Electricity, Elections, and Executions

I am sitting in another power outage in the Legion/Padma region, waiting in anticipation of the news from the freeworld. I cast my vote, now I wait. Children are laughing in the distance, surely enthralled by the change of electricity in their homes and in the air. Cigarettes, incense, and angered hands replace multiple fans in keeping skin absent of mosquitos. Candles are lit on front porches and the locals just wait. Westerners on the other hand grow impatient in the lack of all that is western. I run to Bintang supermarket, kept on life support by a series of generators, to grab some antacid and a croissant. The streets are bustling. I park my motorbike next the ATM's and a heavily built, security guard, armed with an AK-47. I try to look as least intimidating as possibly, pretty easy task when you are maneuvering a flower stickered scooter while wearing a pair of yellow mid-length boardshorts. At least I know my bike is being looked after quite adequately.

As of late, I have been trying to be, not do. Usually wakened by the increase in temperature or sun shining through the lace curtains that dress my windows, I rely on an alarm that is not consistent by any means, but quite pleasant. Books serve as my morning coffee, now that I have no hot water. I ration my refrigerators contents and have some bread, a little milk, a carrot and some raisins for breakfast before heading to the ocean. The parking attendants at the beach know me, do not expect me to pay to park, but I go through the ritual and spend to ten cents to say hello and start my day off with some regularity. Most days I will visit with my friends and linger around their work before and after surfing. Dedik and I agreed that is good to have a westerner around to help attract others to take surf lessons. In return, I get to see my friends and leave my boards at the school. Post surf meals are delicious, cheap, and easy access seeing that all of it is catered around on the back of motorbikes. We stay until dusk, sometimes surfing more, other times just being and enjoying the company of each other.

The mood here is different. The execution of the main "bali bomber" was supposed to be this week, with threats of retaliation made. My news has been given second hand, but supposedly they have intercepted bombs and bombs have gone off. As of my knowledge, no one was hurt yet. The newest "ticker", my friend Ketut, tells me that the execution could be postponed until after the new year. Aussies are in a tizzy, not going out at night, but daily activities seem normal.

The Balinese love Obama. They call me Barack Obama in the lineup, rolling the "r" heavily, always asking who is ahead, not quite realizing the brevity of the actual election. We hope to celebrate by having a barbeque of mahimahi, sambal, vegetables, and rice, followed by the usual drink of local spirit and soda. The guys can tell I am anxious, I feel anxious. I will likely wake up at dawn to check election coverage.

I only have a few more days here, but I am loving it.

Gah, finances, new apartment, some luck, plus some reading make for one weak blog entry.

Current balance $xxx.xx- let's see if I can live off 10$/day

Trying to calculate my monetary situation, I choose my text carefully and try to compensate for the small balance in my account. Edwardian Script is too advantageous. Times New Roman is making ends meet, but unfulfilled at his nine to five. Webdings has trouble keeping up and Wingdings has lost his mind trying to pay bills. Zapfino foots the bill. It is buying an anniversary dinner at the upscale resort because his wife deserves it. He knows when to conserve and when to splurge. He writes the shopping list and marks the sale items for his Christmas dinner at home. He writes the invitations on recycled paper and does it with style. Yet, Zapfino is a lie to my finances. Mistral is more appropriate, rough and almost illegible.

Uma Drupadi apartment in Seminyak- 250,000 rp/night (roughly 25$
Bhuwana Cottages in Padma- 80,000 rp/night (roughly 8$)

My apartment raised their rates. I paid for the last night and went on a quick scurry to find a slightly more economical roof. It did not take long. Through my social circle here, about six different abodes were presented as potential new homes. The first place I checked was just what I was looking for. It is inexpensive, quiet, and a quick jog to the beach. Moved in that night after stuffing my boardbag full of shoes, clothes... everything. I am rather fond of my new apartment. It has all the traditional aspects of the houses here - white glossy tile along every square inch of flooring including the front porch and balcony, fans and no air-conditioning, cold showers which are a godsend, and a mosquito net to keep the mosquitos off my sensitive north american skin.

Erik and I tried to find a temple I had heard about along the beach. We were sidetracked when I found an unusually symmetrical stone. I broke the rock into bits and discovered a coin beneath the ancient coral and sediment. Continuing our walk, we found at least a hundred other coins. It was incredible to be finding these pieces of history in a foreign land, let alone on a beautiful beach with my brother. They are old chinese coins called Pis Bolong that have been used in bali for at least the past 1,100 years. Probably not as valuable as we were hoping at the time, but searching the beach and having an overwhelming feeling of luck with my brother was treasure enough. If you want to find out a little more about Pis Bolong (also known as Uang Kepeng) I would highly recommend reading a dissertation by Stephen DeMeulenaere of the Strohalm Foundation for Integrated Economics entitled, "Revaluing Uang Kepeng as a Medium of Local Exchange in Bali." Anyways, Erik left for Chicago with half and I am soaking the others in extra virgin olive oil to try and loosen some of the sediment.
Other than cleaning ancient asian currency, I have been reading quite a bit. At the moment, "Conversations with God" is picking away at the theologies of the world and my understanding of them. I would rather not summarize a book in a sentence, but if I were going to, this book would be "God is a loving creator, who has given us free will and wants us to fully experience this world, ourselves, Him (I Am) by creating, loving, and figuring out just Who You Are." Some would call it blasphemous. I myself have read, reread, and questioned the writing with the utmost intensity, but it has helped my spirituality to do so. I would recommend it to anyone who is religious, or spiritual, or atheistic, and/or sick and tired of the troubles religion seems to bring to the world. Other than that, I have been reading the two John Steinbeck novels that I have carried over the seas, Travels with Charley and Tortilla Flat, repeatedly. Both are phenomenal, both are absolutely classics for anyone who enjoys americana, wine & spirits, camaraderie, and/or excellent prose.

I think I have given enough homework for tonight. Now I must fill my ballot and vote to reclaim the patriotism that was stripped away so long ago. I will look for a bottle of wine (perhaps a 4 dollar bottle if I can swing it) to celebrate, or in the other case - drown my sorrows before looking for residency abroad.