd. I perked up and walked over, as Indi taught me how to play that. It wasn’t until I was almost upon this younger couple that I realized I hadn’t played that in over a year and I had absolutely no rememberance of how to do it. So I said, “Hey, working on some Floyd there?” and after recieving confirmation explained my good intentions/poor execution. A small laugh was had by all, and I was invited to join them on the beach.

I spent the next few hours chatting with Achim and Julia. They are both from Germany and mid-way through a three month Asian holiday. Achim is in a band in Hamburg called Anapolly and Julia is working on a poli-sci degree. We talked all manner of things, from the lack of travel in general from Americans (they were equally shocked I hadn’t seen the ocean proper till a few months ago), to politics (At one point, talking about Iranian/US relations, Achim said, “Iran isn’t going to be able to talk bad about America as easily anymore, because Obama is fucking friendly.”), and showed great curiosity in Oklahoma culture (also aghast that tattooing just became legal in OK and that beer is a lower alcohol percentage.)

They just got to Indonesia and had good things to say about Cambodia and Vietnam. Evidently, the Cambodian economy is mostly based on tourism. Not export, or goods…but tourism and culture. How bizarre! I can’t quite fathom a solid economic model built on the visitation of other peoples. We sat on the beach awhile, then moved to a restaurant and had dinner together. (Sidenote: Achim said he could tell when a tourist was American because they stood at the entrance and waited to be seated rather than just grab a table, which is evidently the norm in Europe and Asia.) It was a lovely evening and I enjoyed it immensely.

This morning, I got up and was eating breakfast when Harrison walked by and saw my splotchy feet. He grew concerned and said I should get a crème from the local pharmacy. I walked down to the modest-looking structure (about a kilometer) and showed the three guys there my bites. All three of them said something along the lines of, “Aye!” and scrunched up their faces. One of them came out from behind the counter and looked closer before saying, “I’m not sure what that is. You should see the doctor.” So across the street I went to the doc. Very nice man, spoke excellent English. After a brief examination, he said, “Do you have any kind of skin condition? Like a rash when you sweat?” Bing, right out of the box. I explained that, yes, I do in fact get rashy and hivey when my body temp experiences a change. He explained that I’m fine, it’s just a reaction to the bites in combination with that condition. He prescribed me some industrial-strength Loratadine (Claritin) and some antibiotic anti-itch cream. Goodbye $50. Stupid skin. I look like I have leprosy.

Today I book passage to Java for a long busride tomorrow and continue to clear my mind as much as possible. I’ve had some very rewarding downtime here in Lovina and it’s been worth every second. Except for the bug bites, of course.

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